Boring personal readings habits 2k10

The past two years, I made resolutions to read at least fifty books and did so. This year, I did not make a resolution and failed to crack thirty. So this list is probably even less interesting than usual.

I taught several classes this year, which allowed me to reread a lot of fantastic essays and short fiction from old masters (Kafka, Hoffamann, Borges, O'Connor, Marquez, Cortazar, and countless others), but impeded my complete book reading. I also started a few giant tomes, specifically Bertrand Russell's The History of Western Philosophy and Roberto Bolano's 2666, both of which I will hopefully finish in some future year.

Books I finished in chronological order (*s are rereads):

  1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  2. Chronicles – Bob Dylan
  3. Little Things – Jeffery Brown
  4. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower
  5. NOON 2001
  6. Reality Hunger – David Shields
  7. NOIR – Robert Coover
  8. NOON 2010
  9. Twenty Grand – Rebecca Curtis
  10. Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
  11. Magic For Beginners – Kelly Link
  12. Books: A Memoir – Larry McMurtry
  13. Nightwork – Christine Schutt
  14. The Spot – David Means
  15. Apex Hides the Hurt – Colson Whitehead
  16. All the Living – C. E. Morgan
  17. Jesus’ Son – Denis Johnson*
  18. Billy Hazelnuts 2 – Tony Millionaire
  19. Seven Nights – Jorge Luis Borges
  20. The Green Child – Herbert Read
  21. Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico – Javier Marias
  22. The Literary Conference – Cesar Aira
  23. Patriotism – Yukio Mishima
  24. Ghosts – Cesar Aira
  25. Tales of Desire – Tennessee Williams
  26. Mystery and Manners – Flannery O’Connor
  27. Do Not Disturb – Muriel Spark
  28. Here Comes Another Lesson – Stephen O’Connor
This feels like too few books to bother with further breakdown, as I did in previous years.

Well, onwards and upwards (and more reading in the future).


Settling down to an evening with the new Unsaid #5

This thing is massive. Check out this list of contributors and then order it here.



several of the last few weeks

I have not updated this blog since reading in Kansas City, MO and Lawrence, KS. Here is a quick round-up of some things.

In writing news:

I have two stories in the sure to be fantastic Unsaid #5, which I believe started being shipped yesterday. You can view the massive and massively awesome list of contributors here. I'm honored to be alongside so many authors I admire (Anne Carson, Brian Evenson, etc.) and authors I am good friends with--and also admire!--such as Rozalia Jovanovic, Catherine Foulkrod and Sasha Fletcher. Look out for it in bookstores, or order it online.

I also have a story forthcoming in another great literary magazine, Indiana Review. It is a story about a short dictator and his bodyguards. It is pure fiction, although when I gave a reading of it once several different people came up and told me that they were positive they knew which real life dictator it was based on. More on that when it gets published.

I also found out that an essay I wrote for The Rumpus was assigned in a college course when I received a few emails from students asking me for background information for their essays. It was pretty flattering to hear!

John Dermot Woods and I have been working on a badass comic strip. More about that later.

Lastly, the readings in Kansas City and Lawrence were both awesome and a million thanks to Clancy Martin and Chloe Cooper Jones for organizing them. Indeed, the whole midwest experience was fantastic, especially the food. Some items I consumed: duck fat french fries, kobe beef burger, biscuits and turkey sausage gravy, biscuits and beef sausage gravy and eggs, biscuits and fried rabbit, chicken-fried pork steak, sliced flank steak, Kansas City pulled pork, Kansas City short ribs, etc.

post-lecture, pre-reading

In editing news:

In addition to our readings, James Yeh and I gave a talk on editing and creating literary magazines to students in the MFA program and Kansas University. I've just learned that their magazine will be called Beecher's Magazine and my good friend Chloe Cooper Jones is going to be the first editor in chief. Look out for it!

Speaking of Chloe Cooper Jones, she is joining the staff of The Faster Times with an exciting dialogues section. The first piece will be a conversation between herself, Deb Olin Unferth and George Saunders. It should go up on Monday.

Lastly, Gigantic #3 is coming together amazingly and we have several killer contributing writers and artists to announce soon.

In non-writing and non-editing news:

I had a birthday and am one step closer to death.

In better news, I recently attended the baptism of my cute and awesome godson, Leo Marshall Pesch. If we are Facebook friends, I am sure you've seen pictures.

More to come...


Big on the Missouri-Kansas border

Gave a fun reading with James Yeh and Chloe Cooper Jones last night in Kansas City at the New Letters house. Clancy Martin gave a far too kind introduction and New Letters was a great host.

