Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jimmy Chen's "A photo essay by Philip Roth" at HTMLGIANT

Yesterday, Jimmy Chen posted "The ecstasy of a faint outdoor wind: A photo essay by Philip Roth" at HTMLGIANT. It's hilarious, the way Jimmy Chen is hilarious, which is very. Just the other day I saw an author photo and felt that warm flush of embarrassment under my skin, because, like most of the author photos I see, it was so overdone with melodramatic neck angles and hyper-serious eyes. Jimmy Chen's "photo essay by Philip Roth" hits the notes. This makes me even more excited for Jimmy's chapbook Typewriter from Magic Helicopter Press.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

More Book Blurbs Available

Here are some book blurbs I am making available. Also, the previous batches of blurbs I posted are still available. I had them for sale before, but If you want a blurb, just take it, use it, it's free. Donations are certainly welcome, especially since work is slow so I need to start making some money. In any case, feel free to customize (tweak, remix, etc) any blurb to include the author's name and/or the title of the book, whatever. So, in about six months, I'm going to begin assuming that every book blurb I see is really one of mine, tweaked, remixed, and attributed to someone else. Thanks and enjoy.

“I haven’t seen such daring since my grandmother left the house without her Depends.”

“Dazzling, crackling, stunning—you’ll probably be incapacitated by the time you’re done with this one. The world will soon be literally deaf, dumb, and blind, too.”

“Seriously, the hype has been so big that I can’t even bring myself to read the book. I just sit and watch the book lay on the desk and I get gooseflesh. Don’t miss out of this masterpiece, a marketing marvel . . . just flip the pages, move it from the bookshelf to the coffee table to your study, just look at the book and think about how great it is . . . buy this book immediately, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed—and you don’t even have to read it!”

"This book will change your life and probably the lives of your family, friends, and even the random people you meet, just from having met you; all because you bought and read this book. If you thought Jesus and 9/11 changed things, you obviously haven't read this yet. And just imagine what you are depriving so many people of if you don't buy this book and read it. That's a heavy burden, my friend, compared to the low low cover price. I'm just saying."

“There’s a lot to like here . . . a nice dust jacket with a photo on the back inside flap with the author in his own corduroy dust jacket, posing for the camera. He looks pretty serious, like he’s mad or horny. The pages, when you have the book closed, are rugged and uneven, kind of giving it an old, rustic look (but the book is new, though, so—). The paper is nice. So I’d say the book is probably pretty good, too. The writing, I mean; the story that’s in it. I’d probably buy one from the store if they didn’t send it to me for free.”

“When the first line is “Nonplussed, the denizens gazed wistfully upon the nondescript regalia and joined in the cacophony of hearts” there is no need to read the rest to know this is an important book by a purely original mind.”

“Any book that leaves your lips bleeding, your balls aching, and your crotch burning like something out of a Nat King Cole Christmas song is worth the price of admission. A band-aid or an ice pack would make a clever freebie, though. Or even some ointment.”

“An instant classic the likes of which have not been seen since Moby Dick or even Confederacy of Dunces.”

“Superb. Delicious. A little tough in areas, but definitely lean and satisfying. Lots to chew on. Tantalizing for the developed palate. Keep a big bottle of sauce at hand and make sure your steak knife is sharp! It's difficult, but try not to eat it too quickly; your bowels will not handle it well if at all.”

“A rowdy, raucous time . . . woke the neighbors . . . police were called . . . two nights in jail . . . helluva time . . . a coloring book and so much more!”

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fiona McCrae on the Life Cycle of the Poem

Fiona McCrae, director and publisher at Graywolf Press, discusses the life cycle of a poem on the Farrar Straus and Giroux poetry blog.

UPDATE: Here is Part Two.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blake Butler Interviews Vanessa Place at HTMLGIANT

This is so good. This is the kind of interview I aspire to. Blake asks Vanessa Place about her massive book (novel?) La Medusa, which was published last year by FC2. Both sides of this interview are fascinating. Here are Blake's opening questions:

BB: (a) I’d like to open our discussion of La Medusa by asking about its birth in you, as an idea. Over the span of its 500 pages, the text manages to worm through quite an insanely number of shells and forms, I believe I read somewhere that you worked on La Medusa for quite a number of years, so I am particularly interested in how the shape of the book continued to evolve and expand within itself as you found yourself deeper in the pages.

