Boring personal reading habits 2k12

Here is the list of books I completed in 2012. I only read 56 books this year versus 70 last year. However, I'm unsure how to count the graphic novels and comics I've read. (I've read so many in part, as I said last year, because I'm working on a graphic novel with John Dermot Woods). I've tried to go for the largest collection there is, but that's led me to include massive hundred issue trade paperbacks alongside single issues. Okay, this is pretty irrelevant. I'm going to separate the graphic novels from text works though, leaving me with 31 text books and 25   art and text books. * means I've read the book before.


Rap Lyrics That Would Seem Really Festive If You Didn't Realize They Were About Selling Cocaine

Rap Lyrics That Would Seem Really Festive If You Didn't Realize They Were About Selling Cocaine

1. While I'm shoveling the snow, man, call me Frosty

2. Jeezy the snowman: I make it wintertime.


I may not be a genius every day...

...but today I have a short story up on Everyday Genius. This month is edited by Penina Roth of the great Franklin Park Reading Series. The story, "The New Game," is about being a teacher. Opening paragraph: 

The children erect a gallows out of desks, cardboard, and ribbon. A child is hung, and then buried in the locker room under a pile of backpacks. The child is made to remain there, held down by two of the larger boys if necessary, for at least thirty seconds.

Check it out. 


“Art — Son — Trash.”

My parents recently moved and in the process I'm pretty sure threw away all my childhood art. Well, except for--possibly--this one pretty cool picture of some kind of armored buffalo. And I'm not even sure I made it!

To express my feelings, here is a piece from George Meyer's old Army Man magazine:


Do you still have the adorable crayon drawings you made in kindergarten? I don’t. Not a one. Which means that at one point, many years ago, the following thoughts must’ve gone through my mother’s mind: “Hmm, what’s this? Oh, I see. It’s that irreplaceable drawing by my firstborn son … the one he proudly brought home from school. I’ll just put this in the garbage.” Then, as time went by: “Oh, another one of my child’s drawings. What is it that I do with these again? Oh, yes — I throw them in the trash. That’s right.” Eventually, her brain probably got it down to “Art — Son — Trash.” And on the days when my mom was sick, and didn’t get around to throwing my artwork away, my dad would do it. 

I’m not bitter. I know they had good reasons for discarding virtually everything I ever drew, wrote, collected or pasted together during my one and only childhood. I love my parents. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.


Moby Dick Marathon

The first ever Moby Dick reading marathon is wrapping up today. I read yesterday (the end of Chapter 50 and most of Chapter 51, The Spirit-Spout) at Housing Works. Someone told me my reading voice had "dulcet tones." I also ate some pretty great chowder. Good times!

A passage from The Spirit-Spout:

Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched on our stays, rows of these birds were seen; and spite of our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting, uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, and therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred. 

fleeting tweeting fame

This is silly, but in the wake of the 2012 election, I had a half-thought out tweet about Nate Silver and Biggie Smalls that went "viral" and was reposted by CNN, Washington Post, and other places. I guess that deserves to be posted here since... it is probably the most widely read thing I'll ever publish! How does one work that into a C.V.?


final elimae

elimae, one of the best journals out there, is sadly closing its doors. The final November/December 2012 issue is up. You should take it in one last time.

I was fortunate enough to be published several times in elimae over the years, both fiction (here) and poetry (here, here, here, and here).

They will be missed.


Oh, that Nabokov

It is strange, the morbid inclination we have to derive satisfaction from the fact (generally false and always irrelevant) that a work of art is traceable to a “true story”. Is it because we begin to respect ourselves more when we learn that the writer, just like ourselves, was not clever enough to make up a story himself? Or is something added to the poor strength or our imagination when we know that a tangible fact is at the base of the “fiction” we mysteriously despise? Or taken all in all, have we here that adoration of the truth which makes little children ask the story-teller “Did it really happen?”

- Vladimir Nabokov


What We Can Surmise about the John Adams Incarnation

I'm excited to say that I have a new story about John Adams up at Melville House. The story is part of a series of forty-four stories about our forty-four presidents that will include a ton of great writers such as Matt Bell, Micheal Kimball, Amelia Gray, and many more.

My story is kind of a quasi-science-fiction-slash-Lovecratian-horror-via-Borges thing. Or not. You decide.