Tonight, James Yeh and I will be giving a lecture on literary magazines (4 pm) followed by a reading of our fiction (7 pm) at Kansas University in Lawrence.

That's right, I'm blowing up on the Missouri-Kansas border!

James Yeh, Chloe Cooper Jones, Clancy Martin, and Lincoln Michel


The Kings County Society for Fitness, Science, and Musical Merriment Third Monthly Gala

James Yeh and I are hosting our monthly dance night at Greenpoint's Manhattan Inn this Friday. I play a lot of 60s soul and Southern hip-hop, James plays a lot of 80s pop and Northern jangle rock. Come on by and boogie.


your football assigned reading

I'm a little late posting this here, but before the kickoff of the NFL season I wrote a piece about great football books for Flavorwire. Pictured above is my absolute favorite.


you'll need this in the desert

Above is the rad cover for the new issue of Canteen magazine. The issue's feature is a series of essays that tangentially deal with the decline (?) of The Great American Novel. I have an essay in there on disappearing swimming pool deep-ends and there are essays by many other rad writers such as Justin Taylor and Tao Lin (read an excerpt of his essay online). Check it out!


The Kings County Society for Fitness, Science and Musical Merriment


DJs James Yeh and myself* will be hosting our monthly 60s soul/60s rock/southern rap/sporadic funk dance night at The Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint Brooklyn this Friday. Come on by if you can!

*Formerly DJs Cormac McBootay and Hemingyeh?


The last dog days of summer are being rounded up.

After a short summer break, Gigantic online is back with new content. We have fiction from Ashley Farmer and John Dermot Woods as well as a great interview with the fantastic Amy Hempel by Nathan C. Martin and part four of our serialized comic Until I Find It (by Luca Dipierro and Leni Zumas).


on and on and on and on

I have a short piece up today over at Everyday Genius. It starts:

Driving out west in a rusted sedan, our thoughts slowed with each passing state. My Indian wife wore her wrist-watch with the broken strap. She was dialing up the radio.

Mildly interesting note: that piece actually began as a cut-up of a Hardy Boys novel I found on the street. I have some other work coming out soon that I'm excited about, especially two stories in the new Unsaid that will be in stores very soon. Also expect new Gigantic online content, events and print issues in the coming days, weeks and months.


there's still a lot of drinks that I ain't drunk and lots of pretty thoughts that I ain't thunk

Friends, Romans, blog readers, lend me your ears. Gigantic and NOON are joining forces Voltron-like for a Bastille Day Soiree this Wednesday the 14th! If you are in the New York City area you should come out to mingle in a rad downtown bar and hear great readings from three amazing authors: Diane Williams, Rebecca Curtis and Joshua Cohen.


In other Gigantic news, we are seeking submissions for our third print issue: Gigantic Indoors.


And have you been checking out the amazing comic by Leni Zumas and Luca Dipierro that we have been serializing? The third installment went up last month with more to follow.


wigleaf top fifty

Every year wigleaf magazine posts their top 50 short fictions from the previous year. This year was guest judged by the amazing Brian Evenson (read his forward here). I'm honored to note that a short story of mine from Opium magazine was included as was Carmen Lau's piece that we published in Gigantic's mini-monster issue. Check out all 50.


Gigantic May

May Gigantic is here with work and interviews from Joe Wenderoth, Leni Zumas, Mike Young, Luca Dipierro and more. Check it out!


Puff the Magic Dragon sued for child endangerment

I have a fun short story up at Everyday Genius, guest edited this month by Blake Butler. Lots of other rad writers this month to so check it all out. My piece is titled Our Current Trajectory and begins:

Puff the Magic Dragon was being sued for child endangerment. Johnny Paper's mother was crying on TV. Her son had returned home hours past his bedtime with burns on his arms.



NOON launch and reading at The Center for Fiction tonight. You should come. Details below:

NOON 2010 Reading & Party
Thursday, April 22nd at 7pm
Featuring Kim Chinquee, Sara Jaffe,
Tao Lin, Lincoln Michel, Dylan Nice,
Diane Williams, & Anya Yurchyshyn

The Center for Fiction
17 E. 47th Street
R.S.V.P 212.755.6710


Sam Lipsyte Jump-Off Story

The Rumpus has posted a short-short of mine alongside seven other rad stories by Mark Edmund Doten, Shya Scanlon, John Madera, Maureen Miller, A. Wolfe, Franklin Winslow and Snowden Wright. These are the four winners and four finalists of the Sam Lipsyte Jump-Off Contest where we wrote 300 word stories based on a sentence from Lipsyte's fantastic new novel, The Ask. You can read my story here, after the introduction.

