Friday, March 26, 2010

First issue of Peninsulas Now Press & the Infinite Library Series

Dear Friends,

The first issue of Peninsulas Now Press & the Infinite Library Series will be released in time for AWP 2010. Distributors will be taking Issue 1: THROUGH THE LOVE CANAL on the road to Denver.

Infinite Library instructions:

1. Please print/sign your name on card
2. Please print date next to signature
3. Please read, peruse, glimpse, scan
4. Pass on to friend/acquaintance/enemy
5. Repeat

[if successful, then]

6. You are peninsulas now. No longer islands;
you are connected somewhere on one side

Peninsulas Now Press does not currently accept unsolicited
manuscript submissions, though it will in the near future. To
reach Peninsulas Now Press or to request a copy of any issue,
write to PeninsulasNow [at] gmail [dot] com.

Note: I capitalized the "P" and "N" in the email address to avoid
your looking at said address and reading "peninsula snow," though
that would make sense as well in a different way.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What exactly are "Recession-Era Indie Publishers" publishing?

BOMB just posted a terse interview with three up-and-coming NY indie publishers.  They're talking about the survival of the zine in the recession era.  It's not any new news that a zine will thrive with little money, and it's not any new news that zines tend not to compromise their aesthetic, because they're not concerned with a larger return and print run.  I was hoping this interview would cover more about the aesthetics of these indie publishers, though.  I've looked at interviewees' respective websites, and I still can't figure out what their aesthetic is or what they actually publish.  All I know is that Megan Plunkett is possibly sassy when saying, "I guess it’s up to the intuition of whoever is making the decisions—that’s all you really have—your feelings. If you’re fine with it, fuck everyone else over, but as long as you don’t feel like you’re making a shitty compromise."  But what the hell are they publishing?!  It seems these young artists are more concerned with the act of making a zine than they are with what a zine might mean to a culture.  A zine, as I know it from my youth, was a form of media to represent an under-represented, passionate group of people.  If I don't know what they're publishing or what their aesthetic is, then I'm afraid I might have to call this talented group of people the Anti-Zine.  (I'm using Anti-Zine, because I'm really excited about the new Lars von Trier movie, Antichrist.)  What do you think?  Zine for zine's sake?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Moving Forward: Evolution of the singular writer and the one-note wonders

An article by Brock Clarke on sparked my interest about John Cheever recently.  I can tell Brock Clarke is a die-hard fan of Cheever's, which endears me to Clarke, though I don't totally share his sentiments.  I've often found myself trying to listen to the slight nuances of language in Cheever's stories and have many a time fallen asleep while doing so.  I will admit, though, there have been these beautiful moments before my dozing slumber when I've actually said, "Holy shit!  I think Denis Johnson stole that." He does possess those moments, if one can possess posthumously.  Anyhow, I'd like to revisit the topic of relevancy as pertaining to the talented (but possibly one-note) writers I mentioned in earlier posts.  Cheever had a style.  It was distinctly and remarkably his, and as far as I know, he never strayed from this style.  Neither, then, did he evolve (which is also apparently true to Cheever as a person according to the new biography), and perhaps this is why contemporary readers and writers find him to be obsolete, like my friend's living-room-sized laser-disc collection.

Recently, Roberto Bolano translator Natasha Wimmer spoke here in San Francisco.  Quoting from who is quoting from Wimmer, she said she was "struck by how different BolaƱo’s novels are from one another."  Bolano, it seems, may be the 13-sided D&D die to our voracious appetite for change (6 sides were never enough for us).   God knows nobody's blown up so quickly on such a wide scale in recent memory.  The guy's dead, and still, every time a new piece of Bolano's is translated, it feels like a new life has started.  Of course, you can't give all credit for his late American success to his diversified literary portfolio, but I have to think it might be at least a small portion of his success puzzle.  Do we truly want to read to be surprised?  Can the surprise come from just plot, or can it come from language? Any thoughts?  There's a lot here, including whether or not this evolution is an American literary fetish, but maybe someone can help me tackle it?

