Saturday, July 31, 2010

NY Times names Termite Parade an Editors' Choice

So this pic of Lucille Ball basically captures how wonderfully, gloriously shocked I was to learn that Termite Parade made this week's NYTBR Editors' Choice list. In some twisted post-modern way, I kind of look like Lucille Ball. Yikes...

It feels like some kind of coup, my sordid little book ending up in the NY Times. Their review last week was amazing. I'm so thankful. The person who wrote it, Rebecca Barry, had a novel-in-stories come out a couple years back called "Later, at the Bar;" I haven't had the pleasure of meeting/speaking with her, but I'd like to buy her 924 cocktails. And as she's now my new favorite person, I've ordered several copies of her book. And you should too. And then tell 10 friends to pick it up. It can be like a chain-letter for us literature dorks.

Thanks Rebecca and thanks NY Times! I'll wear my Lucille Ball shock all day...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Powells: "Mohr is a post-millenial Bukowski."

We should do our best to support independent bookstores, rather than the corporate hubs. Powells is one of the most renowned. It's a veritable church of books. It's like Graceland (pic above), if you've been buried in novels your whole life.

For those of us that can't trek to Portland to buy books in person, their website is kick ass, stocked with any title you could want to get your hands on. So shop there. And they're good people. And we should support good people.

They also review a newly released book every day. They weighed in on Termite Parade over the weekend. Thanks, Powells. Us indie kids gotta stick together!

From the review: "Written with as much heart as brawn, Termite Parade is a sucker punch to literary complacency, without a hint of authorial self-absorption. Mohr is a post-millennial Bukowski with a dash of Hubert Selby, Jr. thrown in for good measure, and with only two published novels under his belt, he is rapidly becoming one of my favorite American novelists."

Friday, July 23, 2010

SF Chronicle: Termite Parade is "similar to Dostoyevsky's 'Crime and Punishment.'"

I'm a pretty excitable cat. Temperamental, moody diva? Manic pain in the ass? Yes, these are titles I'm familiar with, have heard once or twice over the years. I'm man enough to admit that.

So this weekend is making me crazy, in the best way. I'm bouncing off the walls. First, the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed Termite Parade today. I'd like to thank the reviewer, Evan Karp, for giving the novel such a close read, taking the time to dig into the story's cracks. Evan also runs a local reading series in SF called Quiet Lightning. The next one is on August 2nd at the Rickshaw Stop.

Here's a pull from his text:

"The book is similar to Dostoevsky's 'Crime and Punishment': the most crucial action serves as a portal to and wellspring for the various psychologies of its characters. But Mohr's storytelling is so absorbing that 'Termite Parade' does not read like an analytical rumination; if he is examining the very nature of these characters under a microscope, he at least lets the specimens speak for themselves."

Then on Sunday, The New York Times Book Review will weigh in with their thoughts. I've always struggled with insomnia, but waiting to hear/read my first NY Times review? I haven't slept more than 10 hours all week! I'm a train-wreck... a bigger train-wreck (thanks, peanut gallery). Please cross your fingers; I need all the help I can get.

And finally, I just tattooed my publisher's, Two Dollar Radio's, logo on my arm. You can see it in the pic above: hint, it's the only image that looks like a two dollar radio...

The Winner of The Orange Eats Creeps Contest

Results are in. The one ballot has been tallied and the winner of The Orange Eats Creeps Contest is James Greer, who chose the theme "Parisian Anarchist Courtesans on Strike!"

Of the winning entry, Grace Krilanovich says: "A first person screed/diatribe/manifesto-cum-open letter to "society." Overheated, Alain Delon-baiting, and digressive as hell. Who would expect Parisian Anarchist Courtesans to be anything but over le top? This winning entry serves up a steaming casserole of indiscriminate, state-smashing rage and perverted glee, along with what is probably the best one-line manifesto disseminated by any Parisian Anarchist Courtesan movement."

Parisian Anarchist Courtesans on Strike!

C’est quoi la grève? If I hear that song from those two comedians one more fucking time I will shoot myself and then both of them in the ass. If I can find a gun. Question: why aren’t guns free, and freely available? It’s just common sense. Give everyone a gun, goddamnit! Me first, so I can kill you. And take your gun.

