Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is the author of the story collection Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever, and the novel The Gospel of Anarchy. He is the editor of The Apocalypse Reader, Come Back Donald Barthelme, and co-editor (with Eva Talmadge) of The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide. With Jeremy Schmall he makes The Agriculture Reader, a limited-edition arts annual. He lives in Brooklyn.

Choice Gleanings from the NYT Weekend Book Review

Rick Moody reviews Mick Wall’s biography of Led Zeppelin, and finds it overly focused on prurient groupie-stories, at the expense of any real discussion of the band’s music. This is the same Mick Wall, then of Kerrang! called out by name (along with Bob Guccione Jr., then of Spin, Andy Secher, then of Hit Parader, and the entire entity that is/was Circus Magazine) in the song “Get in the Ring” on Use Your Illusion II. (“You be rippin’ off the fuckin’ kids/ While they be payin’ their hard earned money to read about the bands They want to know about / Printin’ lies startin’ controversy / You wanta antagonize me / Antagonize me motherfucker / Get in the ring motherfucker…”) Guess things haven’t changed much for ole Mick over the years.

Sheila Kohler (alumna of The Quarterly and a Lish-era Knopf) has a new novel, a work of historical imagination entitled Becoming Jane Eyre, which Christopher Benfey seems to have enjoyed.

Christopher Byrd, a rad younger critic, whose unexpected popping-up here seems like a general omen of good tidings, reviews Running Away by Jean-Phillipe Toussaint.

And Patrick Cockburn–intrepid journalist, and brother of Alexander–greatly admires Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, a new work of graphic historical-journalism depicting two long-forgotten massacres of Palestinians.

[E]arly in 1956, the Israeli chief of staff Moshe Dayan made a famous speech at the funeral of an Israeli commander killed on the border with Gaza. What, Dayan wondered, explained the Palestinians’ “terrible hatred of us”? Then he answered his own question: “For eight years now they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.”

Oh right, that.

Uncategorized / 6 Comments
December 26th, 2009 / 11:24 pm

Merry Christmas, from John Darnielle from John Prine from Michael Schaub from All of Us to You

via Michael Schaub’s facebook. There are drunk people screaming at each other in the street. Everything in New York is closed except every single bodega everywhere. I’m going to Florida tomorrow. Be bugging you from there, probably–God rest ye merry gentlemen till then. Ladies, too.

Web Hype / 4 Comments
December 25th, 2009 / 1:37 am

Richard Brautigan Day at Coop’s Place!

I love writing poetry but it’s taken time, like a difficult courtship that leads to a good marriage, for us to get to know each other. I wrote poetry for seven years to learn how to write a sentence because I really wanted to write novels and I figured that I couldn’t write a novel until I could write a sentence. I used poetry as a lover but I never made her my old lady. . . . I tried to write poetry that would get at some of the hard things in my life that needed talking about but those things you can only tell your old lady.

Utter delight. Thanks, Dennis! & kudos to his guest-poster, Winter Rates.

PS- if WR’s rad day isn’t quite enough Brautigan for you, you wish to check out this essay I wrote on In Watermelon Sugar for LOST Magazine a while back.

Author Spotlight / 36 Comments
December 24th, 2009 / 10:26 am

X-Mas Present: Everything You Always Wanted to Ask David Gates About Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories…

…and there were a lot of things you wanted to ask, because Gates’s intro is one of if not the best single essays ever written about DB’s work, so you figured he’d probably have done a pretty sweet job on the notes, too, but for some reason it wasn’t in the Gates-prefaced Penguin Classics Edition of Sixty Stories where it should have been, and you knew it was supposed to be posted somewhere on the Penguin website (it says so in the book) but then when you went to the website you couldn’t find it.

If this is you, friend, your troubles end today. Here. Now. I went to the Penguin site, and found the thing–years ago. It’s amazing and enlightening and it’s over 30 pages long. And I had forgotten about it until just now. Everyone should have access to these notes. Rather than try and re-figure out how I found them, I’m just going to post the .pdf myself: The David Gates footnotes to Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories. Merry Christmas, all.

