Comment in the thread here for a chance to win a copy of Ravi Mangla’s Understudies:
“a deadpan, sharply-observed novel about the sadness pervading a contemporary world fixated on simulation and celebrity. Like so much of America, the small town where Understudies takes place exists under a mediated, televisual spell. Everyone’s chasing fame, desperate for that particular brand of social capital endemic to the internet age.” – Michael Jauchen (3 AM)
A winner Ravi chooses from the comments will receive:
so, comment away (& I’ll notify the winner in a few days)
Hi, y’all. In June, I and my helicopter friends in our helicopter hats released a lovely weird novel called The Skin Team by a Canadian gentleman named Jordaan Mason. I haven’t told you about it yet, but now I am telling you about it. There’s a way you can get it for free at the end of this post. First read the post to see if you’d like it, right?
The novel is about three people, two boys and a girl, turning into each other and out of each other. Also touching. There are sick horses and a Power Company on fire. Sad dads and gone moms. Also some rivers and games of tag and lightbulb vomit.
What I’ve been telling people is that it’s like if Dennis Cooper re-wrote The Virgin Suicides, and Dennis himself was all “Reading The Skin Team, you would never suspect how difficult it is to write even fairly about such things, much less with Jordaan Mason’s radiant emotional grace and super-deft detailing and flawless style.”
So far it’s been called “a psychedelic, haunting, genuinely queer experience of adolescence” (Xtra!) and an “incendiary novel, impressive in both style and its poetic language” (Largehearted Boy) and that it’s “carried in sentences that together feel close to the same long slow gravity you might have felt exploring a strange relative’s house as a child” (our own Ryan Gosling at VICE). My favorite new lit blog Actuary Lit says “The Skin Team brims with flesh made electricity, of sick bodies warped by technology into health.” And Vol. 1 Brooklyn says that it reminds them of a guy the FBI thought was the Unabomber: “Like William T. Vollmann, Mason tears apart familiar relationships and conflicts to illuminate them in some newfound fashion.”
And you know it’s real, because some people have said negative things too! They think it has too many metaphors or the prose purples or it gets too confusing (“when every sentence strives for preciousness, they risk monotony” from the Heavy Feather Review), which could also be true, who knows! Let it not be said that our helicopter isn’t into dodging rockets. Evasive maneuvers are fun! Criticism is good. Hype is soda.
I tried to explain in a sincere and full disclosure way about why I love this book over at The Lit Pub in an interview with Jordaan. During his answers, he gives a great primer about the three characters, talks about bipolar disorder, destroying the logic of science through unnaming, and “trying to describe this complete separation of my body from everything around it and from itself. ”
The reason I’m telling you about The Skin Team now is because you can get it for free if you want to play a little game where you get a map in the mail and you draw on it. Otherwise, you can get it the normal way, which would also be awesome. If you feel like it’s weird we have bodies, especially when they’re in the woods and inside other bodies, and you want to read about bodies in a book that makes their weirdness feel like it kind of works (like how a singing saw sounds), I’m guessing you’ll like The Skin Team. Thanks!
SOLAR▲LUXURIANCE is having a free & open-reading period for OBELISK SERIES, a project looking to publish short narrative (not necessarily fiction) works of a transgressive nature. 15-19 pages long, printed on a quarter sheet (change the font of your document to 18pt Times New Roman to approximate the topography of a quarter-sheet of paper). I’ve never done an open reading periods at SOLAR▲LUXURIANCE before, and I’m excited to see what comes in. For more details, check out the website.
TIME FOR YOU TO WIN STUFF
For our final two installments of Stark Week, we’re going to turn things over to you guys. Thanks for reading all this stuff about this book, which as I said a long time ago (last Monday) I really do feel is worth checking out and talking about in a big way. I hope you have felt the same and have enjoyed these posts! I asked Sam to do a video where he read a poem and came up with a contest idea. One of the least shy people I know, Sam felt paradoxically shy about making a video (maybe because he is an old ghost man), but I think he did a good, spookily red job.
Here’s how the contest works: check out Sam’s poem from the last book of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather, which is about a crazy place he lived, and then talk about the craziest place you lived in the comments. Craziest place—as judged by Sam and maybe his girlfriend or his friends or his pizza delivery guy—will win a free copy of The First Four Books. If you don’t feel like watching Sam’s poem or watching him make fun of me in the beginning of the video (cuz, like, you have really busy Sundays in your life), just leave a comment! Win a book!
Deadline: 11:59 PM Wednesday July 24th
Do You Want to Win Frank Stanford’s Beautiful Short Story Collection Because You Yourself Write Good Stories?
