HUMP Day Hues

It’s another HUMP Day! Bluer than the tip of an iceberg. Whiter than a march hare. Here are some interesting sites to visit this December:

At Entropy, the best new site of 2014, the Best of Non-Fiction Books: http://entropymag.org/best-of-2014-non-fiction-books/. And while at Entropy, check out the list of our 2014 Literary Advocates: http://entropymag.org/2014-entropy-thanks-the-literary-advocates/

Literary Orphans issue 16: Houdini has arrived: http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/issue16-houdini-2/

Sam Snoek-Brown has selected his 2014 book shopping list! Thanks for including Addicts & Basements, buddy: http://snoekbrown.com/2014/12/02/book-shopping-for-the-holidays-the-2014-edition/

Len Kuntz has three new poems at HOUSEFIRE: http://housefirebooks.com/three-poems-by-len-kuntz/

At Book Riot, Margaret Aldrich also compiles a Best Books List: http://bookriot.com/2014/12/02/riot-round-best-books-2014/

Melissa Broder’s “Salt” at Poetry Magazine podcast: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/249126

Janice Lee at The Volta’s “In Review”: http://www.thevolta.org/inreview-bestbooks2014-jlee.html

Amber Sparks slays it with her essay, “Melville Never Wrote Me a Choose Your Own Adventure Book” at Electric Literature: http://electricliterature.com/melville-never-wrote-me-a-choose-your-own-adventure-book-writers-on-their-lowbrow-influences2/

At Camroc Press Review, Jim Breslin’s flash fiction, “The Graduate”: http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2014/12/jim-breslin.html

Bree Barton at PANK with “&%@# Me” (warning: graphic content!): http://pankmagazine.com/piece/

And that, my friends, is a HUMP Day wrap. Choose a book (or two) as a great holiday gift.

 

 

Three for Tuesday: Bill Yarrow, Darryl Price and Alex Pruteanu

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was super, and that you have some peace among the upcoming hectic holiday season. Because I travelled last week, we have three fantastic writers who selected two books each this week. Enjoy!

TWO FOR TUESDAY- BILL YARROW

Seven Dada Manifestos- Tristan Tzara

Picasso said his art was “a sum of destructions.” I love that phrase for the way it cracks opens up a world we think we know. Some of my favorite reading is S.O.D. literature—think Tristram Shandy, Jacques the Fatalist and his Master, The Marriage and Heaven and Hell, Crotchet Castle, Max Havelaar, The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, Ulysses, Tropic of Cancer, How It Is, The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld, Flaubert’s Parrot….

So my first choice for Robert’s blog this week is Tristram Tzara’s “Seven Dada Manifestos,” a fabulous work difficult to find. I first came across it in Robert Motherwell’s outstanding anthology The Dada Painters and Poets and I still remember how shaken with excitement I was after I read it. It is to poetry what stock is to soup. Fun, experimental, shocking, unsettling, unreasonable, innovative, suggestive, and cleansing . Or, as Tzara explains, “A manifesto is a communication made to the whole world, whose only pretensions is to the discovery of an instant cure for political, astronomical, artistic, parliamentary, agronomical and literary syphilis.”

I love explication, exegesis—the art of making things clear. Brown’s Life Against Death, Herrnstein Smith’s Poetic Closure, Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism, Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction, Hirsch’s Validity in Interpretation, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, Sacks’ Musicophilia, Grandin’s Animals in Translation, among others, have opened my eyes. For me, education is about making connections, so works that help me make connections are the works I most revere.

http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Dada-Manifestos-Tristan-Tzara/dp/B0037VIAP6/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1416673075&sr=8-4&keywords=Tristan+Tzara+Seven+Dada+Manifestos

Paperback: Riverrun (1981)

Tristan Tsara

Understanding Comics- Scott McCloud

My second choice is Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics (with his Making Comics a close second). This is a book about comic books in the form of a comic book, but it is so much more. You want to read the best book on comic art? This is it. You want to read the best book on art in general? This is it. You want to read the best book on the nature and potential of film? This is it. You want to read the best book on how to write fiction? How to write poetry? This is it. A book in which manifold connections abound and explode. ESSENTIAL reading.

http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Comics-Invisible-Scott-McCloud/dp/006097625X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416673203&sr=8-1&keywords=scott+mccloud+understanding+comics

Paperback: 224 pages (William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition April 27, 1994)

Scott McCloud

Bill’s Bio: Bill Yarrow is the author of The Lice of Christ (MadHat Press, 2014), Incompetent Translations and Inept Haiku (Červená Barva Press, 2013) and Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX, 2012). His poems have appeared in many print and online magazines including Poetry International, RHINO, Contrary, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, and PANK.

********************************************************************************

TWO FOR TUESDAY: DARRYL PRICE

Colorless Tsuruku and His Years of Pilgrimage- Haruki Murakami

The best book I have had the immense pleasure of reading recently, and one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life, is the new Haruki Murakami novel called, Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage. Murakami elevates this profound work of literature into the rarefied realm of true and beautiful works of art. It is brilliant. It is at once a fascinating, interesting and moving story, but beyond that it is an experience that reverberates deeply into both your heart and mind always. A masterful work of word genius on every level.

http://www.amazon.com/Colorless-Tsukuru-Tazaki-Years-Pilgrimage/dp/0385352107/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416352390&sr=8-1&keywords=colorless+tsukuru+tazaki+and+his+years+of+pilgrimage

Paperback (Kindle, Hardcover): 400 pages (Knopf, August 12, 2014)

Murakami

 

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years- Volume 1- Mark Lewinsohn

The other book I’d like to make your readers aware of is Mark Lewisohn’s terrific new book on the Beatles, simply called Tune In–All these Years-Volume 1. It is simply the best book out there about the Beatles written to date, and by that I mean it has the most accurate information available in it. It is beautifully told and written and deeply researched. There are so many boxes of books about this band that a book should be written on all the glut of books, the good, the bad and the ugly. But to get back to the point, this particular book does what so many other books and authors have failed to do, that is to talk about the music, and to make that the centerpiece of any conversation first. So many of the other books leave out the fact of the music or just gloss over it in an offhand kind of way. This of course is highly insulting to the band, its fans and to readers of every stripe. We would not be having a conversation about the Beatles still if the music didn’t warrant it. In so many of the older books they are so very quick to point out how humanly fallible the four Beatles were, but then fail to mention, oh yeah, and while this or that thing was happening to them in their lives they just happened to write a few masterpieces to go along with it all–which the whole world seemed to embrace to such a degree that it (their songs, their music) became a part of everyone’s daily approach to life. Beatle music sound-tracked us (those who were there) as we all grew and changed- for decades at a time. So I was happy to discover that Mark’s approach was all about getting the facts right, and inserting the musical main reasons that these facts are even worth being told again now. Can’t wait for Volume Two!

http://www.amazon.com/Tune-Beatles-All-These-Years/dp/1400083052/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416424214&sr=8-1&keywords=Mark+Lewinson

Paperback: 944 pages (Crown Archetype: First U.S. Edition- Oct. 29, 2013)

The Beatles

Darryl’s Bio: Darryl Price has published dozens of chapbooks, and his poems have appeared in many journals.

