Category Archives: Lists

A Batch of S[h]elfies Part 3: Bonus Edition!

There were a couple shelves I should’ve included before, so . . . here they are!

Moar Shelfies 1

Top shelf: Lots of issues of Tin House!

Moar Shelfies 2

And lots of issues of The Paris Review and Glimmer Train (with appearances by Hobart and n+1).

Moar Shelfies 3

Joyce, David Sedaris, Arthur C. Clarke, Elie Wiesel, Anthony Burgess, and a number of classics.

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A Batch of S[h]elfies: Part 2: Upstairs…& More Basement

Continuing with my post from earlier, here are some more of my favorite shelves from my home library. This time, we’re heading upstairs (mostly)!

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Some short stories, some sci-fi, some Melville, a little bit of the Ozarks, a few vampires — this shelf has a little bit of everything!

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Shelf 1 is mostly philosophy and religion. Shelf 2 features science, travel narratives, and books by great writers such as Roxane Gay, Alex Pruteanu, Alexander Chee, and many others!

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A Batch of S[h]elfies: Part 1: The Basement

I was talking to Mike Meginnis the other day on Twitter and he made a most excellent point:

@mikemeginnis: Books are fun to show off because they’re relatively cheap — owning a bunch is much more a question of taste + time than money.

It’s no secret I’m loathe to take selfies, but shelfies, on the other hand, are a completely separate ballgame! In no particular order, here are some of my favorite shelves from my home library:

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Mike’s book, front and center here; I figured I’d post this picture of my basement mantle first since Mike gave me the idea! He’s [temporarily, at least] near J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun and Chandler’s The Big Sleep, a few books by Roger Zelazny, and some spy novels by John Le Carre, book-ended by Peter F. Hamilton, Monica Drake, and Zadie Smith (a dual-language copy of Rilke’s Dueno Elegies is in there, too. It’s very slim!)!

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This is the other shelf with Ballard. Empire of the Sun is a shorter paperback, so it looks funny on this shelf near these taller hardcovers like Alissa Nutting, The Rumpus Women, Joe Hill, Lev Grossman, and a few Gonzo Journalism books!

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My Writing Process Blog Tour: Bro, Do You Even Write?!

Hungary Toxic WasteBig thanks for Nate Tower for tagging me to join this literary blog tour about the writing process. Basically/ostensibly, I answer four questions and then pass those same four questions to a few more writers. We do this until every writer in the known cosmos and at least four contiguous parallel universes has had a turn (past four and the rules of spacetime get a little dicey*).

Nate Tower is the managing and founding editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print publications. In 2014, Martian Lit released his first short story collection, Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. He is a former high school English teacher and the former world record holder for the fastest mile running backwards while juggling. He currently lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com.

As for me, well, here we go:

1. What are you working on?

Like Nate who went before me, I currently have three main projects I’m working on right now.

The first thing is a novel called Human Services. It’s a sort of spin-off of Benji Palko’s character in my story collection, Shenanigans! where it focuses on the people who work at The Agency and all of the insanity that occurs in a professional office setting. I would say it’s pretty much solidly in the literary fiction camp. I’m still in the earlier stages of this project, sitting at around 16,000 words (as of typing this). Other pieces of Human Services have appeared online though, like this chapter over at InDigest called “Mr. Twitchy.”

The second project is more genre-flavored, and it’s sort of . . . massive. I’ve been kicking it around in my mind for a few years now, which is a sort of literary epic sci-fi/fantasy novel tentatively called Deorum et Viri: “Of Gods and Men.” I grew up reading lots of sci-fi and fantasy—especially the latter—and always kind of wanted to do something in the genre that originally inspired me to be a writer. It wasn’t until recently, with the popularity of the A Song and Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) that I sort of realized that this was a viable option for me, like, right now. That is to say, I’d really been wanting to use the skills I’d picked up writing literary fiction the past seven or eight years and apply it to something more genre-related. Perhaps the work most responsible for this epiphany, even more so than Game of Thrones, is M. John Harrison’s unbelievably impressive Viriconium omnibus. The prose is awe-inspiring and the way he includes elements of surrealism tinged with bits of magical realism is something I can’t begin to do justice here. You’d simply have to read it yourself.

