Friday, October 22, 2010
Too often, our comfort zones are our tombstones. We settle into numbing patterns and that’s that — wake me when it’s over. Not so in the frenetic world of James Franco, whose ambition over the past few years has manifested almost as performance art: he’s been affiliated with multiple M.F.A. programs, in fiction, poetry and filmmaking; he’s angling to add “Dr.” to his name, having recently become a Ph.D. aspirant at some shabby school called Yale. Oh, and in case your particular comfort zone is a cave: he’s a pretty successful actor, too.
Congratulations to Franco for the publication of his first book!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
We're headed to San Antonio over the weekend for a wedding, so what follows is a boiling hot pot of some cool happenings in our world.
Grace Krilanovich is converting skeptics. She'll be in NYC reading from The Orange Eats Creeps this Sunday night at KGB Bar @ 7pm as part of a two-night 'Indie Press Crush Fest' with featherproof books authors Lindsay Hunter (author of Daddy's), Christian Tebordo (author of The Awful Possibilities), and Amelia Gray (author of AM/PM). Night #2 will take place at Greenpoint's WORD Bookstore on Tuesday, May 26 @ 7:30pm.
All next week, October 25 - 31, Joshua Mohr will be partaking in a live chat with The Next Best Book Club. You can read the book club's blog post in which they declare Termite Parade 'the next best book'!
Bomb Magazine has posted a podcast of their 'Bomb Literary All-Star Reading' at Greenlight Books earlier this month. Barbara Browning read a selection from her forthcoming novel, The Correspondence Artist (February '11), an excerpt from which was published in Bomb's Summer issue.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Kevin Thomas is our first 'Iron Man,' who will be receiving an almost free lifetime subscription of books -- every book we've published plus every book we will publish. Forever.
I say "almost" free because he had to tattoo the Two Dollar Radio radio on his body. Inked by Lisa at Icon Tattoo in Portland.
Kevin is an unemployed cartoonist living in western Washington. So the free books should help. Last year he started a webcomic called Horn Comix Supplement that recently turned into a biweekly book review for The Rumpus, everyone's favorite books and culture site. Check out his work -- it's pretty rad.Kevin will be the first member of a virtual plaque on the wall that we have yet to create, which will be special for lifetime subscription holders. Some light-website lifting will likely take place, but be prepared.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Visiting Suit: Stories From My Prison Life is a memoir-in-stories about the author’s five years spent in a labor prison as a counter-revolutionary.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Watch live video from Two Dollar Radio on Justin.tv
Watch live video from Two Dollar Radio on Justin.tv
Watch live video from Two Dollar Radio on Justin.tv
Watch live video from Two Dollar Radio on Justin.tv
Watch live video from Two Dollar Radio on Justin.tv
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Evison's got his hands in a number of different lit-related things. A couple months back he asked me to contribute to a series he's involved with at the blog Three Guys One Book. I was supposed to discuss the history of Two Dollar Radio, why I enjoy publishing books, and my outlook on the future of literature. It was daunting and vague as I imagine my thoughts on these topics are broad enough to fill a book of its own, so I had to put if off for a while. But eventually I came up with the following:
My Creepy, Run-Down Entertainment
We got started while we were living in San Diego. Eliza and I drove up the coast to Big Sur to camp with our dogs and celebrate our one-year anniversary. We stopped at the Henry Miller Memorial Library where I bought a photocopy of a letter that Miller wrote to random visitors who sought him out at home, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, and a book that had nothing to do with Miller called The Business of Books, by a writer named Andre Schiffrin. The subtitle was 'How International Conglomerates Took Over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read.' Schiffrin was the publisher at Pantheon for many years before being shoved out by the new regime at Random House.
My background was in film. I interned at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where I realized if I wanted to take part in any established medium as a writer I would inevitably be forced to devote the next decade of my life to climbing the ladder before I'd be able to work on something that even remotely interested me. So while in San Diego I immersed myself in fiction writing, envisioning the world of books as one untainted by greed and pop culture. The Schiffrin book woke me up. At the time, I was also beginning to feel disillusioned with contemporary publishing, as though my appetite wasn't being sated by the new books that occupied shelves at stores. I spent a lot of time surfing the spines at the local bookshop in search of anything published by the colophons that I had come to trust: Akashic (I loved their Urban Surreal Series), Soft Skull, Dalkey Archive.
I was bartending at the time, earning more money than I really deserved. The bar was across the street from the harbor. Apart from the local crowd, the bar catered to the out-of-town yuppies on their way to or from sport-fishing trips, and the uber-wealthy who'd get tanked on their sailboats in the morning and stop by for a drink after coming ashore, still rocking on their sea-legs. Rich old men don't like to get cut off by the snotty-nosed bartender. I was doing my best to put off the inevitable, and this one particular old drunk knew it. He said, “Don't mind me, I make more noise than a $2 radio.”