“It’s when they stop trying to destroy you,” my mother said, “that you should really start to worry.”
My mother had one arm hooked around my neck, smothering me against the same breasts that once milked my mouth. The other swung at me with a mechanical can opener.
“Stop,” I yelled. “I get your point!”


high life at the highline beneath the high line

Tonight, April 6th, is A Night Together at the Highline Ballroom. The event, hosted by The Rumpus, Tin House and Flavorpill features a bunch of awesome writers, comedians and musicians like Sam Lispyte, Colson Whitehead, Michael Showalter and Jeffery Lewis.

The Rumpus also held a contest for readers to write 300-word stories based on Sam Lipsyte sentences. Four submitters, including me, were selected to read, which should be pretty fun! So if you aren't doing anything tonight, you should stop by. Or if you are doing something, you should scrap those plans and come to this instead.


A Gigantic April

Gigantic has a bunch of new content up for April. We have a whole collection of new American biographies and accompanying artwork from John Dermot Woods, an exciting illustrated book from Leni Zumas and Luca Dipierro that we are serializing online, and finally we have reprinted the long Sam Lipsyte interview that I conducted for print issue 2. I know there have been a lot of Lipsyte interviews and reviews accompanying his great new novel, The Ask, but like my momma always said, there is always room for more Lipsyte.

Hey, speaking of issue 2, you should buy a copy! A beautiful little magazine for only 7 dollars.


A NOON reading

NOON's annual reading and party at The Center for Fiction (formerly The Mercantile Library) is happening on April 22nd this year. As I noted two posts ago, I have a piece in the new NOON and I'll be reading it at the NOON party alongside some great writers. So, you should come! Info below:

NOON 2010 Reading & Party
Thursday, April 22nd at 7pm
Featuring Kim Chinquee, Sara Jaffe,
Tao Lin, Lincoln Michel, Dylan Nice,
Diane Williams, & Anya Yurchyshyn

The Center for Fiction
17 E. 47th Street
R.S.V.P 212.755.6710

p.s. There will also be a deal to get all 11 issues of NOON for 100 dollars!


Me and James Wood down by the schoolyard

My essay on Reality Hunger by David Shields has been getting a lot of responses on The Rumpus if you want to check out the comments. It also got a nice mention in the New Yorker Book Bench in their review round-up alongside the reviews by Laura Miller, James Wood, and others: "Lincoln Michel provides a thoughtful and evenhanded response, aptly named 'Reality Boredom: Why David Shields is Completely Right and Totally Wrong,' in The Rumpus." Cool. I was also glad to see that James Wood, in his New Yorker review, had a similar take as me on the contradictory nature of Reality Hunger's argument.


I don't want to make a new post for this, but Harper's also posted a section of my essay on their site.

Rock 'n Roll.


it is that time

The new NOON is here! Always an amazing and essential read, the 2010 issue is even more exciting for me this year because I have a short piece in it. I'm very honored and excited to be alongside the likes of Deb Olin Unferth, Clancy Martin, Christine Schutt, Gary Lutz and my good friend Anya Yurchyshyn. Should be in bookstores soon if not there already.


a response to Reality Hunger by David Shields

Over at The Rumpus, I have a fairly long response essay to David Shields's intriguing (but frustrating) new book Reality Hunger. It is titled Reality Boredom: Why David Shields is Completely Right and Totally Wrong

The comment section is buzzing if you want to weigh in.


Respect for the late master

Barry Hannah passed away a few days ago. Hannah was one of my all-time favorite writers, a true master of both the sentence and the story. Few writers wrote with such power or with sentences that are stunningly beautiful without seeming conscious of their own brilliance. I wrote about Hannah's writing over at htmlgiant along with several other writers. I also did a round-up of Barry Hannah remembrances at The Faster Times. RIP, good sir.


at the edge of every woods

I have a new poem up at the always awesome elimae. (Some other poems I've had at elimae are here: one and two.)

Also, thanks everyone for coming out to the Gigantic issue 2 launch party this weekend and making it such a success!


Gigantic Things Poppin'

Believe it or not, the second issue of Gigantic magazine is completed. It is a long time coming, but the result was worth it. The magazine looks completely fantastic (thanks to Erin West!) and contains work or interviews with the likes of Sam Lipsyte, Robert Coover, Clancy Martin, Lydia Millet, Stephen O'Connor, Deb Olin Unferth, Adrian Tomine and many other awesome artists and writers.

