Here is an excerpt from Memoirs of Peasant Tolstoyans In Soviet Russia (Indiana University Press):
In our village of Burdino there were fistfights three times a year- in December and January, on Shrove Tuesday in February, and at Easter, in April. The village was divided in half, and on Shrove Tuesday village fought village–Burdino and Terbuny. I also took part in those fights. Our priests said that fistfights were not bad: men got training from them and would be bolder and more active in war. The fights began with boys, then with teenagers, then grown men, and after that even bearded old men. Once the old men gathered close together like a wall and pushed me up against one of the strongest old men from the other side. I knocked him down, and from that time on they considered me a strong man. They said, “How he knocked over that big granddad!” It was the rule that you should never beat a man who was lying down, whether he was knocked down or whether he fell by himself, but sometimes they would agree to hold the very strongest men up by the armpits, and other strong men would not let them fall down and would keep beating them. Sometimes the outcome was fatal. Once a wealthy shopkeeper offered two buckets of vodka to the side that won. No fewer than three thousand men got together for the brawl. Our village won that time.
I received Give and Take by Stona Fitch for free from Concord Free Press, which is doing this wacky experiment on “publishing and community” as they explain on their website. Now, part of the deal is I then HAVE to give the book to someone else, which is fine, as my htmlgiant secret santa will be getting it. Also you HAVE to give money away, which again is fine; this time of year I give money away anyway. But in a more general sense, my problem with all this is- I hate people telling me what to do. Nearly always, when someone tells me what to do, my eyes blur a bit and some weird rage lets lose in my brain. Once, I went to a Bikram Yoga class and it was in this heated room and the teacher started the class by saying, “even if you get really hot and feel faint and like you may barf or die and so you want to leave the room, YOU MAY NOT. You cannot leave the room! You can lay down for awhile, but you can’t leave.” Now, people, what happened was, eventually, I felt hot and shitty and I left the room! If someone says do this or you can’t do that- six and half times out of ten, I’m going to do the opposite. Every time my husband says “let’s just split desert” after we’ve had some insanely enormous dinner and we can barely move, I then order three. (One good thing is, he no longer says this for the most part. So now I mostly order two.)
But I digress. Give and Take is a book that chews on issues, a novel of ideas, and something I normally wouldn’t read. I like to read books I normally wouldn’t read, as long as I don’t have to do that twice a week, like when I worked in publishing. And Finch has a good mind, a clean prose style and moves the book along very nicely.
Continue reading “Give and Take By Stona Fitch”
Sometimes, when I read a man’s book, it makes me have sexual fantasies about him. Now, Bukowski had full-on groupies, as did Mailer and -well, countless others — so I know I am not alone with these feelings. The most recent man who inspired “I want to fuck you” in me, was Tony O’Neill. Tony O’Neill has written two novels, Digging The Vein, which I mentioned in my Contemporary Press post, and the recently released, Down And Out On Murder Mile. Digging the Vein is about being a junkie in Los Angeles and Down and Out On Murder Mile is about being a junkie in London. Both books are extremely unsentimental accounts of Tony’s love affair with smack and love moments with cocaine. They are terrific reads. He also has poetry scattered throughout the internet that I like and has published a book of them with Social Disease Books. He just has this wonderful no bullshit quality to his writing that makes me think I’d like to get drunk with him and then fuck.
Continue reading “Tony O’Neill is a Writer I’d Like to Fuck”
Like A.S. King, who I wrote about last week, Scott Wrobel’s online fiction moved me to contact him to say, “I really love your stories.” Certain writers evoke such compassion from me that it is a “love” that I feel as opposed to a drier kind of admiration or a gleeful joy. I appreciate the many different experiences that fiction can offer me, but it is possible that the feeling I most desire is that deep sort of compassion that Wrobel brings out in my reading experience. In his story “Peckers” in Night Train, his characters try so hard to make everything OK, truly wish for everything to be OK, but of course it’s not possible. He has equally hilarious and soulful work on Identity Theory and The Rake and elsewhere. His humor is meaningful in that it is a necessary tool in handling the pain and sorrow that take up quite a bit of our short time on this planet. I love his depth – I love his bravery. Check out his website here for more links and enjoy the opening to “Peckers” after the jump:
Continue reading “Scott Wrobel”
I loved the raw noir books that Contemporary Press published, for example, the two Danger City anthologies as well as Tony O’Neill’s Digging the Vein (fantastic junkie lit) and Mike Segretto’s The Bride of Trash. But then, they stopped putting out new books! I decided to contact some of the people and find out what was up. Jeffrey Dinsmore informed me that many of their titles are still available and they hope to publish more books in the future. So, according to him, they are only on haitus. I highly recommend buying some of thier books– which you can find out more about here— if you like funny, dark, inappropriate crime books- think an updated Jim Thompson on meth and the occasional speedball or as GQ said, “books for people who like to drink while they read”. Dinsmore said you also can still get many of their titles from Amazon and other large booksellers, too. And Mike Segretto is putting out his own novel, Curse of The Tarantula, and it will be as over the top and entertaining as his other Contemporary Press work. Here’s what Mike Segretto had to say about the short life (that is not quite over necessarily!) of Contemporary Press:
Continue reading “What Ever Happened to Contemporary Press?”
