Fifty-Two Stories, as you might know, has dropped forty at once (downloadable now as a free PDF, and as a free ebook on July 17). The forty include sick fictions from Lindsay Hunter, Shane Jones, Scott McClanahan, Catherine Lacey, Kayden Kross, Blake Butler, Brandon Hobson, Roxane Gay, Adam Wilson, Kyle Minor, +30 more![!!] Somewhat related: has anyone ever walked into a physical bookstore to acquire a free ebook? Did you get your free Slurpee on 7/11/12?
Please welcome my dear friend Alex Henderson to the fold by reading his first published story, “Zorion,” which is up this week at Fifty-Two Stories. Alex got me started reading and writing fiction five-or-so years ago, when we met on a video game message board and began chatting, and though I am certainly indebted to him for that, this post is about his story, which is an absolute knockout by the way, and you should read it as soon as you have the chance.
Hey remember when Blake posted about how major publishing houses have basically stopped taking on challenging, innovative fiction? Well it looks like big publishing has Struck Back. From Our Man’s personal blog, posted last night-
I’ve signed a two book deal with Harper Perennial, for a novel and a book of nonfiction. Crazy and exciting for me in many ways, most of all in having a book as crazy as the novel that has been bought is to be considered in the big houses. It seems a sign of good times, I think.
Sign of good times, indeed. Blake joins a team that already includes Dennis Cooper, Tony O’Neill, Kevin Sampsell, uh me, The Great Short Works of Tolstoy, the Six Word Memoir series, and all those amazing philosophy re-issues originally published in the Harper Torch series. Welcome to the family, brother!
Special Butler+Harper Bonus Reminder: “The Copy Family” at Fifty-two Stories. Remember back when this happened? I think it’s when HP’s love affair with Homebutler began. Which incidentally reminds me that it’s been way too long since we touched based with Fifty-two Stories. Cal, if you’re reading this- I’m on it.
One of the many great talents of Dennis Cooper is his knack for making the ‘profane’ or arcane seem not simply a specialized, ritual act, but a bevel in the everyday, of people. Among such commonly taboo subjects as rape, murder, S&M, you name it, Cooper’s work manages to funnel these acts not into the hands of the typically insane or ‘specialized’ bodies, but kids that lives in homes with parents, everyday kids, school kids, and people. I’ve several times been eerily moved by Cooper’s work in finding how close it felt to certain people I went to middle school with: the kid with the rat tail and cut off pants singing Cramps songs in the gym while everyone else tried to cooperate with the bowling unit, and he’s there kicking pins over, laughing. Several times that year he’d get his ass kicked, and others would be similarly embedded on my brain: the kid who brought in brass knuckles to fight behind the lunch room, the kids doing pink pills in the back of Ms. Storey’s English class and choking each other out to get off, etc. These elements are the everyday lining in those everydays, the bits that ride with me more than any of it, and so strangely, I’ve often found that read Cooper somehow taps into that mode, bringing it out not as a circus act, but as the thread in the simultaneously under-the-soil and always-right-there rhizome that it is.
I’m currently sitting on my parents couch in an undisclosed location in South Jersey. It’s 7am on Saturday, and I’m awake because my folks are both teachers and wake up, even on their days off and summer vacations, at painfully early hours. Since, when I come to their house, I opt to sleep on the couch in front of their flat screen TV and soak in the cable I don’t have in New York, they usually wake me up too. It’s worth it, I think, although I’m still a bit groggy. Now I don’t have to move much in order to turn on cartoons or Rocky IV, which I think I saw On Demand. But this place of rest also gives me a chance to continue reading a fun series from Harper Perennial called Fifty Two Stories, where those guys pair short works from great authors (Tolstoy, Cather, Melville, etc) with a piece from a lesser known contemporary acolyte of the form (our beloved Dennis Cooper has a story paired with Stephen Crane). I’m through Tolstoy and most of the Dostoyevsky, and I have to say that it’s a nice way to run through some iconic authors, most known to casual readers as writers of epically longer works, that I probably wouldn’t get around to any time soon. Hell, it’s worth $10 cover price just to see Fyodor’s dour, existentially pockmarked visage on the cover. Guy looks seriously bummed out about life. Someone get him a Dippin’ Dots.
Hey remember when Blake Butler was on Cal Morgan’s Fifty-Two Stories and we all got excited? Yeah, me too. Well that was a few weeks ago, so I thought tonight I’d pop back over to see what’s been going on since.
As you’ll recall, Blake’s “The Copy Family” was #11.
The copy family would not speak when spoken in to—though they had heartbeat, they were breathing. Their copy eyes were wet and stretched with strain.
That was followed by a classic, Stephen Crane’s “The Pace of Youth” at #12.
The summer sunlight sprinkled its gold upon the garnet canopies carried by the tireless racers and upon all the devices of decoration that made Stimson’s machine magnificent and famous.
Then things got even, um, classicer, with Dostoyevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” at #13.
I suddenly felt that it made no difference to me whether the world existed or whether nothing existed anywhere at all. I began to be acutely conscious that nothing existed in my own lifetime.
And now, the current story, in at #14, the second-ever story (after Blake’s) to emerge from the 52 slushbox, Casey Kait’s “Year of the Dog.”
At first, I saw her only at school events—the annual party or the one day each summer the class drove to the beach. But over time she’d stop by when I got home from school with containers of noodles or dumplings that she had made. “So Mommy doesn’t have to cook tonight, okay?” We started to love her. All of us.
I’m especially excited because, as it happens, I actually know Casey Kait a little bit as well. We were MFAs at New School at the same time, and if memory serves, we took Dale Peck’s literature seminar together. Congrats, Casey!
And cheers to 52 Stories– keep it coming!