(b) What I find really interesting, is that among this huge sprawl, too, is that the bulk of the narrative consists of a set of interwoven strands that focus on the main ‘camps’, if you will, of the discourse, which are in a way defined in the very first sentences of the book:

“Doctor Casper Bowles eyes his mirror’d visor.
Feena checks her pink Barbie mirror
while Athalie her mother looks at her own hand.
Jorge can’t see for shit ‘cuz of the sun,
And the golden-bellied woman stands blind as a proverbial bat.
Then there’s me, flattened & weeping in one hundred and one windows”

These strands are attended to so fervently, and with great poise, so that often it seems like some scenes in the book that may occur over a short period in the timeline of the narrative, actually sprawl out as if minute by minute, almost in the way that David Foster Wallace managed to capture time as time in ‘Infinite Jest,’ and also how Gass used language to define space in ‘The Tunnel.’ I was wondering if you could speak more about directing the complex trajectories of each of these narratives over time and perhaps some of the process involved in how the evolving form dictated content and vice-versa.

Read on and pay attention as your brain muscles ripple and sag.

Coming Soon from Coconut Books: A Model Year by Gina Myers

Gina Myers
Coconut Books

Top Ten Novellas Project Mentioned on Time Out New York Blog

The massive list of favorite novellas lists put together by John Madera gets a nice mention on the Time Out New York blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ryan Call Gets All Russian on Your Pizdy

Ryan Call posted at HTMLGIANT today about his reading of Dostoevsky's novels The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, and it was nice to see someone appreciate the work rather than want to tear it apart and justify why the world would be none the worse if the books got revised out of human history. None of the wrinkle-nosed "Eew, a classic! It must be boring and out of touch." I think Ryan does a fine job of balancing his explaining that, no, reading Dostoevsky is not the same as reading Gary Lutz, and that that's not a bad thing; both are brilliant and magical, they just "make different parts of [the] body light up." That's a great way to say it.

There are not many recent, enormous contemporary social novels that have affected me this way, except for Infinite Jest and maybe some others that I cannot name right now - my bookshelf is currently full of story collections and other short books, so I’m not really reading big social novels anyhow. Maybe that’s why. But I have to admit that reading The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov creates in me a different effect than when I read the work of, say, Gary Lutz, or I don’t know, who else? My point is this: it was a relief to be able to feel concern for characters as if they were real people. I don’t know why, but it felt good to worry about them. See, when I read Lutz, different parts of my body light up, specifically, parts in my head. It is a different kind of reading that I apply to Lutz’s pages: more grammatical/mechanical, less concerned with the fleshy bits. Is anyone familiar with what I’m describing? I’m curious to know if others have found themselves enjoying a suddenly different way of reading? I mean really enjoying it because it is refreshing and new? And by new, I mean, it is how I used to read long ago, before I tried to write for myself?

Jamie Iredell on This Podcast Will Change Your Life

Jamie Iredell talks with Ben Tanzer about his now-sold-out chapbook Atlanta and his other work at This Podcast Will Change Your Life. Good work, guys.

This Podcast Will Change Your Life - Atlanta (April 2009) - Jamie Iredell - Picnic Cannibal

Check out Iredell's latest chapbook from Publishing Genius's This PDF Chapbook series entitled Before I Moved to Nevada and Ben Tanzer's Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine from Orange Alert Press.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What happens in the meantime to the many sounds the infant
once easily uttered, and what becomes of the ability he possessed, before he learned the sounds of a single language, to produce those contained in all of them? It is as if the acquisition of language were possible only through an act of oblivion . . .

Daniel Heller-Roazen, Echolalias: On the Forgetting of Language

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New at Apostrophe Cast: Shane Jones Reads from Light Boxes

Hear Shane Jones read from Light Boxes at Apostrophe Cast. One of these days I'm going to write more about LB. Excellent book.

Here's Shane's interview.

Apostrophe Cast keeps getting better. Probably one of the best podcast/audio literary journals I've seen/heard.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IsReads in Poets & Writers, FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize

Nice article in Poets & Writers about IsReads. Adam and Peter are taking the word directly to the everyday world. Way to go. Way to go.



FC2 announces Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Here are the guidelines in case you don't feel like clicking the link:


The FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize is open to any U.S. writer in English with at least three books of fiction published. Submissions may include a collection of short stories, one or more novellas, or a novel of any length. There is no length requirement. Works that have previously appeared in magazines or in anthologies may be included. Translations and previously published novels and collections are not eligible. To avoid conflict of interest, former or current students or close friends of the final judge are ineligible to win the contest. Employees and FC2 authors are not eligible to enter.

Finalists for the Prize will be chosen by the following members of the FC2 Board of Directors: Kate Bernheimer, R. M. Berry, Jeffrey Deshell, Noy Holland, Brenda Mills, Lance Olsen (Chair), Matt Roberson, Susan Steinberg, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

The winning manuscript will be chosen from the finalists by Carole Maso, who will write the foreword to the winning manuscript.

