Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dany Laferriere

This past spring, Douglas & McIntyre, a Canadian publishing company sent a manuscript by Dany Laferriere to us called I Am a Japanese Writer. The morning my son, Maceo, was born, after he and Eliza were firmly planted in a hospital room and napping, I started to read the book. It’s seductive, playful in a postmodern way, about a black writer – the best titler in America - who pitches his editor on a new novel called I am a Japanese Writer. The editor, smitten with merely the title, accepts the book. All the writer has to do is complete a manuscript. But word of the book has leaked, and the author becomes the object of interest of the Japanese embassy and their tourism board. The writer becomes a pop culture figure in Japan based on nothing more than the title of his new project. It’s about identity, and your relation to the writers whose work you read. Laferriere is drawn repeatedly to the work of Basho, a wandering poet of the Edo period in Japan. It made me wonder how does nationality define us in our hyper-modern times?

So while I was in NYC for the 5 Under 35 party, I stumbled into St. Marks Bookshop and saw where Douglas & McIntyre reissued a previous novel of Laferriere's called How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired, which earned the author comparisons to Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, James Baldwin and Charles Bukowski. It is an urgent, ferocious book that tackles head-on the issues of race, class, and social standing in a very unapologetic manner. There are frequent passages that perfectly encapsulate the writer’s condition:

“All you need is a good Remington, no cash and no publisher to believe that the book you’re composing with your gut feelings is the masterpiece that will get you out of your hole. Unfortunately, it never works that way. It takes as much guts to do a good book as a bad one. When you have nothing, you can always hope for genius. But genius has refined tastes. It doesn’t like the dispossessed. And nothing is all I’ve got. I’ll never make it out of here with a so-so manuscript.”

Laferriere was a writer in Haiti during the Duvalier regime. When a journalist he was working on an assignment with was found dead, he fled to Canada. Last year, Laferriere was awarded France's Prix Medicis, alongside Dave Eggers, for his book L'enigma du retour. He is a strong, original voice, well worth a read.

Graphic Novels

Everyone was comparing The Orange Eats Creeps to Charles Burns' Black Hole, so I finally upped and read it. I thought it was fantastic. So in the future we're going to start considering graphic novel submissions for publication.

Also, along those lines, The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute is hosting a panel discussion on Sunday, December 5 at 2:30 on the subject of 'The Art of the Graphic Novel.' Panel participants include Lynda Barry, Hillary Chute, N.C. Christopher Couch, Ben Katchor, and Francoise Mouly.

Here's how they introduce the panel:

"The underground comics movement in the 1960s and '70s and the avant-garde RAW magazine in the '80s and '90s established comics as an important medium for storytelling and self-expression. Since then the field has opened in many new directions. Today there are cartoonists such as Joe Sacco publishing four-hundred-page works of comics journalism about Gaza, and Alison Bechdel publishing comics-form book reviews in The New York Times Book Review. An unprecedented critical and popular interest in “graphic novels,” book-length fiction in comics, has emerged in recent years. Why is there such enthusiasm about comics in our current moment, and where is the form headed? What can this intricate, double-tracked narrative form, composed of words and images, bring to journalism, or to memoir, or to the art of fiction? How are politics and aesthetics intertwined in comics, and how are popular and so-called high cultures melded in the form? This roundtable will bring together some of the foremost cartoonists, publishers, and critics in the field to explore current and future avenues for the comics form—its strengths and capacities, and where it is headed."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Supernatural Teen Narco-Insomniac

Last week I was in NYC to celebrate Grace Krilanovich. The National Book Foundation put together a pretty fun time to honor each of this year's 5 Under 35. The party took place at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO last Monday night. They had (free) booze, a taco truck, and a photo booth (see above). Scott Spencer gave me goosebumps when he introduced Grace.

Some other writers read too. I have trouble digesting writing aurally. I assume their work is most likely good.

Grace also got loved on by some other folks this past week. Shelf Unbound Magazine named The Orange Eats Creeps one of their Top 10 Books for 2010. They went on to say:

"A relentless existential nightmare as baffling as it is brilliant. Krilanovich dispenses with so many writing norms that the reader is required to figure out a new way to read. It's a thrilling ride."