The final project is a new short story collection called Irrational Attachments to Inanimate Objects. You can actually read the first story from this collection called “Now You See Me” over at Bartleby Snopes! There isn’t a whole lot to say about this collection yet other than the title will be a running theme throughout the book; I think the first story sort of gives that impression, or at least I hope it does!

2. How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?

Genre is so hard to talk about when you really don’t want to be constrained by it. Just ask one of my all time favorite writers, Ursula K. Le Guin. I just want to write books that at least a few people really like. It’s an incredibly humbling thing when someone tells you that your work really resonated with him/her. It makes you want to write a special book just for that person because he or she took the time to read your work that they could’ve spent doing any number of other things. Perhaps that’s what’s different about my work, how personal I want it to be for a select few. Or maybe it’s just that I want to write the stories that are in my head without thinking about what genre they are or should be. I’m probably not the best person to ask since I’m honestly not sure; it seems like a discerning reader could give a better answer here!

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peterbd says I am the G.o.a.T. — How could I not repost this?

Random things are random (obvi.), but they’re also often awesome. Tonight I got a random email from the elusive peterbd and it managed to redefine the term “awesomeness.”

There were/are “lols” aplenty!

20. joe is greater at creating electronic music than most people.

19. joe is better at creating electronic music than this guy: http://www.blackbookmag.com/polopoly_fs/1.54529.1352141269!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_411/image.png

18. joe became the g.o.a.t without selling out and moving to new york

17. joe michael owens > terrell owens and his relatives

16. joe’s writing can be found in multiple places and none of it sucks because it’s impossible for joe to write anything shitty as evidenced by his non shitty writing resume

15. joe is the only man on earth that could wear overalls and still look smooth

14. if you type ‘joe michael owens’ into netflix, a documentary titled g.o.a.t: the true story of joseph michael owens will be your only result. this is an unofficial documentary that chronicles joe’s life as a young prodigy on his way to being the g.o.a.t. interviews include his friends, family, and those who witnessed his incredible rise to fame. the documentary currently has 4 1/2 stars on netflix. it was directed by steven spielberg

13. joe wrote ‘we always trust each other, except for when we don’t’ which didn’t win a pulitzer prize, but when you’re as good a writer as joe and you wrote the awesomeness that is ‘we always trust each other, except for when we don’t’ you don’t need no goddamn pulitzer prize to validate your genius

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5 Things About the Unicorn Apocalypse

unicorn_apocalypse1)    Glitter no longer is despised by men everywhere; it is instead manufactured by the Unicorns, given extreme hypnotically stimulating properties, and quickly takes the place of cocaine. Unsavory “gentlemen” snort lines of Glitter off strippers’ asses in shady club bathrooms the world over. The whole thing is still pretty unsanitary.

2)    Skittles become the currency by which nations measure their wealth. “Taste the Rainbow,” however, becomes a global sex act phenomenon, sparking the advent of the “Rainbow Orgy.”

3)    Due to the “Taste the Rainbow” global sex act phenomenon, Leprechauns in all corners of the world are ultimately forced, by necessity, to become extremely underpaid novelty sex workers. Pots of gold only spark genuine interest if the gold coins are the gold foil-wrapped chocolate kind (or the eponymous prophylactics). Regarding the latter, the Unicorns approve of the humans’ newfound concern for sexual safety and subsequent prevention of any future population explosions.

4)    Circumcision is soon considered grotesque and, thus, becomes taboo. Men desire a corporeal aesthetic look more akin to their new rulers’ most distinguishing physical characteristic. The unicorns are amused at the humans’ sheep-like mentality but still basically/ostensibly find them pesky and irksome. Between Glitter benders and Tasting the Rainbow, Humans can’t be bothered to worry about things like governing, working, or really anything that does not include Glitter benders and Rainbow orgies.