********************************************************************************

TWO FOR TUESDAY: ALEX PRUTEANU

Gravity’s Rainbow- Thomas Pinchon

This is the most difficult book I’ve read in my life. Pynchon’s heavy work here is also the most polarizing I’ve ever known a book to be. People either give him up within the first 30 pages, labeling him a hack/lunatic/incomprehensible scheister, or work through the novel (like me) and are rewarded along the 800-page life-changing saga with the most remarkable and complex set of ideas, digressions, characters, and narrative ever they’ve come upon. I hesitate to even call this a novel. It is…at times an advanced course in engineering, propulsion, guidance, and physics. It is a slapstick silent comedy film along the lines of Buster Keaton’s or Harold Lloyd’s work. It is a philosophical meditation on humanity and war, a rhyming, naughty limerick, a drug-fueled hallucination marked by outrageous acts such as coprophagia and an unforgettable trip via a filthy toilet into the sewage pipes long before Trainspotting stole the idea outright and brought it to a new generation of readers. Listen, Pynchon was “edgy” a good 27 years before Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle impressed you. Gravity’s Rainbow is a profound, brilliant, immense journey transgressing boundaries between high and low culture, literary propriety and profanity, and between hard science and metaphysics. This book was so important to me and affected me in such a heavy, great fashion that during the two months I read this work, I rearranged my daily life in order that I could come home and engage myself in Pynchon’s world. There were many times when ordinary details and daily chores were neglected in favour of reading this brilliant work. When I finished, I came away not only an inspired writer but a more complete (if astounded) human being.

Amazon.com: Gravity’s Rainbow (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (9780143039945): Thomas Pynchon, Frank Miller: Books

Paperback, 776 pages; Penguin Classics, Deluxe Edition (Oct. 31, 2006)

Pynchon

2666- Roberto Bolano

Bolano’s imagination has always reminded me of our quickly ever-expanding universe. There are no limits to what this great writer can conjure, no boundaries—physical or metaphorical. This massive, posthumously released work redefines the idea of The Novel and its form. In his usual, self-interrogating way, Bolano’s 2666 is an ambitious, landmark master statement to, for, and on humanity. The novel consists of five sections, each with an autonomous life and form. These five long sequences—each a book’s length in itself—interlock to form an astonishing whole, in the same manner that fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers, and books connect in the amazing paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo to form a human face. “The Part About the Crimes” (pt. 4) is a massive display of genial, blunt power of documentary compilation. It’s grinding. It’s crushing. It’s harrowing. And it’s pure and beautiful. After nearly 300 pages of brutal, lyrical, poetic gravity in this section, the reader is rewarded with the oasis-like final part. I felt a sort of physical lift reading part 5…something I’ve only felt once in my life, in a state of trance almost, while listening for the first time to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” With this novel, Bolano has proven what literature can do, how much it can discover, and how purely it can indict our often disastrous, violent footprint left on this world. In fact, Bolano has proven it can do anything, including giving a name to the un-nameable, un-speakable, transgressive acts committed by human beings.

2666: A Novel: Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer: 9780312429218: Amazon.com: Books

Paperback, 912 pages, Picador; reprint edition (Sept. 1, 2009)

Bolano

Alex’s Bio:  Alex is author of novella Short Lean Cuts: Alex M. Pruteanuavailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, and So & So Books (Raleigh, NC). He is also author of Gears, a collection of stories from Independent Talent Group, Inc. (Gears: A Collection: Alex M. Pruteanu). He has published fiction in NY Arts Magazine, Guernica Magazine, [PANK], Specter Literary Magazine, and others. He recently finished his first novel, The Sun Eaters.

********************************************************************************

There are two books I read during Thanksgiving week, and really enjoyed both. One is Lauren Haldeman’s Calenday (poetry). I had the great fortune of reading with Lauren in the recent MONSTERS of Poetry event in Madison. The other book is Our Secret Life in the Movies by Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree (stories). What did you read Thanksgiving week? What are you reading now? Both of these books, and being with so much family made me feel extremely grateful for everyone who is in my life. So, thanks!

HaldemanOur Secret Life in the Movies

HUMP Day: November White-Out

It’s another installment of HUMP day! Jack Frost paints crazy stark art on my studio windows. The landscape is utter white, the fresh snow not yet marred by pollution, cars or other human facets. When the term “winter wonderland” is used, this is what comes to mind. Vast, endless expanse of colorless hues. Sounds of jets zooming overhead to places you’ve never visited. Wind that whispers your name.

Here, from cyberland, another untempered, immense and wild universe, are ten re-posts. Read them and weep:

1) The Bridge Poetry Series lists thirteen poems by Wisconsin poets, inspired by art at The Chazen Museum exhibit, The Human Condition: http://www.chazen.wisc.edu/about/multimedia-center/publications/bridge-poetry-series-11-13-14

2) Rumpus review of Elissa Washuta’s My Body is a Book of Rules: http://therumpus.net/2014/11/my-body-is-a-book-of-rules-by-elissa-washuta/

3) Andrew Stancek has a new story, “Thefts,” up at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/thefts-by-andrew-stancek/

4) At Entropy, Juliet Escoria answers “What How & With Whom: Two Questions” by Christopher Higgs: http://entropymag.org/what-how-with-whom-two-questions-for-juliet-escoria/

5) Roxane Gay’s Art or Humanity at The Butter: http://the-toast.net/2014/11/18/need-talk-bill-cosby/

6) The Ploughshares blog has the Round-Down: The Right Way to Write by Tasha Golden: http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-ploughshares-round-down/

7) At the New Yorker, Sarah Larson’s “Listen to Sinead O’Connor”: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/listen-sinead-oconnor

8) Matt Coleman hosts a Tuesday “twitterreview” column at Saybird, this week five questions for Joshua Harmon: http://www.saybird.com/blog/twitterviews-tuesday-joshua-harmon

9) “Megan Daum won’t apologize” at The Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/11/19/meghan_daum_wont_apologize_how_she_forged_a_new_genre_of_confessional_writing/

10) Pharrell Williams has some of his favorite music at his Tumblr site. C’mon, what’re you waiting for?: http://tumblr.pharrellwilliams.com/

I’m reading this Friday night in Madison, Wisconsin for MONSTERS OF POETRY, hosted by Adam Fell, whose book, I AM NOT A PIONEER – H_NGM_N: an online journal & small press, is wonderful!