Also, Bookforum gave the book a killer review. I can't imagine anyone reading it and not wanting to check out the book immediately:

"Beautiful and deranged. [Krilanovich] nails the shaky worldview of a supernatural teen narco-insomniac . . . Being undead, here, is the defining paradox of the teenage female experience: to be both immortal and rapidly aging."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Charge, Angry Youth

Heard this first at The Rumpus -- it's pretty incredible:

According to the BBC, a 46-year old female human rights activist was jailed in China over a message she posted to her Twitter-feed. The tweet was apparently mocking Chinese protestors of Japan who were smashing Japanese products in the streets over a debate concerning uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The tweet encouraged protestors to attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai Expo instead, with the attached message to "charge, angry youth."

The activist, Cheng Jianping, was sentenced to a year in a labor camp. Obviously, this underlines the absurd, on-going, and general absolute fucked-up-ness of the Chinese government.

I wanted to say again that we are making a section from Xiaoda Xiao's forthcoming The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life (Dec.) downloadable for free in Chinese. By doing so, we hoped his tale would be available to members of the population still affected by the extreme policies and daily hardships that Xiao describes who are only receiving and exposed to heavily censored news and stories.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

'Like I'm Made Out of a Sponge'

"I love the album format. I'll never lose that. Never. I don't want to lose it. I mean, why can't we keep experiencing it? It's easy, it's palatable. I'm so used to buying music in my hand and I can't get over it. Packaging matters. The visual album-cover connection to the music matters. Remember the gatefolds with the storybooks in them and the pop-up photos and stuff? This kind of thing is a boutique, elitist origami item now, but when I was a kid it was a five-and-dime item. I remember how it felt when I had Jethro Tull's Passion Play in my hands as a kid, from a poncy Shakespearean Renaissance Faire English hippie guy, knowing that, like, another million kids also were reading this storybook. There was this feeling that so many other people were experiencing what I was experiencing, at the same time. It was like combining that Harry Potter intrigue with the music for the kid of the time. That's empowering. Those records connected us . . . ."

-Chris Goss of Masters of Reality in conversation with Arthur Magazine editor Jay Babcock in LA Weekly

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jason Jefferies: Iron Man

Big ups, Jason Jefferies, our newest lifetime subscription holder. Jason got inked up by Steven at Artful Tattoo in San Francisco, California, smack on the bicep.

Above are some pictures of Jason's tat and the fingers of an employee of Artful Tattoo.

In Jason's own words: "I am a writer/professional reader here in downtown San Francisco. I love your books, and I love radios that are too loud to ignore, so I think we have a win/win situation on our hands."
As a lifetime/tattoo subscription holder, Jason will get every book we ever publish.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Erotomania Optioned for Film

Hot news: Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, which was a Queerty.com and Inland Empire Weekly Best/Standout Book of 2008, was just optioned for film by director Greg Levins (Bittersweet) and producer Jason Tyrrell (The Brave and the Kind, All My Friends are Funeral Singers).

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Real Moustache on the Face of Depravity

We received a curious email from a community leader of a neighborhood group in Irondale, WA, interested in what is being said about them in Grace Krilanovich's novel, The Orange Eats Creeps.

I found this odd, since apart from labeling the book a novel explicitly on the front, the synopsis also refers to "a band of hobo vampire junkies." So I don't believe anyone would mistake it for anything but fiction.

There is one particularly juicy section where Irondale makes a grand entrance, that I believe accounts for some of the best, most lucid and effective prose in the book.

Here it is:
"Down by the creek there’s a small town by the name of Irondale, a single lane of highway tacked down right in the middle of a lush forest wilderness the likes of which would do Marty
Stouffer proud. I found the rest of my hobo buddies camped out among a few modest houses and sheds situated on a dozen acres littered with mobile home trailers and smelly Meth accoutrements, a display resplendent of the region’s claim to fame in the local papers: seedy clusters of mutant skinless stripped-bare mobile home trailers. This was one of the famous Meth squats of Irondale, a real mustache on the face of depravity. The Jefferson County Leader routinely sent out reporters to lurk behind some crap-filled bathtub, taking notes. More than one soul had been absorbed. Irondale stood as a living monument to Meth dudes who had casually reached a level of ingenuity whereby — after selling the metal siding off their trailers for scrap — they found themselves with nothing left to practice tagging on, so they put the word out, soliciting others to haul in something to fill the void. A yard full of wrecked shit fulfills many needs, doubling as shelter, jewelry, target practice, and…? Some neighbors were once baffled to see a Meth squatter hauling a boat filled with garbage on a trailer with no wheels. When the trailer couldn’t be coaxed into going any further it was unceremoniously abandoned out in the middle of the road, which even by Meth squat standards is pretty resourceful."