You can do that. You can also win a copy of The Minus Times Collected (I’ve got one, it’s amazing) signed by three of its authors: Hunter Kennedy, Sam Lipsyte, and Jeffrey Rotter.
What, what’s going on. What’s going on is: The Short Form—a site that stylishly celebrates good-ass stories by excerpting them and asking guests to talk about their favorites—is giving away these books in its first ever short story contest. Three finalists will get featured on the site and all will win a copy of Stanford’s Conditions Uncertain and Likely to Pass Away, which is pretty much just as good as his poems except it’s stories, so—I was about to do that Gawker thing where they just end a sentence with “so” or “because” but then I wondered if Frank Stanford would do that and I decided he would probably beat me to death with all the empty Smartwater bottles littering my carpet if he showed up, like, in my living room, reincarnated, risen, made of carpet dust.
The point is one grand prize ultimate winner will also receive The Minus Times Collected, signed. I like The Short Form, they’re good in people ways, this contest seems fun, do it if you like contests. Deadline: March 31st. Details: this is the third time I’ve linked to the same link in this post which can’t be good for SEO. Also above us there is a picture because pictures!
Last weekend, I invited Matthew Salesses to show up and rock out at this reading series in DC. The room was poorly lit, and the readers had to stand on a rickety wooden stage. The venue made the whole thing feel like we were at some sort of half-assed comedy show, but Matt and the other readers (Laura van den Berg, Dan Gutstein, and Sarah Burnett) were utterly incredible—especially considering that there was this obnoxious improv group stomping on the floor above us because they thought they were at basketball practice, or something.
Anyway, there’s nothing all that funny about Matthew’s new Book, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying. At its surface, Matthew’s book is about the predicted failures and slow learning curve of a nameless new father. But deeper down, it explores how our actions and desires are intrinsically linked to our identities and our understanding of ourselves. I’m personally a big fan of Matthew’s terse, controlled prose, which almost always looks this beautiful:
I’m Not Saying is a short book with short chapters, but it’s worth reading slowly. I’m always inspired by how dutifully Matthew matches tone and subject matter in his writing, and there’s more than enough proof out there that I’m not the only one inspired by it.
But I’ll stop gushing and get to what’s important: Matthew has agreed to give away two signed copies of I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying. Quote the weirdest/funniest/strangest thing your father has ever said (and try to avoid being offensive) in the comments by Tuesday, March 5th and Matthew will pick two winners. Get’it’gurl.
Michael Seidlinger is giving away 5 copies of MY PET SERIAL KILLER, which is out today. Comment to enter, check back in a week to see if you won, you know the drill:
If any serial killer could “be yours”, who would it be?
Hot new shit all over the place coming from Radioactive Moat : Most recently Lonely Christopher’s CRUSH DREAM : Of which CAConrad said “DON’T BE STUPID you know as well as I do these poems boil to the top of the gravy!!” : And of which RM has kindly offered to giveaway a copy along with copies of Ji Yoon Lee’s IMMA and Lucas de Lima’s GHOSTLINES , both also from RM.
All one has to do is : “Write Three Sentences About Your Worst Crush.” : Leave your sentences as a comment and a winner will be selected by Lonely Christopher : in ~48 hrs
The most inflammatory sentence in the comments wins the 70 UDP books from their Full Moon Sale.
The winner will be chosen by either Blake or myself. I’m not really sure who. We just made this contest up a few minutes ago over email, and didn’t really plan that far out.
Good luck, and R.I.P. Gore Vidal! Loved that Caligula!
*UPDATE 8/02/12* I’ve picked a winner, and that winner is Scott McClanahan. Congratulations, Scott! You’ve won some books! R.I.P. Gore Vidal!
[matchup #63 in Tournament of Bookshit]
If I just reword the debate, you will see there is no question here:
The story of the homeless man who recently got his face eaten off vs. Humanure
As you can see, even the most banal, average human story easily trumps a sewage treatment technology. But as language is a game in which I play really good, I will expand my argument with a memory thus bludgeoning you with my sweet opinion. Picture a small child, gazing up at her grandmother, her eyes wide with anticipation and respect for the matriarch, her attention clinging to her grandmother’s every word. Now picture a child listening to her grandma go on and on about growing up next to a PF Chang’s as grandma sat on the toilet and every once in a while demanded 8 squares of 2-ply—I could have listened to those stories for hours. The smell of crab wontons and northern style spare ribs still issuing from her soft, old-ass lady skin. Listening to those stories of a shared past, I felt a great sense of familial warmth like a curly hair in massage oil. It wasn’t just the historical facts of my grandmother’s stories that kept my attention for hours—that as a baby she escaped some horrible genocidal type thing in Europe or the mid-west or the time she rode on this big, huge boat that crashed into a glacier and sunk or actually, that was a blimp, I think—what kept me at attention was the amazing power of language to build vivid, infinite worlds in my mind, that and her fists were the size of hams. She wasn’t the most eloquent of story tellers, in fact she suffered from swollen tongue so often that most of the time it sounded like she was rolling a golf ball around in her mouth, but I could feel the urgency and emotion in her every word. Her life was the accumulation of her stories, and this defines our human condition. In comparison, sewage, treated or otherwise, ain’t shit. Septic tanks? Fine bubble diffusers? Froth flotation? Expanded granular sludge bed digestion? I’ll take my grandmother’s story about meeting my grandfather during the Great Sensation or watching the first Jewish president get knifed on cable any day.
