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.
Best Story Collection (Tie):
Best Poetry Collection (Tie):
Racing Hummingbirds by Jeanann Verlee
If There Is Something To Desire by Vera Pavlova
Don't Go Fish by Kat Dixon
And that, folks, is my look back at 2010. I’m planning some fun stuff for 2011 and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of Big Other-ing.
Though this season has seen me being pummeled by the various viruses and whatnot that are floating around—not to mention succumbing, for perhaps the first time in my life, to some form of seasonal affective mood disorder—the year, as a whole, has had some bright moments (as Rahsaan Roland Kirk would say). At some point, I’ll post a list of what I enjoyed reading this year. In the meantime, I’ve asked many great writers to send along a list of some of their favorite books, music, films, events, moments, or whatever for 2010. As you’ll find below, these “bests” need not have been released this year. In this installment, check out lists by Scott Garson, Jamie Iredell, Norman Lock, Kevin Sampsell, and Ken Sparling. More to come, soon.
WHAT IT’S LIKE READING WALLACE STEVENS
It’s like waking up early in the morning.
A few months ago, in April, to be exact, I started a series of posts entitled “A Sentence About a Sentence I Love” with a sentence about one of Gerard Manley Hopkins’s magnificent sentences. This concentration, or, rather, this obsession with the sentence may have come from my, at the time, recent readings of William Gass’s essays wherein he concentrates much of his attention on the sentence as a primary building block in poetry and prose. Essays by Gass like “The Soul Inside the Sentence,” “The Sentence Seeks Its Form,” “The Architecture of the Sentence,” take as their focus the centrality of the sentence toward the construction of thought, and particularly of thoughts within the parameters of fiction. In “Philosophy and the Form of Fiction,” Gass claims that sentences are “the most elementary instances of what the author has constructed….a moving unity of fact and feeling.” Moreover, sentences
must be sounded, too; it has a rhythm, speed, a tone, a flow, a pattern, shape, length, pitch, conceptual direction. The sentence confers reality upon certain relations, but it also controls our estimation, apprehension, and response to them. Every sentence, in short, takes metaphysical dictation, and it is the sum of these dictations, involving the whole range of the work in which the sentences appear, which accounts for its philosophical quality, and the form of life in the thing that has been made (Fiction and the Figures of Life, 14).
Sure, I understand summer is when kids and teachers have months-worth of vacation time. When people of means take trips to Hawaii or something. But for most of us, summer just means it’s better weather out while we’re inside working. So, by all means, make summer reading lists. But why not just make reading lists. Period. ?
To that end, here’s a list for you:
Books to Read During Your Lunch Break While at Work this Summer
BOOK by Ken Sparling
The Awful Possibilities by Christian TeBordo
Pee On Water by Rachel Glaser
When All Our Days Are Numbered by Sasha Fletcher
The Journey of Ibn Fattoum by Naquib Mahfouz
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Q Road by Bonnie Jo Campbell
As Cool As I Am by Pete Fromm
All of these are quite digestable in a few lunch hours (or half-hours). Besides, who needs to eat.