Mathias Svalina

Weekend Reading


Gawker went to the National Book Awards and got a whole bunch of big lit-names to sign a copy of Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, which they are now auctioning off for charity. It seems to be part of a campaign to get the book short-listed for the 2010 fiction award. That’s this year’s fiction winner, Colum McCann, in the picture.

I always forget The Atlantic exists. But then they’ll bring out Christopher Hitchens to talk about Arthur Koestler, and it’s like, oh yeah, those guys. Though to be fair, if it wasn’t for Arts & Letters Daily, I’d have never known.

Julia Cohen’s got a video of Seth Landman (ed. Invisible Ear) doing something I don’t understand.

She also mentions that Mathias Svalina’s debut full length, Destruction Myth, is now officially out. Expect to hear rather a bit more about that book in this space in the near future.

Joshua Cohen’s memories of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Fall 2009 online issue of Rain Taxi, including a review of Evenson’s Fugue State and a look at Zizek & Milbank’s The Monstrosity of Christ.

Also, Glenn Beck is in a fight with the Anti-Defamation League because they called him “fearmonger in chief” in their new special report, “Rage Grows In America: Anti-Government Conspiracies.” Basically, the report is exactly what you think it is, only longer. If you go to Crooks & Liars, you can hear Beck on his radio show, flipping out and daring the ADL to name anyone who has been a better friend of Israel than he has. Not sure what that has to do with domestic American politics, but–oh wait, yes I am. Dear ADL, maybe if you supported something like an even remotely sane Israel policy, instead of taking all your talking points from the pro-violence right (the Kissinger/Lieberman/Dershowitz school) you wouldn’t find yourself in bed with fucktards like Beck in the first place. Well good for them for putting the report out, at any rate, when its come down to siding with Abraham Foxman or Glenn Beck, it’s dark days all over the land.

Web Hype / 16 Comments
November 27th, 2009 / 4:37 pm

Quick roundup & then I’m outta here

By this time tomorrow I’ll be at JFK airport, probably getting grilled about my associations by humorless Shin Bet agents. That’s right, kids, they’re sending me to Israel, so this is your last mess of links to my regular obsessions until at least the 15th. Keep my side of the bed warm, wouldja?

MOBYLIVES announces new occasional feature on “unusual book events given by something other than the usual suspects” to be written by MHP-author Zachary German. I’m not sure what any of that means, exactly, but Zachary’s first post is about Dennis Cooper’s conversation with Tony O’neill, which took place at the Bryant Park Reading Room the week of BEA. Also, Time Out New York digs Ugly Man. Also^2, Dennis posted some really good vintage gay porn on his blog yesterday.

Pieces from Mathias Svalina’s “Play” are now available at This Recording. Other pieces from “Play” are available in the current issue of The Cupboard Pamphlet. A future issue of TCP, btw, will feature Joshua Cohen, who has an essay in the current issue of New Haven Review (heads up it’s a PDF): Hung Like an Obelisk, Hard as an Olympian: An alphabet of English-language literature in Paris.

A few weeks ago Dave Eggers gave a talk in NYC wherein he promised to personally email a reassurance that print isn’t dead to anyone who wanted one. He didn’t count on that promise getting leaked to the web, and then being flooded with emails. So personally sort of fell out of the question, but he did send a pretty amazing mass email out, about the future of indie publishing and newspapers. Someone else on this site should/will spend some more time parsing what he said, but in the meantime, Gawker has the full text of his letter.

Finally, the NYT asks “Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft?” There are two possible answers: First, obviously, is “who cares?” The more nuanced approach, however, would be to say, “well, if the Times is covering it now, then the answer must be ‘yes–two and a half years ago.'” Either way, there’s really no good reason to click that link.

Later, kids.

Web Hype / 12 Comments
June 3rd, 2009 / 11:11 am

Spoils of the Chapbook Fair

Regular readers remember that last week I blogged about the CUNY Chapbook Fair, and how I was going to be there promoting the Agriculture Reader / X-ing Books, and generally seeing what there was to be seen. Well, I saw it, and even brought some of it home.

I think my favorite things of all were two chapbooks that I traded for, both written and made by Elsbeth Pancrazi, who was working at the Small Anchor table because Jen Hyde is still in China.  These weren’t SA books though, they were the work of Elsbeth’s own hand, and she traded me two practically greeting-card-sized pieces of wonder for one of my own poetry chapbooks. (I actually know Elsbeth a little bit, because we work together on the PEN/America editorial board, but I had not idea she was involved in the world of micro-presses, chapbooks, et al.)

The first book, “stars and thumbs,” is two series of prose blocks, printed in white on black. The book reads in both directions. “Stars” is illustrated with images borrowed from a book by the amateur astronomer, Ian Ridpath, and “Thumbs” is illustrated with photopies of the author’s own hands. I found one piece from “Stars and Thumbs” online here, but sadly there’s no illustration. I guess if you’re intrigued you’ll have to buy/find/trade for the real thing. As if that wasn’t enough, Elsbeth also gave me “poem about the city resembling an anthill,” which is smaller than your average postcard, but has a pint-size postcard of Oregon’s Mt. Hood attached to its front cover. The whole thing is a masterful piece of design, and the single poem contained within it isn’t exactly a sharp stick in the eye either. Here’s a link to one of Elsbeth’s other ongoing projects, “The Autobiography of Flapjack Sally,” and here’s another picture of the anthill book unfurled-

For more chapbook goodness, click through-


Presses / 21 Comments
April 29th, 2009 / 11:36 am

Google Searches & Maurice Blanchot


At his blog, Mathias Svalina’s many screen-captures offer a better argument for Flarf than it ever dreamed of making for itself.