It was the confluence of these events – finding the name “Two Dollar Radio,” Schiffrin's book, and immersing myself in the work of some exceptional indie publishers – that served as the foundation and initial impetus to want to start my own press.
I've got a stable of pretty rad memories that really underline that I absolutely love what I do. Coupled with the fact that I’m able to work on this with my wife and brother, makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
I remember the first time I met Rudy Wurlitzer, chatting across couches in the basement of a townhouse while Philip Glass railed on the piano in the room directly above us. I carried everything around in my backpack and didn’t know what I was doing. We didn’t even have a distributor for our books at that point. Looking back, it’s incredible that a writer of Rudy’s stature took a chance with us. He’s someone I talk to on the phone a couple times in a good week, and refer to fondly as my consigliere.
Francis Levy, author of Erotomania: A Romance and the forthcoming Seven Days in Rio, in addition to being a groundbreaking and provocative voice, has become a wonderful friend. In the '70s he worked at Grove Press before he was fired (which I imagine would be hard to do). A few years ago, Francis was kind enough to invite me to meet Barney Rosset (who blurbed Erotomania). We sat around Barney's apartment chatting, before we migrated to a restaurant around the corner. At some point, Barney pulled from the inner pocket of his jacket a worn Russian copy of Tropic of Cancer. He took his time relaying the particular copy's importance, which amounted to him publishing the book in Russian merely to piss off the Soviets since the book was still under ban in the country. And I loved that. His defiant spirit.
More recently, we were in NYC in May for a benefit we put together for Girls Write Now. Josh Mohr had agreed to emcee and flew in from San Francisco. We were going to grab a sandwich before the event, and were meeting at the transfer from the L to the A line. I was arriving from a meeting with an editor at the New York Times Book Review who had told me that they had assigned Josh's second novel, Termite Parade, to review. When I met Josh and his girlfriend, Leota, he asked how the meeting went and I told him. We were both a little stunned. It was to be a first for both of us. We were waiting on my brother, Brian, who was coming from Brooklyn, to meet us before boarding a train to the event. It felt like we had to wait a long time. The subway cars blew humid air in our faces. I think I mentioned how Jack Kerouac stayed up all night and went to a kiosk for the first delivery when the Times reviewed On the Road. Someone, maybe even me, commented that this sounded a lot less romantic. But it was romantic.
I remember meeting Xiaoda Xiao for the first time. We had driven to Amherst from NYC to interview Xiao for a documentary we were producing. The drive north I spent relaying some of Xiao's true-life prison stories to my friend who was directing the video. We were both getting excited. Xiao is a writer I'm incredibly humbled to publish: when he was 20, Xiao was arrested for accidentally tearing a poster of Mao and spent the subsequent five years of his life in a stone quarry. We parked and were walking across his driveway to the house when Xiao emerged from the sliding doors. “You're so young,” he said to me, and then opened his arms wide. He was wearing a Two Dollar Radio shirt I had sent him. That was pretty cool.
For many of our books, I remember reading the submission for the first time. 1940, I sat on the stoop of our bungalow in San Diego. The Drop Edge of Yonder, I was on our fire escape in Bed-Stuy. Erotomania, I sat on the floor in the kitchen beneath the stove making dinner. The Orange Eats Creeps was during the period I played basketball at the local university at 6:30 in the morning. I read the manuscript on our front porch with a cup of coffee after I got home, hoody draped over my head, sore.
And it's incredible the number of really stellar submissions that we have to pass on. It's obvious to me that the important, progressive work that will last, the work that I find myself reading most often, the work that will be celebrated now and into the future, is being done by independent and university presses. You don't have to look very hard: it's evident in the awards being handed out, from the Pulitzer to the Nobel to the year-end best-of lists.
I often come back to the example of Jacek Utko, who transformed newspapers in former Soviet bloc nations into indispensable, profitable products. In speaking of Cirque du Soleil transforming circus arts and applying that ideology to newspapers, he said “These guys were doing some creepy, run-down entertainment and put it to the highest level of performance art.”
Books are a creepy, run-down entertainment. But they're far from obsolete because of the countless independent presses who elect to focus on work that is indispensable rather than gimmicky or what might apply to the mass market. It's the Field of Dreams approach: “If you build it, they will come.” And with the internet (big ups, Al Gore), that's possible.
