On Cruft


Fans of lengthy and complex novels often encounter the sentiment that shorter works are better because they get their points across economically, that the dreadnoughts of literature contain too much boring armature, and that to persist regularly reading books over, say, 500 pages smacks of pretension and elitism. Those charges can be true at one time or another. Sometimes it seems we’re stuck in an either/or situation where readers are either hostages or idolaters. Continue reading


Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2018!

books.jpgLike every year, there’s much to dread about 2018, and to fight against, but, fortunately there’s much to look forward to, including powerful works of art from small presses. Below you’ll find the small press books I’m most excited to see published this year. Following this, you’ll find lists from stellar writers Kate Angus, Kurt Baumeister, Alex Behr, Jeff Bursey, Lisa Chen, Tobias Carroll, Brian Evenson, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Meghan Lamb, Janice Lee, Christina Milletti, Michael Noll, David Leo Rice, Kevin Sampsell, Jason Teal, Dan Wickett, James Yeh, and Leni Zumas. Thanks to them, and thanks, too, to stellar writers Lynn Crawford, Robert Dean, Annie DeWitt, Joe Pan, Dawn Raffel, Jacob Singer, Joanna C. Valente, and Marjorie Welish for giving me the heads-up on other books.

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My Year in Reading, 2017

I read two hundred books this year. Crazy, I know. “Suffering” from segmented sleep certainly “helps,” as does “suffering” from the seemingly un-ebbing anxiety of not having read everything I need/want to read. In any case, throughout the year, I intermittently came out of book criticism retirement to write capsule reviews of some of the books I’d read: Below you’ll find my thoughts about forty-eight books, all save two of them published by small presses, books by Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Daniel Borzutzky, Robert Lopez, Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, Carole Maso, Jessie Janeshek, Lynn Crawford, Lidia Yuknavitch, Patricia Smith, Vanessa Roveto, Melissa Range, Bret Easton Ellis, Jeff Bursey, Johannes Göransson, Robert Vaughan, John Keene, Michael J. Wilson, William Walsh, Jennifer Firestone, Christopher DeWan, Hannah Lillith Assadi, Jorge Armenteros, Eleni Sikelianos, Karen An-hwei Lee, Andrew Joron, Donald Breckenridge, Airea D. Matthews, Tomás Q. Morín, Margo Berdeshevsky, Alejandra Pizarnik, Albert Mobilio, Constance Squires, Eugene Lim, Stephanie J. Urdang, Mai Der Vang, Craig Morgan Teicher, Gabino Iglesias, James Reich, Jeremy M. Davies, John Haskell, Roberta Allen, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Chen Chen, Joe Pan, Joanna C. Valente, Layli Long Soldier, and Kaveh Akbar. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Meshell Ndegeocello!

Happy birthday, Meshell Ndegeocello, American singer-songwriter, rapper, bassist, and vocalist! 49, today!


“We’re all just bags of bones and muscle and hormones; I’ll never understand what makes our minds do the things we do. It’s like that statue of the monkey holding a skull. We’re trying to use a thing we don’t understand to understand ourselves.”