Although much remains unclear about John Adams (alternatively referred to in remaining analog documents as Jon Adam, John Adems, and The Adams Abomination), recent drone expeditions into the Charred Continent have unearthed new artifact fragments that led us closer to understanding this mysterious entity. Long assumed to be a prince or demon of a lesser cult, we now know that John Adams was an important figure in the dominant United Statsian mythology.


two comic things

1) I have a new comic strip in the September issue of Everyday Genius (edited by the great Michael Kimball). Sample panel above. More comics at hoarsehorse.com.

2) I reviewed one of my favorite recent comics, Forming by Jesse Moynihan, at The Rumpus. You should really check it out, especially if this description sounds good to you: science-fiction-soap-opera-comedy-cum-action adventure-mythological-origin-story.


readings past

I was lucky enough to participate in two great readings in the past two weeks. The first was InDigest's flash fiction night at La Poisson Rouge with Ann DeWitt, Shya Scanlon, Robert Lopez and John Jodzio. The second was the always packed and awesome Franklin Park reading series with Caitlin Harper, Courtney Maum, Victor LaValle, and Tayari Jones.

The latter got a great write-up by Ryan Chang in Electric Literature's Outlet blog. Very complimented by this line:
Michel reads sternly, tinged with finality, but his narrator’s child logic evokes the comic element of his fiction, locating that delicate place between comedy and tragedy.
UPDATE: Electric Literature also published a review of the InDigest reading by David Moscovich.


boring personal reading habits: 50 literary pillars

I've been enjoying the William H. Gass inspired "50 literary pillars" series at Big Other, where guests such as Christine Schutt, Matt Bell, and Samuel R. Delaney post their 50 favorite books. The list by Gass which inspired the series can be found on Goodreads.

When I logged onto Goodreads to see Gass's list, I checked my own list of favorite books, which happens to stand at 54 books. This is a very casual list that I've added a book to now and then since 2007, when I apparently first started a Goodreads account. It isn't a carefully compiled list that I agonized over to make sure I represented my various interests, had a good balance of different types of literature, and so forth.

But, as such, it may actually be more telling than a list that one I'd consciously compile for publication. Unedited list and comments after the jump.



Brian Evenson's new collection Windeye is one of the best books I've read recently.  I reviewed it for Bookforum today and talked about the uncanny and the literary / genre divide.


cartoon news

Two updates about my comic strips:

1) I'm very excited to say that Volume 1 Brooklyn is going to be running my comics. First one is up here.

2) I've started a Tumblr to post my comics and comic collaborations at. Please follow if you want to see existential animals and crudely-drawn body horror strips.



I have a new story in the most recent issue of The Fiddleback. It is about a plague quarantine and soda pop. It starts:

I was in the quarantine, but I didn’t have a quarter. I had a few dimes and some nickels but needed a quarter. There was only one soda machine in this wing of the facility. It was an old machine that hadn’t been updated, and the drinks only cost sixty-five cents. I couldn’t believe my luck!



Gigantic has a new online issue up with fiction from Robert Lopez and Marguerite W. Sullivan, poetry from Ben Fama and Leigh Stein, an interview with Gordon Lish, and more. Check it out!


mostly I liked the whistlers, singers, and shriekers: the ones that screamed

I have a new story up at Tin House for their Flash Fridays series. It is called "Red-Faced Whistler, Emerald Tower, Rabid Wolfpack Motherload" and starts:

I always cared about the explosions, but mostly I liked the whistlers, singers, and shriekers: the ones that screamed. Billy Acres and I bought a backpack-full from a fold-up table beneath the overpass. The old hippie had smuggled them up from South Carolina beneath a load of tie-dyed shirts. He said we had to buy a shirt to get the rockets and that there wasn’t a holiday that wasn’t improved with fire. I picked out one with a peace sign and he handed me a free box of snappers.
Check it out if you'd like!


reading about reading

Ryan Chang has a very nice write-up of the recent Volume 1 reading I was a part of at Electric Literature's Outlet blog. The readers were Matt Bell, Melissa Broder, Julia Jackson, Jacob Silverman, and myself. Is it totally gauche to quote part of the write-up? Because I love this quote: "Michel’s marriage of the deadpan and totally absurd is a perfect iteration of the Uncanny, and it rules."

Deadpan, absurd and uncanny is pretty much what I'm going for! Anyway, thanks to Ryan, Tobias and Jason at Volume 1, and the rest of the readers.



