It’s always sad when a press goes out of business. Why’d it happen? What will happen to the books? Are they falling short of an implicit promise? Dark Sky just went belly up. Though I don’t think a formal announcement has been made, Gabe Durham (DSM editor) redirected all the content for the new issue over to Barrelhouse. You can read it here.
Barrelhouse, meanwhile, seems alive and well. They’ve just announced a new version of their “Conversations & Connections Conference” (always a good time) in Philadelphia. This time the event, which has loads of panels about writing and publishing, features a keynote with Stewart O’Nan. I caught the one in DC earlier this year. Sam Lipsyte gave a funny keynote about Zachary German giving him shit in a crowded bar for not writing better books. Barrelhouse is also starting a new reading series in DC, something that features actors performing stories from the latest issue of their magazine.
Sometimes confessing to an invisible audience, sometimes to the poet himself, the impressive poetic debut Trees of the Twentieth Century consists of approximately thirty poems and communicates that which usurps prepackaged explanations yet desires to be heard using the human voice. What is experienced with the five senses—what makes us human—takes priority. This collection excels when read aloud, whether or not this was Stephen Sturgeon’s intention. The intelligent search for meaning periodically surfaces, alongside themes of passing time, shuffling memories, the malaise of adulthood, desperation, the recurring realization of injustice and impending reality of temporal forces at play. Sturgeon is generous in sharing his philosophical inquiries, thoughtfully embedded stanza by stanza:
present themselves; it means, it means that we
have seen them; that’s over. That’s over. (13)
Simplicity, associated with purity and grace, is a skill which many lack. Few have cultivated the patience of our ancestors—for better or worse. When something presents itself, it is often in one’s best interest to take the said object or situation at face value, despite a tendency to complicate, mask or layer, ranging from intention to the natural course of events. If it barks like a dog, it’s probably a dog—a hard lesson. The poet unearths such authentic perspectives, even if they are frequently singular to his own trajectory, hence the recurring presence of the “I” pronoun:
The rocks spun. So close the air was to my face
I sparely breathed. (16)
I watched them, from on a hill, at its top,
thinking, everything falls down that will come up. (16)
I consider the pedigree of time,
and see no puzzle to its address. (30)
July 23rd, 2012 / 12:00 pm
The twenty-two stories in Jensen Beach’s debut collection, For Out of the Heart Proceed, center on family and in particular father and son relationships. The collection is peopled with troubled characters struggling to make sense of their circumstances, choices, and connection to others. What is perhaps most compelling about these stories are the interesting and memorable ways the characters grapple with issues of faith: Faith in themselves, others, the world, and the divine. There is great efficiency to Beach’s prose and a precise order to this collection that juxtaposes the disturbances and sometimes chaos of these characters’ lives, conflicted characters often controlled by fear.
For Out of the Heart Proceed contains three Parts linked by how its men do, and sometimes don’t, transcend their fears and difficult situations. In the first story, “Training Exercise,” a father and young son must brave the dark and what appears to be a menacing, male stranger in their back garden:
July 20th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
The other night I was doing my taxes and commiserating with softballers and wondering why the water was still running behind a locked door and getting shoved passive-aggressively by a woman whose love of darts I was unconsciously interrupting when the guy to the right said that he liked it when I used to post on HTMLGIANT about new issues of online magazines, and I was like “You mean the only thing on HTMLGIANT I was ever good for?” and he was like “Yeah, exactly,” and then one thing led to another and the Yankees got swept in their opening series by Tampa Bay, so I figured what the frick I would tell everybody about:
)) People who think they have secrets over at Sixth Finch, but actually they just have the word DOOR superimposed like a crosshair on their smallest confession.
)) People who meld heads and flood banks and steal mother scarves over at Dark Sky, but really they just stand around covered in hair in the mammal room.
)) And if that’s not enough for you Yankees fans, you can take a NAP, and when you wake Up, you can conduct enough electricity to become a diode. The important thing is that every time you read an online literary magazine for the rest of your life, you should also imagine the gangsta in the woods reading along with you.
What a sweet week for mice who live in walls. Wait, I mean what a sweet week for this pink skull and crossbones wrist thing. Wait, I mean what a sweet week for all these old MTA bus passes I am uselessly collecting. Wait, I mean what a sweet week for new litmags. That’s it. Adam already posted about LPZ, and since I just got in trouble the other day for accidentally double posting about Ryan Call’s Whiting Award, I’m going to stick to a strictly newsworthy diet.
Dark Sky 14 is out! You should read Dark Sky 14 if you like mustached short Siamese women, a family crawling naked from the sea clutching plastic suitcases, counting bullet holes, Burt’s cans of nuts and screws, broken floating, a horse in a Dumpster, seagulls collecting Styrofoam with their beaks, Mars sex, kicking ants, cashmere moons, warbling accountants, smoke that turns into bears and vice versa, and anonymous book reviews where the book itself is the anonymous.
NOÖ  is out! You should read NOÖ  if you like dance-offs, Russian salads, laundromats outside of burnt down malls, people who give you their ADD medication for your birthday, Ivan Lendl nostalgia, Hawaiians with machine guns, fake boyfriends, people who marry houses, confused police, sisters who are boxes of snakes, sisters who threaten you with ginsu knives, pummelhorsing social compromise, meat screams, oysters collected by widows, letters to jailed Lil Wayne, hearts too full of apples and wind, slut bags, triangle booth sandwiches, fucktrys, lung balloons, the bicycle in the wrong part of the neighborhood, the fast snapping motion of a neck during the fickle stages of a swan-dive, whiskey & chocolate, roller hockey coaches, furniture apocalypses, people who swallow entire friends, and eerie floating underwear. Plus one review of one giant book, a book written by a person named Adam Jameson Rod Smith Jennifer L Knox Brad Liening Jennifer Denrow Christian Hawkey Ryan Ridge Dan Hoy. Can you imagine calling for that guy in the doctor’s office? Luckily you don’t need a doctor to read either of these two new issues, but you might need a doctor after them.