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Elizabeth Ellen’s Best of 2009

Best online story I read this year:

Sean Kilpatrick’s “Selections from Sucker June” in Spork, hands down. I adon’t know how Sean does it. If the words just pour out of him like this or if he works really hard at it, but goddamn, this man is obviously a genius. Not to be totally cheesy but you read this shit and the words become a physical part of you, like, you can taste them in your mouth, you digest them whole. He told me he has to be angry when he writes, which I found very interesting because usually I have to be really sad to write but I think I’d rather be angry. I’m going to give angry a try. Recently Matt Bell and I were lucky enough to have Sean join our tiny writing group here in Ann Arbor so now I’m doubly intimidated every month when we meet. As if Matt Bell weren’t intimidating enough. Fuck.

Best “old” story I read this year: Raymond Carver’s “Chef’s House.” So short and so fucking heartbreaking. Not one unnecessary word. Perfection.

Best bio pics in a journal:
New York Tyrant, Vol. 3 No. 1. I don’t know if this was on purpose, but everyone in here looks like they were asked to send a photo that would fit the theme “all the sad young men.” (Except Burch. Burch looks like a badass as usual in his cowboy hat and shades.)

Best food fight:
Blake Butler, Adam Robinson and a banana. The banana didn’t stand a chance.

Best story I read in a print journal/magazine:
(Tie) Deb Olin Unferth, “Pet” in NOON and “Wait Till You See Me Dance” in Harper’s. Not trying to kiss Deb’s ass here. These are honestly the two stories I read that most stuck with me this year.

Best movie:
Fantastic Mr. Fox. I’m pretty sure I was smiling the entire movie, in part because I frickin’ love Wes Anderson and in part because I was sitting next to my favorite person in the world who also frickin’ loves Wes Anderson.

Best song to cry your eyes out to:
Anything by The National, but most specifically, “Cardinal Song.”

Elizabeth Ellen is the author of Before You She Was A Pit Bull (Future Tense), Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix (Rose Metal Press) and Mouthfeel (Paper Hero Press, 2010). She lives in Ann Arbor where she recently started the Great Lakes, Great Times reading series with her friend Amy Sumerton.

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.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth Ellen’s Best of 2009

  1. I loved that food fight, though I don’t necessarily remember it. And that SK piece is flabbergasting, great. Ask him if the words pour out or if he works them. We need to know.

    1. my guess is they pour out and then he works them. he says he’s a slow writer. i’ll try to get more info. or make him really angry so they pour out faster. i think he revises like a motherfucker, tho.

  2. Totally agree on The National. Found them in 2009, and damn! I mean, Damn. “Gospel” and “Lucky You” – listening now, and, well. Damn.

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