The C.G.T. strikes every other day and that’s, you know, ça va, but we stage one little manif at Saint-Germain-des–Prés and it’s some kind of big deal. Never seen a bunch of naked whores in a fountain before? And if you have, you probably owe me money, which I do not want. I don’t believe in the use of currency as currency, it’s not going to change anything—you can borrow my copy of L’insurrection qui vient, or borrow it back, you’ll see, it’s all in there. The whatever singularity. The being-in-common.

Property is theft, sure, but even a courtesan needs to eat. This is why I started my zine: Why She Doesn’t Give A Fuck About Your Insurrection, and I say that out of love, out of an excess of love, a plague of love, a cholera of kindness. Or something. I was in Tarnac when it all went down, when the balaclava-clad gendarmerie slipped in on roller blades and took twenty of us from the cinema alone. Il gattopardo was playing (I’ve heard there’s a newly-restored version—Alain Delon can go fuck himself, and probably used to on a regular basis, I think the only thing he truly loved was the mirror, but Burt Lancaster: yum!), or would have been playing if the projector wasn’t broken. But we liked sitting in the theater anyway, waiting for the possibility of cinema.

By all means, I remember thinking, or perhaps screaming out loud, spit flying in the face-guard of the helmeted riot policeman: Send in the paras, two by falling two into the farthest forest from the Bois de Boulougne; from the toits of gray Paris. Come the rundown Shermans. Come the F.L.N., the colonial detritus, pieds noirs, now will you listen? No you will not. Superstition plays its role, naturally, supervising the apprivoisement. The gégène or magneto will not bring you no harm, babe. I’ve seen worse. I’m a fucking anarchist courtesan, remember? I’m a lawless hooker. I kill and I fuck, not necessarily in that order, in fact never in that order, because that would be a) gross, and b) just... wrong. Not in a moral sense, bien évidemment, but in terms of aesthetics.

“Whatever singularity, which wants to appropriate belonging itself, its own being-in-language, and thus rejects all identity and every condition of belonging, is the principal enemy of the State. And, sooner or later, the tanks will appear.” That’s Giorgio all over for you, always with the tanks. He has a tank fetish. Something to do with the muzzles, I think. The long guns. I never got that. Calvino said we should just “wait it out,” and I’m thinking, wait what out? The Invisible Committee or Invisible Cities? Which is more fantastic? Which more dangerous? And which, more importantly, is going to leave me alone to ply my trade in the plush cathouses of the 6e arrondissement?

Here is our manifesto, in full: get your face out of my cunt. I don’t mean my cunt in particular. And obviously not “out,” in a literal sense, that would put us where we are right now, in a fountain, naked, except not protesting but begging for scraps. Like that guy over there with the plastic bag from Monoprix (like he could afford to shop there!), the pigeon man. We don’t want to end up like him, though we grant that he has as much dignity as any other human person. We don’t want or need government regulation, and anyway we don’t recognize the authority of this or any government over us, over any part of us, but especially not here, in the warm heart of our meat and drink. We want to be left alone, but not alone, we want to be free but but also free from harm. We want all these things to be au choix, so that we feel we have not lost our voix. And until then: stay the hell out of my box.

Like George says to the girl in the Nespresso commercial: What else? The girl by the way is me, and I don’t mean metaphorically. I did the commercial for no pay, in the same way Godard did that commercial for Schick aftershave in the early 70s, you know, to fuck with people. And to meet George Clooney. That was not Jean-Luc’s motivation. That was me, I think Godard felt sorry for Schick because they were second to Gillette in international sales, and he is after all Swiss, so that was the Swiss contrarian in him. That’s the way Renato Berta tells it, anyway, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, he’s probably the world’s greatest living cinematographer. He tells another story about Godard: one time they were driving down the autoroute in Switzerland, and Jean-Luc saw a particularly beautiful sunset across a particularly beautiful field, He insisted they stop right there, right then, to film it. The only place to stop was the emergency lane, so they pulled over, and Renato set up the camera, and the Swiss police naturally showed up, because what else do the Swiss police have to do? Jean-Luc told Renato to go deal with them. “You’re in the emergency lane, you know,” said the Swiss police. “You can’t stop here.” So Renato goes back to Jean-Luc. “They say we’re in the emergency lane, and we can’t stop here.” So Jean-Luc turns to Renato with a look of utter exasperation, and says, “Tell them that for me this is an emergency!” Years later Renato saw the footage they had shot of that sunset in a completely different Godard film than the one they were then shooting. He was glad that the footage had been used. I like to think of that scene, of the field of bright rape-seed against a fading sun, when I am giving a blow-job to a client (I don’t like the connotations of the word “client,” but I’m tired). It may be my imagination, but I swear it makes the client come faster.

What else? What else is naughts and crosses. The chute of a great king, of the world, or outside the world, all-encompassing and omniscient where the leaves fall, and the leaves fall. And falling strap their lives to breath of wind to buttress or enhance descent. We who look will choose to see it so.

Where? In birchy woods at winter, snow pasted on linden trunks from Gare du Nord wind, usually with spangles of ice in the crust. Tillelul else fail. RDV pris in small café across the street, Noël or foul, with garlands of sharp twig and swell of tinsel, pining away or down and away and low. Why are you here? What have you come to see? Answer: Have all come to watch something not happen, or happen in rivers, backing up to the banks.

Thus ends the end. We finish and are done. Whether not enough or too is terminus. Pendulous as apples in septembre from the slender brough which sweets her sap from sources inconnu. Man on. Weapons at the ready. Nonce more into the ether.

Sorry. That made more sense in my head than when I said it out loud. Are you still recording? We also have a song. One cannot strike in Paris without a song.

(Note: everything in this story is 100% true)

James Greer has a new book out called The Failure from Dennis Cooper's Little House on the Bowery Imprint at Akashic Books.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

OEC Contest: Runner-Up

After much deliberating, the Judge has declared a runner-up in The Orange Eats Creeps contest, in which writers would submit pieces adhering to random themes drawn from a hat.

The runner-up comes to us from Calder Lorenz, who chose to compose his piece around the theme "confessions of a baptist nightclub janitor."

Of the piece, the Judge remarks: "Well executed and keenly observed. A little terrarium wriggling with sin and redemption."

Confessions of a Baptist Nightclub Janitor

You’d think each night would be the same for a man who cleans up after other people’s good times. Not much in the way of complication. An endless routine of sweeping and scrubbing and soaking up puke until you run out of smokes and the light reflects off the polished nightclub bar.
You might think each night would be the same and most of the time you’d be right.
My father in-law, a minister who lives down near New Orleans, once told me that you had to be held in the arms of Satan in order to touch evil for yourself. In a sense, he said as he combed and sculpted his black hair into a male beehive, you’d have to taste evil so you’d know when you were in the presence of goodness. I married his daughter that afternoon. And in the evening he held my head under water with his muscled hands until I accepted Jesus as my savior. I was twenty-five.

I’m thirty-three now. A month ago, I took this job to pay the bills. Pure and simple. I’ll confess that preaching doesn’t pay, at least not for me. I’ll confess my failures outnumber my followers. I haven’t told Lena, but I see now that you need faith to fool folks or at the very least you need the time to practice. And I’ve got neither. Not when the collection calls refuse to cease and the debt I’ve got from trying to run an online ministry doubles and doubles and doubles. Not when her father stopped bailing us out. Stopped paying the mortgage. So I light up and snap on my latex gloves and spray off the front entrance where someone left a puddle of piss. I collect the grease from the fryer and haul it to the dumpster and then I stack chairs so I can mop down the chipped linoleum floor.


Scotty, who manages the bar, is still hanging around long after he should be.

I lean on the mop and watch him count his money. He works over a huge stack of twenties and then moves onto the tens. I finish my smoke before I start back on the floor.

I’ll confess that I admire Scotty. His youth. His perfectly upright and sharpened blonde hair. His silver piercing below his lower lip. The certainty I have that he’s slept with every young waitress who works in this black hole. He doesn’t just touch evil. He fucks it and loves it and looks good doing it.