We are also having a launch party next Saturday at PPOW gallery in Chelsea. Clink on the link for all the details, but Stephen O'Connor, Deb Olin Unferth, Sasha Fletcher and Brian Beatty's surrogate will be reading and there will be booze so you know you want to come.


momma was a bildungsroman, papa was a whammy bar...

Tomorrow night Vol 1 Brooklyn and Gigantic are presenting Greatest Three-Minute Rock ‘n’ Roll Story Ever, a rocking reading with 20 readers, some bands and good times. The readings will only be three minutes each, so not as intimidating as it sounds. I'll be reading a short piece as will James Yeh, Justin Taylor and many other rad writers. 7pm at Bar Matchless. More info here.


Retired astronauts plant American flags into their own chests

I was cleaning up my old files and came across a very old poem I'd written in 2005 after a Robert Bly poem called The Great Society (1967). I haven't touched the poem or read Bly's in five years. I still like some of the lines, but as you can tell it is very much a poem about the Bush era and doesn't seem salvageable. I figured I'd post it here for fun. (Note: the only edits I've made are losing some semi-colons, which I was using to mirror Bly, but probably incorrectly.)

Here goes:

The New Society

after Robert Bly’s “The Great Society”

Dentists will drill holes in fences to monitor their neighbors.
At night, evangelists drain the motel pools
As apes appear hauling barrels of oil to refill them.
On city ledges, pigeon courts dole out painful sentences to captured doves:
New buildings designed with the terrible architecture of ants.

The legs of senators are trapped in gofer holes.
Dogs sniff at dark clouds brewing to the east.
The President daydreams of invading everything
Except his own skull.
The pregnant cement of city streets has split open with weeds.

Talking heads cough up balls of static on TV: The suburbs brood.
The traveling salesmen returns home covered in blood, again.
Wet children in their lawns stare troubled at each other
Before vanishing to their dinners while
Retired astronauts plant American flags into their own chests.


In other poetry news...

A few of you have met my friend Taras Castle. He is an, uh, interesting man. He has been working on a collection of poems called The Red Cosmonaut Cycle for a while and one of those poems just appeared in Greatest Uncommon Denominator. If you click on the link you can see a preview and purchase the poem for a mere 50 cents (or for a bit more the entire issue). Here is the first paragraph:

The old lady tells me that inside
the belly of every songbird
there is a purse of gold coins.


the web: now in real life

The Rumpus and htmlgiant party last week was a rocking good time. Thanks to everyone who came out (and it was a packed house). I had fun DJing and listening to the rad musicians and readers, especially Deb Olin Unferth and her forthcoming Noon story and Jeffrey Lewis and his Mosquito Murderer rap. There is a write-up with some short interviews and pictures at Scallywag and Vagabond.


In other web slash non-web news, Gigantic magazine just put some new content online including a rad story by Saša Stanišić and some Little Big Planet levels inspired by Matthew Barney's Cremaster films. We also are having a call for submissions for 300 biographies of famous Americans in anticipation of Gigantic #2, which will be available in physical bookstores near you in a few short weeks.


In just web news, a short article of mine at The Faster Times (Is David Foster Wallace So 1990s?) got linked at The New Yorker blog and other places, which is pretty neat.


scratch master

This Thursday I will be DJing The Rumpus One Year Anniversary Party (co-sponsored by htmlgiant). The Rumpus is a great website that I've written for a few times. The party features lots of great readers and musicians (Deb Olin Unferth, Tao Lin, Justin Taylor, Jeffrey Lewis, etc.) and is hosted by my good friend and Gigantic co-editor Rozalia Jovanovic.

Check out this nifty animated invite:

Come on out, you know you want to.


A week and a half ago I wrote a long (and mostly negative) review of James Cameron's Avatar for The Millions. Yesterday Avatar won a Golden Globe for best picture, but we live in a world where Juno of all awfully-written films won a script Oscar and Crash was named best picture...so what can you do?


The second (and super-awesome) issue of Gigantic should come out in the next few weeks. I know we've been saying that for a while, but this time we are super-serious.


tune in

I made a guest appearance on WNYC's Soundcheck yesterday to talk about my essay in the current Oxford American Southern Music Issue and southern music in general. I didn't talk for too long (the editor of Oxford American, Marc Smirnoff, was the main guest) but it was a lot of fun and interesting to see the inside of radio. Anyway, you can listen to the episode online or download it if you'd like.

And if you haven't checked out the OA's music issue, you should get on it. It is really great this year. I've been rocking the CDs constantly for the past few weeks.


