Thursday, September 30, 2010
On Wednesday, October 6 at 7:30, Barbara will be reading as part of BOMB's All-Stars Literary Reading Series at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 'Santuxto Exteberria,' an excerpt from The Correspondence Artist, appeared in the summer issue of BOMB.
For those not in Fort Greene, Barbara will be reading, live, via Two Dollar Radio's brand spanking new video channel the night before, on October 5 at 8pm. Anyone will have the opportunity to pop in and ask Barbara questions about her new book. (I'm super-excited about this.) In the future, we'll be doing regular live web readings, interviews, and miscellaneous activities with our authors. It should be a blast, and plenty more opportunity for readers to interact with the writers.
Eric Obenauf, publisher of Two Dollar Radio, concedes the tattoo essentially boils down to branding, which is ordinarily associated with horrific historical events or livestock, but believes the option is a two-way street.
"It will hopefully grant the brandisher some credibility in literary circles as well as a hipness factor in social settings. Plus," he adds, "it’s a conversation-starter: I don’t know how many times I’ve had to answer the question, ‘Is that a boombox on your wrist?’"
To date, those who have tattooed the Two Dollar Radio radio upon their body are Obenauf, his wife and business partner, Eliza Jane Wood-Obenauf, as well as author Joshua Mohr, who published his first (Some Things That Meant the World to Me) and second (Termite Parade) novels with the press.
"The day after getting my Two Dollar Radio tattoo," Mohr says, "I won the lottery, fell in love, vanquished a foe, was cast in a feature film, and the Iranian president offered to fellate me (I accepted). All in all, let’s just say things are on the uptick for this disgruntled writer."
Obenauf admits that the likelihood of this string of events being repeated for someone else is statistically improbable; however he does affirm that "Josh Mohr is exceptional."
Availability of the tattoo subscription will continue in perpetuity. Or until things get "totally whack," "bogus," or "out of control."
Persons can send pictures of their tattoo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Both an action shot of the tattoo being drawn as well as a picture after the tatt has healed is required. In addition to receiving their lifetime subscription, the person will be featured on the publishers’ blog.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Grace and Josh will be joined by Matt Stewart and Steve de Jarnatt. The reading is at the Mountain Bar in Chinatown and is free.
Also, those on the opposing coast, don't forget about the NEA panel at the Philoctetes Center tomorrow in NYC.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Susan Quinn is the author of A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney; Marie Curie: A Life; Human Trials: Scientists, Investors and Patients in the Quest for a Cure; and Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art Out of Desperate Times. Quinn received the Globe Winship award for A Mind of Her Own, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and Rockefeller residency to work on her biography of Marie Curie, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, shortlisted for the Fawcett Book Prize in England, and won the Grand prix des Lectrices d'Elle in France. Quinn has been a staff writer at Boston Magazine, where she won the Penney-Missouri Magazine Award for investigative journalism, and has contributed to The Atlantic and New York Times Magazine, among other publications. She is currently at work on a book about the friendship of Harry Hopkins and FDR.
Monday, September 20, 2010
One of the panelists, Ed Nawotka, who runs the e-newsletter Publishing Perspectives, mentioned how a negative review of Sebastian Junger's War was the most popular feature they've run on their site, receiving more comments than the entire length of the original piece. I've been thinking about this a lot recently in the scores of reviews I've seen cropping up of Tao Lin's newest book. Joshua Cohen slammed (like, body-slammed, with authority) it in the latest issue of Bookforum. The single-page review was trumpeted on the front cover, above the Bookforum logo, as "How the internet ruined ambitious fiction writer Tao Lin." To put this into perspective, that's a greater relevance granted than the three-page review they feature of Jonathan Franzen. Bookforum also gradually reveals their print reviews online, and the Lin review was the first they made available.
Bookforum's pretty much one of my favorite book review venues. They can be trusted. All I know about Tao Lin is that he brings with him his own passionate, comment-heavy viral posse.
This is an idle curiosity, but I'm wondering whether book review venues in the future, especially as they transition online and attend to daily web statistics, will intentionally seek more polarized, ultra-dramatic love-or-hate coverage?
I ran into Zach Baron at the Brooklyn Book Festival who had just written his own critical take on Tao Lin for the Village Voice. I said something to Zach about not understanding why Lin's work was so controversial, having only read snippets from his books. Zach said I'd have to read one of Lin's books, which is fair. And then we (or maybe I was alone) wondered aloud at the possibility of Lin contributing many of the most heated and polarized comments to his online reviews, fueling the fire. Which would make him a marketing genius.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
In late-May, while in NYC for Book Expo America, we made the trek up to Amherst, MA, to meet Xiaoda Xiao and shoot this video interview with him.
