Sean Lovelace

Sean Lovelace is running right now, far. Other times he teaches at Ball State University. HOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR EGGS is his flash fiction collection by Rose Metal Press. His works have appeared in Crazyhorse, Diagram, Sonora Review, Willow Springs, and so on.

Author Spotlight & Random & Reviews

Matthew Vollmer: Inscriptions for Headstones

I saw Matthew Vollmer’s Inscriptions for Headstones on the floor, alongside a gun cleaning kit and a disc golf disc and a dead spider. I picked it up. I actually began the book thinking I would skim through it, maybe perusing a third, just seeing what it was all about. I read the entire book, from first to last page, in one sitting. This doesn’t happen to me very often.

The text is 30 short essays, crafted as epitaphs, each one unfolding in a single sentence. On reading this idea, I thought, “That seems a bit much. That might be gimmicky.”

It actually works. Why?

The epitaph concept (a sort of “appropriated form”—a type of structure I’m into lately) adds many echoes, many layers, many possibilities. We arrive immediately on significant terrain—death. And a summary of life. We enter a mood of meditation, of introspection, not so unlike a walk through a cemetery (30 headstones aligned). And what is an epitaph on a headstone? First, a lie (actual epitaphs are 99% abstract and pithy and positive), but then instantly an absurdity (the measuring up, in a few words, on a stone). But, if you twist the epitaph (one concept of appropriated form work is to make it your own, to take the original—whether a complaint letter, Facebook post, list, whatever—and morph the form to your unique intent and way and need, etc.), lengthen the epitaph, broaden the epitaph into a lyrical remembering, the form can open us up to questionings. It can even lead us to ask, “What is life?”

The one sentence works, too.


November 13th, 2012 / 3:35 pm

Robinson Alone: An Interview with Kathleen Rooney

1. Excuse me for beginning with a rather longish question. Weldon Kees and Robinson are so durably linked, a bit inexplicably since Kees created a great deal of art, and “Robinson” appears in but four poems (to my knowledge). What is it about Robinson that emits such power? To borrow a term from Kees, what does it mean to be “Robinsonian?”

Actually, one of the things that makes those poems so compelling and unsatisfying is that there are four of them. If Kees had followed the rule of threes, then they’d probably be known as the Robinson Trilogy, and that would be that: done. But there’s something about there being four of them that calls for addition. Four is a bad luck number in Japan associated with death. I think that I—and other people who’ve done individual Robinson poems over the years since Kees vanished—read the fact that there are four of them as a kind of permission or even an invitation to take over. Like he’s saying “Obviously, guys, I wasn’t finished.”

As to what it means to be Robinsonian, not to be glib, but the poems in Robinson Alone are kind of an attempt to figure that out. Kees’ Robinson is stylish, worldly, and extremely anxious, but these are four very mysterious poems that present themselves as mysteries that open up onto other mysteries.

(book here)

 2. What is your opinion on fame in a writer’s life? Follow up: would you like to be famous?

Wait—you mean I’m not famous?

J/k! Fame in a writer’s life and fame in general is fascinating, but as an ontological state that a person has to inhabit, it seems dangerous—a trap. Last Fall, I read Eileen Simpson’s excellent memoir Poets in Their Youth which is about her marriage to John Berryman, but it’s also about how so many of those mid-century poets who were Kees’ contemporaries—Berryman, Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, and Delmore Schwartz—wanted to be, and sometimes were, famous. Simpson makes it sound as though any position along the fame spectrum—wanting it, thinking you deserve it, pursuing it, getting it, losing it—made them fairly miserable, although, of course, they thought fame would make them happy. I want my books to be read and I want people to have heard of me, but fame as such is not a thing I “want.”

3. I sometimes think contemporary poets have little understanding of prosody, classical forms, the structural history of poetry. You (as did Kees, of course) seem to have a very strong understanding of these techniques. Why is this important to your poetry?


Random / 3 Comments
October 22nd, 2012 / 11:40 am


25 Points: Legend of a Suicide

Legend of a Suicide
by David Vann
Harper Perennial, 2010
272 pages / $14.99 buy from Powell’s







1. If your father commits suicide, why did you write it as fiction?

2. It won 10 big awards and I bought it on EBay for three dollars, the price of half a 6 pack of Icehouse tall boys.

3. David Vann says, “I had this class once with Grace Paley in which she told us that every line in fiction has to be true. It has to be a distillation of experience, more true to a person’s life than any moment he or she actually lived. So this book is as true an account as I could write about my father’s suicide and my own bereavement, and that was possible only through fiction.”

4. Amazing descriptions of Alaska, the land, the ocean.

5. Some say experimental, but my god how conservative we must have become: there’s an abrupt (and startlingly effective) shift in POV, OK? OK.