Author Spotlight & Excerpts & Technology / 39 Comments
December 23rd, 2009 / 12:32 pm

These People Want to Kill You With Their Voodoo Powers, but Are Worried They’re Accidentally Killing Each Other–with their VOODOO POWERS

They’re like terrorists trying to build suicide bombs, but accidentally blowing their own fingers off. Or at least that’s what this one guy thought. This just went up on Gawker.

A panicked tea-bagger called up C-SPAN in tears today, worried that he accidentally killed Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe by praying for Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd to die. This is one of the saddest things ever to appear on C-SPAN.

There aren’t enough o’s in the word WOWOWOWOWOW to describe the way(s) this makes me feel. Guess we’d better go to the tape, Steve.


Web Hype / 7 Comments
December 22nd, 2009 / 11:01 pm

Reviews & Web Hype

stuff i saw and you can too

Get your soul portrait today! And while you’re over there checking out the goods, be sure to answer this call:  “Attention Art Collectors Seeking Art Treasures.” No more shit-collecting for you! From here on out, it’s treasures only. (Thanks, Mathias!)

If you’re still feeling spiritual after your Soul Portrait, try “The Family Jewels” over at the Smart Set. David Farley takes a look at Christianity’s best relics. As expected, #1 is the Holy Foreskin–it’s like the “Thriller” video of relics–but some of the other entries are surprising, and it’s all good educational fun.

There’s nothing holier than anything about “Reading People’s Faces” at Reason, the crabby libertarian organ of record. Katherine Mangu-Ward considers Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate.

In Japan, members of the yakuza have long favored tattoos covering the entire upper body to signal their mafia status. They also amputate all or part of a pinky finger. One study estimated that between 40 percent and 70 percent of the yakuza had sacrificed a digit, generally making the cut themselves.

(thanks A&L Daily for those last two)

What else? Well, homeboy of record, Alec Niedenthal has a new story, called “Moon,” in the Catalonian Review, and at the Rumpus, Megan Casela Ross makes Dylan Landis’s Normal People Don’t Live Like This sound pretty damn interesting. Next time I hit the bookstore, I’ll be looking for it. Also at The Rumpus, Stephen Elliott posts installment #18 of his Notes From Book Tour, and this one is extra fascinating, as he lays down some hard numbers:

I read at or participated in 73 events in 33 cities in 95 days. I sold 700 copies of The Adderall Diaries which I bought wholesale, as well as 150 copies of Happy Baby and 80 copies of My Girlfriend Comes To The City and Beats Me Up. Roughly. But that doesn’t count all the books the bookstores sold. At maybe 20 events, or more, a bookstore was selling the books. It’s safe to say I hand-sold around a thousand copies of The Adderall Diaries. It’s safe to say I generated more sales than that indirectly from write-ups in local newspapers and blogs, interviews with small radio stations. 500 more. 300 more. 1,000 more? Hard to say. It depends what you mean.For why? For the same reason I wrote it.

December 22nd, 2009 / 2:26 pm

One Reader Writes

This comment appeared yesterday on a very NSFW post of mine from back in June, “Getting to Know Furry Girl & Feminisnt”. It comes from Janet Hardy, co-author of The Ethical Slut, and it clears up some confusion I had about a seeming change in authorship–namely hers–between the original and revised editions of the book.

December 20th, 2009 / 10:58 pm edit Janet Hardy

Janet Hardy here — a Google alert pointed me toward your blog when you started talking about Ethical Slut. “Catherine A. Liszt” and I are the same person — she’s a pen name I used to use when my kids were still minors (“cat-a-lyst,” get it?).

The new edition of “Slut” is an extensive rewrite and expansion of the original book — after 12 years, we found we had a lot more we wanted to say, and a lot of changes we wanted to make in how we said it. I’m glad you enjoyed the original book but I think you’ll like the new one even more.