An E-book Positive

Something I do like about e-books is that people in other countries have easier access to read our books. People can order our books electronically through vendors by entering a random U.S. address. Even if we assign sales restrictions to only U.S. and Canada, for e-books that doesn't mean squat because the vendors can't enforce these restrictions. But I enjoy getting emails from someone in Turkey saying that they're reading our books.

Visiting Suit + The Nervous Breakdown Book Club

The popular literature and culture site, The Nervous Breakdown, has selected The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life by Xiaoda Xiao as their December book club selection.

The Visiting Suit is in good company. Launched this fall, the book is following previous selections Room by Emma Donoghue, Exley by Brock Clarke, and Half a Life by Darin Strauss.

Discussions will take place on The Nervous Breakdown's blog, The Feed, on the book club's Facebook page, and at the end of each month through an online, moderated, video interview with the author.

So be sure to check it out and take part in the conversation.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Cory Bennet: Iron Man

We've got a new 'Iron Man' and he goes by the name of Cory Bennet. Cory hails from Vacaville, Cal-i-for-ni-a, and got himself inked up by Jeremy Bolding at Electric Voodoo Tattoo.

Per the Iron Man, himself: "I'm a four time college dropout who loves to skateboard and read, and get tattoos of awesome publishing houses."

Nice to see the tat prominently featured beside 'Shit.'

Big ups, Cory B. As the tattoo subscription stipulates, Cory will receive every book we ever publish.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ravenna Third Place

Big thanks to Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle, Washington, for their table display of Two Dollar Radio books.

For those in the area, be sure to stop by:
Ravenna Third Place
6504 20th ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115

More Big Ups, Grace Krilanovich!

Congrats, Grace Krilanovich. She knocked it out of the park with her first novel The Orange Eats Creeps, pretty much an instant cult classic. The book, one of the National Book Foundation's '5 Under 35' selections, one of Gawker's 'most interesting fall titles', was named today one of Amazon.com's Top 10 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books for 2010.

There's also plenty more Grace on the way: Jonathan Bastian interviewed the author for 'Page by Page', Aspen Public Radio's book program; and Nylon Magazine has a photoshoot with the author running with an interview in their December/January issue.
But stepping back, to celebrate making the Amazon.com list, we're giving away 50 electronic Kindle versions of The Orange Eats Creeps for free this afternoon. Drop an email to twodollar[at]twodollarradio.com with the subject "OEC!" and we'll ping you back at some point soon with an attached .mobi file. We're only going to give copies away today (11/4), and no more than 50 copies -- so write soon.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Correspondence Artist Galleys

So, due back any day now from the printer, are galleys of Barbara Browning's debut novel, The Correspondence Artist (late-ish February 2011), a witty new comedy sure to delight fans of Nicholson Baker, Miranda July, and Charlie Kaufman.
The book was excerpted in Bomb Magazine this past summer, and will be excerpted in Knock this November.
Harry Mathews says, "The Correspondence Artist is smart, funny, sexy, knowledgeable, subtle, disturbing, light-hearted, obsessive, and tragic: a comedy that, I surmise, is wholly confessional and wholly imaginary."
Here's the story: Vivian, a writer, is carrying on a relationship with an internationally acclaimed artist. There are those who stand to profit — and suffer — from the revelation of her paramour’s identity, so in the service of telling her tale, she creates a series of fictional lovers. There is Tzipi, a sixty-eight-year-old Nobel-winning female Israeli writer; Binh, a twenty-something Vietnamese video artist; Santuxto, a poetic Basque separatist; and Djeli, a dreadlocked Malian world-music star.

Largely through Vivian’s e-mail correspondence, she divulges the story of their relationship, from their first meeting to their jumpy spam filter, which arrests the more explicit notes that result in Vivian being held captive in a tiger cage in a Berlin hotel/being chased by a Medusa-like woman on a Greek Island/imprisoned by a splinter cell of Basque separatists/in an African hospital with a bout of Dengue Fever.

Barbara Browning’s captivating wit and passionate intelligence make The Correspondence Artist a love story like none other.
Those interested in receiving Advanced Reader Copies of the book should write to Brian at brian[at]twodollarradio.com.
Here's an excerpt: