Friday, July 31, 2009

Hello, Sexy Models

This is a call to all of our Two Dollar Radio t-shirt wearers. Yes, all of you!

We're exceptionally bored with cropped pictures of Eliza and myself on our website donning our tees, and so we're hoping that those of you who have ordered shirts from us in the past might be willing to snap a picture of yourselves rocking the shirt (or your kids or your dogs or your grandparents) -- in any which way you'd like, as long as the shirt is visible --and email it to us at for use as glamour shots on our website. Multiple pictures are welcome.

PS--There will not be compensation for this modeling service, unless of course offers come pouring in from modeling agencies around the world.

Rudolph Wurlitzer at Pop Matters

The reissue of Rudolph Wurlitzer's first novel, Nog, officially drops tomorrow, August 1.

Today, in his Deconstruction Zone column at PopMatters, Rodger Jacobs has an incredibly rich article called 'Rudy Wurlitzer, Bob Dylan, Bloody Sam, and the Jornado del Muerto' that draws on a wide variety of influences while orbiting the Wurlitzer myth. Touching on Joan Didion and Robert Stone, how Bob Dylan became involved in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and the subsequent chaos that nearly destroyed that film, Jacobs has some nice praise for "a true American master of literary form."

"If all art is at once surface and symbol, as Oscar Wilde suggests in the preface to Picture of Dorian Gray, then Wurlitzer's 1969 debut novel is the ultimate expression of that statement, a writhing copperhead snake that is difficult to hold onto but spellbinding to observe in its raw, natural beauty."

Monday, July 27, 2009

People Who Watched Her Pass By - Cover

We have a cover design for Scott Bradfield's fifth novel, The People Who Watched Her Pass By, which we will be publishing April 2010.
For those interested, the first chapter is excerpted in the most recent issue of Black Clock.
Comments welcome...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Now Say It Like You Mean It

Amazon CEO & Founder, Jeffrey P. Bezos issued a succinct apology for Amazon's handling of their Orwell e-book fiasco:

"This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

As I Lay Down, story by Francis Levy

Short story by Francis Levy. Illustration by Hallie Cohen.
Fred was so devoid of ideas he couldn’t get up in the morning. He’d sleep until eleven or twelve. When he was finally able to get himself up, he’d drink so much coffee—as he slowly perused his morning paper—he couldn’t sit still.

Then one morning, he awoke from a dream which was the plot of a wonderful short story. It even had a title, As I Lay Down. His muse had finally spoken to him. Staring at his clock, which read six thirty, he felt like an enormous burden had been lifted from him. It couldn’t possibly slip through his hands. Not now. He had the whole day ahead of him, more than enough time to get it all on paper. Finally his life was about to begin.

Usually Fred wrote the few ideas he had down on the little pad he kept beside his bed. But I don’t need to, he thought. I’ll be up in a jiffy.

The moments lingering in bed just before he intended to get up were the nicest he’d spent in years. Realizing how artful his dream was, he saw himself receiving awards, leading to contracts, fame and fortune. He was quickly wafted away from the little rent stabilized studio apartment in the dirty white brick building—with its ugly fire escapes blocking the window light. The bed was warm and cozy, the radiator just beginning to clank as the steam came up to warm the chill autumn air. He’d just lie in bed with his thoughts a few minutes more, until the nippiness had left the air. He’d luxuriate in the anticipation of the smooth path to success that lay ahead. How seldomly he’d felt this way! But there had been times, and each of them had led to some minor accomplishment. Though he’d never made any killings, he had the kind of small encouragements which kept his appetite whetted. As he lay in bed looking forward to his new life, he fell back to sleep.