Now, in our modern age, the sales handles that ring are words like organic, boutique, fuel-efficient, indie. This dude in LA, Roy Choi, opened up a truck that sold high-quality food at reasonable prices and grossed two million dollars his first year in business. Whether a restaurant is “green” or not makes a difference to the majority of customers. The age of microwaveable dinners has passed. The future is bright, and I'm excited to be a part of it.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
FIFTH ANNUAL CELEBRATION OF YOUNG FICTION WRITERS
SELECTED BY NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNERS AND FINALISTS
NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION ALSO LOOKS BACK ON “25 UNDER 35,”
ALL THE HONOREES OF THE PAST FIVE YEARS
HOSTED BY ROSANNE CASH
ROB SHEFFIELD TO DJ
2010 marks the fifth year of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 selections, recognizing five young fiction writers chosen by National Book Award Winners and Finalists. Last year’s reading and party at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn prompted The Huffington Post to publish a piece called “How to Throw a Party for Books: The NBA’s 5 Under 35 Event.” This year’s celebration will again be held at powerHouse Arena at the start of National Book Awards Week on Monday, November 15, hosted by musician and author Rosanne Cash with music journalist Rob Sheffield as DJ.
Leslie Shipman, Director of Programs at the National Book Foundation, comments, “In the five years of 5 Under 35, we’ve been thrilled to see many of our honorees go on to receive great acclaim. We’re delighted that 5 Under 35 provides us with an opportunity to recognize these young writers early in their careers, with the help of past National Book Award Winners and Finalists.”
The 2010 5 Under 35 Honorees are:
Sarah Braunstein, The Sweet Relief of Missing Children (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011)
Selected by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, National Book Award Fiction Finalist for
Madeleine Is Sleeping, 2004
Grace Krilanovich, The Orange Eats Creeps (Two Dollar Radio, 2010)
Selected by Scott Spencer, Fiction Finalist for A Ship Made of Paper, 2003; Fiction Finalist for Endless Love, 1980 and 1981
Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife (Random House, 2011)
Selected by Colum McCann, Fiction Winner for Let the Great World Spin, 2009
Tiphanie Yanique, How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf, 2010)
Selected by Jayne Anne Phillips, Fiction Finalist for Lark and Termite, 2009
Paul Yoon, Once the Shore (Sarabande, 2009)
Selected by Kate Walbert, Fiction Finalist for Our Kind, 2004
(Biographies for 5 Under 35 honorees and National Book Award authors at end of release.)
With its fifth year of 5 Under 35 selections, the National Book Foundation now honors 25 writers under 35, including Ceridwen Dovey, Samantha Hunt, Bret Anthony Johnston, Nam Le, Dinaw Mengestu, ZZ Packer, Anya Ulinich, Josh Weil, and Charles Yu, selected by past National Book Award Winners and Finalists such as Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, Charles Johnson, and Christine Schutt.
The 2010 list of books reflects a range of publishers from Two Dollar Radio to Random House. Among the 2010 5 Under 35 honorees’ early accomplishments, Tiphanie Yanique is a 2010 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award Winner, an award which Sarah Braunstein won in 2007; Grace Krilanovich was a finalist for the Starcherone Prize; Paul Yoon’s Once the Shore was a New York Times Notable Book; and Téa Obreht was named one of The New Yorker’s 2010 “20 Under 40.” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, the National Book Award Finalist who selected Sarah Braunstein for 5 Under 35, was also on the “20 Under 40” list.
At this year’s 5 Under 35 party, the young writers will be introduced by the National Book Award Winners and Finalists who selected them and will each give a brief reading. Author Amanda Stern, host of the first 5 Under 35 event in 2006, will interview the honorees and Winners and Finalists during the party. Party guests will be invited to pose for portraits by The Photo Booth Party. Food will again be provided by the Red Hook Food Vendors and wine by Brooklyn Oenology. The Foundation will continue its tradition of having a musician/author, Rosanne Cash, host the event and an author with a musical slant, Rob Sheffield, provide the soundtrack for the evening.
For more information on this year’s 5 Under 35 honorees and past 5 Under 35 celebrations, please visit http://www.nationalbook.org/5under35.html.
This event is by invitation only. Press interested in attending should contact Sherrie Young at email@example.com.
5 Under 35 Honorees
Sarah Braunstein is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Writers' Award. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Portland, Maine. Her novel, The Sweet Relief of Missing Children, will be published by W.W. Norton in 2011.
Grace Krilanovich has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow and a finalist for the Starcherone Prize. Her first book, The Orange Eats Creeps, is the only novel to be excerpted twice in the literary magazine Black Clock.
Téa Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, and spent her childhood in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States in 1997. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Téa received her MFA in Fiction from the Creative Writing Program at Cornell University in 2009. Her first novel, The Tiger's Wife, will be published by Random House in 2011. Her fiction debut—an excerpt of The Tiger's Wife in The New Yorker—was selected for the The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010. Her second publication, the short story The Laugh, was published in the summer 2009 fiction issue of The Atlantic, and will be anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2010. Téa currently lives in Ithaca, New York.
