This week’s featured title is WIIILD HEARTS by Hazel Cummings & Megan Lent
Publisher: Housefire Books // 33 pages
Click here to download the free eBook.
You can find Hazel Cummings online at her website.
This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of weekly posts in which I present a new, noteworthy work of writing that is available for free on the internet.
This week’s featured title is Border Run by Shya Scanlon
Here’s the synopsis:
BORDER RUN is a dystopian story of love, loss and redemption set on border of Arizona and Mexico. Jack Lightning is the proprietor of a theme park about illegal border crossing. While trying to keep his business running smoothly and preparing, despite the suspiciously gathering Native American protesters across the street, for an annual fair on the grounds of his park, Jack’s ex-girlfriend Jo shows up, accompanied by a stranger who asks to use Jack’s land as a cover for smuggling a real illegal alien into the country–the clone of Che Guevara. As long-held secrets are revealed on the day of the festival, Jack’s allegiances will be tried, and he will face difficult decisions about his family, and his future.
Publisher: New Dead Families // 117 pages
Last week Dalkey Archive released three newly-translated books by Danilo Kiš.
I’ve read one of his earlier books from Dalkey Archive, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, and it was a great collection of stories, so I’m really looking forward to these three new ones.
Two are novels and one is a collection of stories. They are all part of Dalkey’s relatively new Serbian Literature Series. And, of course, I can’t help but like their serial-style cover designs. So here is an introduction to these three books.Psalm 44
This is the last major work of fiction by Danilo Kiš to be translated into English, and his only novel dealing explicitly with Auschwitz (where his own
father died). Written when he was only twenty-five, it shows Kiš at his most lyrical and unguarded, demonstrating that even in “the place of dragons . . . covered with the shadow of death,” there can still be poetry. Featuring characters based on actual inmates and warders, Psalm 44 is a baring of many of the themes, patterns, and preoccupations Kiš would return to in future, albeit never with the same starkness or immediacy.
This is Danilo Kiš’s first novel. Written in 1960, published in 1962, and set in contemporary Belgrade, it explores the relationship of a young man, known only as Orpheus, to the art of writing; it also tracks his relationship with a colorful cast of characters with nicknames such as Eurydice, Mary Magdalene, Tam-Tam, and Billy Wise Ass. This bohemian account of one young man’s quest to find a way to balance his life, his loves, and his art is rich with references to music, painting, philosophy, and gastronomy.
The Lute and the Scars
Many of these stories are autobiographical. Others resurrect protagonists belonging to Kiš’s fellow Central European novelists. Against a background of oppressive regimes and political exile, readers will find that the never-ending debate between death and writing continues unabated in these stories—death as allegory or as a voluntary symbolic act, and writing as the one impregnable defense, writing as the only possible means of survival.
Open Letter books is not only one of my favorite publishers of international literature, but they are one of my favorite publishers of any kind of literature. They repeatedly put out great works from authors that, often, I have never even heard of. This is why I am an eager subscriber to their catalog. Almost every month I get their latest book in the mail. This month I got Children In Reindeer Woods By Kristin Omarsdottir.
Children in Reindeer Woods is the first book by this Icelandic novelist to be translated into English. It has been getting some great critical coverage online, but what excites me most is the absurd synopsis:
Eleven-year-old Billie lives at a ‘temporary home for children’ called Children in Reindeer Woods, which she discovers one afternoon, to her surprise, is in the middle of a war zone. When a small group of paratroopers kill everyone who lives there with her,and then turn on each other, Billie is forced to learn to live with the violent, innocent, and troubled Rafael, who decides to abandon the soldier’s life and become a farmer, no matter what it takes.
If you’ve read Children In Reindeer Woods what did you think of it? What is your favorite Open Letter book?
In December I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble. It contained exactly the amount necessary to pre-order the two books books I had been most excited for. They were the two brand new books by one of my absolute favorite living authors: Brain Evenson.
I read the first book, Immobility, in one sitting over the course of a Saturday afternoon. It’s a novel published by TOR, and it was awesome. If you’re a fan of Evenson, than you will most assuredly like this book. It is like the lovechild of Last Days and Baby Leg.
The second book, Windeye, is a collection of stories published by Coffee House Press. Evenson’s previous collection, Fugue State, is, story-for-story, the tightest and most solidly impressive book of stories I have ever read, and his The Wavering Knife, is a near second. This is why I am so excited to read Windeye.
If you have already read Windeye, what is your favorite story from it? What is your favorite Brian Evenson story or book?
Conjunctions is one of my favorite literary magazines. Their issues are themed. They just released their latest issue, #58, titled Riveted: The Obsession Issue. As usual, it is filled with so many great writers.
The very generous Gabriel Blackwell is offering to give away a copy of the brand new Conjunctions:58 to one lucky person. All you need to do is answer this simple question in a comment on his blog.