Xiao's book, The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life (November), was recently spotlighted by both Gawker and The Huffington Post as one of this fall's most interesting/anticipated titles.
Xiao was also at this past weekend's Brooklyn Book Festival, reading as part of PEN's 50th Anniversary of their 'Freedom to Write' program. (We'll have pictures posted later this week.)
Friday, September 10, 2010
If you're not in Brighton on Sunday (9/12), be sure to swing by the Brooklyn Book Festival anytime from 10AM - 6PM. It's always so much fun.
We'll have a booth where we'll be hawking our books at stupendous, once-a-year discounts: any book for $10; any 2 books for $15.
We'll also have tee shirts and catalogs, as well as some select titles from featherproof books and Chin Music Press.
This year, we'll be sharing a booth with our friends at The Brooklyn Rail, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary with a print anthology available for sale at the festival.
Xiaoda Xiao will also be reading as part of PEN's 50th Anniversary of their 'Freedom to Write' program, at 10AM on the International Stage.
And, lastly, you can read an excerpt called 'The Spring Festival' from Xiao's forthcoming The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life (11/2010) -- which was recently mentioned by The Huffington Post as one of the most anticipated books for the rest of 2010 -- in the September issue of The Brooklyn Rail.
Hope to see you there.
The reading is at Hotel Pelirocco at 6pm, which is at 10 Regency Square in Brighton. Also, Buffalo Trace is offering discounts on their bourbon . . .
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I sent an email thanking Tom, and inviting him to write a post for our blog. Whatever you want to do, I think I said. It doesn't have to be about our books, or even books in general.
Tom sent an account of his return to the now-defunct Eloise Mental Hospital, which is really fantastic.
And for anyone keeping score, Tom hasn't let up: he's already ordered our Year 5 Subscription.
by Tom Bowden
Recently, a friend and I went to visit Eloise, or what remains of Eloise.
Once a state institution for the insane, Eloise was a square-mile campus with its own zip code, fire department, farm, and bakery. At its height as a sanitarium, Eloise had 75 buildings, including a bowling alley and theater. I grew up in Wayne, a small city abutting Eloise, and I had friends whose relatives worked there at one time or another—for an institution with what now approaches 170 years of history, knowing people who worked there was fairly common.
Eloise fronts Michigan Avenue, and so sits along the main road connecting Detroit to Chicago—a convenient place for dropping off the destitute (when it was a poorhouse during its first decades of operation), tubercular (which filled several of Eloise’s buildings), and just plain nutty (what it was most locally infamous for). Driving by Eloise from Wayne to Dearborn or Detroit, I would falteringly imagine the lives of those who slowly strolled the grounds behind the tall iron bars that surrounded this “gated community” or those who gently rocked on one of the pine gliders that faced the small artificial lake alongside east-bound Michigan Avenue, across the street. Hard to reconcile the serene, pastoral image I saw driving past with stories a former custodian told me of a feces-smearing patient convinced he was Donald Duck.
Adding to the mystique of what exactly happened on the grounds of Eloise, to the mystique of what happened at night in those basements lit by single bare bulbs, to the mystique of what the patients there were really like, was the presence of the Eloise Inn, a bar directly across the street from Eloise, at the southeast corner of Venoy Road and Michigan Avenue—a bar where the insane liked to toss back a few boilermakers and unwind with the locals. Some patients even sold their Eloise-issued shoes to buy booze at the Eloise Inn, I’ve been told. Who were the locals who went there? Why did they choose to frequent the Eloise Inn, of the dozen or so other bars in Wayne? What did the Eloise inmates and Wayne citizens make of each other? Were there brawls, or did Tiger games and blue-collar politics draw them together?
And about that farm—the patients not only grew their own food (talk about buying local!), but also grew their own tobacco and produced their own Eloise-brand cigarettes. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know if they could choose between filtered or unfiltered, menthol or regular. But the one photograph of an Eloise cigarette pack I saw suggests that they only came in soft packs—no hard-pack options. If only the cigarettes were sold to local stores—imagine the ad campaigns! the tough kids in junior high who would start with Eloise, not Kools! the rumors about brain damage and secret government test packs laced with LSD!
Which leads me to the therapies practiced there. According to the historical plaque now on the grounds of Eloise, the hospital was at the forefront of art, music, and electroshock therapies (no mention made of labotamies), as well as one I’d never heard of before: television therapy—which, now that I think about it, must account for 90 percent of my fellow Americans.