1237799_10203471176834427_8316997767999329443_n

We have a Facebook event page here: Lauren Haldeman, Hannah Brooks-Motl, Robert Vaughan, & Caryl Pagel. Please come and support your friendly Midwest poets: fun raffles, strange minced words, bafflement. And warmth. (Friday, November 21, 7:30 p.m. at Dragonfly Cafe in Madison). 

 

Two For Tuesday: Gay Degani and Kathy Fish

Another Tuesday, and I could barely sleep last night! Two of my favorite people, not to mention writers. One of the many things I enjoy about this new column is the wide ranging choices that astound me every week. Rest assured, this week is no different. I hope you have fun with these selections by two of the kindest, talented writers that I know. Thanks, Gay and Kathy!

TWO FOR TUESDAY: GAY DEGANI

Dumas’ Two Counts- Alexander Dumas

Sometime earlier this year, I listened to Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo on CD, the two-part library edition. Full of adventure, betrayal, lost love, and surprise, it was a revelation. The week I plugged into this story, I cleaned out the refrigerator, ironed an overflowing basket of clothes, pulled the weeds taking over my potted plants, went on long rambling walks, all because I didn’t want to stop being a part of this swashbuckling19th century French novel.

How could I not have read this book before? Well, it’s long. Penguin Classics; Unabridged edition (May 27, 2003) puts it at 1276 pages. Sitting down to read a tome this long is way too daunting in today’s busy-busy world. That’s why I strap on my ugly fanny pack and tuck headphones into my ears. I can multi-task!! And I’m so grateful because The Count picked me up and carried me off, surprising me with his misfortunes and singular brand of justice.

Don’t all readers love it when books make them gasp in disbelief? After a lifetime of reading and listening to books, this doesn’t happen to me very often. As a writer, I’ve trained myself to see clues, understand structure, and anticipate the twists and turns, but Dumas astonished me time and again. Surprise is always a most delicious treat.

Count of Monte Cristo, Library CD edition: http://www.amazon.com/Count-Monte-Cristo-Blackstone-Collection/dp/1433215772/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416023790&sr=1-8&keywords=the+count+of+monte+cristo+on+CD

Count of Monte Cristo, Penguin Edition: http://www.amazon.com/Count-Monte-Cristo-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140449264

Paperback, 1276 pages, (Penguin Classics, Unabridged edition- May 27, 2003)

Count of Monte ChristoPenguin version

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo- Tom Reiss

Then, I recently discovered another audio book at my public library, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss and the surprises continued to mount up. I had some vague memory that Alexandre Dumas (the author of The Count of Monte Cristo) was of mixed race, but I didn’t realize the rest of the story, that his grandfather was the ne’er-do-well elder son of French aristocrat and a slave in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti).

When the old Marquis died, Alexandre Dumas’s grandfather returned to France to claim his fortune and title, bringing with him his son Thomas-Alexandre Dumas (he sold his other children). The “Black Count” was this Thomas-Alexandre Dumas and it is from his life, his hardships and his triumphs as a general in the French Revolutionary army that Alexandre Dumas drew his inspiration for “Monte Cristo.”

From Reiss’ biography, I began to understand the differences between the French attitude toward race and slavery and the attitudes held by the U.S. I also learned more about the French Revolution as well as the craft of writing, how Dumas incorporated the stories he’d been told by and about his father into his own work.

I’m surprised when I discover there are seemingly inadvertent patterns to my reading. Time and time again I will pick one engrossing story only to find another shortly thereafter that somehow links perfectly with the first one. It’s my subconscious at work, I suppose, but too often I choose books blindly, especially audio books, having to take what’s on the shelf, but they often dovetail one into the other, giving me a richer look into history or into the human heart or both.

Paperback (or audio, Kindle, Hardcover): 432 pages, Broadway Books, reprint edition (May 14, 2013).

The Black Count: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Count-Revolution-Betrayal-Cristo/dp/0307382478/

Tom Reiss

Gay’s Bio: Gay Degani’s suspense novel What Came Before is available in trade paperback and e-book (What Came Before – Kindle edition by Gay Degani. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com). She is founder and editor-emeritus of EDF’s Flash Fiction Chronicles, content editor at SmokeLong Quarterly and blogs at Words in Place where a complete list of her published work can be found. She’s had three stories nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize. She has written a novella, The Old Road, as part of Pure Slush’s 2014-A Year in Stories project and is working on the prequel to What Came Before.

******************************************************************************

TWO FOR TUESDAY: KATHY FISH 

Nine Stories- J. D. Salinger

Everybody has read The Catcher in The Rye. It was much later that someone recommended Nine Stories to me. I studied psychology in college, not literature, so I was late to a lot of great fiction and poetry. It wasn’t until I started writing that I read Salinger’s short stories. No matter how many times i dip back into this book, I remain astonished at how good they are. How perfect they are. I learned so much from this book. I’m convinced that nobody does dialogue better. Salinger makes it look easy and effortless. When his characters talk to each other in these stories, it just flows naturally and yet, his dialogue does an incredible amount of work in the stories. Voice, characterization, back story, the advancement of plot–all accomplished in a simple phone conversation between mother and daughter or a seemingly playful back and forth between a man and a child. Salinger’s physical descriptions of his characters are actually rather scant, but I see them. I see them so clearly because of how they talk. And also, their small gestures that carry so much weight. Every character in every story is so alive, so fully realized. Salinger doesn’t explain much in these stories. He doesn’t have to. I always go back to this book when I”m stuck and need inspiration. The thing about these stories, though, is that they’re so perfect as to almost make you want to close your laptop forever and try your hand at something, anything else. Almost, but not quite. What I’ve learned from Nine Stories is that stories are about people, and that people sad and funny and bewildering and full of secrets. You start with fascinating people, fully realized, and story takes care of itself.