            There had been a subatomic explosion in the Zooey Deschanel containment unit.
            I awoke, somehow, in a charred field. Gaseous clouds in the shape of Zooey Deschanel hovered overhead.
            My assistant was covered in blood beside me. When I rolled her over, what was left of her looked exactly like Zooey Deschanel. I wept and held this Zooey Deschanel in my arms as she expired. “My God,” I tried to say, “what have we done?” but the only words left were “Zooey Deschanel.” Suddenly I could see everything—each thin blade of Zooey Deschanel blowing in the wind, each newborn Zooey Deschanel hatching into the world, every single Zooey Deschanel atom bouncing in her impossible orbit.
            Had the reaction altered the fundamental structure of the universe? Or had it merely torn the thin veil that separated the visible world from the true, hidden world of Zooey Deschanel? The horrifying sounds of infinite Zooey Deschanels overwhelmed me. I grabbed the sharpest fragment of Zooey Deschanel I could find and slid her across my wrist, a beautiful red ribbon of Zooey Deschanel spurting forth.
            But just then, at the top of the hill, beneath the painful rays of the gigantic burning Zooey Deschanel in the sky, the dark, ominous figure of Justin Bieber appeared. 


Molten Mechanistic Hull by any other name

For no reason at all, here are my ten favorite anagrams of my (full) name:
Molten Mechanistic Hull

Ill Tom: Unethical Mensch 

Nonathletic Mulch Slime

Hmm, It Echos 'Till Unclean...

Chill Unethical Moments 

Hellish Laconic Mutt Men!

Lethal Omniscient Mulch

Macho Lunchtime Lentils 

The Technician Lulls Mom

A Chill, Luminescent Moth 

 My novel title is in there somewhere...

(runners up: Cinchilla, Unsettle Mom! / Metallic Lunchtime Nosh / Neolithic Helmsman Cult / Miniscule Hellcat Month)


Writing for the gladiators....

Think about those who haven’t long to live, who know that everything is over and done with, except the time in which the thought of their end unrolls. Deal with that time. Write for the gladiators. . . .

– E. M. Cioran, The Trouble With Being Born


I've always loved this aphorism from the great pessimistic existential philosopher E. M. Cioran. There was even a brief time when I flirted with inking it into my skin before my friends' literary tattoo book came out. Writers are normally told to write for themselves, that the only thing that matters is that the work works for you. This is not true. Even when you are writing for yourself, you are conscious of the weight of the other's eyes. How will it sound to someone else who is not trapped in your head?


recent things, past things, future things

Recent things:

- "The Grandmaster Hoax" at The Paris Review Daily (an essay on chess, robots, and mysterious deaths)
"Twosome" in NOON 2012 (a short story in one of my absolute favorite journals...not available online, but the issue should be in stores now)
"A Note on the Type" in elimae (a short story about typefaces, jealousy, and intrigue)
- Art of the Sentence: Lincoln Michel in Tin House (a short essay on my favorite sentences by Franz Kafka)

Past things:

I've finally gotten around to creating a page to list (most) of my publications. I say most because I left off some of my early poems and stories that will hopefully be lost to history, and only listed select non-fiction pubs. Otherwise if, for some bizarre reason, you want to peruse my old stories and such you can.

Future things: 

Fiction forthcoming in Unsaid, The Fiddleback, and an anthology of presidential flash fiction. Some essays in the work as well as a killer comic collab with John Dermot Woods. More on those things at some future point.


uncanny mechanics

Over at The Paris Review Daily, I wrote about the 18th-century chess playing automaton known as The Turk:

The Turk became a spectacular attraction, thrilling, baffling, and terrifying viewers across Europe and America for decades. His victims included Benjamin Franklin, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon. In one account of that match, Napoleon, in perhaps telling fashion, moved first—despite the fact that the Turk was playing white—and then attempted illegal move after illegal move until the Turk, fed up with these shenanigans, swiped the pieces off the board with a stiff wooden arm.

Check it out! 


R.I.P. Moebius. One of the greatest ever.

I was very sad to hear about the passing of Jean Giraud aka Moebius aka Gir. Moebius was one of my favorite artists ever. His line work is insanely intricate, his colors are phenomenal, and his works are haunting, surreal, dreamy, and supremely beautiful.

His books are sadly hard to find in the United States, and in generally he isn't nearly as known as he should be. If you haven't read his comics, you will probably still recognize his aesthetic from concept art and storyboard work he did on films like Alien, Tron and The Fifth Element.

