Readings, Raffles and more

Hi friends!

A quick recap of my recent trip to Santa Fe: WHAT A BLAST!!! The view from our room 630 at La Fonda, and my pal, Len whom I shared the glory with:

10426125_10205375485565130_1045649562077628047_nLen Kuntz Sa Fe 2015

We went to Santa Fe for the TWISTED Reading Series, hosted by our pal, Meg Tuite:

El Flacco and Meg Santa Fe

Our featured reader was the exceptional Kate Braverman, and once Karen Stefano and James Claffey arrived, everything was A-OK! Meg’s Santa Fe reading circle rounded out the twelve readers. Also the Denver writers, with Sally Reno, Kathy Fish and Nancy Stohlman (at a Karaoke Lounge after the reading) :

Kate Braverman and meReading in Santa FeThe gang Santa Fe 2015Len and me Santa Fe

Last photo of me actually reading a new piece, “Keep it, Curt”:

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Overall, it  was a festive event and a great extended weekend!

RAFFLES:

The winner of the January Raffle is…Julia Fiero!!! There were seventy-four entries and I asked a non-writer to select a name out of a hat (blind). Congratulations, Julia- I hope you enjoy Luke Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours as much as I did!

February Raffle is Together We Can Bury It by Kathy Fish! To enter, simply comment here or on my Facebook Post, Twitter or Tumblr. This is another book you simply must have!

And, my piece called The Fallow Heart, which is in my Addicts & Basements book, you can read at Fictionaut: “The Fallow Heart” by Robert Vaughan — Fictionaut

And that, sugar plums, is a wrap…stay warm and informed.

 

January 2015 Book Raffle

Hi friends! Are you ready for the fun to begin? It’s January, and our book raffle will be Luke B. Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours. This linked collection of short stories is stellar, and one lucky individual will get this book for FREE!

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And here’s Luke with his other half, Jewely:

Portland-writer-Luke-B.-Goebel-e1419287286691

If you are curious, and want to know more about this talented writer, GOOGLE HIM! Or click this link for an article about Luke B. Goebel’s Chaos Theories – Page – Interview Magazine.

There is also Brad Listi’s December Other People podcast with Luke Gobel here: Episode 338 — Luke B. Goebel | OTHERPPL WITH BRAD LISTI.

Long story short, this guy is one to watch. All you have to do to enter the drawing is to like this post (on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr). Or re-post, or comment. Share the word. Free book? AND A DAMN GREAT ONE.

Happy New Year, everyone! Play safe, love one another, revere yourself.

 

2014 Reading list (and more)

2014 sets sail, and a New Year fast approaches, it’s always fun to do a book recap. But before I get into that…here are ten other outstanding things about 2014:

* CCM published Addicts & Basements, my first full length collection, and my third book.

* I received my first Kirkus Review, among many fine, insightful, and supportive reviews.

* I’m a Gertrude Stein Award finalist (second year in a row!!!)

* There were over 20 different events in which I read, cities like Seattle, New York (twice), Madison, and Milwaukee. (The list continues with bookings in Santa Fe, Denver, and New York for 2015!)

* I attended a weekend poetry workshop at Omega Institute with Richard Blanco (and my good friends Michael Gillan Maxwell and David Carter!)

* I edited Bud Smith’s Everything Neon, his first stellar full-length poetry collection, from Marginalia Press.

* Grateful for several journals, new to me, that published my work: Everyday Genius, theNewer York, and The Miscreant, among others.

* Two nominations for the Pushcart Prize (added to two former): “Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu” (Deadly Press): and “What He Left to Me” (The Miscreant). Thanks editors, Joseph Quintela, and Amanda Harris.

* I’ve started new columns on my writer’s blog to add to HUMP DAY: “Two for Tuesday” and the new monthly book give-away! Both will continue in 2015.

* Recently it was announced that I am one of four new deputy editors for Civil Coping Mechanisms: About CCM-Entropy | ENTROPY. I am truly excited about this opportunity, and look forward to working with new authors. Thanks, CCM Editor-in-chief, Michael Seidlinger.

