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Roxane Gay

http://www.roxanegay.com

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. Her novel, An Untamed State, will be published by Grove Atlantic and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, will be published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014.

Monday Readings And Notes

Barney Rosset has died. He was 89. Alas, Dimitri Nabokov has also passed away.

At The Rumpus, Kathleen Alcott wrote a beautiful essay about the importance of her name, the writer who is using the name Kate Alcott as a pseudonym, and much more. Also at The Rumpus, an essay by Catherine Chung whose Forgotten Country will be released in March.

Quick Fiction is ceasing operations and they will surely be missed. Don’t fret, though. They are having a closeout sale.

Dinty Moore responds to the Lifespan of a Fact situation.

As an aside, the Oscars were tragically bad weren’t they? The boringness of the ceremony has left me completely unsettled today. Also, Billy Crystal in blackface. Here’s something on what it’s like to have your book turned into a movie.

Does Jonathan Franzen have a “female problem“? I’m not sure but he best back up off my girl Edith. We KNOW how I feel about Edith. More on this soon but in the interim, Victoria Patterson at the Los Angeles Review of Books, has written a brief essay, “Not Pretty,” in response to Franzen’s New Yorker essay. This kind of reminds me of a post I saw on Bulk Culture a couple weeks where Barry Graham (I think) said looks don’t really matter in terms of online publishing success.

An illustrated guide to Mad Men Bed Hopping.

Roundup / 6 Comments
February 27th, 2012 / 2:40 pm

Revisiting The Brutal Language of Love

The theme for my graduate workshop this semester is writing love and sex into fiction. With each story or book we read, I ask students to think about what those texts say about love and sex because there are so many different ways to approach these topics. By the end of the semester, I want them to answer the question, “What is a love story?” I also want them to find new ways to write love stories. So far, it has been an exceptional class and our classes have been so invigorating because the students are really getting into what we’re reading and having killer discussions. More importantly, their writing, both critical and creative, has been fantastic. We just finished workshopping their first stories and every student surprised me with how they interpreted this idea of a love story.

One of the books we’re reading is Alicia Erian’s The Brutal Language of Love, and as we discuss the book, I am reminded of the brilliance of this collection. I assigned this book for lots of reasons, but mostly because Erian’s writing here responds to many dominant cultural narratives about love, sex, and gender, in complex, original ways. Oftentimes she writes these strange women who openly display their damage without apology but we never learn why the way they are. So often in our fiction we explain a character’s motivations or explore the underlying pathology. In most of these stories, there’s none of that. We have to simply accept the characters as they are. Many of the stories also approach love and sex through narrators who possess a sense of wry detachment and intimate self awareness. I don’t know of any writer who conveys the observations of a young woman with the skill of Erian.

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Craft Notes / 12 Comments
February 24th, 2012 / 1:00 pm

Thursday Reading

Cathy Day is doing a survey about the place of the novel in MFA programs. Both students and faculty are encouraged to participate. You can do so here.

The Millions has assembled a nice compendium of literary Tumblrs. Also at The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone, writes about compensation and literary magazines.

Starting here, The Believer hosts a three-part conversation between Vanessa Veselka and Lidia Yuknavitch.Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.

There’s been some conversation across different magazines and websites about fact checking, truth, and creative nonfiction. The New Yorker chimes in.

Sugar of Dear Sugar renown has revealed her identity–it’s author of Torch and Wild (forthcoming), Cheryl Strayed. She talks to Book Bench.

Scientists are uprising! Against Elsevier! Pocket protectors unite!

Michael Chabon co-wrote the screenplay for John Carter. This article looks at money and writing and Chabon and such. Ayelet Waldman responded on Twitter and that was awesome.

Here’s a little something on the history of monsters.

Publishing via Facebook….

I don’t like pennies.