Boring personal readings habits 2k9 summary edition

Continuing my annual tradition that is of no interest to anyone but myself, here is the chronological list of every book I finished in 2009. Finished means I finished reading the entire thing front to back, but not necessarily that I started reading it in 2009 (likewise books I started this year yet didn't finish are absent).

My goal was at least 50 books. I completed the 50th late in the afternoon on December 31st.

1. The Tormented Mirror – Russell Edson
2. The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
3. The Men Who Stare at Goats – Jon Ronson
4. Flying to America – Donald Barthelme
5. How to Sell – Clancy Martin
6. Retreat Retreat Chapbook – Wells Tower
7. The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven – Rick Moody
8. Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee – James Tate
9. Farewell Navigator – Leni Zumas
10. Like You’d Understand Anyway – Jim Shepard
11. Funny Misshapen Body – Jeffery Brown
12. NOON 2009
13. Days Between Stations – Steve Erickson
14. Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
15. Hey Jack! – Barry Hannah
16. Personal Days – Ed Park
17. Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World – Donald Antrim
18. Varieties of Disturbance – Lydia Davis
19. Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan
20. Last Days – Brian Evenson
21. The Pill Versus the Springhill... – Richard Brautigan
22. Roads – Larry McMurtry
23. The King – Donald Barthelme
24. High Lonesome – Barry Hannah
25. Platform – Michel Houellebecq
26. The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Breece D’J Pancake
27. I Love and Understand You and Would Be... - James Yeh
28. The Spectacle of the Body – Noy Holland
29. The Collected Works of Tony Millionare's Sock Monkey*
30. The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
31. Fugue State – Brian Evenson
32. Prison Pit Vol. 1 – Johnny Ryan
33. Skin Deep – Charles Burns
34. The Squirrel Machine – Hans Rickheit
35. Tours of the Black Clock – Steve Erickson
36. Child of God – Cormac McCarthy
37. Light Boxes – Shane Jones
38. Che: A Graphic Biography – Sid Jacobson
39. The Ask – Sam Lipsyte
40. The Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector
41. In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan
42. Born Standing Up – Steve Martin
43. Twilight of the Superheroes – Deborah Eisenberg
44. The Book of Evidence – John Banville
45. The Anthologist – Nicholson Baker
46. New York Tyrant V. III Issue I
47. All-Star Superman Volume 1 – Morrison and Quitely
48. All-Star Superman Volume 2 – Morrison and Quitely
49. Log of the S.S. The Mrs. Unguentine – Stanley Crawford
50. Numbers in the Dark – Italo Calvino

* indicates books I'd read before previously...although this year that was only one book.

20.5 novels/novellas
15 story collections/lit mags
8 comics/graphic novels
5 books of non-fiction (one of which was also a graphic novel)
2.5 poetry collections

This year I was working full time and also finishing up my fiction thesis for Columbia University, which I think cut down on my reading time substantially (14 fewer than 2008). I'm a little ashamed of the gender imbalance in the above list, something to fix in 2k10. The amount of poetry I read fell dramatically and I'm not sure what explains that. Non-fiction is always low since I read a lot of magazines for that (primarily The Believer, New Yorker, Harper's and The Oxford American).

I read two books each by Steve Erickson, Barry Hannah, Grant Morrison and Donald Barthelme. Three books each by Brian Evenson (all 2009 releases no less) and Richard Brautigan.

Top 10 favorites (no order):

Days Between Stations – Steve Erickson
Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
The Ask – Sam Lipsyte
Child of God – Cormac McCarthy
Last Days – Brian Evenson
Like You’d Understand Anyway – Jim Shepard
NOON 2009
Personal Days – Ed Park
In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan

6 honorable mentions:

The Anthologist – Nicholson Baker
How to Sell – Clancy Martin
All-Star Superman Volume 1 – Morrison and Quitely
Hey Jack! – Barry Hannah
Trout Fishing in America – Richard Brautigan
Fugue State – Brian Evenson

hollaback blog

I wanted to give a shout out (back?) to Jay Diamond at Vol 1. Brooklyn (a great culture blog based in, well, Brooklyn). He recently made a nice post titled Scott Esposito vs. Lincoln Michel in a Cage Match to Determine who my Favorite Lit. Blogger is about my book blogging at The Faster Times and then some guy named Scott Esposito who I must now destroy.

The fight will take place in February in a cage suspended above the Gowanus. I'm told I'm allowed to bring either one folding chair or one copy of Infinite Jest into the ring. Is anyone available to help me train?