Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2016!

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.

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John Domini’s Recent Reading at Brown University

Here’s the introduction I delivered before John Domini’s reading at Brown University’s Literary Arts Department’s Demitasse on March 21, 2013:

Don DeLillo once characterized his work as a series of reflections about “men in small rooms.” Like those desperate men, vacillating between doubt and action, navigating between the elusive and the allusive, the characters in Domini’s Bedlam also find themselves in these selfsame rooms, like the cold anonymity of motel rooms found in “Over 4000 Square Miles,” a fiction positing representation as transgression, where a battle-fatigued soldier, fueled on cannabis and no small amount of hubris, if not outright fear, visits an in-progress reenactment-for-television of his famed escape from the enemy, and ends up entering the Everglades, intending to wrestle an alligator. There is also the “silent and empty kitchen” of “The Return,” a liminal space, where a recently murdered couple visit a surly former-stockbroker. Yes, the so-called barriers between so-called reality and so-called fantasy in this collection are porous. “Laugh Kookaberry, Laugh Kookaberry,” for instance, features a garrulous demon reflecting on twisted intimacies, and so Bedlam might as well have been called Pandæmonium, referring back to the name of the palace built in the middle of John Milton’s vision of Hell, viz., the “high capital of Satan and all his peers,” in Paradise Lost. “Special Instructions, Special Instructions” finds another man in a small room, this one an office, rejecting the ladder climb. He states: “Why should I weasel around after my own office, and then a larger office, and then another that’s still larger? After a certain point’s reached, they’re only rooms,” believing it more important to “know who you are and exist accordingly.” In “Thirty Spot, Fifteen Back on Either Side,” we find another business man, reflecting on a certain salacious episode in another small room, thinks the following: “he’d wanted to come by means of this experience to a more complete, more substantial idea of himself as an individual. Grissom alone, he’d wanted to see. Grissom as a separately defined person, as an intensely, separately defined person, something as unique and identifiable as a planet in a pale sky.” Domini’s Bedlam, with its ruined men, whether succumbing to PTSD-induced delusions or to their long-arrested imaginations, forced me, after reading it, to temporarily have difficulty distinguishing “suits” from ghosts and other spectralities.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Domini’s books, which include the novels Earthquake I.D. and A Tomb on the Periphery, the former of which, in its Italian translation, was runner-up for the Rea prize, the latter of which was cited in 2009 at the London Book Festival as among “the best of international publishing.”

Big Other Reaches One Million Page Views!

One Million Dots (detail) / Robert Barry. 1968

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Reading @ KGB Bar, Sunday, Feb. 6th.

Last time I showed up on Big Other, it was to offer some final big ideas about Dante and his Divine Comedy.  Now, I might be falling from the sublime to the ridiculous.  Here’s the notice about a reading of my own — with others — at KGB Bar down in lower Manhattan, on E. 4th just off the Bowery.  That’s next Sunday, Feb. 6th, starting at 7 PM.

The reading celebrates Gival Press, out of Arlington, VA.  Gival published my 2008 novel A Tomb on the Periphery, and many other splendid pieces of work.  Other readers include New Yorkers David Winner (The Cannibal of Guadalajara) and Thad Rutkowski (Haywire).

If you’re not snowed in, or if you haven’t got a stake in the Super Bowl, do stop by.

Dante 2020-6: Tower, Tree, Candle, & the Triumph of the Fragile.

The Divine Comedy has its end, after 3X9 spirals rendered in 100 evenly distributed cantos, and it’s about time my posts about the Poem wrap up too.   The big question that’s kept me on BIG OTHER: why should so complex a work, about places and beliefs that have long since ceased to matter, actually continue growing in impact, now nearly 700 years after it was completed?  Earlier posts have raised that question, then looked at Inferno, then Purgatory,  then Paradiso, and after that begun to provide an answer.  Now, (with a last salute to Southwest Review, where all this appeared in very different form) I reach final conclusions.

My Universal Field Theory for the Poem’s continuing appeal hardly springs, full-grown, from my brow alone.   Continue reading

Big Other Contributors’ News, #23

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.

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