The Facts About John Cheever

The Facts About John Cheever

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Book Award 5 Under 35

I think it might be any young writer's dream to be on this list.  I know it would make me feel good.  But as with many of these kinds of awards, I have to wonder what the criteria are for choosing the winners.  The Winners of 2009 can be found here.  (I'm not going to touch on the fact that four out of five are photogenic women, and the third is basically a male model or that all five of them are very white.)  What I am thinking about, though, is the Nobel Prize.  The Globe and Mail recently ran an enlightening article, in which the author suggested that the Nobel is awarded--at least in the Peace category--for symbolic actions, more so than demonstrated success.  They're looking for someone who can embody their ideals to inspire others to do the same.  Now this may not translate completely to something as trivial as the National Book Award 5 Under 35, but it seems to me that it may shed light on why our winners won.  To be truthful, I've only read Lydia Pelle before, and it was her story in One Story, which was pretty delightful.  I've wanted to read Karen Russell's St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, but my opinion on that may be clouded by my sincere obsession with wolves.  Anyway, when I look at the accomplishments of the 5 writers selected, what I do note is that they are actively out there promoting their work.  They've finally gotten the book deal, and they've taken the hard-earned lessons of surviving the slush pile time and time again and applied it to their publishing careers.  Life doesn't end after you get that first book.  You still have to send out stories, be rejected, give readings to an audience of five people in small college-town coffee shops, and you still have to try hard.  If anything, these writers are more symbolic for what they represent to writing communities.  So, congratulations to the winners, and may they continue to set a good example for us all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lydia Millet, animated.

Dead End: Has a single James Joyce short story unduly influenced contemporary American short fiction? | Baltimore City Paper

Dead End: Has a single James Joyce short story unduly influenced contemporary American short fiction? | Baltimore City Paper

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Fiction can be better than non-fiction.

I was sitting in the editorial office at ----- Press, listening to the Editor tell me that it's so much more rewarding to acquire a non-fiction book, because it's so wonderful to be informed and enlightened by someone who's very knowledgeable on a particular subject.

What Lewis Carrol world am I living in if fiction has suddenly become not as interesting as non-fiction. When I was growing up, the only types of non-fiction available to the masses were largely scorned-lady memoirs that led to movies of the week like Not Without My Child and The Burning Bed, which ultimately led to The Lifetime Network. These were not what I considered to be "fun," though I must admit that I do occasionally plan nights around what Tuesday night flick about bulemic daughters they're airing.

My point is not to bash non-fiction. In fact, I have several friends who specialize in the creative essay, and I've even dabbled in it myself for a moment or two, but how is it that a medium wherein you can make up anything in the world or any other world to write about has become less interesting than our everyday lives? Wait, our world is pretty fucked up...

Let's go back to what my editor was saying. She likes it when someone is "knowledgeable." Come to think of it, so do I. Well, what does this mean for the writers of today who are looking for a publishing contract? What I think it means is, Go Do Some Research. I can't even count how many times people have said that we should write what we know, and I also can't count how many times I've violently disagreed (yes, I have a literary temper). I don't think fiction writers should take this so literally. What leads me to say this is this author, and this one. Why are so many people writing boring middle-class stories supposedly jazzed up by some "magical realism"? People don't care about this shit anymore. We may have cared when The Ice Storm came out, but I'm a little tired of it when I look around me and see how fucked up the world can be, and we're writing about suburban families with magic holes in their stomachs. I would love for these magic holes to mean something larger in the world. I'd like them to be representative of the healthcare crisis or the violent deaths of Chicago youth, and I know I can't expect everyone to write about things that matter, but I'd like for a lot of us to try. And maybe this is where "knowledge" comes in. Knowledge is the full experience. Oh, MFA'ers, have you been living in the real world, or are you too busy making one up that could never compare?

Inaugural Post

I graduated with my MFA in Fiction Writing from Boise State. I moved to San Francisco (actually, Oakland, but I can't tell my family that). Now I need a new community. I've been working for a large, reputable indie publisher, and all it makes me do is cringe at the dire state of fiction publishing. But wait? Is it really all that dire? We've heard all that before, and there are still good books coming out every year. Where are they coming from? If I could say that they're coming from the likes of thousands of MFA graduates, then I might make myself feel better about my terminal degree that may or may not be all that terminal (PhD, really?), but I don't think that's entirely true. What I do think is true is that many MFA writers are trained in a specific type of art form that is geared to only a handful of "prestigious" literary journals. But where is the fascinating language? Where are the chances? Please help me by finding them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009