Only a few buildings remain standing. The former power plant is now surrounded by razor concertina wire—a precaution taken to protect vandals and teens who like to sneak onto the grounds, lured by tales of hauntings; who spray graffiti, and do whatever else bored teens like to do. The razor wire does a poor job of protecting trespassers, however (the power plant’s chimney, which had the word Eloise spelled out in bricks along its length, was torn down a few years ago—neglect frailed the smokestack, and bricks fell from it), because kids still get onto the grounds via the network of tunnels built during the Civil Defense phase of the Cold War, tunnels that extend to the communities surrounding Eloise, across the street.
When I was a teen during the 1970s, the heyday of sanitarium care was over. The patients I saw meandering the grounds as I drove past were all elderly. Entire buildings were empty, and even those still occupied look care-worn. Around the square mile of Eloise, the iron bars’ and gates’ purpose seemed more to protect an underfunded museum from the elements than to protect straying, confused humans from wandering onto busy roads, running away, or worse.
Two sets of stairs lead to the main building’s front doors. One set of stairs is cordoned off by plastic ribbon—the wood is rotted through and unsafe to walk upon. The other set of stairs creaks and bows when stepped upon but at least isn’t yet breaking through. My friend Gary photographed me standing under one of the Civil Defense air-raid shelter signs at the front of the main building. The wooden planking I stood on under the sign threatened to give way.
Afterward, we drove to the potter’s field about a half mile from Eloise, where 7,100 patients are buried. The stones, lying flush with the ground to mark their graves, never acknowledged the names of those whose lives were spent surrendered to madness, poverty, and disease. Only numbers were assigned to each of the dead, to each of the grave markers. Gary and I searched through the tall, overgrown grass to photograph some of these markers, combing through the strands with our fingers, pushing aside clumps with our hands.
Instead of markers, we found under the grass small rectangular patches of dirt. Even the numbers have been removed.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
It's bound to be exceptional.
The event will be Grace's first reading in support of her debut novel, The Orange Eats Creeps, and sort of serve as the launch party for the book. To that end, there will be wine.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
by Scott Bradfield
Nothing teaches you to live with failure better than a ‘career’ (and I usethe term loosely) spent writing short stories. First there are the days you can’t get the story started, or figure out how it ends; or the dayswhen you find the ending, but don’t know what to start the nextmorning. There are the days when you finish the damn thing, but can’tfind an editor to publish it; or when you get the damn thing published,and nobody reads it. Then there are the days you don’t sell to the New Yorker (there are lots of days like this, by the way), or you don’t sell anoption to the movies, or you’re overlooked by the latest crowd of‘year’s best’ anthologies that continually assemble on local bookstoreshelves like jeering bullies on a playground.
But if you’re lucky, and you live long enough, you progress intowider and more prosperous regions of failure. You sell that story to the New Yorker, say, or you win a prestigious (i.e. doesn’t pay much) award. You publish your stories in a collection, and get well reviewed – OK, maybe not on the front page of the New York Times – but hey, youactually get a collection reviewed in the New York Times! You’re invited to an A-List party in Manhattan; you give a reading, or speak at a college. And then the big day comes, the day that every writer can only dream about while toiling at the difficult, and often deliriously happyjob of writing short stories. Which is when the big editor or film producer calls. And they’ve got a question.
‘Great stories, guy. So when are you going to write a novel?’
For a short story writer – this means you’ve arrived.
You’ve failed about as well as you can.