Paperback: 320 pages (January 30, 2001)

http://www.amazon.com/Nine-Stories-J-D-Salinger/dp/0316767727/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416275117&sr=8-1&keywords=nine+stories+by+j.d.+salinger

Nine Stories

The Shipping News- E. Annie Proulx

Mention this novel and there’s always a mixed response. Some people really hate it. The strange, fragmented sentences. That harsh, forbidding setting. All the shitty things that happen to poor, passive, lumbering Quoyle. I absolutely loved it. It’s another book I’ve read multiple times. I love Proulx’s diction, her brilliant descriptions, they way her characters talk. I love the harshness. How setting in this book is indeed another character. How Quoyle is pushed around and molded into the man he eventually becomes. Or rather, how his presence molds the people around him somehow. It’s a relentlessly sad, dark, odd book. And again, I love how Proulx is not afraid of words. Fresh, strange, arcane words. I read this book with such pleasure. And I learned so much about writing from reading this book. Proulx loves her characters in all their imperfect humanity. Quoyle is so moving in his loneliness and desire to connect. I can tell you that I never fail to cry when I read the final amazing paragraphs:

“Quoyle experience moments in all colors, uttered brilliancies, paid attention to the rich sound of waves counting stones, he laughed and wept, noticed sunsets, heard music in rain, said I do. A row of shining hubcaps on sticks appeared in the front yard of the Burkes’ house. A wedding present from the bride’s father.

For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat’s blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.”

Paperback: 352 pages, (Scribner, June 1, 1994)

http://www.amazon.com/Shipping-News-E-Annie-Proulx/dp/0671510053/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416275233&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Shipping+NEws

The Shipping News

Kathy’s Bio: Kathy Fish’s stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers (BLP), Slice, Guernica, Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Elm Leaves Journal, and elsewhere. She is the author of three collections of short fiction: A chapbook of flash fiction in the chapbook collective, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women, Rose Metal Press, 2008 (A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness), Wild Life, Matter Press, 2011 (Wild Life | Matter Press) and Together We Can Bury It, The Lit Pub, 2013 ( The Lit Pub • Kathy Fish’s Together We Can Bury It). She blogs at http://kathy-fish.com/.

*******************************************************************************

Recently I listened to Brad Listi’s Other People podcast with Frederick Barthelme (Episode 327 — Frederick Barthelme) who’s new book, There Must Be Some Mistake, is available from Little, Brown & Co. Frederick is such a sweet man, so self-depracating, and I was fascinated by his reflections on growing up in this amazing American southern literate family. I also recalled one of my favorite collections, which had an enormous impact on me. I devoured it the first time I flew between New York and Los Angeles. Then read it again on my return flight. (And sorry, Frederick, but this one is by your older brother, Donald). And a second book which really spoke to me around the same time was Black Tickets by Jayne Anne Phillips. ‘Nuff said!”

UnknownUnknown-1

 

Overnight to Many Distant Cities- Donald Barthelme (Overnight to Many Distant Cities: Donald Barthelme: 9780399128684: Amazon.com: Books)

Black Tickets- Jayne Anne Phillips (Black Tickets: Stories: Jayne Anne Phillips: 9780375727351: Amazon.com).

What books were instrumental in your youth? Were there any that made you want to write? Or want to take action? Thanks again, for another fun Two for Tuesday. Now get your pen moving!

 

 

 

HUMP Day: November Nuggets

Hi friends,

I have a strange new fiction trio published today at Revolution John called Pets: Three Vignettes: PETS: THREE VIGNETTES by Robert Vaughan | REVOLUTION JOHN. Thanks editor Sheldon Compton, for your support! And check out the other amazing work at this great website!

Here are ten other places you can click and visit in cyberland:

1) Allie Marini Batts is interviewed by Drunk Monkey’s editor Matthew Guerrucky: http://www.drunkmonkeys.onimpression.com/interview-allie-marini-batts/

2) Janice Lee, co-founder of Entropy, talks about origins and more, “Writers and Creative People are Multi-Faceted” at The Review Review: http://www.thereviewreview.net/interviews/writers-and-creative-people-are-multi-faceted-jan

3) At Gigantic, a conversation about Fairy Tales between Porochista Khakpour and John Dermot Woods: http://thegiganticmag.com/magazine/articleDetail.php?p=articleDetail&id=206

4) Although I typically abhor these sort of “exclusive lists,” at Buzzfeed, this one is pretty damn good: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/20-under-40

5) Roxane Gay writes at her blog with “By Way of My Heart”: http://roxanegay.tumblr.com/post/102325291790/by-way-of-my-heart

6) An excerpt of his forthcoming novel, Alice, Sheldon Compton is up at New World Writing: http://newworldwriting.net/fall-2014/sheldon-lee-compton/

7) Downtown Express highlights “Risque Tales from respectable parents,” including a great photo of writer Paula Bomer: http://www.downtownexpress.com/2014/11/06/risque-tales-from-respectable-parents/

8) Adam Robinson at Everyday Genius sums up the Letters Fest in Atlanta 2014: http://www.publishinggenius.com/?p=4536

9) Ryan Bradley’s Pop Cartography is up at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/pop-cartography-in-which-i-steal-rock-and-roll-by-ryan-w-bradley/

10) Gabe Durham interviews Maxwell Neely-Cohen about his new book, Echo of the Boom at The Rumpus: http://therumpus.net/2014/11/the-rumpus-interview-with-maxwell-neely-cohen/

My Dad was a veteran of WWII. And so, we toasted to him last night, and thanks, Dad for your service. But today I don’t want to focus on war. I’d like to focus on peace. Have a great HUMP day. Do something nice, unexpected, for someone. Perhaps a stranger.

 

Two for Tuesday: Michael Seidlinger and Mike Joyce

Ready for another fun, informative Two for Tuesday? This week, check out the choices made by two of the hardest working young guns in the entire indie lit scene, impacting various aspects of new and established writers’ on their paths.