When he awoke again, it was twelve thirty. He couldn’t believe his eyes. If he’d only gotten to work right away, he would have been so far into As I Lay Down, the story would have been a fait accompli. But now, having gotten his usual surfeit of sleep, his head felt heavy. Every time he tried to pick it up, he plocked it back down saying to himself, “Just five minutes more, I’ve got my idea.” After several bouts of falling back to sleep for five, ten and fifteen minutes, he awakened with a start. About to reassure himself he had located his ore, he realized he couldn’t remember anything more about his story than its title, which itself seemed horribly obvious. “As I Lay Down, I should have known. It’s just what I’ve been doing, lying down again and again, hoping something will come to me in my sleep, only to awaken to this living death of being a writer without inspiration, without ideas.”
Fred began to think his imagination had played a dirty trick on him. Perhaps he’d only been dreaming when he thought he’d gotten up at six thirty with a wonderful idea. Perhaps the dream he’d come up with a grand idea had been his wish fulfillment—like dreaming a beautiful woman was about to make love to him. His pad was as empty as his bed. That was the proof. There was no story. He didn’t know whether to feel relieved he hadn’t lost anything or hopeless about his continuing inability to come up with new ideas.

In his despair he kept falling back to sleep and by dusk with the setting sun sending the shadow of the fire escape shooting across the floor, the day seemed like one long frustrating dream from which he had yet to awaken.

Despite all his attempts to tear it apart as juvenile, he couldn’t get the title As I Lay Down out of his mind. Scholars are always seeking to discover the lost works of great writers. As I Lay Down became his great lost story, the work which would one day redeem him; at the very least, it was a perfect title for the story he was never able to write.
Francis Levy is the author of Erotomania: A Romance and co-director of the Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination.

Betcha Can't Do This, Kindle.

Though I haven't read his writing, I'm assuming that Blake Butler is the new shit because he has a book out from two of my favorite presses, Featherproof and Calamari. His book, Ever, is one of Dennis Cooper's favorites of 2009... so far. And, he edits HTML Giant.

You can now pre-order his newest book, Scorch Atlas, direct from Featherproof either "hand-destroyed" or "non-destroyed." (They allege that "both are fully readable.")

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Chapters, Take 2

Thanks to the tip from our guardian angel, Bud Parr, we re-posted the first chapters of all our available books using Issuu, which should make the experience that much more readable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Random Musings and Relevent Links.

As of yesterday, we have the first chapter from each of our available books free to read or download as a PDF. You can find each of these on the individual web-page of each book title.
Richard Nash and I share our comments with John Mesjak at his My3Books blog: Nash and Mesjak feel that "the real world of digital download reading is far more indie and personal than it is corporate and impersonal"; I disagree.

Advertising Age examines how
Amazon will develop advertising on their Kindle readers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Richard Pryor's War on Terror

By Lawrence Shainberg.
I can’t believe I’m unusual, as a writer, in feeling the loss of Richard Pryor as of a crucial ally, a man whose work I turned to, year in and year out, as if to an intimate friend or, more to the point, the best medicine available for the various illnesses that bring a writer down – self-absorption, self consciousness and the illness he treated as no one else could, those inexplicable departures of humor that leave one’s work solemn and moralistic.
I was an unlikely disciple, for sure – a middle class southern white who grew up in the days before Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and others came along to show Whites how arrogant and ignorant we were, how much we lost by condescending to the Blacks who surrounded us. But it diminishes Pryor, in my view, to speak of him only as a black man. He was a man who’s work attests to what Jean Genet said, when someone suggested, during the days of the French-Algerian crisis, that he write a play about Blacks: “I’d love to do so, but first I have to know what color they are.”
Pryor used his blackness, for sure, and our whiteness, but he wiped away all color except that of life itself and the suffering it entails and our mysterious capacity to laugh at anything, even pain, when it’s fully inhabited. See him as a deer in the concert tape, consumed with thirst and leaning over water but afraid to drink because the woods are full of sound and every one an enemy approaching. See him as a heart attack victim, whose seized up heart has him literally by the throat, sinking to the ground and pleading, “Please let go! I’ll be good! I swear I’ll be good!” and hear his heart answer, “Good? What about all that pork you been eatin?” Finally, in the climactic scene from his concert tape, Live on Sunset Strip, see him as a burn victim, elated to hear that he’s about to be bathed for the first time since his accident until he feels the excruciation of a hand on his raw body: “don’t you… ever… touch me again.”
It’s important to remember that Richard Pryor, though he might be one of America’s greatest novelists, was writing non-fiction. His riffs came out of his own pain, fear or humiliation. His life had taught him everything about fear so great and unrelenting that it blocks your need to quench a thirst when water’s inches from your mouth. It was his own heart attack and his own catastrophic burns he re-lived on stage. He made us squirm as he made us laugh because we felt the pain he was laughing at as if it were our own.

