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.
The contributors list at Big Other recently changed and I’m wondering what the new organizing logic is. Before, the list recorded the order in which contributors joined the site. Now it’s something else. At first glance I thought it was now in alphabetical order, but it isn’t. Perhaps it’s arbitrary? But the names seem grouped according to initial letter: A D Jameson, Amber Sparks. But even that doesn’t work, because the list starts and ends with A’s. And not all the J’s are together, and later on there’s a P, then an N, then two P’s. Next I thought that it might be in order of total page views, but then Greg Gerke’s name would be higher up. It’s also not in order of who’s made the most recent post, because it isn’t, and if so it would always be changing. And that would also be redundant, since the posts themselves establish that order. So I just don’t get the list’s logic; I’m hoping this post provokes discussion of this issue, though I’ll concede it isn’t important. But I don’t like things I don’t understand, though I’ll also concede that there’s no real reason why I should understand anything. I’ll also admit that I haven’t been posting much as of late. I’ve been busy with school, but also been trying to figure out what I should post here. Below you can see a photo that I posted; I’ve long thought that it might be cool for this site to have more visual art. I spent most of last year posting links to movies, so I thought I might spend this year posting photos. But Edward is kinda already covering that with his Bluets posts. So I’m left wondering what the new list’s logic is, and what I should post. Perhaps I’ll put up posts like this, metatextual musings on the subject of Big Other? Well, I’ll first wait and see if anyone responds to this post. Thank you for reading.
Alternately bizarre, poignant, and unsettlingly funny, William Walsh’s Ampersand, Mass.—the titular town situated somewhere between Winesburg, Ohio and Yoknapatawpha County—brings Donald Barthelme’s darkly comedic compressions to mind. These fragmentary, non sequitur-filled stories, peopled by ne’er-do-wells, nincompoops, and priapic not-quite-post-adolescents, circumvent expectations, the seemingly desultory images and events actually carefully sutured together to evoke the sadness, anomie, rebellion, boredom, apathy, and, yes, even heart and kindness that you might find within a small-town in these altered and dissociated states of America. Marked by concision and precision, a commanding use of narrative ellipsis, and humor and utter strangeness, these stories, moving between strange and funny and sad, sometimes in the same story, sometimes in the same paragraph, might just cut you up, in both senses of the phrase.
I had the great pleasure to read Mullany’s book of poems published by Publishing Genius Press, as well as discuss his book and life in general with him. Below is our conversation.
Edward’s book is now available. It’s stark, it’s funny, it’s sad–verse reflected by the book’s cover (also by Edward):
A woman with a gun, and a man
with a gun, and a child with a gun, and a dog with
a gun held between its two
One year ago I interviewed Edward about his writings, drawings, and paintings.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted news of all our various goings on and whatnot. But everyone at Big Other has been up to all kinds of great things.