TWO FOR TUESDAY: Michael Seidlinger

The Novel: A Biography- Michael Schmidt

Man, this one’s a tome. Quite literally the biography of how the novel, as a literary long-form, evolved through the various eras, Michael Schmidt also managed to write in a way that invigorates the (maybe) ailing/uninspired novelist into remembering why s/he got into writing novels in the first place: the innovation, the freedom, the exploratory eye of letting free both storytelling and structure. It’s a hell of a book to read and savor. I’ve been reading it in small, ten to fifteen page, doses and intend on keeping this one in rotation for months to come.

http://www.amazon.com/Novel-Biography-Michael-Schmidt/dp/0674724739/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415713815&sr=1-1&keywords=the+novel+a+biography

Hardcover: 1200 pages, Belknap Press (May 12, 2014)

The Novel

Dept of Speculation- Jenny Offill

I was a little late to the party with this one but I’m glad I gave it a shot when the paperback version dropped. From a distance, I expected it to be something quite similar, predictable fare from the major New York publishing houses, but upon inspecting the book up close and seeing how it is structured (spare, small snippets of language with plenty of white space), I quickly took to it as a novel that could have easily fit as an indie conquering and finding a home with the majors. Structurally, it’s a lot like an early novel of mine, The Sky Conducting, where the small nuggets of language propel the narrative in a somewhat anomalous yet remarkably poignant and on-point prose. It’s the sort of novel that stays with you for a long time after reading it.

http://www.amazon.com/Dept-Speculation-Vintage-Contemporaries-Offill/dp/0345806875/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415713914&sr=1-1&keywords=dept+of+speculation

Paperback: 192 pages, Vintage Contemporaries (October 7, 2014)

Dept of Speculation

Michael Seidlinger’s Bio: Michael is the author of a number of novels including The Laughter of StrangersMy Pet Serial Killer and The Sky Conducting. He serves as Electric Literature‘s Book Reviews Editor as well as Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in unclassifiable/innovative fiction and poetry. Check him out here: THE FEATURE S P A C E _ | File under: author/designer Michael J Seidlinger.

*******************************************************************************

TWO FOR TUESDAY: Mike Joyce

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose- Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil

Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose is a nonfiction book. It’s epistolary. Diary entries spanning a three year period written by a young teenage girl who was a drug addict; who was fatherless; who had cystic fibrosis, the killing disease; who spent years in and out of rehab facilities for her condition, suicide attempts, and drug use. Who was going through love and loss all the same as any teen. It’s a true story about a girl who died in the year 1999. The book was compiled/edited by the famed authors Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil (the authors of the definitive Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk).

I heard about it first from a Poetry Editor of the journal I edit, Literary Orphans (thanks, Katie). The press [Sourcebook Fire, out of Naperville, IL] was kind enough to send myself and the Managing Editor press copies. We were skeptical–nonfiction like this isn’t really my bag and to be honest I was mostly just taken with the idea of getting the free book from these two pivotal authors. Man, I didn’t know what I was in for. For about a month as we each read it, it was all we could talk about.

I’m constantly telling anyone who will listen that if you want to be a writer, just write honest and unfiltered. Write when you have something to say, even if you can’t yet see what it is you’re trying to say but still have that lump in your throat. I can appreciate the iambic pentameter and the delicate merger of Faulknerian and Joycean stream-of-consciousness as much as the next guy, but that stuff is just the icing. At best. At worst it’s the boring 20 minute guitar solo in every lame heavy metal album ever made. That stuff shouldn’t be what you set out to write–at least in this Editor’s opinion. It should be more about heart.

My role as Editor and my ridiculously long hours snuggled up with the aluminum railings of the Chicago Transit Authority allows me to read quite a bit. I read a lot of books with heart, but nothing with as big of a heart as this book, not in the past few months, not in the entire year. Mary Rose writes and she doodles and the heart she pounds on the page swells and is filled with tension–even when she writes about boredom. She falls in love and desperately seeks friends and is abused and fills herself with sex and is hit again and again and she finds new love and when it’s all on the brink of the end, when she’s writing on the stationary of the room she’s about to die in, and she looks back at her youth as a little girl, sneaking out in the hospital hallways with the older kids who are there to die at 17–rolling their IVs as they laugh and play–just to feel alive with a tube stuck in ‘em–well that heart swells and it breaks. Yours will to. For me reading this book was a return to what it means to be anybody worth anything, to write fearlessly. To remember where I come from. Don’t let the Lifetime-channel vibes stop you from experiencing this book and remembering what it’s like to be brave.

http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Nobody-True-Diary-Mary/dp/1402287585/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415713586&sr=1-1&keywords=Dear+Nobody

Paperback: 336 pages: Sourcebooks Fire (April 1, 2014)

Dear Nobody

Nonconformity- Nelson Algren

My second choice for a book will also remind you how to write, how to write with heart, but in a very deliberate way. It’s also a nonfiction book. What is going on with that? I must be getting old. Nonconformity by Nelson Algren is a short thing. Inside of 100 square pages, with the little pages not even stacking up against a dimestore trade paperback. The book was only recently published (i.e., the 90s), and is essentially the right-hook of the great depression-era Chicago writer that you probably don’t know about. It’s a tad more academic than my other recommendation, if you can ever call Algren academic and not be rightfully crucified for the sin.

Algren writes poetry and awkward lines and he does it better than me, and probably better than you.  He is amazing as a writer and has a style immediately identifiable—his book on writing has no shortage of the prose he is known for. The Chicagoan had a love affair with Simone de Beauvoir, and there is a lot of speculation in the annotations of this book that he was trying to raise his fists up at Sartre, take him at his own game, win the girl. The socially conscious writer. The ethical imperative of the artist.

But let us not forget. This book, Nonconformity? It’s Algren. This is all Algren. Confrontational. American. In danger of censorship. He’s a proletarian writer, fighting for the masses, pegged by McCarthy and pursued as a communist. He’s attacked and challenged and while he may complain about it every chance, you know he wouldn’t have it any other way. Nelson reminds you that the only writing worth writing is writing that spends you and leaves you dry. He quotes and pulls in references and destroys and supports and makes this wonderful manifesto for what it means to be a writer.

A breath of fresh air.

Needed now more than ever.

Sometimes I feel like we are in a stagnate cave where the only writers who are serious, who are hard at work , who are in the papers or being interviewed by Crest-Whitestrip news anchors—are out there doing what they do just make a fast buck. I guess Algren felt the same back then. They’ll write a novel about the sexiness of a man who stalks you with GPS beacons and a TV script about the danger of underwear-bombs. They’ll write anything at all to get your cash. It’s like a braincell bank. Insert 10 brain cells here: receive double-d cup entertainment.