“I got a surprise for you,” Scotty says from behind the bar.

“A real treat,” he says without leaving the money.

“Ok,” I say. “I’ll be done soon enough.”

“Fuck it,” he says. “Take a seat. Have a beer on me. I owe you a tip for taking care of the piss out front.”

“Almost done,” I say.

I wring out the mop head and slide the bucket into an empty stall and then dump the black muddled water—crumpled business cards with penned washed out numbers floating like the chunks of styrofoam that accumulate in the deceased creek behind the bar. The creek where I’ve been instructed to dump anything the garbage men refuse to take.

Scotty slaps a five dollar bill on the bar. He throws down a coaster and follows through with the beer he promised. “That’s your tip for the piss.”

“Thanks,” I say. “Every bit counts.”

“You bet it does,” he says. “I barely cleared three bills tonight.”

I drink my beer.

He’s finished counting and I know what comes next.

He slides over a plate. He says, “My guy says you shouldn’t use bills, even the hundreds can get you sick.” He says, “I cut you your own straw.” He says, “Wait until the surprise gets here.”

I bow my head to the bar. We take turns bowing our heads until I say I need to finish scrubbing the toilets.


It’s well past four in the morning when Scotty’s treat arrives. I’ve completed my janitorial check list and stand behind the bar with Scotty, drinking and organizing bottles in the smaller cooler under the whiskey shelf. Wasting time when I’d normally be on a vacant bus, riding on home, scribbling down my sermons onto cocktail napkins. This is where my words dribble out and form into something as uninspired as restacking toilet paper or hanging greased slick pots. This is my fruitless preparation for a wretched daily podcast.

I’ll confess I was intrigued by Scotty’s proclamation. I’ll confess I wanted a treat. But what did I expect to walk through that door? Whatever it was, Scotty’s not impressed. He frowns as Brian, a lumpy man in a brown leather jacket with a block head and potholes on his face, sits down at the bar.

I’ve noticed that this oddly confident man comes in after hours once or twice a month on the nights Scotty stays late to count his money. But this time he’s not alone, followed by two young girls who I assume work for him at the strip club down the road. They wear matching grey sweat pants and baggy sweatshirts. They have gym bags. Their faces are sullen and tired and their make-up is missing. Their hair is greasy and pulled back.

“Christ,” Scotty says, “You girls look like crap.”

The girls flop down on bar stools next to Brian. They drop their bags.

“We’re tired.” The girl next to Brian says.

Scotty shakes his head as he holds Brian’s hand. “I thought you said we’d get a show.”

“You will,” Brian says.

“You girls want a drink,” Scotty says. He starts to pour from the tap without waiting for an answer. “Sorry girls. It was one of those nights.”

“Can I have a bottle instead?” One of the girls asks. “I like imports.”

Scotty nods at me and I hand her a bottle. Her lips are tight as she smiles. She squints. Says, “Thank you sir.”

Her voice saturated with the tone of a tired child.

She takes a drink and then turns back to look at Scotty as he waves the girls into the men’s restroom.

I’m left with Brian who rubs his swollen forehead.

“Hey big guy,” he says. “Will ya pour me a shot?”

He doesn’t look at me. I put down two shot glasses and I tell myself that life is a test. These are the moments when we achieve a higher level of understanding. This is how we taste. How we touch. Maybe I’ve finally been given the opportunity to learn about darkness so I can wallow in redemption, be reborn with the ability to annunciate my faith.


Scotty opens the front door and I’ll confess that I feel elation despite how the morning light blinds my swollen view of the nightclub. I can see Brian’s neon green Camaro sputtering and groaning out front. The girls wave dismissive goodbyes as they labor to the car. The horn blares and blares and blares.

Scotty holds the door. He wears a weary smirk, a look of brotherhood formed by crossed boundaries and degradation. He says, “Sorry about the mess, man.”

I block the light with my hand and it’s all I can do to nod.

He says, “See you tonight.” And the door swings shut.