The new issue of Dogzplot is LIVE!! With new fiction by Stefan Kiesbye, Suzanne Burnes and Rusty Barnes, gorgeous artwork by Christy Call(see above), poetry by Steve Meador and Alexandra Isacson, and much more. Edited by the one and only Barry Graham, Dogzplot always showcases an impressively wide variety of literary and artistic visions. My beloved Barrry Graham, as the editor of Dogzplot, is to me what indie lit is all about- heart, soul, risk taking in both subject matter and style as well as freedom to put all sorts of disparate things in the same issue. He makes it work. I worship his ass. Check it all out now.
Excerpt from Franz Kafka: Diaries 1910-1923
From the section called Memoirs of the Kalda Railway
Once a month, but always on a different day of the month, an inspector came to examine my record book, to collect the money I had taken in and – but not always—to pay me my salary. I was always warned of his arrival a day in advance by the people who had dropped him at the last station. They considered this warning the greatest favour they could do me in spite of the fact that I naturally always had everything in good order. Nor was the slightest effort needed for this. And the inspector too always came into the station with an air as if to say, this time I will unquestionably uncover the evidence of your mismanagement. He always opened the door of the hut with a push of his knee, giving me a look at the same time. Hardly had he opened my book when he found a mistake. It took me a long time to prove to him, by recomputing it before his eyes, that the mistake had been made not by me but by him. He was always very dissatisfied with the amount I had taken in, then clapped his hand on the book and gave me a sharp look again. “We’ll have to shut down the railway,” he would say each time. “It will come to that,” I usually replied.
After the inspection had been concluded, our relationship would change. I always had brandy ready and, whenever possible, some sort of delicacy. We drank to each other; he sang in a tolerable voice, but always the same two songs. One was sad and began: ‘Where are you going, O child in the forest?’ The other was gay and began like this: ‘Merry comrades, I am yours!’ It depended on the mood I was able to put him in, how large an installment I got on my salary. But it was only at the beginning of these entertainments that I watched him with any purpose in mind; later we were quite at one, cursed the company shamelessly, he whispered secret promises into my ear about the career he would help me to achieve, and finally we fell together on the bunk in an embrace that often lasted ten hours unbroken. The next morning, he went on his way, again my superior. I stood beside the train and saluted; often as not he turned to me while getting aboard and said, “Well, my little friend, we’ll meet again in a month. You know what you have at stake.”
At the age of 33, the same age that Jesus was when he died, I had a physical and mental breakdown and became obsessed with Catholic literature. I read Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, (not Walker Percy…hmmm), Muriel Spark, St. Augustine and some others. I also went to Mass a few times at St. Vincent de Paul Church on 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue at 12pm, but I never went to confession, so I couldn’t receive the Eucharist. I watched others taking it and cried in the back pew. I loved Mass and my favorite part was how all five or ten of us, straggled throughout that huge, dark Church in the middle of the bright bright day would turn to each other and bless each other. Strangers smiling and blessing each other? I shook and cried. That is what I did.
Over my thanksgiving break, I reread The Monk by Matthew G. Lewis. Continue reading “I Like Matthew “The Monk” G. Lewis A Lot”
A.S. King is a woman (see picture), but I didn’t know that when I first read her work and she has the wonderful ability to really write in a genderless style. I read one story of hers on Word Riot and was blown away by her humor, her darkness and her ability to basically use magic realism in a way that I found refreshing and purposeful. I immediately read everything else she had online and that was a really great day. Sigh. I then contacted her via her website and told her that I was her newest, rabid fan. Then I worried that she thought I was a stalker. But she insured me that if I were a stalker, she would like that. I find such a maturity of subject matter and playfulness to her stories and an ability to even broach politics –read this messed up, great one on Eclectica– without being preachy or didactic or anything but fascinating and truly thoughtful. She falls into the category of writer-whose-work-is -very-different-than-mine who I so appreciate for opening me up to different ways of writing.
Pre-order her forthcoming book, The Dust of 100 Dogs, here, even though it’s a “young adult” book because how rad is a book about a girl pirate reincarnated as a dog 100 times who then comes back as a modern teenager? I’m reading it, ya or no ya.
Being sort of old school and timid of new things, I didn’t realize that the internet indie lit scene rocked until I read Elizabeth Ellen. Fucking A. I didn’t even know who Barry Graham was until I read everything that Elizabeth Ellen has ever published and everyone knows how important Barry is to me. The clarity of emotion! The rawness! Her boobs! I worship her. She makes me a better writer just by having read her stories. And poems. Read her story on Dogzplot right now and tell me that it isn’t one of the bravest, twisted things of beauty that you’ve read. I also like that she’s got a tween, like me and Barry. I like everything about her and I don’t know her at all! You can read about her life story though at Michael Kimball’s “write your life story on a postcard” thingy. But really, buy her chapbook, Before You She Was a Pittbull. Then, hang out all day on her author website, clicking away at all of the links. I think she needs to update her website, though, and I would offer to help her with that because I love her so much.