Is it just me or does it seem like there was a lot of new writing finding its way into the world this week?
Something’s coming. Could be. Who knows. If you get the reference you are a musical theatre geek like me and we can be friends.
Garret Socol has work in the second issue of The Medulla Review and two essays at The Nervous Breakdown. Garret is joined in The Medulla Review by David LaBounty, Diane Lockward, and Alexandra Isacson. Also at The Nervous Breakdown, Peter Schwartz discusses his last relationship.
Reynard Seifert’s new ebook, Master of the Universe, is now available from Pangur Ban Party.
Another excellent issue of Storyglossia is live including a hell of a story from Barry Graham and fine work from Antonios Maltezos, Jamie Iredell, and more. Though they aren’t PANK contributors (yet?) I do want to mention that there are also incredible stories from Yvette Ward Horner whose Dirty Girl is gritty and smart (the one we let get away), Liz Chamberlin’s Sisters are From Mars, Sisters are From Vegas that really highlights the fraught tension of relationships between sisters, particularly in bad homes, Nikki Dolson’s Take the Hit, an unexpected story about girl boxing and two women at very different places in their careers and who doesn’t enjoy a good girlfight, and Shanna Germain’s How to Learn a Language which endears and by the end disturbs but always intrigues.
Speaking of writers not (yet) in PANK, I had the opportunity to read Scott McClanahan’s Stories II and the word that comes to mind is refreshing. What Scott does really well is create a sense of place Â in how he situates his stories so clearly in West Virginia. He is truly a story teller and in this collection, he tells stories completely stripped of any artifice or excess (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and his stories are engaging and smart and often filled with humor. Several of the stories begin mid-conversation creating a lovely sense of immediacy that I appreciated. I was just charmed by this book. I’ve read Stories II twice already and will revisit this bright star of a book again and again.
Erin Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers. I don’t mean to play favorites but I do have a few and she is one of them and she has a fantastic story up now at the Bloody Bridge Review, entitled The Muse. Manga! She and Dave Housley (favorite) write about popular culture like no others. Speaking of Dave Housley, I’m reading his Ryan Seacrest is Famous and it is exceptional. The book is a bit hard to find but well worth the effort. This is one of those books that surprised me. I was expecting humor and wit, of course, but so many of the stories are also heartbreaking and intensely memorable and crisp. This was also one of those books where I thought, my this is a masculine book. The men in Housley’s stories are really complex–romantic and hopeless and self-destructive and you can’t help but fall in love with them. I could reference every story in this collection as my favorite but the title story is not to be missed because the story is so hilarious and so true. If you went to school with Ryan Seacrest, wouldn’t you lament his success? I mean really. Seacrest, OUT!
The March issue of decomP includes work from Brad Green (a really interesting take on calamity), Sheldon Lee Compton (WHAT ARE THEY????), and Â xTx (whose story is heartbreaking, intimate and honest and reminds me, among other things, of how far behind I am on Lost).
Speaking of xTx (favorite), I finally got a chance to really sit down with her chapbook Nobody Trusts a Black Magician from NonPress. I looked at it when it was released and read a couple stories but I was, to be honest, kind of nervous because I didn’t know if I was going to read something that might bother me and I didn’t want anything to change my opinion of the writer . I finally decided to stop being a baby and of course the title story is not even remotely about what I thought it was about and it also uses the word “fuck” approximately 111 times so it is, of course, excellent. Before I get into the book, I’ll note that it is available in multiple formats including MP3s so you can listen if you don’t like to read but you’re reading this so you probably do… like to read.
xTx’s writing is quite interesting in how she creates this really raw intimacy with her writing and tells stories that are easy to relate to, stories that are naked, honest and express the desires and anxieties many people have but often don’t acknowledge. Â I read an interview with Zachary German on HTMLGIANT where he said he finds the ordinary very exciting and I see that exciting ordinary in this chapbook. These Â stories take very ordinary situations and reveal big, extraordinary moments within them like in “Losing the Pee Argument,” where she writes, “I Â looked like one of those magazine covers where the Â famous star poses nude, but you can’t see Â anything because she’s cockblocking you with Â her pose,” and it’s a simple line, really, but it creates, for me at least, that perfect moment of recognition. We’ve all seen those poses. The stories I enjoyed most were written in first and second person—violent yet sweet, beautiful but ugly and reflecting both love and a yearning for things we want but can’t have. So many of the stories in this chapbook are love letters, but the good kind. In Black Friend, which really should be heard because it sounds cool, I got a little tense again because I wondered what the story would be about but there’s interesting, witty stuff going on with language and wordplay. I laughed and then I felt uncomfortable and then I thought, “Is this how white people think?” and then I laughed some more. There were a couple stories I didn’t get like Christmas Eve which didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the collection but other than that, Nobody Trusts a Black Magician hits all the right notes. I printed it out and that’s huge for me. Paper is serious. As an aside, I’ve never seen a black magician or a girl magician for that matter. They might be like unicorns.
CL Bledsoe has two poems at Carcinogenic Poetry.
March (like very month of the year) is going to be pretty great at Everyday Genius, which is being edited by contributor Laura Ellen Scott. Her first selection is Ravi Mangla’s Visiting Writers.
At Emprise Review, find words from Robert Swartwood, Rion Amilcar Scott, Eric Beeny, Sheldon Lee Compton, and AD Jameson. Eric also has work at Counterexample Poetics and the Â Adirondack Review where he is joined by Nicelle Davis.
Necessary Fiction brings An Insurrection by Robert Swartwood this week.
Cami Park’s short short story Anemia is live at Matchbook along with her critical thoughts on the piece.
Subscriptions are now available for Sententia, a new literary magazine edited by Paula Bomer and Ryan Bradley (favorites!). It’s going to be great. Get in on the ground floor. It will be like owning Superman #1 only more valuable because you didn’t have to pay a lot of money for it.
Are you all reading Canteen? i just finished Issue 5 and like previous issues, it did not disappoint and not to be missed were photographs from Sophie Gerrard and Pieter Hugo. This is a really beautiful magazine with high production values. I also finally finished the most recent issue of American Short Fiction and I would link to it but, oddly, their website hasn’t been updated. The Execution Trick (a story about a magician even) was brilliant but the real showstopper in this issue is Michael Noll’s Bullheads featuring one of the most slow-building, unexpected and chilling endings I’ve seen in a short fiction. This issue, as with most issues of ASF, makes the strongest case for the short story.
Enjoy a lively interview on the Kenyon Review blog (where contributor William Walsh is, wait for it, a contributor) with Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney on their collaborative writing partnership. Elisa’s book The French Exit is now available for pre-order, and there’s even a sale!
Amber Sparks teaches us How to Dispose of a Chorus Girl at the Midway Journal.
Gigantic #2 is now shipping and includes work from Blake Butler, Brian Allen Carr, Meg Pokrass and other fine writers.
That was a lot of reading. My eyes hurt now but it was totally worth it.
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