6. Beer in a can has that metallic taste I enjoy.

7. Camus says, “But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

8. Suicides I have known: Christie, a former girlfriend. Andy, a kid who mooned the class in 8th grade and the suits decided to not let him graduate (a punishment we all believed was excessive even then) and shortly after he shot himself. Possibly my great-uncle ran his car into a wall, purposefully. There are stories. Suicide does not occur often in my family. Other things do.

9. For example: “Out in the channel, the lights of a convocation, twenty to thirty boats drawn together to wait for a storm to pass, for the time when they could leave the shallows and enter open ocean again. Their arrangement puzzled in a way that pleased, also: bright floodlights high up, small cabin lights, globes everywhere across their backs exposing the great nets, buffed aluminum, floats orange and red, all intermingled and reflected on waters calm as mirrors and no horizon visible, no clear seam for the surface, for water and air, reflection and light. And the only sound that of small bells, seeming to come from much further away, the bells high up on the lines of trawlers, the bells that signaled fish. No voices.”

10. I bet David Vann was pressured to make this into a memoir. Oh, I bet he was. READ MORE >

October 11th, 2012 / 1:09 pm

No Tricks

Like many of us, I’ve read “On Writing” by Raymond Carver numerous times. It holds many useful ideas. There is a stage of our own creative writing. (I believe this phase usually arrives in the mid-20s, but possibly I am in error—perhaps it arrives after so many years of practicing the craft, not so much a writer’s age.) Either way, this stage involves reading copious interviews, craft books, and essays on writing, by writers. Apparently, as writers, were are seeking some golden ticket, some integral advice, etc. I believe most writers leave this period, and then, you know, write.

What is the most famous (or infamous) line from the Carver essay? No tricks.

“No tricks.” He says. “Period. I hate tricks.”

First, I like tricks. So what? Others have written the same. Second, Carver is wrong. He doesn’t hate tricks, he uses them. He especially employs tricks in the shorter form. Why? Because “tricks” are not tricks. Tricks are technique. Technique is important to the short story, very important to the sudden fiction, and absolutely essential to the flash fiction form. We flash writers have fewer words. We need artistry.

Let me show you Raymond Carver using some tricks. Read “Little Things” here.

OK, onward.


Author Spotlight & Craft Notes & Random / 12 Comments
October 2nd, 2012 / 11:26 am

I think you have a duty to contribute, to go on contributing to what Gore Vidal calls “book chat.” For certain self-interested reasons, you want to keep standards up so that when your next book comes out, it’s more likely that people will get the hang of it. I have no admiration for writers who think at a certain point they can wash their hands of book chat. You should be part of the ongoing debate.

Amis, M.

11 foducts 4 the lamily

1. Hobart 2.0, wow, with new web features, etc.

2. Diagram 12.4 is OUT!

3. Joshua Cohen:

The repetitions are, in my mind, linked to the idea that the Internet is conceptually vast, but you end up spending the bulk of your time visiting the same sites again and again (or perhaps this is just my own practice). I’m not especially interested in the variety of the Internet; rather I’m interested in the human experience of the promise of variety, a promise fulfilled only by a similarity or sameness, and the idea that the computer seems to license every option of virtuality, while our own humanity seems limited, or to self-limit, through laziness or shame, to the same thing every day.

7. Disorientation, a reading list, at The Millions:

11. My writing tip of the day: It isn’t done when you think it is done.

5. My Grading Scale for the Fall Semester, Composed Entirely of Samuel Beckett Quotes. (By Matt Bell)

Author News / 1 Comment
September 6th, 2012 / 10:34 am

Shampoo Horns by Aaron Teel (part two)

Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
August 30th, 2012 / 12:11 pm

Shampoo Horns by Aaron Teel (part one)

Rose Metal Press makes a wonderful chapbook. Shampoo Horns, for example. It feels like hair, if the hair was made of Pop-Tarts or red sun and waterfalls of beer. It was printed on a Vandercook letterpress, with care. It smells like dandelion broth. The entire book-making process is fascinating and you can see it here:

This book has 19 short stories, linked. This would be a good book to examine while considering the nuances/decisions/contemplations of a linked collection. You could ask the author, “What kind of things did you think about when ordering the collection?” You could get Winesburg, Ohio and stack it upright on the dirty kitchen floor and then take three paces and place Shampoo Horns on the disgusting floor (pasta sauce and dream stains, etc.) and then you could fill in the space between the two with other linked books, like stack them into bones or whatnot, and you would have yourself a self-education session. (If you aren’t going to autodidact, you are doomed.)

