First on my list for Best of 2009 would have to be seeing each of my three kids take another solid step forward with their lives, each maturing a bit, taking on different responsibilities than they had in previous years, etc.
Movies – My life rarely allows me into the theaters unless it’s to take one of my kids. The only movie I saw this year, DVD or in theater, that I know came out this year that I’d toss on this list is The Limits of Control, directed by Jim Jarmusch.
Music – Okay, I spend the bulk of my time on the computer listening to the local sports talk station. In the car, it’s typically an argument between that and emo/rap/dance music that my kids like and help remind me I’m becoming an old man. Oh, that and the fact that I still buy CDs and don’t have an iPod. CD’s purchased and still being enjoyed this year include new efforts from Paramore, We the Kings, Avett Brothers, Joe Henry, and while I know I spent more money than this, those are what come to mind and are still being listened to fairly regularly.
Television – I know, I hear the shudder from the literary crowd, but it’s a true story, I watch a shitload of television. Big Bang Theory and Fringe probably top my lists for favorite comedy and favorite drama, though if I wander in on Sons of Anarchy, Top Chef, Chopped, or NUMB3RS, I’m probably going to end up on my ass until the final commercial. And don’t get me started on anything that starts with the words Rock of . . .
Books – I’m going to have to go the route of publicist here and comment upon the many fine reviews that Dzanc, BLP, and OV titles received this year, with Hesh Kestin’s starred PW review and Laura van den Berg’s starred Booklist and B&N Discover Great Writers selection right at the top of those.
If I start talking about books that weren’t published by us, that list gets so long and I get so afraid I’m going to miss somebody that I’ll really only take that risk at my own site. No need to offend somebody here at Big Other.
Though, at the risk of harming some feelings from other publishers, two Best ofs for 2009 to me were the development of MLP and Madras Press. Two very cool ideas getting a lot of attention.
One other best of just realized, my partner in crime at Dzanc Books, Steven Gillis, has informed me that he’s on his very final last pass on his new novel, a novel I got to read early chapters in a much earlier version and was pretty blown away by, and that it should be a late 2010 title!!!
Lastly, I think one of the Best of 2009’s for me was getting to watch from nearby on the sideline as Matt Bell blew up huge – chapbooks selling out, short story collection deal, being flown across the country for writing panels, etc. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Dan Wickett – Executive Director and Publisher of Dzanc Books
In 2000, Dan founded the Emerging Writers Network by reviewing Alyson Hagy’s Keeneland and emailing the review to 21 individuals. Throughout the years, Dan has continued to develop the EWN by adding interviews, e-panels, and other literary reporting to the itinerary and developing a database website for storage of these, as well as a litblog for more daily topic discussion. The network itself currently has over 2600 members. Dan was also a member of the Litblog Co-op, a grouping of over 20 of the leading North American litblog sites that brought attention to both books that might have been overlooked, as well as to litblogs in general. An anthology of short stories that Dan edited, Visiting Hours, was published by Press 53 in late 2008.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.