So you want to make a million? That’s all fine and good, writer, if that is what you want to do, just don’t lose your heart along the way. Algren has a word of advice for you:

“You don’t write a novel out of sheer pity any more than blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich. / A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”

To Algren, and to me, the writer is that constant whetstone–there to grind away ceaselessly against the axe that has become the American mind, to keep it sharp. This book is a plea not to let that role be forgotten. Written during his prime, his leanest, his fighting weight–before the depression won and he ran away from this city, he wrote a book on writing. This is the book. It’s unlike any book on writing you’ll ever read. It’s a lot like any clarion call to arms you will ever read.

http://www.amazon.com/Nonconformity-Writing-Nelson-Algren/dp/1888363053/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415713697&sr=1-2&keywords=nonconformity

Paperback: 142 pages: Seven Stories Press (September 10, 1996)

Nonconformity

Mike Joyce’s Bio: Mike Joyce edits Literary Orphans Journal and writes in the underground.

********************************************************************************

There are books we read purely for enjoyment, books recommended by family or dear friends. Also there are books we read that re-arrange our lives, make our approach to writing, as writers, seem uniquely, markedly different. I nod to both Michael and Mike this week for mentioning books that are craft focused. And so, I also would like to mention two more books, recently read, that altered the way I write, or formerly perceived writing. One is non-fiction (interviews) and the other is poetry (Ellen Bass):

UnknownUnknown-1

 

 

 

 

HUMP Day Holla

HUMP Day Holla:

1) Peter Schwartz with 3 poems in PANK: http://pankmagazine.com/piece/three-poems-51/

2) NPR talks about Car Talk’s Tom Magliozzi: http://www.npr.org/2014/11/03/357428287/tom-magliozzi-popular-co-host-of-nprs-car-talk-dies-at-77

3) Meg Tuite, Michelle Reale and Heather Fowler won Artistically Declined’s 2013 Twin Antler’s Prize: http://artisticallydeclined.net/poetry/twin-antlers/bare-bulbs-swinging/

4) Jen Michalski at Nervous Breakdown with ‘Origin Story: Sara Lippman’s Doll Palace’: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/jmichalski/2014/10/origin-story-sara-lippmans-doll-palace/ – more-119571

5) Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish re-blogs Ellen Bass’s “Prayer” from her new Like a Beggar collection: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/10/15/a-poem-for-tuesday-9/

6) Seems fitting for “Democracy” by Dorianne Laux, at Young Chicago Authors: http://youngchicagoauthors.org/blog/artist-feature-dorianne-laux/

7) Ocean Vuong’s “Descent” in Drunken Boat 17: http://www.drunkenboat.com/db17/ocean-vuong

8) BOMB magazine’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Sussler, has published BOMB: The Author Interviews at Soho Press: http://sohopress.com/books/bomb-the-author-interviews/

9) Len Kuntz is straight from the heart at his blog, People You Know By Heart: http://lenkuntz.blogspot.com/

10) If you are near the NYC area on November 16, The Sunday Salon reading series is hosting three Massachusetts writers who are not to be missed: http://www.sundaysalon.com/nyc-november-16-2014.htm.

 

 

Two for Tuesday: Amanda Harris and Karen Stefano

It’s Election Day, so please remember to vote! And today, we have four more books, each with their focus brought by two stellar writers and people: Amanda Harris and Karen Stefano. I hope you enjoy!

TWO FOR TUESDAY: Amanda Harris

The Glass Crib—Amanda Auchter

Amanda Auchter’s chapbook found me in an unexpected place—one full of ache and aimlessness and a desk full of rejection letters. Everyone on Amazon had raved and raved about this little volume of poems, so I figured, if anything was going to give me my spark back, it would be this woman.

Now, I did not know anything about this other Amanda, beside than the fact that we share the same first name and we both have curly hair. One poem, in particular, undid everything I thought and understood about poetry, and I believe it was called “The Ecstacy of Saint Theresa.”

I could give you a thousand reasons that this poem is worth being anthologized in every poetry anthology ever, but nothing could do justice to its deep musicality and raw power. You have to read her writing to believe it:

“There is no pain but the bodily. Nothing less / than the long spear / the golden iron / dagger. “

The more I read her work, particularly this poem, the more her precision amazes me. Breaking the line on “dagger” may seem like a small detail, but it makes the image that much sharper, that much more likely to pierce the skull of the reader.

If you’re a writer who wants to learn how to make your writing emotionally connect with people, this book is like a crash course in an MFA program. It’s that revelatory.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Glass-Crib-Amanda-Auchter/dp/0978612760/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414637246&sr=8-2&keywords=the+glass+crib

Paperback: 88 pages, Zone 3 Press (September 15, 2011)

Amanda Auchter

The Afflicted Girls—Nicole Cooley

 The first time I saw Nicole Cooley was in my freshman year of college. She didn’t look like anything particularly unique—just another flighty Creative Writing professor who tried to see too much of the world at once.

Perhaps those wandering eyes, however, are the reason Nicole Cooley has produced such consistently breathtaking poetry. The Afflicted Girls, which centers on the Salem witch trials, provides hauntingly poignant takes on gender, sexuality and the fear of what’s different in a way I didn’t think poetry was capable of doing. What makes it even better is that she does it in simple language:

“Marriage is the punishment (God) invented / for the wicked in this village. . . / My lungs are burning / Bury my words in the dirt. “

In one stanza, we get a gripping conflict and we get all the layers underneath it: sexual conflict, ‘othering’, transgression.

Nicole Cooley’s writing organically balances craft and rawness, deep philosophy and visceral emotion. There is nothing like it being published right now.

The Afflicted Girls: Nicole Cooley: 9780807129463: Amazon.com: Books

Paperback: 50 pages, Hardcover: 64 pages; Louisiana State University Press, First Edition (April 1, 2004)

Nicole Cooley

Amanda’s Bio: Amanda Harris is a writer and gym rat living in Flushing, NY. When she’s not working on her own stuff, she’s either posting on Fictionaut or editing her own magazine, The Miscreant.

******************************************************************************

TWO FOR TUESDAY: Karen Stefano

You Were Born For Greatness: Spiritual Guidance From The Angelic Realm by Jacob Glass

If life is absolutely perfect and you feel amped and deliriously happy every single moment of your days, then you probably don’t need to read the book I’m about to describe. But if you’ve ever experienced a loss that has left you staggering, or perhaps been gutted like a fish by someone you had expected to love forever, or if you’ve ever just felt a teensy weensy bit of ennui, I suggest that you read Jacob Glass’s latest book, You Were Born for Greatness: Spiritual Guidance From the Angelic Realm.

Glass is a spiritual teacher and author lecturing and writing on spirituality and New Thought metaphysics. His messages are potent with truth and compassion, his words dedicated to guiding readers to a more peaceful life. And, he is really fucking funny as he calls you on your shit. You Were Born For Greatness offers daily spiritual guidance with lessons prompted by The Course In Miracles, a well known self-study curriculum about spiritual transformation. The Course In Miracles is a fantastic text, but it can feel heavy at times, demanding a bit more work than a person in “the dark place” might be willing to do, and that’s why this book fills a void. I call it The Course In Miracles Lite. Each lesson quotes an excerpt from The Course In Miracles and then Glass gives his own take on what that quote means in daily life. Here’s an excerpt from Lesson 14:

“One of your main problems is that you often line up with your perceived limitations rather than lining up with your Greater Self…

Every limiting story you tell about the past, present or future activates that same limiting vibration within you and keeps you in that old energy pattern. Every time you whine, criticize, bemoan, grumble, murmur and complain you are blocking and denying your own good by affirming limitation…

You must practice sowing seeds in your life through your WORDS. You need not speak the most positive amazing life-affirming words anyone has ever said. You need only speak words that encourage, soothe and uplift even slightly and this will start activating the higher vibrations within you…”

If you want more peace and joy and good in your life, this book is for you.

Paperback: 192 pages; Createspace Publishing: (first edition, April 27, 2014)

You Were Born for Greatness: Spiritual Guidance from the Angelic Realm: Jacob Glass: 9781499276947: Amazon.com: Books

Jason Glass

Middle Men by Jim Gavin

I bought this collection on a recent trip to Vermont and devoured every last morsel of it on the flight home to San Diego. And then I couldn’t help myself: I sat down and read it again.

Each of Gavin’s stories is dryly funny, depicting men with dreams squarely at odds with the realities of their lives. There are toilet salesmen, not-quite-good-enough basketball players, and epic fuck ups. There are liquor stores, cars that need coaxing before they’ll start, and many satisfying trips to Del Taco. Many well drawn scenes are simultaneously heart wrenching and hilarious. Every single scene is delivered with wit and intelligence.

Here’s an excerpt from the title story, “Middle Men”:

“As a boy, Matt Costello often wondered what his dad did when he left the house in the morning. The old man was in sales, he knew that, and from the brochures and catalogues stacked in the garage, he knew it had something to do with toilets…Years later, while half-assing his way through college and trying to decide what to do with his life, he finally asked his dad how he got into the plumbing industry. The old man, with his usual modesty and good humor, explained that when he returned from Vietnam in 1969, his only goal in life was to work someplace with air-conditioning.”

And Gavin has a gift for dialogue. In “Bermuda,” the narrator purposely gets lost, his goal being to arrive late to the club and miss the band with the guitarist he fears his girlfriend will be attracted to:

 

“You just went in a circle.”

            “I’m a little lost.”

            “What’s wrong with you tonight?”

            “Nothing.”

            “It might be nice if you told me I looked nice.”

            I never thought she cared about that kind of thing. I loved that about her.

            “You look nice.”

            “Fuck you,” she said quietly, in a resigned voice.

 

My advice: read this book.

Paperback: 256 pages; Simon and Schuster, reprint edition (February 11, 2014)

Middle Men: Stories: Jim Gavin: 9781451649345: Amazon.com: Books

Middle Men Jim Gavin

Karen Bio: Karen Stefano is a Fiction Editor for Connotation Press. Her own work has appeared in The South Carolina Review, Tampa Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Metazen, Lost In Thought, Epiphany, and numerous other journals. Her story, “Seeing” was nominated for the XXXVIII Pushcart Prize. Her debut collection of stories, The Secret Games of Words will be released in January, 2015. To learn more about Karen, visit www.stefanokaren.com.

I’ve been reading two stellar books simultaneously. I often do this, especially when they are different genres, like poetry and memoir, or fiction and biography. Here are my two picks:

UnknownChris Hosea

I also want to extend my deepest sorrow and support to the Simonds’ family. Our neighbors across the street from our farm in Macedon lost their elder son, Cliff, recently. Sail on, my friend. Thanks for some fantastic childhood memories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HUMP day: leaves

HUMP Day: leaves… a quote from Rilke-

“Deep patience which makes him almost anonymous, a quiet, wise forbearance, something of the great patience and kindness of Nature herself, who traverses silently and seriously the long pathway to abundance. Patience that puts us in touch with all that surpasses us. Practiced in the present, patience is the art of courting the future. It belongs to becoming rather than being, to the unfinished rather than the completed.”

1) Tobias Carroll at Everday Genius with “Some Things I Botched”: http://www.everyday-genius.com/2014/10/tobias-carroll.html

2) Bud Smith’s “Falling Horse, Stacked Demons” at theNewerYork:

http://theneweryork.com/falling-horse-stacked-demons-bud-smith/

3) The Guardian expands its roster of US Opinion Writers: http://www.theguardian.com/guardian-us-press-office/guardian-expands-roster-us-opinion-writers

4) Amber Sparks and Mike Meginnis will be talking books live today, at 6:30 EST here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1iysoAY-uM

5) Tanya Olsen’s “Ain’t I Pretty” at PANK: http://pankmagazine.com/piece/aint-i-pretty/

6) Will Chancellor chats with Sheldon Compton at Revolution John: http://revolutionjohnmagazine.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/lightning-steers-the-world-an-interview-with-author-will-chancellor/

7) Sara Lippmann at David Abrams’ The Quivering Pen talks about “My First Time”: http://www.davidabramsbooks.blogspot.com/2014/10/my-first-time-sara-lippmann.html

8) Matthew Simmons and Litsa Dremousis with “The Challenge” at Hobart: http://www.hobartpulp.com/web_features/the-challenge-an-interview-with-litsa-dremousis-on-writing-about-death-grief-and-getting-better

9) Mallory Ortberg “Talks Shit About Hemingway and Thoreau” at Flavorwire: http://flavorwire.com/485203/talking-shit-about-hemingway-and-thoreau-with-the-toast-founder-and-texts-from-jane-eyre-author-mallory-ortberg

10) Wendy Ortiz’s new memoir, Excavation, in the Los Angeles Times: http://touch.latimes.com/ – section/-1/article/p2p-80884386/

Also, I want to congratulate Kim Suhr, and the Red Oak community for a fantastic, inspiring reading last night at Saz’s. What a superb turnout! Stellar words from Pam Parker, Jonnie Guernsey, Beth Huwiler, Jack Douthitt, Jessi Vertz, Jennifer Vanderheyden, Jo DeMars, Christine Baerbock, Bruce Campbell and Jennifer Rupp. More information about Red Oak Writing.