Roundup / 8 Comments
February 16th, 2012 / 6:05 pm

A Book Prescription For Your Reading Pleasure

I often stumble across unique ways of exposing readers to new books. Chin Music Press (which I’ve discussed before here and here), has a pretty cool new program, BooksRx, where each quarter, a writer or artist curates a selection of independently published books and/or magazines around a theme. Their third installment, the Mardi Gras collection, will be available on the 21st and looking ahead, they want to incorporate titles from other presses. One installment is $40 and a yearly subscription is $100.

This seems like a great idea for indie publishers, who could band together and sell their books in curated, thematic packages. It will be interesting to see if this idea succeeds.What presses would you like to see participating in a venture like this?

Presses / 7 Comments
February 14th, 2012 / 1:00 pm

Reviews

The Tension of the Likable Unlikable

Treasure Island!!!
by Sara Levine
Europa Editions, 2012
172 pages / $15.00 Buy from Powells

I love unlikable characters. In the fictional world, I want bad people to get away with doing bad things. I want the serial killer to slip into the night or live happily never after. One of the reasons I love American Psycho so much is the methodical and unwavering way Ellis portrays Patrick Bateman as an unrepentant psychopath who is as interested in the right restaurant reservation as he is in committing sadistic acts. It’s all very unpleasant (or it isn’t) but the writing is such that it is easy to be as fascinated as you might be repulsed.

I love finding writers who can hold the reader in that complicated tension where you like the unlikable character.

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5 Comments
February 10th, 2012 / 1:00 pm

Whenever I see people talk about how they hate two spaces after a period, I kind of wonder what the big deal is because with Find/Replace it takes less than 15 seconds to fix in Word or InDesign. Over at Dark Sky, Gabe Durham walks us through this complicated procedure.

{LMC}: Our March Selection: Salt Hill 28

 

 

The stories, poems, interviews, and art in the 28th issue of Salt Hill are reminders of the inspiration that comes with encapsulation; if we are living in a body, we are writing. Stories from Mark Baumer, Maile Chapman, Sarah Rose Etter, James Robison, and Jason Schwartz traverse sentience and sentiment in stylized prose. Poetry from Jennifer Denrow, H.L. Hix, Ben Mirov, John Skoyles, and Dara Wier navigates tonal and geographical journeys. An interview with Dana Spiotta on outsider musicians while Mary Caponegro talks about what’s inside her cerebral, musical prose. As the temperature hits its bitter notes in Syracuse, bundle up with SH 28 and find new meanings to the body’s hibernations.

CONTRIBUTORS

POETRY

Ciaran Berry, Bruce Bond, Brett DeFries, Jennifer Denrow, Laura Eve Engel, John Gallaher, H.L. Hix, Bridget Lowe, Ben Mirov, Oliver de la Paz, Wang Ping, Nate Pritts, Zachary Schomburg, John Skoyles, Tony Trigilio, Dara Wier

FICTION

Mark Baumer, Maile Chapman, Sarah Rose Etter, James Robison, Jason Schwartz

NONFICTION

Interview of Dana Spiotta by Rachel Abelson, Interview of Maile, Chapman by Chanelle Benz and Natalie Rogers, Interview of Mary, Caponegro by John Madera, Amy Benson, Casey Wiley

ART

Frederik Heyman, Andrew Jilka, Anders Oinonen

Abby Koski talks about the issue briefly at Vouched Books. This is a beautiful magazine and one you do not want to miss.

We are giving away fifteen of Salt Hill, first come, first served. If you are interested, e-mail me at roxane at htmlgiant.com with your name and mailing address. If this announcement is not crossed out, copies are still available. Salt Hill 28 is available for a fine discount available if you are interested in purchasing this magazine. If you go here, the magazine is available to HTMLGIANT readers for only $7. THAT IS AN AMAZING DISCOUNT. Support literary magazines! The discussion starts here, on Monday, March 4, after AWP.