I am already a subscriber to Conjunctions, so I really don’t need another copy (though an extra would be nice because why the hell not, right?) However, I think it would be best to get this great publication into the hands of someone who does not already have a copy.
So head over to Gabriel’s blog and leave a comment for your chance to win.
The Pulitzer Awards were just announced, and oddly enough, there was no selection for the fiction category. You heard me right. There was no Pulitzer Prize granted to a work of fiction from 2011. So how could this possibly happen? A mistake? A missed deadline? An oversight?
According to Laura Miller, it’s no mistake. The Pulitzer panel simply decided not to grant the award.
Miller, who served on the Pulitzer jury a several years ago, reveals the process of selection. “The first tier is the jury’s selection. Three jurors (usually an academic, a critic and a fiction writer) are responsible for wading through huge boxfuls of books. Anyone can submit his or her book to the Pulitzer competition for a small fee, and believe me: anyone does.”
The jury selects three titles and recommends them to the Pulitzer Board. This Board chooses the winner from the recommended batch for each category of the Pulitzer Prize. The board may also choose to select a title that is not on the jury’s list, but, according to Miller, this rarely happens.
This seems to be how it went down:
Jury: “Hey, Board, we’ve read a ton books – actually, literally speaking, at least two or three tons of books. Basically, a shitload of books. But, we’ve finally narrowed it done to three books which we all agree are the best and most deserving works of fiction. So, uh, we’ll just leave these here for you to take a look at, and uh, tell us what you think. k? thnx.”
Board: “Um…… no.”
Jury: “Oh. Ok. I guess those three picks weren’t your faves. It’s cool. Of course, there always is the option of you just choosing whatever book you want. Any book. At all. Just let us know. k? thnx.”
Board: “Uhhh. Hmmmm. Yeahno. Maybe next year.”
Seriously? You have one job, Panel. One job! You can’t just pass. Continue reading “WTF Happened With The 2011 Fiction Pulitzer”
So far I am at a 4-year low for the number of books I have read by this point in the year. It really bums me out. I get anxious and depressed when I don’t read as much as I want to. Seriously. Though, I have been reading more lately, so I’m feeling pretty good.
On Thurdsday I read The Oregon Trail Is the Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl. This little book of poems is by far one of the greatest books of poetry I have read in years, as well as one of the best books, of any type, I have read recently. It is thrilling to see what words can do. This was such a fun and compelling book.
On Friday I read The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolano. This is the 4th Bolano I’ve read (after The Savage Detectives, Amulet, and By Night in Chile). It wasn’t exceptional until halfway though, and then it gained momentum like a landslide. I’ve noticed that with Bolano; his books begin very quiet and modest, but there comes a point when it gets good. Real good. I’m sure this quality weeds out a lot of readers that aren’t immediately grabbed, but those that finish the books are rewarded. Maybe that’s why he has such a dedicated following. Anyway, this one was about as good as Amulet, but not as good as Savage Detectives or By Night in Chile.
On Saturday I read Meat Heart by Melissa Broder. This is a book of poems. They challenged me. Not quite as immediately rewarding as the The Oregon Trail poems from Sherl, but I really liked it. I want to re-read it soon, because I think I’ll get more out of these poems each time I read them. Also, The cover is beautiful.
On Saturday night I started Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia by Blake Butler. It’s his first nonfiction book. I like it so far, though I’m not far into it. It seems to read slowly, which is nice because I enjoy it and I don’t mind taking my time. I like Blake’s fiction, and this one has the same linguistic style, which I’m sure has repelled many people who’ve only picked it up because they wanted to read about insomnia, or to find something about themselves and their sleeplessness within it. I could see how they could get frustrated. It’s not concise language; there’s more to it. Blake’s language takes over. If some people had purple prose, Blake Butler has black prose.
Today I began The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs. Straight up metafiction. ‘Experimental’, if you will. I hate that term to describe art. Anyway, I’m really enjoying this book. It’s actually very readable, as sometimes intentionally weird fiction can be more work than fun. I’m 60 pages deep, and I really want to read more.
So those were my books this week. What have you been reading?
Last Tuesday the translated-lit group Three Percent announced the longlist for their annual Best Translated Book Award. It is the fifth year for the award. The list includes the selected titles for the fiction award. Of these 25 titles, 10 will be selected as finalists for the shortlist, which will be announced on Tuesday, April 10th. On that day they will also announce the 10 finalists for the poetry title of the BTBA. From each of these two lists, a winner will be awarded and recognized by Three Percent as winner of the Best Translated Book Award.
Below is the list of the 25 titles that comprise the fiction longlist. Continue reading “Best Translated Book Award 2012 Longlist Announced”
Happy Valentine’s Day. Here is my Valentine to you, via artist Chris Bishop.