Selection criteria will be consistent with FC2’s stated mission to publish "fiction considered by America’s largest publishers too challenging, innovative, or heterodox for the commercial milieu," including works of "high quality and exceptional ambition whose style, subject matter, or form pushes the limits of American publishing and reshapes our literary culture.”

For contest updates and full information on FC2’s mission, history, aesthetic commitments, authors, events, and books, please visit the website at: http://fc2.org.

Contest entries will be accepted beginning 15 August. All entries must be postmarked no later than 1 November. The winner will be announced 1 May.

The Prize includes $15,000 and publication by FC2, an imprint of the University of Alabama Press. In the unlikely event that no suitable manuscript is found among entries in a given year, FC2 reserves the right not to award a prize.
Manuscript Format

Please submit TWO hardcopies of the manuscript.

The manuscript must be:

--anonymous: the author's name or address must not appear anywhere on the manuscript (the title page should contain the title only); include a separate cover page with your name, contact information, and a list of three previously published works of fiction with ISBNs and publishers; you may download and use a copy of this cover letter

--typed on standard white paper, one side of the page only; paginated consecutively; bound with a spring clip or rubber bands; no paper clips or staples, please;

Please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard for notification that manuscript has been received, and a self-addressed, stamped, regular business-sized envelope for contest results.

FC2 strongly advises that you send your manuscript first class.

Please retain a copy of your manuscript; FC2 cannot return manuscripts. Submission of more than one manuscript is permissible if each manuscript is accompanied by a $25 reading fee. Once submitted, manuscripts cannot be altered; the winner will be given the opportunity to make changes before publication. Simultaneous submissions to other publishers are permitted, but FC2 must be notified immediately if manuscript is accepted elsewhere. FC2 will consider all finalists for publication.
Submission Address

Full manuscripts, accompanied by a check made out to American Book Review for the mandatory reading fee of $25, should be sent to:

FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize
University of Houston-Victoria
School of Arts and Sciences3007 N. Ben Wilson
Victoria, TX 77901-5731
CLMP Contest Ethics Code

CLMP's community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to:

1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors;

2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and

3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Was the "What Was the Hipster?" n+1 Panel Discussion?

Here's an article in today's New York Observer about some of what happened at the n+1 "What Was the Hipster?" panel discussion this past Saturday. And here's Christian Lorentzen's 2007 piece entitled "Why the Hipster Must Die" from Time Out New York.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Top Ten Novellas, Dozens of Them

John Madera asked a load of writers to list their favorite novellas, and today he posted dozens of lists by these writers:

Leni Zumas
John Dermot Woods
Kevin Wilson
William Walsh
Justin Taylor
Joe Stracci
Matthew Simmons
David Shields
Peter Selgin
Christine Schutt
Bradley Sands
Tim Russell
Adam Robinson
Cooper Renner
Kathryn Regina
Ben Pester
Kimberly King Parsons
Ben Myers
Clayton Moore
Carole Maso
Michael Martone
Micheline Aharonian Marcom
John Madera
Lorette C. Luzajic
Gary Lutz
Sean Lovelace
Reb Livingston
Catherine Lacey
Lee Klein
Paul Kincaid
Michael Kimball
Sean Kilpatrick
Michael Joyce
Shane Jones
Jac Jemc
Jamie Iredell
Lily Hoang
Christopher Higgs
John Haskell
Jim Hanas
Amelia Gray
Brandon Scott Gorrell
Renee Gladman
Molly Gaudry
Timothy Gager
Brian Evenson
Scott Esposito
Nicolle Elizabeth
Jackie Corley
Jimmy Chen
Tobias Carroll
Blake Butler
K. Kvashay-Boyle
Daniel Borzutzky
Crispin Best
Matt Bell
Ken Baumann
Nick Antosca
J.R. Angelella
Steve Almond

Unbelievable. Great job putting this together, John! This is definitely the most impressive, helpful list of novellas I've ever encountered. It's disappointing and exciting to see how much I have missed. I'm happy to see some attention focused on a form that really doesn't get the consideration it deserves. My list is something of a retrospective of the novellas I read in my late teens, early twenties up to just last year. Besides learning about so many novellas I now have to find and read, it feels great to see my name on a list with so many amazing writers. Carole Maso's work is blowing my mind right now, so it's nice to see what work blew her mind.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Money Walks": LA Times Serial Storytelling Experiment

The Los Angeles Times website is publishing a serial novel. Here is the deal:

This is the first chapter in an experiment in serial storytelling called "Money Walks" that we will publish in Calendar during the next three weeks. Every weekday and Saturday between now and April 24, we will bring you another installment, first by our own Mary McNamara, and then by Los Angeles fiction writers including, among others, Seth Greenland, Marisa Silver, Aimee Bender, Denise Hamilton and Jerry Stahl.

"Money Walks," a serial novel by 16 Los Angeles writers who will be appearing at this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, runs Monday through Saturday until April 24. The festival takes place at UCLA on April 25 and 26.

Today's installment, Chapter 4: "Finding an easy mark isn't easy," is the work of Tod Goldberg, author of Living Dead Girl, Simplify, and a forthcoming story collection entitled Other Resort Cities. Here are the opening two paragraphs of Chapter 4:

Angie believed nothing good ever happened in the Valley. She'd done her time there, like everyone else, working the day shift at Odd-Balls back in the '90s, stripping for CSUN frat boys who couldn't make it past Van Nuys, not even to see naked women.

Even then, the cities of the Valley sounded like they wanted to get out: Northridge, West Hills, North Hills. . . . each one creeping on the fringe back toward the real Los Angeles.

Here's what Tod had to say about participating in this experiment:

The way the serial has worked from a writing point of view is pretty simple. About 24 hours before my 600 words were due, the first 3 sections were emailed to me. I spent the next 18 hours trying to figure out how the hell I was going to go from Diana Wagman's section, which I suspect started with Diana trying to figure out where to go from Seth Greenland's submission, which certainly had Seth trying to figure out just what to do with the initial section, penned by LAT's writer Mary McNamara. I was also thinking, while writing, how I might be able to set up the next section for my friend Aimee Bender, who was originally supposed to go after me, but who ended up moving further down the line, but who, originally, I was going to see the very night she'd have to write her section. See, I'm all about helping others. But, yeah, that didn't work out. So I took a more mercenary approach and decided that the story needed to have a caper and needed one right now, or else the entire project was going to go down in a burning heap. Whether or not anyone else thought this -- ie, the fine folks at the LA Times -- was not made clear to me. So. Yeah. That's what I did.

It was actually quite fun to do this bit of experimental storytelling. You can feel each writer attempting to inject their brand of storytelling into the work and also expressing a will about where they'd like it to go. I don't think people reading it can expect a uniformity in style or even for the writers to try to mimic each other's tone as part of the fun is watching what each of these talented folks choose to do, how their own aesthetic shines through. I fully expect that in Aimee's section, for instance, that everyone will turn into pumpkins. And when Mark Haskell Smith is up, I expect a prolonged scene of scatalogical excess. And then Susan Straight will make it all serious and beautiful. Personally, I'm hoping for scatalogical and downtrodden, but that's just me.

Tod will be on the "Humor & Race" panel at 3:30 p.m. Saturday and the "Enough About You: Fiction & Humor" panel at noon Sunday at UCLA at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

This is interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how this novel evolves.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Michael Kimball Virtual Book Tour

Michael Kimball will be touring the UK blogosphere in support of the UK paperback release of Dear Everybody. Here's the pertinent info.

Names and Naming in Benjamin Kunkel's Introduction to Peter Handke's Slow Homecoming

n+1 just posted Benjamin Kunkel's Introduction to Peter Handke's Slow Homecoming, recently reissued by The New York Review of Books (originally published in the late 1970's), with interesting discussion of Handke's manipulation/exploration of the power of names and naming in the novel. Here is the opening paragraph of Kunkel's Introduction:

One of this novel's minor but telling peculiarities is the narrator's extreme reluctance to resort to proper names, and to describe the book in its own preferred style would be to avoid for as long as possible any mention of the author's name or the title of his book. True, we learn (or seem to learn) from the first sentence that the main character bears the last name of Sorger, but in German this is as good as allegorical—Sorger means one who takes care or has cares—and the man's given name in any case doesn't come up for some fifty pages. The place in which the man is working will elicit a description of almost naturalistic precision, but its name is likewise withheld for many pages, as is the disciplinary title attached to his work: a patient and reverent bestowal of attention that involves, above all, "the search for forms," and resembles geology.

And, of course, this fascinates me as I work on an essay all about the concept of names and naming, which I've mentioned briefly before: the essay will be crafted entirely out of quotes from any and every source, something I've been wanting to do for a couple of years, but hadn't found fitting subject matter until I started doing the name drop posts here. Then when I read that Walter Benjamin had wanted to write an essay this way, too, I experienced that simultaneous disappointment and inspiration that someone had had this idea way before I did.

It appears that namelessness runs through most of Handke's books. I'm going to be checking into his work asap.