LMC Administrivia:

Future club selections:

May 2012: Trnsfr
July 2012: Uncanny Valley
September 2012: J Journal: New Writing on Justice

Stay tuned for special offers and giveaways for these magazines.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or some other feature related to Salt Hill 28, get in touch by e-mailing me at roxane at htmlgiant.com. Topics you might consider discussing include the design, content, overall aesthetic, whether the magazine met your expectations, what the magazine contributes to the literary scene, etc. You might also do an in-depth analysis of one writer’s work, etc. There are no limits.

There’s also a Google Group with light posting about literary magazines and club announcements. If you want to join the group or want more information about the LMC, if you’re an editor who wants your magazine featured, etc, send me an e-mail. To summarize: however you want to participate please get in touch or watch this space in November when hopefully, we’ll have a great discussion about an interesting literary magazine.

Literary Magazine Club / 6 Comments
February 6th, 2012 / 2:00 pm

{LMC}: An Interview with Megan Garr, Editor of Versal

 

 

Versal 9 was the January selection for Literary Magazine Club (details of our next selection, Monday). Did you read the issue? What did you think? My favorite story was Carmen Petaccio’s “Tornado,” where the writer personified a tornado and created a really imaginative story. I also admired Stace Budzko’s “To Be Glad And Young,” particularly the ending. Versal editor Megan M. Garr and I had a great conversation via e-mail about Versal, the proliferation of magazines, being based in Europe, arrogance, editorial humility, and more.

Versal—where does the name come from?

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where he shortens the word “universal” to keep with the meter. It’s from a random comment by the nurse in act 2. Somewhere along the line the word “versal” also came to take on the meaning “single”. I liked that conflation, ten years ago when I was first figuring out how to live in a foreign country.

A “versal” is also that ornamental capital letter at the beginning of old texts – a fact that suits us, I think, with our attention to design.
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Literary Magazine Club / 4 Comments
February 3rd, 2012 / 3:35 pm

Wednesday Reading

Jonathan Franzen doesn’t like e-books. I read Freedom on my Kindle. If he wants to defend printed matter, he should maybe not write a book that weighs a million pounds (KIDDING). Also, Franzen’s least favorite things (via The Millions). Franzen is angry in a placid, intellectual way.

At N Plus One, Molly Fischer discusses lady blogs. And then there’s this wonderful response.  I enjoy some lady blogs and especially The Hairpin but appreciated both perspectives.

Is anyone reading Caitlin Flanagan’s Girl Land? Fascinating, yes?

Barnes & Noble is taking a stand against Amazon’s encroachment on the publishing industry.

Speaking of people making Amazon-related decisions, Goodreads is transitioning to new data sources.

Also, Amazon’s earnings fell. Rough week for them, but like Drago in Rocky 4, they’ll muscle through until a Rocky rises out of the Siberian chill to put up a good fight.

At Largehearted Boy (celebrating its tenth anniversary), Hanne Blank shares her book notes from her recently released Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, which got a great review in The New York Times. There’s also an interesting interview with Blank at Salon.

John Scalzi is contributing the proceeds of his e-book sales from his titles at Subterranean Press to Planned Parenthood for the next week.

Here’s an interesting piece on how records are made, literally.

Erica Dreifus offers a list of places where you can submit your flash nonfiction.

Colossal, an art and design blog, always has really unique art to look at.

Hey, it’s February.
Roundup / 8 Comments
February 1st, 2012 / 4:14 pm

Kama Sutra, Baby: Pick Your Position

 

The entries for the Kama Sutra contest were so great, I need help picking a winner. Feel free to vote in the comments by listing the number of your favorite. You have until Monday! Whichever entry gets the most votes, wins!

1. The Ron Paul Real Talk Presidential Nation Express: Dream of something that will never cum.

2.  The Across the Universe: The ability to give one another an orgasm from a distance.

3. The iForn: Standing, both partners hold mobile device in right hand and lock arms so that they face opposite directions and each looks at his or her respective mobile device. With left hand, reach beneath and between partner’s buttocks. Dial. Accept.

4. The 66/99: When two egotistical people fight over who goes down on whom first.
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Contests / 11 Comments
January 27th, 2012 / 1:00 pm