Not sure if anybody’s noticed, but I’m a bit of a creature of habit. I like getting turned onto new stuff, sure, but once I’ve found something I like I tend to stick by it like a truly neurotic compulsive or perhaps like a faithful hound. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I was very happy to learn that Joshua Cohen, whose multi-part Nextbook essay about Kafka’s office writing I covered here, has a new piece of short fiction up at The Fanzine, which is a very cool site and probably not as widely known as it ought to be. So do yourself two favors: first, check out Cohen’s story, “Slush,” and second, start checking on Fanzine more often than you’ve been. (if you want to do yourself a third favor, pink up a copy of The Weaklings, Dennis Cooper’s most recent collection of poems, which Fanzine published in a special illustrated limited edition of unlimited awesomeness.) Here’s the beginning of “Slush.”
Dear Aaron Priestly,
Thank you for letting us take a read on your manuscript. STORY OF MY LIFE was bold, and compelling, but ultimately I was not convinced that I was the right person to represent it. I just did not find this a must read. It did not click, I regret to inform. Nor did it hold ME. I find your premise lacking, quite. Good luck elsewhere (*I can no longer accept queries from writers who have not been previously published or who have not been referred to me by a colleague*).
Please accept my very best wishes for the success of STORY OF YOUR LIFE. Though I did not fall in love with your story enough to continue reading it, I pass. We must pass. Obviously not for me, obviously. He, she, it, passes.
I’m sure you’ve all been keeping up this week with Nextbook.org’s five part series on Kafka’s Office Writings, which I first blogged about on Monday. But in case you haven’t, this is a good time to look over what you’ve missed so you can be all caught up for the big (?) finale tomorrow. The series, as I’ve mentioned now several times, is authored by Joshua Cohen, quite possibly the youngest working critic to be described non-ironically as “venerable,” assuming he has ever actually been called that before, which, if he hasn’t–well he has now.
(clicking anywhere on the text of a given day takes you to that day on Nextbook)
After you’ve had your fill of nonfiction, consider perhaps some of his other literature. Cohen is the author of five fine books out from presses that Giant readers and contributors alike have deep affection for: A Heaven of Others (Starcherone, 2008), Two Tribal Stories (Small Anchor, 2007), Aleph-Bet: An Alphabet for the Perplexed (Six Gallery, 2007), Cadenza for the Schneiderman Violin Concerto (Fugue State, 2007), The Quorum (Twisted Spoon, 2005). A new novel, Graven Imaginings, is forthcoming from Dalkey Archive. Better get on over to his website and see what the score is.
Check back at Nextbook.org every day this week for a new installment of Joshua Cohen’s writing about Kafka’s Office Writings. Also, there may be periodic updates here, highlighting our favorite pieces from the series and/or reminding you to go read it.