Comedy, as we all know, can be undone by familiarity. Often as I’ve watched his tapes, there are often long stretches when, even if I continue to enjoy him, I do not laugh because I know what’s coming. Even so, there is one riff in the first concert tape that never fails to dissolve me. As a macho character from the old school of street fighting, he is confronted by a new breed young tough who’s trained in the Martial Arts. Brash and confident, dancing around him like Muhammad Ali, he bellows “bring it on!” or some such until a swift kick to the groin makes him double over slowly, and he sinks to the ground still bellowing, only now in a voice a couple of octaves higher. Why does this riff, unlike equally funny ones that don’t, make me laugh every time as if I’ve never seen it before?
It’s an insult to Pryor to treat of him intellectually or impute didactic purpose to him, but I think it’s because his fight in this case is topical and urgent. I never watch it without thinking of what’s come to be called “The War on Terror.” Pryor’s macho man is fighting the war we’re fighting today. His adversary, like ours, not only doesn’t play by his rules but is trained to use his aggression and power against him. But pause a moment before you see this riff as anti-machismo, anti-left, right, liberal or conservative. Remember that Pryor’s riffs came out of his life. It’s hard to doubt that he knew his share of this sort of street fights as well as the arrogant bluster that leads his Macho Man to defeat and humiliation. Such humiliation, however, doesn’t make him come back for more, with weapons or allies, but to take the sort of hard, painful look at himself that makes it possible to see his own shortcoming and absurdity. That’s the recipe for his comedy, the hard painful look, the honest appraisal of his own absurdity and the humility which allows him to treat of it with compassion. One does not walk away from his street fight thinking about the malice or power of the Martial Artist anymore than one walks away from the heart attack riff thinking about the malice and power of the heart. If one thinks about anything it is two human beings trapped in their own absurdity, facing off in a way that will ultimately bring the both of them down.
Pryor was always fighting a War on Terror but his terror wasn’t other people or an idea of evil he attached to them. It was the fear that paralyzed you in the woods, the aggression and pride and ignorance and egoism that got you into fights from which nobody benefited and everyone got hurt. In other words, his terror was the human condition itself – the body and the pain to which it’s vulnerable, aggression and pride and paranoia, fear and habit and danger so vividly imagined that you’d sooner die of thirst than ignore it. For Pryor, life is the terrorist, and blacks and whites, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, Christians, Muslims, and Jews, terrorists of every sort, suffer its threat alike. The ultimate protection will not be found in fists but in the magical purification we experience when we find our way to the humility and compassion that makes it possible to laugh at ourselves.
Here’s how Pryor found his way to it when after his heart attack he woke up in the ambulance taking him to the hospital and found himself surrounded by white attendants: “Goddamn! I done died and wound up in the wrong heaven. Now I got to listen to Lawrence Welk the rest of my days.”
Lawrence Shainberg is the author of Crust.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"You Don't Break a Bottle of Champagne on an Airplane"

I recently wrote an essay that I called 'The Revenge of Print,' the title of which I took from a pair of issues of Punk Planet magazine (Issues #55 and #75). The first such issue came out in the summer of 2003 and had great features on Iggy Scam, McSweeneys, and an article by Akashic Book's Johnny Temple called 'Publish Now!' in which he says, "Book publishing has never been so accessible to the non-rich, largely as a result of developments in computer software. The demand for new publishers is great as too many excellent ideas and books are never made to the public." Johnny goes so far as to include his email address, offering to "pass along great manuscripts."