Tiphanie Yanique is from the Hospital Ground neighborhood of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She is an assistant professor of Creative Writing and Caribbean Literature at Drew University and an associate editor with Post-No-Ills. Her first book, How to Escape from a Leper Colony, was published by Graywolf in 2010. She lives between Brooklyn, New York and St. Thomas.
Paul Yoon was born in New York City. His first book, Once the Shore, was a New York Times Notable Book; a Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Publishers Weekly, and Minneapolis Star Tribune Best Book of the Year; and selected as a Best Debut of the Year by National Public Radio. He is the recipient of an O. Henry Award, the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares, and his work has appeared in One Story, American Short Fiction, Glimmer Train, and The Best American Short Stories. He currently resides in Baltimore with the fiction writer Laura van den Berg.
National Book Award Authors
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels, Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including The New Yorker, Tin House, The Georgia Review, and The Best American Short Stories 2004 and 2009. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Fellowship, she directs the MFA program in writing at the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Los Angeles and was recently named one of “20 Under 40” fiction writers by The New Yorker.
Colum McCann's newest novel, Let the Great World Spin, won the 2009 National Book Award and is a New York Times bestseller. He is the author of two collections of short stories and five novels, including This Side of Brightness, Dancer, and Zoli, all of which were international bestsellers. His fiction has been published in 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, The Paris Review, Bomb, and other places. He has written for numerous publications, including The Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Repubblica, Paris Match, The New York Times, the Guardian, and The Independent. In 2003 Colum was named Esquire magazine's "Writer of the Year." Other awards and honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, a French Chevalier des arts et lettres, and the Hennessy Award for Irish Literature. Colum was born in Dublin in 1965 and began his career as a journalist at The Irish Press. Colum teaches at Hunter College in New York, in the Creative Writing program, with fellow novelists Peter Carey and Nathan Englander.
Jayne Anne Phillips was born in Buckhannon, West Virginia. She is the author of four novels, MotherKind (2000), Shelter (1994), Machine Dreams (1984), and Lark and Termite (2009), and two collections of widely anthologized stories, Fast Lanes (1987) and Black Tickets (1979). She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Bunting Fellowship. She has been awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction (1980) and an Academy Award in Literature (1997) by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, and has appeared in Granta, Harper’s, DoubleTake, and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. She is currently Professor of English and Director of the MFA Program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. Her most recent novel, Lark and Termite, was a National Book Award Finalist in 2009.
Scott Spencer is the author of ten novels, including Man in the Woods, A Ship Made of Paper, Waking the Dead, and the international bestseller Endless Love. He has written for Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and Harper's, and has taught writing at Columbia University, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Williams College, and the Bard Prison Initiative. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York.
Kate Walbert is the author of the novels A Short History of Women, named one of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2009, Our Kind, a Finalist for the National Book Award in 2004, and The Gardens of Kyoto, winner of the Connecticut Book Award for best fiction in 2002, as well as the New York Times Notable story collection, Where She Went. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize Stories, and numerous other publications. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and taught fiction writing at Yale for many years. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughters.
The 5 Under 35 Celebration’s Host
Rosanne Cash has recorded fourteen albums charting twenty-one Top 40 country singles, 11 of which made it to # 1, and two gold records. She has received ten Grammy nominations—winning in 1985—and was nominated this year for “Sea of Heartbreak,” a duet with Bruce Springsteen on her current CD, The List. Cash achieved the highest chart position of her career with the debut of The List. The album, which Vanity Fair called “superb,” debuted in the Top 5 on the Country Chart, and entered The Billboard 200 at No. 22. Cash is the author of Bodies of Water and the children’s book Penelope Jane: A Fairy’s Tale. Her essays and fiction have been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and New York magazine. Her memoir, Composed, was published by Viking in 2010. She lives in New York City with her husband and children.
The 5 Under 35 Celebration’s Featured DJ
Rob Sheffield has been a music journalist for more than twenty years. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV, and pop culture, and regularly appears on MTV and VH1. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Love Is a Mix Tape, which has been translated into French, German, Italian, Swedish, Japanese, Russian, and other languages he cannot read. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
The Mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.
About the National Book Awards:
The nation’s most prestigious literary prize, the National Book Award has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing. In 1950, William Carlos Williams was the first winner in Poetry, the following year William Faulkner was honored in Fiction, and so on through the years. Many previous Winners of a National Book Award are now firmly established in the canon of American literature. On November 17th, the National Book Awards will be presented in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.