Friday, September 03, 2010
The Orange Eats Creeps link roundup:
OEC book trailer
Largehearted Boy Book Notes
Vol. 1 Brooklyn review
TDR Noise Q&A
Skylight Books launch party with Joshua Mohr, 9/9
Two Dollar Radio/Featherproof "night of hand-holding" at KGB, 10/24
Grace on Twitter
The band _____________________ (name of deep sea creature) ___________________ (b-movie title or type of drug) took the stage, boasting a stack of _____ (number) watt amps, a new bass player from _____________________ (country) and a drummer wearing a __________ (adj) dress and _________________ (hairstyle). The guitar player _______________________ (adverb) tuned up against the backdrop of __________________ (song title), which was shorting out the PA speakers. The singer, ____________________ (snack food) ___________________ (proper last name) had just gotten out of jail for ___________________ (adj) assault with a deadly ___________________ (noun). S/he gripped the ___________________ (noun), singing into it with a voice reminiscent of ____________________ (celebrity) on __________________________ (food/drink/drug). Two freaky cheerleaders flanked the band, named ________________ (noun) and _____________ (noun that rhymes with prev. noun), who, on this tour, also happened to double as _____________ (adj) roadies, ___________________ (make of car) driver and merch _________________ (plural noun). “__________________,” (exclamation) “this PA sucks! Hi, we’re ____________________________ (deep sea creature from above) ______________________________ (b movie title or type of drug from above) and we’re from _____________________ (city). The ______________________ (adj) promoter from this ________________________ (adj) club has already told us were getting paid __________ (dollar amount) so _____________________ (insult). They launched into their first song, a cover of ______________________ (song title) done in the style of ___________________________ (music genre). Instantly, the ____________________ (adj) crowd split into two factions: half rushing the stage, half heading for the exit. ____________________ (plural noun) and ________________________ (plural noun) came flying out of nowhere, hitting the singer in the chest. “____________________,” (exclamation) “Who threw that? Look, we’re gonna stop the show if you can’t be nice. Don’t throw shit, cuz we’ll be gone.” The song ground to a halt. Then suddenly the promoter rushed the stage, __________________ (adverb) waving a cassette tape, screaming “This is not the band I booked! Where’s _____________________ (brand of detergent) _____________________ (type of weather)? Get ‘em on stage. You’re done. You guys suck. And you’re con artists. This ______________________ (undesirable substance) sounds nothing like your ___________________ (adj) demo tape. The band shrugged, peeling off their respective instruments, throwing them to the floor. At the load-in door a ___________ (adj) record label A & R man was waiting with a ___________ (adj) contract. Turns out __________________ (celebrity) wanted to produce their debut album and the budget was _____________ (dollar amount). “_____________________” (catch-phrase) the band collectively exclaimed. “Perfect album title!” the A & R man said. As it happens, the next _________________ (adj) band took _________ (number) minutes to set up, but by then the audience had bailed. THE END
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Top half. Print it out, fill it in. I'll post the story it belongs to tomorrow.
_____________________ (name of a deep sea creature)
___________________ (b-movie title or type of drug)
__________________ (song title)
____________________ (snack food)
___________________ (proper last name)
_____________ (noun that rhymes with prev. noun)
___________________ (make of car)
_________________ (plural noun)
_______________________ (deep sea creature from above)
_______________________ (b-movie title or type of drug from above)
__________ (dollar amount)
______________________ (song title)
___________________________ (music genre)
____________________ (plural noun)
________________________ (plural noun)
_____________________ (brand of detergent)
_____________________ (type of weather)
______________________ (undesirable substance)
_____________ (dollar amount)
Our planet is held together by bass players. Guileless, a little bit mysterious, endearingly dorky; if they know what’s best for them they’ll be lurking in the shadows next to the drummer. Variations include the singing bass player, the wild art freak bass player, the unshakable wall bass player, the phantom bass player (the Doors), the lone psycho (Joe Preston/Thrones), the spazz (Tim Bogert), the prolific session player (Carol Kaye) and the gentleman-ham (Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris).
Perhaps it’s the bass’ all-encompassing nature – the grey fuzzy forcefield that lays down a constant and reassuring foundation, “holding it down” cosmically for our freaky trebly ways -- that feels so jarring when it steps out into the spotlight. Don’t you know you’re supposed to be a subliminal, looming presence? A flashy bass player admits too much the truth that s/he is running the show. To be too good is to be a shameless wonder. But if you have the skills you can get away with anything – except sweating, of course.
Transgressions: a bass that is too big, unwieldy, unusual (headless), too many strings, too expensive, futuristic, superfluous. We seem to be uncomfortable with too much attention being drawn to the bass itself. Flashy guitars are merely sight gags. Flashy basses are a threat to the hierarchy of the rock band, where each thing has its rank, sonically (its place in the mix) and visually (to avoid visual overload or confusing the audience, everything must be sorted and prioritized). Has there ever been a naked bass player? No. Slap bass: a '70s delicacy, so easily abused. Slap bass, as a noise, calls attention to noise-making itself... noises like crumbs trapped in your bra.
Taste is an issue with bass, more than other instruments. More seems to be at stake, so what is considered “good taste” for a bass is narrow: John Entwistle, Jack Bruce, Jack Casady, Lemmy, Tiran Porter, Toody, Cliff Burton, Flea, Kim Gordon, Tom Petersson, Bootsy Collins, Mike Watt, Noel Redding, Suzi Quattro, Dusty Hill, John Doe, Kira, Steve MacDonald, Phil Lynott… We know what we don’t like: the Seinfeld theme: slap crawling up your back like a demon.
Through it all there is the mystery of bass, the invitation to righteousness, a dainty flicker of a razor in the candlelight, the plunge into wrongness, a breath away.