Please join us this Thursday, October 30th, for our next installment, Middle Coast Poets reading at Riverwest Public House, 815 E. Locust Street, 7 p.m. Frank Berg, Marilyn Windau, Paul Scot August and Robert Vaughan (me). We hope to see you there!

Two for Tuesday: Sheldon Compton and Len Kuntz

Are you having fun yet? If not, read what Sheldon Compton and Len Kuntz consider two of their favorite reads (recent or all- time). And then add your own in the comment threads. Nothing gives me more pleasure (okay, it’s near the top!) than sharing “you’ve just got to read this!”

Two for Tuesday: SHELDON COMPTON

Excavation: A Memoir by Wendy C. Ortiz

I’ve just been waiting for the chance to write and tell somebody about Wendy C. Ortiz’s memoir Excavation. Now’s my chance, by god.

I cannot overstate the pure courage Ortiz brings to the table in this memoir, which covers her teen years while preyed upon by her middle school English teacher, Jeff Ivers. Feels good to exclaim his name here publicly. That’s the kind of impact this book can have on you. It changes you.

The book, working beautifully in a broken up narrative scheme that shifts from her childhood to the present day, follows Ortiz from a thirteen-year-old girl who is amorously attracted to her teacher who then, in turn and disgustingly, returns this emotion and spends the next five years manipulating her in a pseudo-relationship.

Before reading Excavation I thought I had seen bravery in action through the written word. I had seen hints of it. Ortiz not only trumps any other attempt at this, but also does so with the most beautiful and readable prose I’ve come across in possibly the last decade.

And speaking of time-frames for best-of lists, I’m going to go ahead and so that, so far, this is the best book I’ve read this year. It would take a motherload of a book to unseat it at this point.

http://www.futuretensebooks.com/futuret/books.html

Paperback: 242 pages, Future Tense Publishing (July 18, 2014)

Excavation

Galaga by Michael Kimball

I’m going to tell it to you straight: I had no idea when I received Michael Kimball’s Galaga for review from Small Press Book Review that it was about the game Galaga. Let’s skip how I could have been so unintelligent about the gaming world and move on from there.

When I discovered I was, in fact, reading a book about the arcade game, I balked. I had made a mistake and was now committed. Oh well, at least it was Michael Kimball. I never could have imagined how well he came to bat on that expectation.

Kimball’s fantastic novel currently holds the number two spot for best books I’ve read this year. The book is about so very much more than the game Galaga, yet exactly about the game. Yep, it’s a beautiful thing to see, full of heart and hurt and perseverance and so much more. I wrote my review, gushing and gushing, and was not the least bit embarrassed. I felt like I was telling the world a golden secret. To entice, here’s the first paragraph of that review from SPBR:

Galaga is Michael Kimball’s love letter to the game of the same name, his textbook, his instructor’s manual, his encyclopedia and fan fiction, and is so much more than any of these things. The book covers every nuance of the game, references in pop culture, merchandising, and just about any other thing related to Galaga.  Tattoo anyone?  He’s got those to talk about, too.  No worries.  And that’s fine and good, but there’s something Kimball displays with this book – courage and love and survival.  How’s that for a magic trick?”

Yep, it rolls like that.

http://bossfightbooks.com/products/galaga-by-michael-kimball

Paperback: 136 pages, Boss Fight Books, (July 1, 2014)

GALAGA-cover-nospine-shadow-wide_1024x1024

 

Sheldon’s bio: Sheldon Lee Compton lives in Eastern Kentucky. He is the author of The Same Terrible Storm (Foxhead Books). His work has appeared in numerous journals, has been nominated for several awards, and has been widely anthologized. He is the editor at REVOLUTION JOHN and blogs here: BENT COUNTRY.

*******************************************************************************

Two for Tuesday: LEN KUNTZ

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter

This is a wonderful stew of rich and individualized characters, all walking the tight rope of love.  Anything that begins with this opening line has to be good:

The man—me, this pale being, no one else, it seems—wakes in fright, tangled up in sheets.

From there our narrator leaves his bed in the middle of the night, walks to the University of Michigan football stadium, plops himself down in the stands and spots a young couple making love on the fifty yard line.

Full or delightful surprises, gut-searing emotion and peppered throughout with enough humor to keep the ship righted, The Feast of Love is perhaps my favorite book ever.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Feast-Love-A-Novel/dp/037570910X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1414445076&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Feast+of+Love

Paperback: 308 pages, Vintage (May 1, 2001)

Charles Baxter

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar HiJuelos

Lush, vibrant writing infiltrates every sticky sentence of this book.  There is love, betrayal, sex (lots of it, steamy, too), music, movie stars, you name it—all set in 1949, where two young Cuban musicians make their way up from Havana to the grand stage of New York.

HiJuelos has such a flare for capturing the mix of different ethnicities, and how these mingle or tug at each other.  The writing is so vivid that you’ll feel like you are there are on the street corner, or up on stage, or being thrown about on a mattress.

Early in the book we get a taste of what we’re in for with this zinger:

She expected to turn around and find the devil himself standing beside her, a smile on his sooty face, saying, “Welcome to America.”

I’ve recommended this book to every person who’s ever asked.  Read it.  You’ll be glad.

Paperback: 448 pages Hyperion (May 4, 2010)

http://www.amazon.com/Mambo-Kings-Play-Songs-Love/dp/B0043RT8M2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414445192&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mambo+kings+play+songs+of+love

Oscar Hiluelos

 

Len’s bio: Len Kuntz is the author of The Dark Sunshine (Connotation Press) and an editor at the online literary magazine Literary Orphans.  His work appears widely in print and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.

*******************************************************************************

Thanks so much, Sheldon and Len; these are all great books. Remember to support your local bookstores, and attend readings (like tonight, a Writer’s Showcase at Saz’s in Tosa, 7- 9 p.m.) Read often, and share your passion with others! What are you reading?