Saturday, August 1, 2015

one-sitting reads

Both "Frade Killed Ellen" and The Betrayal of Times of Peace and Prosperity fall under the category of one-sitting reads, although increasingly, I find that I enjoy returning even to the shortest stories to consider them over several sittings, often rereading earlier passages, the beginning, etc.

But here are lists of classic short reads, longer novellas and short novels, one of "The 20 Best Novellas in the History of Mankind" and another of "17 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting."

Some of my favorites that didn't make either list are Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Yuri Olesha's Envy, John Fante's The Brotherhood of the Grape, Dan Fante's Chump Change, and Camera by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Frade Sold Ellen

Frade Killed Ellen is available here and here.

It'll only set you back $2.99 and includes death, sex, innuendo, anxiety, mentoring, false starts, doubt, dope, the unexpected and more!

Yes, all of that in a mere 41 pages of e-text (about 35 manuscript pages on 8 1/2 x 11" paper).

I'm very grateful for any purchases, and please do get in touch if you'd like a review copy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Rings of One-Star Reviewers

On a long plane ride from Shanghai to Chicago, I was mesmerized by an excerpt from The Rings of Saturn. It was an amazingly interesting read which included sustained narrative on Chinese empire and British aggression in the 19th century as well as a vivid portrait of the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne.

This evening, I surfed online to learn more about W. G. Sebald's book, and I see that the most recent Amazon review was posted almost exactly as I was enjoying the excerpt; alas, it's the classic one-star special: "A pretensious pile of rubbish. Paragraphs that stretches over pages... silly photos that will slow down the download... I prefer some dialogue in novels. If I really want to hear a long train of consciousness I would listen to my own."

No doubt, James Patterson is writing a sequel to Dante's Inferno, where one-star reviewers share an added circle in hell.

In other news, I'm happy to report that "Frade Killed Ellen" is now available thanks to Dutch Kills Press. I'm very grateful if you're able to support the writer and publisher by purchasing this 35-page e-single. Thank you. Follow this link for a teaser.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Bellow short stack

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

with a side of Celine

A few days ago, I finished Charlotte Mandell's French-to-English translation of Mathias Enard's Zone, which has several wonderful references to and anecdotes about Celine, and then, this evening I began Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, and it takes me only to page 19 to find Celine once more:

My other book was Erika Ostrovsky's Celine and His Vision. Celine was a brave French soldier in the First World War--until his skull was cracked. After that he couldn't sleep, and there were noises in his head. He became a doctor, and he treated poor people in the daytime, and he wrote grotesque novels all night. No art is possible without a dance with death, he wrote.

The truth is death, he wrote. I've fought nicely against it as long as I could. . . danced with it, waltzed it around. . . decorated it with streamers, titillated it. . . 

Time obsessed him. Miss Ostrovsky reminded me of the amazing scene in Death on the Installment Plan where Celine wants to stop the bustling of a street crowd. He screams on paper, Make them stop. . . don't let them move anymore at all. . . There, make them freeze. . . once and for all! . . . So that they won't disappear anymore!

*Note: On Monday, between Enard and Vonnegut, I read and enjoyed Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Self-Portrait Abroad.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Model Minority

Mimi Wong's "Model Minority" is now available as a free read at Crab Orchard Review. Once the pdf of the full journal issue loads, scroll down to page 135. 


When war broke out in China, Sanie’s grandparents were forced to flee the province of Hunan. Gong Gong, as Sanie was to have called her mother’s father, came from a well-to-do family. Po Po had worked at a bank—a rare accomplishment for a woman back then and a sign of good education. They would not be able to carry their wealth with them as they ran, and so they buried their gold in hopes of recovering it one day when they could safely return home. They also bid goodbye to the other members of their families, assuring each other they would be reunited in the future. They died without ever setting foot in China again.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zone by Mathias Enard

I've been reading Zone by Mathias Enard, tired sometimes and spacing out, but always some vivid description or series of incisive fused sentences (indeed) lures me back in. I'm experiencing it mainly as anti-war / anti-genocide and with some great literary references and anecdotes. Almost all of these, for better or worse, are to 20th Century European or American literature, but they are some fantastic ones, from Celine to the Beats and beyond.

So I recommend the book. It seems deserving of as many readers as Bolano, Knausgaard, and recent others from Europe whose longer works sold well in the states, yet the poor guy cannot even get a Wikipedia entry going.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Self-publishers only, need apply

Make way for a brick-and-mortar bookstore that only sells books by self-published authors!

Bring your own cushioned chair, brew your own coffee, read self-published fiction, hit the facilities, and, well, skip that, and then every six months, claim a large reserve against royalties or don't send yourself any at all!

It's literary paradise, with no wall of Knausgaard to smile at you on the way out the door.

On the other hand, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King, and Walt Whitman are among famous writers who self-published at least once, if not their entire work.

So feel free to free associate freely, and count the recent story of surveillance planes over Baltimore as proof that the authorities' publishers (read "New York") cannot be trusted. Indeed, they would censor away your very best sentences, so just like countless writers scribbling under the yoke of dictatorship in police states, your self-publication is insurrectionary literature (even if it has zombies in it).

So I'll just drive down to Florida, stroll into the store, and select my contemporary classic from current offerings on the shelf.

Welcome to literature, Gulf Coast!