[matchup #62 in Tournament of Bookshit]
Calling anything you write a manuscript, known as the Billy Collins approach or the Ron Silliman method in contemporary poetry circles, is not only popular with poets (David Foster Wallace immediately springs to mind, too), but nobody does it better than a poet. No one else has the narcissistic tendencies, nor the free time. But these very same tendencies led to one of the most beloved pieces of literature of all time: The Bible. Can you think of another book with words and sentences arranged less arbitrarily? Can you think of another book that’s inspired as much killing in its name? Yet it was conceived during a flight of whimsy and written on the back of a cloud as a half joke.
[matchup #61 in Tournament of Bookshit]
If this were the S.A.T., I’d go with my gut and say, alcoholism. Sure, everyone has a story, but most of those stories are as boring as policy debates on CSPAN. In service of our egos, we subconsciously construct our identities so that everything we say, wear, eat and do reinforces the illusion that we know everything, and totally have our shit together. “Let me tell you about the time I was right—again—because I know important people at the Wall Street Journal.” Snoresville.
Give me epic tales of humiliation, shame and ignorance. For example: “My fat camp counselor discovered my cache of hidden candy bars and let everyone in the cabin give me titty twisters for a week, and now I can’t come unless candy bars are hidden under my mattress and I’m on the top bunk.” William Burroughs said, “Pity the young lawyer who’s never lost a case, the doctor who’s never killed a patient. He doesn’t know the score. I trust him little in the commerce of the soul.” Ditto. READ MORE >
Alcoholism vs. “everybody has a story” [Judge: Jennifer L. Knox]
Calling anything u write a manuscript vs. Sewage Treatment Technologies [Judge: Jason Bredle]
TBD vs. TDB [Judge: Sommer Browning]
O WHO WILL WIN?!?!?
[matchup #60 in Tournament of Bookshit]
“Funny how new facts pop up and make you doubt that there’s any goodness in life.”1 An ewer of wisdom. “The first baby of the new year, her arrival had been announced in all the papers as if she were heir to a throne or a fortune instead of the daughter of a sometime fisherman and fulltime gambler, and the best waitress at the Garden Cove Pancake House on U.S. 1.”2 There are times when your connection to humanity is self-evident, joyously overwhelming. “She had to take a shower, like, immediately.”3 Who doesn’t know the bright snap of day, and welcome it? “Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it’s really only moments that define us.”4 Could it be any sweeter? “The club will not run out of tequila until I get my hair right. So shut the fuck up.”5 Forms like dew, inevitable as the sun. “One of the things I hate most about this book is that it is all about me.”6 Alas, we are all selecting principles. “Surely this babe would be impressed by his résumé.”7 Alas.
- – - READ MORE >
[matchup #59 in Tournament of Bookshit]
This being my first venture into sports writing, I think what I’ll do is recap alcoholism’s inevitable rise to power before tonight’s “game,” then we can all pop some High Lifes and pull them hot wings out of the freezer.
Alcoholism was on a tear until HTML decided to drop Tournament of Bookshits and review books. Shame, because there were some real gems in there. Take these gems from the Giancarlo Ditrapano-moderated Facebook status updates re: present MS word count vs. Alcoholism:
If you write 5,000 words, chances are that 4,950 of them are shit
I miss workshops already. READ MORE >
[matchup #58 in Tournament of Bookshit]
Well, I really wanted this one to go the other way. I know I’m meant to be impartial, but really: everybody has a story? Um, no they don’t. (See, you can’t even talk about it without getting into the whole pronoun thing.) Everybody has a skull, sure, and a pet fish, but a story? Most people have neither beginning, middle, nor end. They just sort of float out there waiting to get stabbed.
Whereas, daily Facebook updates of what you ate? Yum! More please. You had kale? You pig, you did not! Bonus points if you braised something, because I don’t know what that means. But it sounds delish. READ MORE >