I lean on the bar, surveying the broken bottles and upturned chairs and then I peel my forearm so I can wipe my hands on my shirt. I stagger into the back kitchen and turn on the faucet where they wash the pots and pans. A huge steel sink wiped clean with bleach. I take a rag from the clean stack on the shelf and I plug the drain. I wait until the water rises, inches from overflowing onto the tiled floor. I grasp the sides and drown my head until the cold water soaks the entire upper part of my shirt. I hold my breath until I re-emerge, gasping and choking and then plunge again. Time stops and all I know is gasping and then plunging, gasping and then plunging, until I fall backwards slipping on the flooded floor.

I leave my resignation in the form of my soaked shirt. The fabric marked with a few spots of blood where the leg of a storage-rack inserted into the skin of my shoulder blade. I confess that I leave without setting the alarm, without cleaning up the mess, without guilt, carrying only a stolen pen and a generous handful of cocktail napkins for the bus ride home.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Author Jonathan Evison interviews me for 3G1B

J. Evison's first novel "All About Lulu" is a solid read. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy of his next, "West of Here," that hits stores February 2011. Let me tell you: Evison can write his ass off. WOH is so good, in fact, I'm predicting awards for it. Pulitzer? National Book Award? I'm calling my shot. Just remember where you heard it first, people...

Evison was nice enough to instigate a dialogue with me. In it, we discuss my penchant for squalor, vampires on submarines... you know, the usual. He also asked about my relationship with my publisher, Two Dollar Radio. Here's part of my response:

JM: I’m very comfortable on the fringe. I like that role of being underestimated. There are very few expectations of me, and so if something goes well, it’s just gravy. I feel like I’m playing with house money… except in this particular example there’s no money. Or a house.

Thanks, Herr Evison for asking such thoughtful questions. It was a stunning asylum from the normal batch of obvious ones, like: "Hey man, do you write with a pen or on a laptop?" Why would anybody really fucking care what the answer is to that?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

He Begins to Talk

More paintings from Xiaoda Xiao coinciding with The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life.
The Visiting Suit - The Barter's Market (above); He Begins to Talk (below).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Termite Parade is "a more optimistic version of Chuck Palahniuk."

I moved into a new apartment a couple months back. It's great, so much bigger. There are rooms, people. I mean, real rooms. It has its own kitchen, for god's sake, not some galley type thing wedged in the corner of the living room with a sad mini-fridge and mini-stove that made mini-food and forced me to wonder whether I should've gotten an MBA.

I feel lucky to have found a better apartment for roughly the same price. And now I can stand up straight, rather than feeling like I'm working on the 7th and a half floor ala "Being John Malkovich."

I mention this because there are these small windows way up the bedroom walls, and these little guys don't have shades or blinds, and they make the room incredibly bright too early. I've been complaining about them for the last few weeks, but now I'm starting to see their benefit. Jesus, may the glass indeed be half full? This is undermining years of cynical whining...

Today, these meddling windows "forced" me to read Campus Circle's review of Termite Parade bright and early. Here's an excerpt:

"The book reads like a lighter, (slightly) more optimistic version of Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club), and although the story is a veritable microscope of humanity at its worst (and maybe a glimpse of it near its best), it examines both our motives and the consequences of our actions in a very readable fashion."
-Campus Circle

Despite the reviewer's penchant for parentheses (she seems to really like them) (I mean, really really like them), I'm going to start singing the praises of these small windows. Maybe getting out of bed ain't so bad after all.


The People Who Watched Her Pass By is being recommended at Skylight Books by manager, Steve Salardino, who says:
"The author of the shamefully out of print History of Luminous Motion brings us his best book in 10 years with this tale of a three year old on the road. Sal is nabbed from her home by the water heater repair man and so begins her journey. She wanders through vans, laundromats, abandoned basements, the desert, effecting everyone around her while maintaining a world weary distance. Beautiful."

You can order The People Who Watched Her Pass By while supporting one of the best and coolest bookstores in 'Merica, here.

Also, Grace Krilanovich and Joshua Mohr will be reading at Skylight on September 9 at 7:30.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Will Mess You Up!!!