Keyhole Magazine's Recession Sale

You can get a subscription (4 issues) to Keyhole Magazine for the ridiculously low price of $19.99 which already includes shipping. And the individual issues are marked down, too (except Issue 1 and Issue 4, which are out of print (but you can download them for free (!!!)))

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Opium's 500-Word Memoir Contest Finalists Announced

Which includes familiar names like Jamie Iredell, Sean Beaudoin, Rachel Yoder, and others I should probably know.

Here's the short list:

From 26 to 32, the Only Years that Matter by Sean Beaudoin
Total Care by Kathline Carr
The Question of Spoons by Rebecca Collins
Lamb Brain by Kate Duva
High Life by Jamie Iredell
Sacred Bodies by Davin Malasarn
Farewell Bend by Nathaniel Missildine
Crossing Styx by Peter Gajdics
Nothing But The Truth by Geoff Kronik
Fifty-Eight Years Later by Helen Phillips
Thief by F.S. Symons
Family Stew by Sean Toner
Dale by Rob Tourtelot
A Merry Sort of Life by Jim Windolf
Creatures by Rachel Yoder

Congrats, folks. I've always wanted to write one of these, but all I can seem to write are negative memoirs, where I tell about things that did not happen instead of what did. I guess that's called fiction?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Verso Spring 09, n+1 Hipster Panel Primer, The Cupboard, Shane Jones, Paris Review

Thinkers, Leftists, and Theorists: direct your attention to the Spring 2009 titles forthcoming from Verso.

Also, possibly a primer for the upcoming n+1 panel "What Was the Hipster?", Christian Lorentzen's article (Lorentzen will be one of the panelists): "Captain Neato: Wes Anderson and the Problem with Hipsters; Or, What Happens When a Generation Refuses to Grow Up, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou"

The next pamphlet from The Cupboard is available for pre-order. Here's the info:

by Mathias Svalina
36 pages. Tape-bound.
Book design by Todd Seabrook.
Cover design by Randy Bright.

Children need preoccupations. Children need supervision and bran in their diets and children need instruction. For you, for your children: Play, a collection of twenty-nine games to issue gentle correctives and urge honing of the child's wayward sense of wonder. For sixteen or more players. For two. For five. For one child left alone to fend for herself.

About the Author
Mathias Svalina is a co-editor of Octopus Magazine and Books. He is the author & collaborator of numerous chapbooks & his first full-length book, Destruction Myths, is forthcoming from Cleveland State University Press. He lives deep in Brooklyn, NY.

It appears that the inaugural issue, Jesse Ball's Parables & Lies has sold out. I've been very happy with my subscription to The Cupboard; the quality of the writing is, obviously, very high, as is the production of the pamphlets. Well worth the $15 subscription for four issues.

Matt Bell reviews Light Boxes by Shane Jones. I'll say it again: one of the best books I've read lately.

Latest Paris Review in the mail today. New fiction by Jesse Ball, Caitlin Horrocks; Poetry and Collages by John Ashbery; Interview with John Banville and Annie Proulx

Saturday, April 4, 2009

n+1 Historical Investigation: "What Was the Hipster?"

Yes, it's official, The Hipster is dead.

Read for yourself: an email from n+1 today:

n+1 Presents
in partnership with the New School

"What Was the Hipster?"

An Afternoon Panel, Symposium, and Historical Investigation

--Next Saturday, April 11, 2009--

Mark Greif (n+1)
Jace Clayton (dj/Rupture)
Christian Lorentzen (Harper's)
+ Special Guests TBA

Free and Open to the Public

Who was the turn-of-the-century hipster? Who is free enough of the hipster taint to write the hipster's history without contempt or nostalgia? Why do we declare the hipster moment over--that, in fact, it had ended by 2003--when the hipster's "global brand" has just reached its apotheosis?

A panel of n+1 writers invites n+1 subscribers and the public to join a collective investigation. Short presentations will be followed by audience debate, comment, and recollection, to be transcribed and published in book form this year.

Saturday, April 11, 2009, 2 pm - 4 pm.
The New School University, Theresa Lang Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor.
Admission: No tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served. Please come early.
Please forward this message to friends.


Friday, April 3, 2009


Just ordered my copy of Jamie Iredell's BEFORE I MOVED TO NEVADA from Publishing Genius. This is an installment of Iredell's novel-in-chapbooks, which has been drawn, quartered (well, thirded (?)), and disseminated via various small presses.

Read BEFORE I MOVED TO NEVADA, and then probably buy a copy. You know, like support quality indie lit.

Then get ATLANTA (Achilles Chapbooks)

And WHEN I MOVED TO NEVADA (Greying Ghost Press)