Talking about some recent books I didn’t like at all!
“Leland Cheuk and I must have known each other much better in another life. In two years of this column, this month is the first time a writer has answered more than one of my questions the same way I would have. His frustration with the conformity of large presses and writers who write about being writers is very much my own, and we may be the only two serious readers on earth who don’t like 2666.
Cheuk is the author of Letters from Dinosaurs, The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, and the forthcoming No Good Very Bad Asian. He’s also the publisher of 7.13 Books, which you should be paying attention to if you aren’t already. Added to all this, he’s just a nice dude. Which is how I know that none of the hates he outlines below are personal.”
Read the rest here.
In the Kenyon Review Online, I talk to author Kristina Marie Darling about literary citizenship and 7.13 Books
From Kenyon Review Online’s Publisher Spotlight:
KMD: What does literary citizenship mean to you and how does it shape your editorial decisions, approach to book publicity, and engagement with the larger community?
LC: I suspect that most writers, whether emerging or mid-career, can feel the reality that books are declining in importance in our culture. The industry has become more corporate and commercial. And there are more entertainment options than ever. Sales for adult fiction, for example, are down 16% in just the last 5 years. The literary world is a relatively small niche. Consequently, a certain level of evangelism is required to keep this niche thriving. As a small press, we try to make editorial decisions the old-fashioned way—based on the strength of the manuscript, and the originality of the premise and execution. The main question I try to answer while reading is: Why hasn’t this type of book been published already? As for publicity, there’s more noise than ever, and there are formidable structural barriers in the book supply chain that prevent small presses from achieving large-scale sales, namely corporate distributors. Literary citizenship is critical for small press books. We rely on other authors and emerging writers to review our books and interview our authors. I used to review books, most of the time for free, just for the writing credit. I continue to interview small press authors, blurb their books, and post about books on social media. This evangelistic work is all sadly unpaid, but vital to the literary community. If we don’t feed the fire, the fire dies.
Read the rest here.
“Oh-em-gee, you have to try the Okay Spa,” said my editor friend Nicole as we left the coffee shop. “It’ll relax you like never before. It’s…beyond.”
“This isn’t a prostitution sting, is it?” I joked.
She slapped me playfully on the arm, sending spasms from my shoulder blades down to my kidneys. I was in bad shape. Working 100 hours a week just to make rent. I could no longer vouch for the quality of my story pitches. For a men’s publication: thirty-seven reasons why it’s healthier to pee sitting down. For a literary magazine: you’ll be shocked why bookmarks are bad for books. For an Asian arts review: why so-and-so is the next great Asian, middle-grade, steampunk autofiction novelist. Each a thousand words for $10 a piece. I was beginning to think that my chosen profession was an elaborate way to commit seppuku without having to sully steel.
Nicole handed me a gift card. “Trust me,” she said, “you won’t regret.”
Read the rest over at Bending Genres.
“Many world leaders…have chosen to leave these most difficult decisions of geopolitical and economic import to pure chance, the result of a single, simple game.”
“Leo’s security camera app shows the black car pulling up to his colonial home. The contingent is early, and Leo still has much to do. In the game cellar, the board has been laid out on the polished oak table beneath spotlights. The tiles rest in silken sacks. A single gold-plated armchair faces a giant curved screen mounted to a wall. The chafers have been set out. The caterers are about to bring out the food. The freshly laundered red carpet runner needs to be unfurled to mark the path from the foyer to the cellar. The lavender and rosemary misters have yet to be activated. Mercy, the scent is called.
Leo equips his earpiece and instructs his assistant Dana to bring the glass-bottled water. He drags the red carpet from the closet and unrolls it as he heads upstairs. When done, Leo walkie-talkies the kitchen, announcing that the contingent has arrived. The doorbell rings. Leo turns on the misters, buttons his blazer, flattens his hair, opens the door to two dark-suited men wearing sunglasses. Leo nods and steps aside.
The men conduct their security sweep of the cellar and the ground floor. Leo informs them that his wife is sleeping upstairs, a statement that only reminds them that they need to check the second floor as well. Twenty minutes later, two more besuited men, one obese with a graying mustache, enter the house. “Welcome back,” Leo says to the large man—the player for tonight’s game. The client acknowledges Leo with a guttural squawk, and he and his security team trample the rug, leaving hefty clods of dirt in their wake as they head downstairs.
As he follows them into the cellar, Leo pauses over the shoe-prints, sad he’ll have to launder the rug again, before its next use.”
READ THE REST OF “THE GAME CELLAR” AT COSMONAUTS AVENUE
Honored to have an essay in this anthology from University of Nebraska Press. Here’s more about the book:
It happens to us all: we think we’ve settled into an identity, a self, and then out of nowhere and with great force, the traces of our parents appear to us, in us—in mirrors, in gestures, in reaction and reactivity, at weddings and funerals, and in troubled thoughts that crouch in dark corners of our minds.
In this masterful collection of new essays, the apple looks at the tree. Twenty-five writers deftly explore a trait they’ve inherited from a parent, reflecting on how it affects the lives they lead today—how it shifts their relationship to that parent (sometimes posthumously) and to their sense of self.
Apple, Tree’s all-star lineup of writers brings eloquence, integrity, and humor to topics such as arrogance, obsession, psychics, grudges, table manners, luck, and laundry. Contributors include Laura van den Berg, S. Bear Bergman, John Freeman, Jane Hamilton, Mat Johnson, Daniel Mendelsohn, Kyoko Mori, Ann Patchett, and Sallie Tisdale, among others. Together, their pieces form a prismatic meditation on how we make fresh sense of ourselves and our parents when we see the pieces of them that live on in us.