This book contains red plastic cups, you know the cups, so simple yet they connote so much (even their name–solo). I bet you’ve held a red, plastic cup. Cradled it. Sucked from. There are also “pink flamingos with missing heads” and “stray huskies” and a “overgrown toddler without a shirt” and a “trash bag flapping” and “bologna sandwiches” and “MTV” and “wood panel walls” and a mobile home full of angels and “Texas drawl” and “shit-filled Underoos” and a dildo in a swimming pool and “RV’s” and “a busted La-Z-Boy” and a “greasy ball cap” and a “plastic vodka bottle” and a lot of other THINGS. Agglomeration. Interesting method of delivering the world from a child/boy’s POV. Most don’t do it well. But Teel does, by creating a tornado-like effect of THINGS spinning by, the narrator watching the world blur. Puzzlement and understanding are the milieu of a boy, an aging boy. Your parents are no longer some minor gods. Pain enters life (this world can hurt). And, of course, sex—this strange, persistent force—is in the air. Possibly this is a trailer park Bildungsroman.


Author News & Random / 1 Comment
August 30th, 2012 / 10:05 am

riting not riting

Some days it feels like pushing words around in a flat wheelbarrow. You write for hours with no real result, or with result far from satisfactory, or with result very far from satisfactory, as if you’ve lost the thing (always a fear), the thing that worked before but is now clearly not working (see David Duval, see Harper Lee [?], etc.). Were these hours wasted? In a busy life, could you have spent these hours on something clearly and concretely productive (mowing lawn, purchasing drugs, thinning mints, etc.)? Some bray, “Well, it all counts,” it is all grist for the mill, tourists for the ants, but possibly they are patronizing a person who just spent many fruitless hours staring at the whiteout conditions, the frowned forehead of the page. For me, a lifelong runner, I think of training. Some days I’m in a glow groove with running—the planned fartlek, tempo, hill surges, go exactly as I’d imagined.

Other days–and I learned this after decades of competitive running–the biorhythms are just funky-junked, right from the first warm-up step. There is immediately no flow. The legs are squid. So I usually shut that workout down. I switch the workout over to something less arduous, or I might just go play disc golf, or I might pop open a beer. That day wasn’t the day. Period. So maybe, in writing, we should do the same? Just accept the reality of the neurotransmitters and let it go. The other option—and, admittedly I’ve seen this work in running, though not so often—is to grind yourself into that space. Some read a book or lit mag, or listen to music (or write a blog post?), whatever, hoping to prime the engine, to transition into writing. Is that the better way? Or another? It’s something I’m pondering.

Craft Notes & Random / 4 Comments
August 28th, 2012 / 8:34 am

Interview: Reader Who Recently Finished The Savage Detectives

1.      So how long did it take you to read the book? 

I didn’t actually finish the book. So when people talk about the ending (this happened the other day in the lime aisle) I have to front like I know what they are saying. Like yesterday, in the lime aisle, this elderly woman saw me with the book and said, “That’s a funny book. I like the monologue by the guy who draws the dwarves with giant penises. That’s the best monologue I’ve read from a mentally defective character since Faulkner.” And I just had to shake my head and smile and fake it. So.

2. Did you ever read the book in public places or leave the book out purposefully when visitors were over?  

Ha Ha.  Well, yes, as I mentioned the grocery store. I mean I know there’s like this Bolano surge right now and so then a backlash (Newtonian law there) and a lot of my friends (so-called) sort of rolled their eyes over me reading Bolano but fuck them. I walk alone, you know? I’m not going to have others deciding what I want to read. I mean that would be almost anti-literature. I couldn’t read something just to say I’ve read it. That would be like picking your college major because your parents want you to be like a landscape architect or something. I mean only about 20% or something of people even have a college degree. The entire point is to select your occupation, to attempt to create your destiny, and you’re just going to toss it away? You’re just going to abdicate free will? Fuck that. I’m not reading a damn thing for others. That would be death.

3.     How did you deal with the footnotes, I mean logistically? I know some people like to use two bookmarks. 

What in the fuck are you talking about?

4. Have you read other Bolano? How did this book compare?

I read The Third Reich. It was serialized in The Paris Review. I felt like Charles Dickens and shit reading a serialized novel. It was a strong book, very, very technical (something Bolano prided himself on, when he wanted to write a technical book) and with this ominous undertone, the constant state of threat, a character who really NEEDS TO HELP HIMSELF and knows it, but just can’t. You ever felt that way? I have. I could relate. You ever stuck a cattle prod down your throat but LIKED THE TASTE? (That’s a metaphor, BTW) I also read that short story collection where every story (IMO) is really about writing. Craft, how to write, etc. It might look like the stories are about something else, but you’re wrong. It’s called something last evenings? I don’t remember. But Bolano, in his essence, is always writing about writing. That’s what he gives a shit about, period

5. Did you ever read the book while on drugs or alcohol? 


Random / 3 Comments
August 15th, 2012 / 11:52 am