5)    Humans, amid their narcotic-infused bacchanalia—due primarily to the nearly infinite supply of Glitter—become truly useless to Earth’s new Unicorn overlords and, as a consequence of their lacking any real raison d’être, are swiftly eliminated. (Though, it should be noted, that in their altogether tweaked-out reveling in drugs and debauchery, mankind barely even noticed.) The sudden hostile power grab by Unicorns over the now-extinct human race almost immediately sparks the great “Hundred Years Unicorn-Pegasus War,” even dividing the once formidable union between Care Bears and My Little Ponies. Narwhals and Swordfish take the fight of one-horned creatures to the sea.

  1. The resulting war of Rainbows, Glitter, and Blood reduces the planet to rubble and among mammals, only the three-toed sloth survives to inherit the earth (who survived simply because they moved too slowly to join the conflict on either side. Their cries of victory, “The giant carnivorous Megatherium will rise again!” takes an entire millennia to disseminate among their kind.
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My Top 10 Literary Websites: 2013 edition!

Best EverIn 2010, I wrote the most popular post on Category Thirteen, ever. I listed my Top 10 Literary Websites and, apparently, people really dug that topic — enough, at least, that they ended up on my site and must’ve told others about it. Well, it’s 2013 and I’ve realized something: I was a slacker for 2011 and 2012 (among many other things, obvi.). So, in the spirit of giving people what they want, I’ve updated my list and am pretty damn excited about it!

Let’s take a look my top 10 literary websites, and by 10, of course I mean 12!

1 ) The Rumpus – The more things change, the more they stay the same. This should really be no surprise. Not only has the Rumpus kept on doing what it does best (i.e. just about everything), they continue to up their game, which very few websites can claim. Isaac Fitzgerald and Stephen have a truly amazing thing going with The Rumpus with some great original ideas (e.g. “The Daily Rumpus,” “Letters in the Mail,” “The Last Book I Loved,” “Where I Write,” etc.), and it doesn’t hurt that they have some incredible talent backing them up, specifically their essays editor, Roxane Gay, and Dear Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed. It seems incredible that I’ve actually written for this site given the level of talent surrounding it! Their book club is also stellar—you should join!

2 ) The Nervous BreakdownI really can’t say enough good things about Brad Listi and the work he puts into his Other People Podcast. Listi’s really on the bleeding edge of what’s hot in lit. right now and you needn’t look any further than his A+ guest list. The Nervous Breakdown serves as a truly wonderful compliment to the show with hilarious author self-interviews, fantastic essays, and kickass book club.

3) The MillionsThe Millions is still awesome. C. Max Magee’s site has been featured on NPR and noted by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Village Voice, among others. One of my favorite lit-related things in the universe is The Millions’ “A Year in Reading” where the editors ask a bunch of writers I really admire what their favorite books of the year were. The Millions’ “Top 10” and “Hall of Fame” are also can’t miss features.

4 ) HTMLGiant – Blake Butler & co. are still keeping lit. edgy at HTMLGiant. I’m a huge fan of their “25 Points” feature, as well as their giveaways, commentaries, and multi-part series (like “How to Be a Critic”). HTMLGiant also features a lot of writers I love reading like Jimmy Chen, Melissa Broder, Sean Lovelace, Lily Hoang, Adam Robinson, and Peter Tieryas Liu.

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Goodreads Shenanigans! Giveaway Winners

I just wanted to take a quick minute to say congrats to the winners of the 2013 Goodreads Shenanigans! giveaway (which ended March 4th):

Smily H.
Athina S.
Aaron L.
Carl G.
Eliza B.
Rhonda F.
Chris P.

The press review copies all went out in the mail this morning (one is even headed to Canada).

I know it was a giveaway and just about everyone likes stuff, but I still can’t help being incredibly humbled that 589 people entered the giveaway!

In the end, I hope you all enjoy this short collection!

Shenanigans Goodreads cover

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A New Year & “The Next Big Thing” Blog Hop

dawn breakingSo, holy shit! It’s a new year already and the world didn’t end in 2012, much to the chagrin of a few Doomsday preppers. It’s a new year and my only resolution is to write more — to write well, often and, of course, like a motherfucker!