Janet W. Hardy

You can learn more about The Ethical Slut (the perfect last-minute Christmas gift for that special slut in your life–or, better yet, that special non-slut you’re looking to loosen up) at the Greenery Press site (while you’re over there, be sure to also check out The Compleat Spanker and A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting for all Genders and Orientations). And the best part of this whole episode is that I was reminded of how long it’s been since I checked in with either Furry Girl or with Susie Bright. Anyway, we can all look forward to more sex-positive literature-related pornography appearing on this site in the nearish future.

PS- bonus points for any commenter who, without googling, can cite the literary reference in the title of this post.

Behind the Scenes & Random / 16 Comments
December 21st, 2009 / 3:39 pm

Reading Ray Backwards (guest-post by Alec Niedenthal)

HannahB-Ray-00If Gary Lutz does it–and he says he does–I don’t know how he does. In an interview with Michael Kimball, Lutz says, “Maybe part of the explanation of why I write the way I write has to do with the way I sometimes read. I sometimes read a book from back to front, sentence by sentence-a practice that, as one might imagine, can give a completely different disposition to a book.” I’ve been trying to read Barry Hannah’s slim marvel, “Ray,” back to front. Sentence by sentence. It won’t work. A book like “Ray” has a certain velocity, speed, force. You’d think that because most sentences here are jewels, are the sharpest of diamonds, that one could isolate them and pick them apart from the bone outward. But it’s become clear to me that Hannah’s sentences sing precisely because they are deeply embedded in a system of voice which, however fragmented the narrative structure of “Ray,” is a system, and therefore, to my mind, necessary.


Uncategorized / 105 Comments
December 17th, 2009 / 1:48 pm

NEW Electric Literature Single-Sentence Animation: Lydia Davis


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December 17th, 2009 / 1:03 pm

Reviews & Web Hype

A Million Little Top 3’s: The 2009 List of Lists


[12/10/09. Email from Justin:] Hi. I’m putting together a year-end post for HTMLGiant, and I’m soliciting very brief lists from a wide variety of authors, editors and lit-people. If you’re reading this, you’re one of them. I want to make this is as quick and painless as possible, so all I’m asking for is the names of your top three new books that came out this year. You can read “top” as “best” if you like, or as “personal favorite,” or any other way you can think of. You are welcome to offer a few lines in explanation or praise of your choices, but you’re by no means obliged to do so. Also, feel free to pass this along to any friends or colleagues whom you think might want to play too. You (or they) should just email me back sometime in the next few days, week at the outside, with your selections, and I’ll compile everything into one big blog post. It’s really that simple. Feel free to plug your own work, but if there is a salient-seeming fact about your relationship to a book (“I loved ____ so much I published it”) please do mention it. Hope to hear from everyone- and thanks, as always, for your time.

Here is an alphabetical list of the respondents: Kate Ankofski, Claudia Ballard, Blake Butler, Jordan Castro, Heather Christle, Joshua Cohen, Brian DeLeeuw, Stephen Elliott, Rachel Fershleiser, Roxane Gay, Keith Gessen, David Haglund, Christopher Higgs, Jen Hyde & Zachary Sussman (writing together), Steven Karl, Ellen Kennedy, Catherine Lacey, Tao Lin, Christian Lorentzen, Fiona Maazel, Amy McDaniel, Charles McNair, Tony Perez, Michael Schaub, Jeremy Schmall, Ronnie Scott, Matthew Simmons, Zak Smith, Mathias Svalina, Eva Talmadge, Justin Taylor, Drew Toal, Deb Olin Unferth, Mike Young.

Their lists are presented in the same order as their names appear above, and each respondent has a brief bio-tag (not even a note, really) which indicates that person’s most recent publication and/or most relevant-seeming credential. These were written by me, not them. Also, there is no standard formatting. Everything was copy-pasted and some links have been lost. The rule is: if it piques your interest, Google it. Did you need me to tell you that? Anyway, a million thanks to everyone who participated. The list of lists–and all the fun–begins after the jump.


December 16th, 2009 / 12:11 pm