We're about to send Grace Krilanovich's first novel, The Orange Eats Creeps to the printer. Above is the cover with ye olde french flaps.
The last couple weeks have elicited some super-human praise from the likes of some super-human writers. Peep this:
"Like something you read on the underside of a freeway overpass in a fever dream. The Orange Eats Creeps is visionary, pervy, unhinged. It will mess you up."
-Shelley Jackson
"The Orange Eats Creeps reads like the foster child of Charles Burns' Black Hole and William Burroughs' Soft Machine. A deeply strange and deeply successful debut."
-Brian Evenson
And a taste-bomb review from Publishers Weekly:
"[A] slyly arch debut. The story careens from encounter to encounter, bursting into vibrant tableaus of images and barrages of prickly observations. Krilanovich's postmodern mashup is refreshlingly piquant and playful, reminiscent of postmodern Euro fiction and full of poison pill observations."
If you're affiliated with the media, you can ask for a galley copy by writing to brian[at]

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Joshua Mohr

Last week, Joshua Mohr celebrated the release of his second novel, Termite Parade, at City Lights in San Francisco. It was two days before his actual birthday, so in the spirit of celebration he held an inverted party, celebrating everyone else's birthday he forgot over the last year. He handed out some gifts, including some TDR-shirts, and led a singing of 'Happy Birthday' to the raffle-winner, whom Josh appointed "Birthday Boy" for the evening.

Introducing Josh is Peter Maravellis of City Lights. As though they need to assign an award and these stores don't remain consistently awesome, Publishers Weekly names a 'Bookstore of the Year' annually and City Lights received the crown for 2009. City Lights is a Mecca for me, and so it's pretty amazing and gratifying to have them supporting our authors and our books. We definitely appreciate it.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Rumpus Radio with Nick Flynn

I like to tease fiction writer/memoirist/sexual savant Steve Elliott that he's the Mayor of the Mission District, and I'm only sorta kidding. He's got our neighborhood wired. One of the nice things about living around the corner from him is that I can show up at his apartment and harrass him from time to time.

For example, maybe he happens to be recording a broadcast of the Rumpus Radio...maybe he's all dialed in for the show...checking levels, prepping the guest...mic tests, getting in the zone...and I happen to stagger in and say, "Hey man, can I borrow some mayonnaise?" Or: "Do you have any clean socks? Mine are all, like, wet for some reason."

Just such a glorious anomaly happened last week, as Steve was preparing to chat with Nick Flynn on Rumpus Radio. Steve was nice enough to let me co-host. Check it out here. Nick has some wise words and seems like a wise person all the way around. I highly recommend both his memoirs, "Another Bullshit Night in Suck City" and his latest, "The Ticking is the Bomb."

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Never Forget - Struggle!"

Two new paintings by Xiaoda Xiao:

From the story, 'Release,' from The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life:

"A large portrait of Chairman Mao at the entrance of the street drew my attention. It was on a cement board about five feet high. The background was peeling away and I saw a rip as big as half of my palm on Mao’s chin. Beneath the portrait a quotation was printed in red: “Never forget – struggle!” But the other part of the slogan was hidden by a woman’s pink underwear
and blue skirt, which hung on a long piece of bamboo pole sticking out of a nearby window. All I could see was “Revolution is not a dinner party!”"

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Independents Day

At The Huffington Post, Anis Shivani (himself a very fine writer), posted a list of 15 small presses who "exemplify the best qualities of [the] publishing tradition--so characteristic of America, where the upstarts and rebels and truly ornery literary entrepreneurs flourish side by side with the bloated conglomerate publishing houses. At their best, the independent presses represent democracy, flattening of hierarchy, and dynamic feedback."

There are some really great presses spotlighted, including Coffee House, New Directions, Archipelago, and Copper Canyon (home to W.S. Merwin, the new Poet Laureate!).

Two Dollar Radio wasn't on the list, but it was nice to be mentioned in the piece as "easily deserv[ing] inclusion" nonetheless.

So to celebrate your literary indpendence, we're making our Year 5 Book Subscription available now, for just $45 through July 15.

We're in the process of acquiring rights to most of the titles that will be included in this subscription. (In fact, we've only signed Seven Days in Rio, a new novel by Francis Levy so far--more on that, and the others, soon.) But I can guarantee that they will all be fantastic.