Also, there’s this thing going around the Internets, “The Next Big Thing” actually. It’s a blog hop where writers talk about what they’re currently working on and tag other writers to participate. I’m both incredibly humbled and excited to be tagged by Nate Tower, the man with the plan behind Bartleby Snopes (easily one of the best indie lit. mags on the web). Here’s Nate’s own post. Once you check it out, hop back over here (if you want, of course) and see what I’m working on!

What is your working title of your book (or story)?

I’m actually working on two totally different projects right now. One is a novel called Human Services populated with eccentric characters that work for a kooky social work agency.

The other is (ostensibly) an epic sci-fi/fantasy collaboration I dreamed up, of which my novel will be but one in a series tentatively titled Deorum et Viri (Of Gods and Men, working title). The project — at least as it’s sketched out on paper — is so big, I’d never be able to finish it on my own!

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The driving idea behind Human Services more or less comes from my family’s eponymous business. The field of human services/social work can be pretty insane, and since the business started, I’ve seen countless — truly countless — situations play out that were almost too preposterous to believe, let alone describe . . . almost.

Deorum et Viri’s life was probably honestly (for better or worse) most inspired by Game of Thrones. I only just got into George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series this year (after watching season one of the HBO series), but suffice it to say, I’m all caught up through book five. The books were infectious, incapacitating. I felt like I couldn’t possibly function unless I knew what happened next. The series rekindled my long dormant love for the fantasy genre, as well as sci-fi by-proxy.

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Hi there! Remember me?! | 06.30.12

To say it’s been a while would be a complete understatement! Life gets busy even when you wish it’d slow down. . . .

I don’t have a lot of new writing news, though I did land a sweet gig managing most of the visible web content for The Lit Pub, and I got to review Matt Bell’s truly excellent novel(la) Cataclysm Baby for [PANK] Magazine recently as well. If you haven’t read this book (or anything else written by Matt Bell) you should totally do so, ASAP!

HBO’s Game of Thrones just wrapped up its second season and it was honestly just as fantastic as its debut! Our crack reviews “team” (i.e. Dustin Luke Nelson and I) at InDigest Mag compiled a list of our likes and dislikes about the show’s deviations from the book. I was actually pretty happy with what we came up with when all was said and done!

Speaking of Game of Thrones, I recently finished reading book 5 of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, A Dance with Dragons, and it was simply epic — almost as good as book 3, A Storm of Swords (just ignore the middling Amazon reviews; trust me). Now the only real problem is waiting for G.R.R.M. to finish writing book 6. . . .

Though, problematically, finishing all five of the “Song of Ice and Fire” books in such quick succession has left a significant, nigh gaping sci-fi/fantasy-tinged hole in my reading life; a hole I’d forgotten existed since reading Tolkien in high school; a hole I’ve been trying desperately to fill for the past month. So like most anything I do, if I’m going to do it right (i.e. “all out”), I research the hell out of it and then hit the bookstore.

Here are some of my latest acquisitions:

I sort of went “no holds barred” on this venture. We’ve got series, standalone books, sci-fi, steampunk, fantasy, and everything in between. Lord of Light was recommended to me by my “go to” man with a plan, David Atkinson. As soon as he started describing it to me[1], I didn’t need any further coaxing — I was definitely sold. Acacia by David Anthony Durham[2] actually got some really great praise from George R.R. Martin, himself, which was good enough for me.

And American Gods was written by Neil Gaiman, which in and of itself should be fairly self-explanatory.

Moving down the stack is The Difference Engine,[3] a book by two more authors who probably need no introduction: William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. I highly recommend the 20th Anniversary Edition with a great intro by Cory Doctorow and some really interesting commentary at the end from the authors. Sandwiched in the middle of the four books that are part of their own series is Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, called by many readers and critics alike “the best Russian sci-fi novel ever written” (and also spawned the STALKER movie(s) and video games).

See? I told you I did some research.

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