Few exceptions aside, the most compelling, challenging, absorbing literary art is being produced by small presses and their respective writers. I asked a number of writers, editors, and publishers to send me a list of small press books to look out for in 2016. Below you’ll find my own list, which is informed by Kate Angus, John Cayley, Lauren Cerand, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Andrew Ervin, Lily Hoang, Sean Lovelace, Scott McClanahan, Hubert O’Hearn, Jane Unrue, and Curtis White.
Below you’ll also find lists from Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gabino Iglesias, Janice Lee, Dawn Raffel, Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Adam Robinson, Michael Seidlinger, Terese Svoboda, Jason Teal, Angela Woodward, and Jacob Wren. All the abovementioned people are small press heroes and great writers in their own right. My thanks to all of them.
Brian Allen Carr’s collection of stories, Short Bus (Texas Review Press), is dedicated to the memory of William Patrick Carr (1977-2000). I rarely start a review, or consideration of a book with the dedication, but it seems apt to do so with this enormously sorrowful, beautiful collection of stories. I’ve yet to meet a human being who hasn’t suffered, usually tremendously, a horrible loss at some point in their lives. But not everyone can or will turn that loss into art. Carr does just that and more. This does not mean his work is entirely autobiographical, but Carr knows from where he writes.
Most urgent, moving writing is born out of suffering and tragedy. But it can also be funny, even hilarious, even if underlying that humor is a felt darkness and raw pain. And in suffering, moments of grace are even more evident, unexpected, and not taken for granted. Continue reading