Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2015

"Betrayal. . ." Free Again

Turquoise Truck for Mendicant Bookworks

I'm excited to announce that in addition to published paperbacks of Over Fifty Billion Kafkas Served and Auggie's Revenge, I'll also have "Turquoise Truck," a car-lot story, published as a stand-alone e-book at Mendicant Bookworks by summer of 2015. Mendicant is known for gritty realism and has published Gerald Locklin, Mark SaFranko, Ben Tanzer, and other small-press stars in the past. This will be my second foray into the world of e-book singles; my first was a short novella (or long story), The Betrayal of Times of Peace and Prosperity.

books: 20 + 1

Lying on my couch at an uncommon angle, I looked up at a shelf with a small selection of paperback fiction and saw these ten titles in order: Lorrie Moore's Anagrams, Toni Morrison's Beloved and Sula, Murakami's Hard Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World, Arthur Nersesian's The Fuck Up and Chinese Takeout, Chris Offutt's Out of the Woods, Yuri Olesha's Envy, Pynchon's V, and Roth's The Human Stain.

I have so many books in storage and in piles on the floor or shelves in other rooms, yet, possibly, these ten represent in exacting proportion all the fiction I read. Having said that, I soon realize that 30% women might be high, sadly enough, and 20% in translation is low, I think, and it would be weighted more toward fiction from Europe and Russia, not 50/50 between Europe/Russia and Asia. Also, because I anticipated teaching contemporary literature, after 1945, when I drove down to South Carolina, I left most of my titles written before World War II i…

tweeting about John Gardner like the wild and krazy guy i am

Raymond Carver said John Gardner, PhD Iowa, famous, if forgotten?, had a 4 or 5 course load of fresh comp at Oberlin:
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) January 12, 2015 maybe i should be anti-Gardner since i'm in w/the #Pynchon crowd & am known to dig caricature, distrust too serious
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) January 12, 2015 on the other hand John Gardner's Mickelsson's Ghosts got me back into writing fiction, would sit on Friday afternoons in Van Pelt, comfy 1/2
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) January 12, 2015 cushioned seat by big glass window, March, April, May 2004, never checked the book out of the library, used a clean dinner napkin 4 bookmark
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) January 12, 2015 returned the book to the shelf every single time, always read from same book although there was another exactly like it up there in stacks
— Alex Kudera (@kudera) January 12, 2015 first paragraph of Mickelsson's Ghosts led me to conceive of Cyrus Duffl…

jose kozer

Daniel Dragomirescu of Contemporary Literary Horizon sent me this poem:
MY FATHER, WHO IS STILL ALIVE My father, who is still alive,
I don’t see him, and I know he has shrunk,
he has a family of brothers burned to ashes             in Poland,
he never saw them, he learned of the death of            his mother by telegram,
he didn’t inherit even a single button from his father,
what do I know if he inherited his character.
My father, who was a tailor and a Communist,
my father who didn’t speak and sat on the             terrace,
to not believe in God,
to not want anything more to do with men,
sullenly withdrawing into himself against Hitler, against Stalin,
my father who once a year would raise a glass               of whisky,
my father sitting in a neighbour’s apple               tree eating its               fruit
the day the Reds entered his village
and made my grandfather dance like a            bear on the Sabbath,
and made him light a cigarette and smoke it           on a …

other writers' Slovaks

And, finally, near the end of Journey, Celine arrives at his Slovak beauty, a far cry from the meth-infested psychotic "no-neck Slovak" of Robert Stone's "Helping":

Quite a few fine-looking girls applied for the job. In fact, so many strapping young women of all nationalities flocked to Vigny as soon as our ad appeared that we were hard put to it to choose among them. In the end we picked a Slovak by the name of Sophie whose complexion, energetic yet gentle bearing, and divine good health struck us, I have to admit, as irresistible.

In my imagined, or real, life of a Czech Kudera passing as a Slovak Soska (my father's father's true last name), my first literary sighting of any characters from the old country was late in high school and concerned the Czech girls on the American plains of Willa Cather's My Antonia, a book I remember enjoying very much. And, of course, Stone's "Helping" remains a favorite story nevertheless or because of i…

portrait of celine with frozen penny

Celine on people from our past

"He went on talking to me in the darkness, while I retraced the steps of my past with the sound of his voice as a charm with which to open the doors of the years and months and finally of my days, wondering where I could have run into this man. But I found nothing. No answer. You can lose your way groping among the shadows of the past. It's frightening how many people and things there are in a man's past that have stopped moving. The living people we've lost in the crypts of time sleep so soundly side by side with the dead that the same darkness envelops them all."

~~ Celine, Journey to the End of the Night