Eliza and I were living in San Diego at the time, and had just finished reading Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books, which provided the initial flood of inspiration to form Two Dollar Radio. Having become recently acquainted with their house, I was spending most of my bartending tips gobbling up everything Akashic had published in the last seven years. I loved their Urban Surreal Series, and I particularly loved Arthur Nersesian's Manhattan Loverboy (which is still in my all-time Top 10). I wrote to Johnny, who was kind enough - despite it being nearly two years after the Punk Planet article ran - to provide us with some of the "great manuscripts" that we ended up publishing.
Punk Planet was one of the few magazines that I read cover to cover, word for word. Their tagline, "notes from underground," said it all. I was really disappointed when they went under in 2007, but it's been nice to see them continue to take part in the community they helped build through their book imprint at Akashic and their website.

Now, the man behind Punk Planet, Dan Sinker, is working on a project that he calls 'CellStories,' which are short stories that can be read on your cellphone. While Sinker admits to "nostalgia" for the print form, he asserts that CellStories "embodies not only what's fast, efficient, and ecological in new media but much of what was sensual in the old." And, I'm sure, if the guy's track record is any indication, they are sure to be really, really good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gary Indiana Reads The Shanghai Gesture.

Watch Gary Indiana read a snippet from his acclaimed novel, The Shanghai Gesture, at 192 Books.

The Shanghai Gesture was a Washington Post Book World Critic's Pick, and praised as "an uproarious, confounding, turbocharged fantasia" by Bookforum.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Random Q's for Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr is a writer who we publish. His book, Some Things That Meant the World to Me was our first "bestseller." Not too shabby for a debut novel. We'll be publishing Josh's second novel, From a Fragile Galaxy, next summer. He recently took the time to answer a few burning questions for us, which were weighing heavily on our collective minds. I'm relieved now that we've gotten this all sorted out.

Ed: Who's your favorite romance novelist?

JM: Jeez, it’s so hard to choose just one. There’s an obscure Icelandic writer named Halldor Grimmson Shecklimzan. He’s found really inventive ways to use the phrase “throbbing member.” Of course, he hits the old classics: “She held his throbbing member” and “His throbbing member entered her exquisitely…” etc. etc. But Grimmson Shecklimzan is introducing new literary zingers into the vernacular: “Stop, or my throbbing member will shoot!” and, my personal favorite, “You can lead a throbbing member to water but you can’t make it drink.”

Ed: This is a two-parter: why did you name your main character Rhonda, and why is his name tattooed on your wrist?

JM: The name Rhonda is derived from the Latin word, Rhondusnixme, which loosely translates to “One with rotten rhythm and startling gingivitis.” An ex-lover who was an asthmatic used to make a similar sounding noise when she had an orgasm: Rhondusnixme, Rhondusnixme, Rhondusnixme, Rhondusnixme… even after we went our separate ways, I always felt an intimate connection to the name Rhondusnixme, therefore Rhonda seemed a natural choice for the book.The tattoo, though, is a bird of a different feather. I got it under false pretenses—the tattooist told me that her name was Rhonda, and if I let her ink it on my skin, she and I would have a torrid affair. Let’s just say I’m still waiting to hear her sing Rhondusnixme in the throes of our promised passion. I’m optimistic. She must have misplaced my number.

Ed: If you were going to mouth-fuck any member of the Beatles who would it be?

JM: McCartney. The reason? Every song he’s written since the Beatles broke up.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Michael Flanagan

Michael Flanagan, author and illustrator of Stations, created and crafted the images that appear in Crust, a novel by Lawrence Shainberg, which we published last year.

Here are two of his most recent paintings, which I think are marvelous, and, in the words of the artist, "have something to do, maybe, with defending the tactile page against the forces that see book reading as an archaic or endangered activity."