My Reading List from 2014- (starred books I recommend (*)

You Sang it Back to Me- Amanda Deo (poetry)

Calendar of Regrets- Lance Olsen *

My Ghost in the Bush of Lies- Paul Wessels

Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles- Kate Braverman (memoir) *

White Girls- Hilton Als *

Cunt Norton- Dodie Bellamy

Dreaming My Animal Selves- Helene Cardona (poetry)

The Physics of Imaginary Objects- Tina May Hall (flash fiction)

Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas- Liu (short stories)

Beautiful Ruins- Jess Walter

Murmuration- Ryan Warner (chapbook)

I Am Not a Pioneer- Adam Fell (poetry)

Call Me Burroughs, A Life- Barry Miles (biography)

Antidotes for an Alibi- Amy King (poetry)

A Life in Men- Gina Frangello

Vow- Kristina Marie Darling (kindle- poetry)

Masters of Sex- Thomas Maier (biography)

Twilight of the Superheroes- Deborah Eisenberg (kindle- poetry)

Zoom- Zoom Room- Penny Goring (poetry)

The Isle of Youth- Laura Vandenberg (stories) *

The Dark Sunshine- Len Kuntz (stories) *

Tollbooth- Bud Smith *

The Motion of Light in Water- Samuel R. Delany (memoir) *

Girls Standing on Lawns- Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Misadventure- Nicholas Grider (short stories)

Family Trouble- Joy Castro (memoir anthology) *

Everything Neon- Bud Smith (poetry) *

I Want to Make You Safe- Amy King (poetry)

Kill Marguerite.- Megan Milks (short stories) *

Stories I Only Tell My Friends- Rob Lowe (auto-biography)

Holding on Upside Down: Marianne Moore- Linda Leavell (biography)

Shotgun Lovesongs- Nicholas Butler (fiction)

e.e.cummings: a life- Susan Cheever (biography)

Stone Bride Madrigals- Nicolette Wong (poetry chap)

Hello, The Roses- Mei- mei Berssenbruegger (poetry)

The Poetics of Space- Gaston Bachelard *

The Mourning Diary- Roland Barthes

Blood a Cold Blue- James Claffey (short stories) *

Balefire- Shann Ray (poetry)

Black Cloud- Juliet Escoria *

Steal Me For Your Stories- Robb Todd (flash/ short stories) *

I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying- Matthew Salesses (flash novel) *

The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld- Justin Hocking (memoir) *

The Mere Weight of Words- Carissa Halston (novella)

flatscreen- Adam Wilson

Tap- Root- Indigo Moor (poetry)

Babel- Patti Smith (poetry) *

Looking For the Gulf Motel- Richard Blanco (poetry)

Deep Ellum- Brandon Hobson *

Spent- Antonia Crane (memoir)

Let Me See It- James Magruder

Burnings- Ocean Vuong (poetry) *

Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (re-read)

Letters To A Young Poet- Rainer Maria Rilke (re-read)

A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat- Arthur Rimaud (poetry)

An Untamed State- Roxane Gay

flatscreen- Adam Wilson

F- 250- Bud Smith

David and Goliath- Malcolm Gladwell (essays)

The Sky Conducting- Michael Seidlinger (kindle) *

ghostbread- Sonja Livingston (memoir) *

The Mustache He’s Always Wanted But Could Never Grow- Brian Alan Ellis (stories) *

Bad Feminist- Roxane Gay (essays) *

Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (essay/ poetry)

Ariel: The Restored Edition- Sylvia Plath (poetry) *

Excavation- Wendy C. Ortiz (memoir) *

The Fun We’ve Had- Michael Seidlinger *

Lost in Space- Ben Tanzer (essay) *

Forest of Fortune- Jim Ruland *

What the Light Reveals- Rachel Heimowitz (poetry) *

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know- John Bradley (poetry)

American Prometheus- Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin (biography)

Sentence #10- ed. by Brian Clements (prose poetry anthology)

Like a Beggar- Ellen Bass (poetry) *

Tender Buttons- Gertrude Stein

Preparation for the Next Life- Atticus Lish *

The Doll Palace- Sara Lippmann (stories) *

BOMB: The Interviews- ed. Betsy Sussler *

nagging wives, foolish husbands- Nate Tower (short stories) *

Calenday- Lauren Haldeman (poetry) *

Our Secret Life in the Movies- Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree

Clotheslines- Mathieu Cailler (poetry chapbook) *

The Inevitable June- Bob Schofield *

Paul Chan Selected Writings 2000- 2014, ed. by George Baker and Eric Banks

UnAmerica- Momus (a/k/a Nick Currie)

Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours by Luke Goebel *

As you can see, indicated by how many stars, this was an incredible year for books. Here are my favorites by category:

Fiction: three way tie-

Forest of Fortune- Jim Ruland; Preparation for the Next Life- Attticus Lish; Fourteen Stories, None of Them are Yours- Luke B. Goebel

Short Story: two way tie-

Doll Palace Stories- Sara Lippmann; Dark Sunshine- Len Kuntz

Poetry: Like a Beggar- Ellen Bass

Memoir: two-way tie-

ghostbread- Sonja Livingston; Excavation- Wendy C. Ortiz

Essay: Bad Feminist- Roxane Gay

Hybrid: two way tie-

I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying- Matthew Salesses; Black Cloud- Juliet Escoria

And that’s it! Not sure I can choose a best book, but so many great reads. How about you? Did you read any amazing books this year? Please do share them in comments! I’m always looking to buy. Thanks for another amazing year.

 

 

 

Reviews and Year End List Mentions

There are so few rare gems that I’ve had the treat to meet during week long workshops. Among them is Michael Gillan Maxwell. We met in 2011, at Omega Institute in upstate New York, during a week long poetry retreat. (I blogged about it here: Oh Omega, What a Week.)

Many events transpired that week, among them, as Michael recently reminded me, my apparent declaration in the Omega cafe during a rare moment of self- assuredness, that I was on the verge of publishing a first collection, with many more to follow. In retrospect, Michael called those observations “prescient” (believe me, they weren’t!) Still, in the years since, I’ve had three books published, all by different independent publishers. And my very kind, astute, multi-talented and dear associate, Michael, wrote a wonderful review, which published here: MadHat Drive-By Book Reviews | Three Works by Robert Vaughan. Also, thanks for friends like Meg Tuite, Bill Yarrow, Joani Reese, and Bud Smith for helping spread the word about MGM’s review.

Then, today, the uber-talented Kathy Fish (read her!) published her “My Favorite Reads of 2014″ and both Diptychs + Triptychs (which Kathy blurbed) and Addicts & Basements are mentioned: My Favorite Reads of 2014 | Kathy Fish. Thanks, Kathy! I am thrilled to read with you in the Santa Fe TWISTED READING on January 24th. More information forthcoming on that!

I’m finally reading Luke B. Goebel’s Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours. LOVE THIS! What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!

Tomorrow, the last day of 2014, I’ll publish my entire 2014 reading list. It’s staggering how many great books I read this year. Very few snoozers!

What are your favorite reads? Least favorite reads?

 

Holiday Book- Giveaway and Salutations

Recently I won a book through the website Goodreads.com (here is my author page: Goodreads | Robert Vaughan (Author of Addicts & Basements)

Often when a new book comes out, Goodreads offers a remarkable plan to host a “raffle” that is free for anyone as a Goodreads user to enter. I’ve entered over three or even four dozen contests since I became a Goodreads member in 2009. This was the first time I ever won! Well, as luck turns out, the book, Doll Palace Stories, written by the uber-talented Sara Lippmann, is one I’d purchased directly through her publisher Dock Street Press (www.dockstreetpress.com) the day it became available! I loved it beyond measure.

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And so, I decided to host my own book give-away, announced on December 21st through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr and more sites. All anyone had to do is either “like,” or share, or leave a comment in any spot. I collected the names, threw all eighty-eight of them into a hat, and a friend pulled the winner’s name out:

ANDREW STANCEK of Ontario, Canada!!! Congratulations, Andrew! As it turns out, this is actually an INTERNATIONAL contest winner!

And this was so much fun, I’ve decided to launch a 2015 monthly BOOK RAFFLE, sponsored by me! Easy to enter, fun to win!

This of course in addition to the current fun we’re having with Two for Tuesdays and HUMP Day literary websites that I like to re-blog on occasion.

I’m working on the last stretch of my new book, forthcoming in 2015, and will be turning it over to the publisher very soon. Wish me luck!

What are you up to? Any plans for 2015? Travel? Marriage? New career? Please do tell us all.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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/.

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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!”

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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.