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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Recent Literary Disputes

I have to admit that neither Christian Lorentzen’s nor Kyle Minor’s respective takes on Alice Munro’s stories and books have altered my own criticism of her work, but they have inspired me, at least momentarily, to consider revisiting her work. Not sure how long that feeling will last, though, considering I’m currently experiencing massive withdrawal symptoms from having recently finished reading Helen DeWitt‘s brilliant two novels. I’ve also embarked on reading all of Zadie Smith’s work. Then there’s my still-in-progress Robert Coover marathon…

Michael Leong’s recent blog post pointed me to another take on a recent literary debate: Evie Shockley’s “Shifting the (Im)balance: Race and the Poetry Canon.”

 

Michael Leong’s Recent Reading at Brown University

Here’s the introduction I delivered before Michael Leong’s reading at Brown University’s Literary Arts Department’s Demitasse on  April 3, 2013:

In e.s.p., Michael Leong drafts a kind of architectonics of the page. By architectonics, I mean devices that reveal an overt consciousness of language’s status as language, words as building blocks, in which their form and shape and how they sit on the page and divide the surface plane are integral to their meaning. Though Leong’s poems often revel in the tactile aspects of words and letters, how sentences can visually suggest various structures, e.s.p. is no cold blueprint. Leong’s angular phrases, spiky forms, and playful compositions cavort within their spaces, prick consciousness as much as jar us from our sluggish thinking, and more importantly, rouse great feeling.

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Face Out Reading, October 10 @ 6:30 pm in New York

Celebrating New Work from 2012 CLMP Face Out Grantees
Wednesday, October 10 at 6:30 pm ~ FREE
NYU Main Bookstore ~ 726 Broadway

Short readings by:

Cynthia Cruz,
The Glimmering Room, Four Way Books

Farrah Field,
Wolf and Pilot, Four Way Books

Michael C. Leong,
Cutting Time with A Knife, Black Square Editions

Dan Machlin reading for Frances Richard
Anarch, Futurepoem Books

Dan Magers,
Partyknife, Birds, LLC

Kristin Prevallet,
Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn, Belladonna Books

About CLMP’s Face Out Program:
Designed to maximize the visibility of emerging writers, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses’ Face Out Program supports exceptional writers in partnership with their publishers to put a spotlight on important new experimental titles.

Big Other Reaches One Million Page Views!

One Million Dots (detail) / Robert Barry. 1968

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Big Other’s Birthday Tribute to William H. Gass, 2012

https://bigotherbigother.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/tunneling-gass-dipiazz1.jpg?w=300

Photo by Frank Di Piazza

It’s probably too easy a move to begin my very brief remarks about Gass’s use of architecture as a metaphor by trotting out the old horse of a quote about language being the house of Being, before flogging it to death once and for all; but it seems appropriate, nevertheless, to do so, especially when I think about Gass’s positing that the sentence is a container of consciousness. Actually, the quote from Heidegger is useful only when held in contrast with Gass’s ideas about language. Whereas Heidegger placed speech, that is, the continuum of speech, which includes talking, listening, and silence, at the center of his theory of language, Gass does not see writing as a mere supplement to speech. The continuum of writing includes four modes: persuasive, expository, expressive, and literary; and two hybrid modes: argumentative (a fusion of persuasive and expository) and critical (a fusion of expository and expressive) modes. Of these modes, it is the literary that receives the primary focus in Gass’s critical writing. And so, one might perhaps properly say that, for Gass, writing, or, rather, the sentence is the house of becoming. And what is it exactly that becomes in a sentence? For Gass, the sentence is a container of consciousness, a “verbal consciousness, of course, one built of symbols, not sensations; yet one of perceptions all the same: perceptions followed by thoughts like tracking hounds, and infused throughout by the energies of memory and desire, the moods emotions foster, and the reach, through imagery and other juxtapositions, of imagination…” (“The Aesthetic Structure of the Sentence”). Like any house, this container can take any number of forms:

[S]entences must be understood to contain all sorts of unused syntactical space; places that could be filled with more words, but, in any specific instance, aren’t…Sentences are like latticework, like fences, to be left open or prudently closed, their boards wide or narrow, pointy or level, the spaces between them, ditto….A sentence can sometimes give its reader such a strong sense of its overall character that it provokes a flight of fancy, a metaphorical description: it’s like a journey of discovery; it’s like a coil of rope, a triumphal column; it’s like a hallway or a chapel; it’s like a spiral stair. To me, for instance, Sir Thomas Browne’s triplet—“Grave stones tell truth scarce forty years. Generations pass while some trees stand, and old families last not three oak.”—with its relentlessly stressed syllables (seven strong to one weak in the first row, seven to two in the second course, and six to one in the last) resembles a wall. I can even locate spots (the weak stresses) where its stones have crumbled. Families come to pieces the way the word does.

Yes, architecture is a theme running throughout William Gass’s oeuvre, not only in his critical work but in his fictions as well, particularly in The Tunnel, where tunnel-as-metaphor is used as the very structure from which the novel is built.

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Michael Leong’s “Literary Pillars”

4.48 Psychosis, Sarah Kane
The Anchored Angel, Jose Garcia Villa
Altazor, Vicente Huidobro
Anthology of Concrete Poetry, Emmett Williams (ed.)
Ark, Ronald Johnson
The Auroras of Autumn, Wallace Stevens
The Black Riders and Other Lines, Stephen Crane
Breathturn, Paul Celan
The Bridge, Hart Crane
The Cantos, Ezra Pound
Dictee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
Dialectic of the Enlightenment, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer
The Eclogues, Virgil
Eureka, Edgar Allan Poe
The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
I, the Worst of All, Estela Lamat
Illuminations, Walter Benjamin
Illuminations, Arthur Rimbaud
Impressions of Africa, Raymond Roussel
The Inventor of Love, Gherasim Luca
Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance, Stéphane Mallarmé
Leaves of Grass (1860), Walt Whitman
The Magnetic Fields, André Breton and Philippe Soupault
Margins of Philosophy, Jacques Derrida
The Matrix, Norman Pritchard
Memories, Guy Debord (with Asger Jorn)
Men and Women, Robert Browning
Metamorphoses, Ovid
Milton, William Blake
Mythologies, Roland Barthes
Naked Lunch, William Burroughs
The Narrow Road to the Interior, Matsuo Bashō
Oulipo Compendium, Harry Mathews and Alastair Brotchie (eds.)
Oxford English Dictionary, J. Simpson and E. Weiner (eds.)
Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
Paradise Lost, John Milton
The Poetry of Surrealism, Michael Benedikt
The Single Hound, Emily Dickinson
Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord
Solar Throat Slashed, Aimé Césaire
Spring and All, William Carlos Williams
Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein
Trilce, César Vallejo
The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett
Vathek, William Beckford
The Waves, Virginia Woolf
White Album, Kitasono Katue
 Editor’s Note: This list is part of Big Other’s Tribute to William H. Gass’s 88th Birthday.