And over at his blog, today Dennis Cooper is all about the amazing Maurice Blanchot.

My speech is a warning that at this very moment death is loose in the world, that it has suddenly appeared between me, as I speak, and the being I address: it is there between us as the distance that separates us, but this distance is also what prevents us from being separated, because it contains the condition for all understanding. Death alone allows me to grasp what I want to attain; it exists in words as the only way they can have meaning. Without death, everything would sink into absurdity and nothingness. (Blanchot, The Work of Fire, 323-24)

Web Hype / 24 Comments
April 16th, 2009 / 9:57 am

Holy Sh*t file: “A radiocative cut in the earth that will not stay closed”

First of all, a big & hearty hat tip to Mathias Svalina for this- he was a real sport when I dicked around with iPod, and then he sent me this amazing and terrifying link to this essay by Tom Zoellner in Scientific American

Shinkolobwe is now considered an official nonplace. The provincial governor had ordered a squad of soldiers to evacuate the village and burn down all the huts in 2004, leaving nothing behind but stumps and garbage. A detachment of Army personnel was left behind to guard the edges and make sure nobody entered.


This was the pit which, in the 1940s, had yielded most of the uranium for the atomic bombs the United States had dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it was more than historical curiosity. The pit had been closed and the mineshafts sealed tight with concrete plugs when Congo became an independent nation more than four decades ago, yet local miners had been sneaking into the pit to dig out its radioactive contents and sell them on the black market. The birthplace of the atomic bomb is still bleeding uranium and nobody is certain where it might be going.

Click through anywhere above to get to the full article, which is itself an extract from Zoellner’s new book, Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that Reshaped the World, which is just out now from Viking. The SF-Gate seems to have liked it.  Oh, and here’s Zoellner’s own website.

Author Spotlight & Excerpts / 2 Comments
March 29th, 2009 / 9:31 am

More fun with Mathias Svalina’s iPod

It’s really obscene that I still have this thing in my possession. Well, supposedly I’m going to see him tomorrow at a reading at Pete’s Candy Store, so I figured I should make the most of what time remains. Today instead of focusing on a letter, I’m going Onion-stlye and SHUFFLE IT. The little machine tells me it’s got 11387 tracks on it, so this should be pretty good. Seatbelts on?


Author Spotlight & Technology / 14 Comments
March 26th, 2009 / 12:53 pm

Fun with… Mathias Svalina’s iPod

Probably most of you know Mathias Svalina as half of Octopus. Well, unlike other-half Zachary Schomburg, Mathias made the mistake of coming over to my house and drinking beer with me. He also made the mistake of leaving his iPod here. Then he went to Nebraska for a week. Then I went to Atlanta for a few days. Now other stuff is happening, but the upshot is that I’ve had his iPod for at least two weeks now–maybe three? It’s just been sitting on my desk. And we keep emailing about setting up a time to get it back to him, but we never seem to be able to meet up. So I finally decided I should make the most of my time, and share some of the highlights with you. 


Behind the Scenes / 6 Comments
March 20th, 2009 / 11:34 am

Partisan hack blogs press release of press he likes: Special Octopus edition

Today, I will be your Bill Kristol.

Today, I will be your Bill Kristol.

Dear Octopus Fans,

We have five announcements to make:

1. Eric Baus’s Tuned Droves

2. Shane McCrae’s One Neither One

3. Open Reading in April for full-length manuscripts

4. Subscriptions for 2009-2010

5. T-Shirts

[details on #s 1-5 after the jump, and at the very bottom: a picture of Bill Kristol getting nailed by a pie   -JT]


Presses / 6 Comments
February 24th, 2009 / 10:28 pm

Home Video Review of Books, Vol 1, Issue 2 now live!


by Julia Cohen & Mathias Svalina. This issue has home video reviews of: 

Gina Myers’ Behind the R

Kim Hyesoon’s Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers
Lisa Jarnot’s 
Night Scenes
Dan Machlin’s 
Dear Body
Brett Price’s 
Trouble with Mapping
John Taggart’s 
There are Birds
Ara Shirinyan’s 
Your Country Is Great
Brandon Shimoda’s 
The Alps
Joel Chace’s 
Matter No Matter
Jon Godfrey’s 
City of Corners
Jen Tynes’s 
Heron / Girlfriend
Anne Heide’s 
Anne Boyer’s 
Art is War
Darcie Dennigan’s 
Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse
Allison Carter’s 
Shadows are Weather
Mark Cunningham’s 
Body Language

Web Hype / 27 Comments
December 12th, 2008 / 4:03 pm