Below is sampling of his work. You can find many more here. Stare in wonder:


new story in elimae

I have a story up in the new issue of the always great elimae. It is about typefaces and begins:

This work has been set in Berdych, a typeface named after Antun Berdych who was a prominent typesetter and printer in the early years of the 17th century. The typeface was originally designed as a stunted, incongruous font with the kerning between the glyphs inconsistent and the vowels improperly rounded.

This is actually my first work of fiction in elimae, but they have published poems of mine in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.


Annals of Not Getting It

I tweeted a Jack Handey joke (great comedian behind Deep Thoughts and some of the best SNL sketches) and got this response from a "Father, husband/ lover, socialist, philosopher, storyteller, servant of the living God, follower of Jesus Christ and believer in a global commonwealth."

Gigantic Minotaur Bags

If you are like me, you've spent many years thinking "What would my life be like if I owned a tote bag with an image of a minotaur posing like Raymond Carver? Would I be happier? More friendly at work? Eat better, more locally sourced food?" Well, now we can find out, together.

Gigantic organic cotton tote bags. These are seriously high-quality, big and usable. Same price as our popular mammoth totes.


Valentine's Day Special: Franz Kafka's Love Letters

First off, over at Tin House I wrote about my favorite Franz Kafka story, The Judgment. Secondly, I was recently asked to take part in a dead love letter reading and decided to read some of Franz Kafka's love letters to his on-again off-again fiancé Felice Bauer.

Now, you probably know Kafka as a fairly lighthearted author who wrote whimsical stories about talking bugs and zany bureaucrats. However, these love letters reveal something of a darker, more tortured side that was hidden from the public eye.

Since I couldn't find these letters online and hand typed them for the reading, I thought I'd post my favorite two here for Valentine's day. Reproduced in full:


Post-Apocalyptic Grammy Awards

Another successful Grammy Awards went off without a hitch tonight. Here's a sneak peak at what future Grammy Awards might hold.

Grammys, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Thom Yorke, Bjork



A chicken stuffed in a duck inside a turkey inside an ostrich inside an edible wax model dodo inside a fossilized pterodactyl hidden inside a statue of Horus in a secret room in the Temple of Edfu.



RIP Dorothea Tanning

Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning (1948)
"Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don't see a different purpose for it now."

Dorothea Tanning, the oldest living Surrealist at the age of 101, passed away the other day. She published her first novel and books of poems in her 90s. She was married to Max Ernst from 1946 to his death in 1976. She spent the last few decades of her long life in New York.

She ruled.

A few of her works:


Ancient humor, dead animals, and Mitch Hedberg

Doing the normal internet procrastination rabbit hole thing, I came across an old article on ancient jokes. Apparently this is the oldest known joke (Sumerian, 1900 BC – 1600 BC):
Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap
However, the one that caught my eye was from the Philogelos (oldest known joke book) 4th/5th century AD:
Wishing to teach his donkey not to eat, a pedant did not offer him any food. When the donkey died of hunger, he said "I've had a great loss. Just when he had learned not to eat, he died."
I think this is a pretty wicked little one-liner. The black humor and brevity even feels pretty modern. In fact, it instantly reminded me of one of my favorite jokes from one-liner king Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005).
I bought myself a parrot, but it did not say "I'm hungry", and so it died.


"the weird guy in the bear suit"

Great New York Times correction yesterday on an article about one of my favorite movies, The Shining:

Correction: January 29, 2012
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described imagery from “The Shining.” The gentleman seen with the weird guy in the bear suit is wearing a tuxedo, but not a top hat.


For Virginia Woolf's birthday

Some quotes:

"Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title."

“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.”

“I am rooted, but I flow.”

"It's not catastrophes, murders, deaths, diseases, that age and kill us; it's the way people look and laugh, and run up the steps of omnibuses."


pre-order me, baby

You can now pre-order Unsaid Six, which includes a story of mine called "Selections from a Sexual Survey." The new volume looks positively epic, featuring work from Brian Evenson, Diane Williams, Lorin Stein, Padgett Powell and many more. Very excited to be included.

In addition, I have two poems in the new PANK print issue, which should be shipping around now, as well as a story in the new NOON, which will be out in a few months. Great way to start 2k12.


Livin' Like a Bug Ain't Easy

I would easily listen to this Kafka rock opera record if it really existed. "Livin' Like a Bug Ain't Easy" (starting 1:14) is such a tear-jerker!

Living like a bug ain't easy
My old clothes don't seem to fit me
I got little tiny bug feet
I don't really know what bugs eat
Don't want no one stepping on me
Now I'm sympathizing with fleas
Living like a bug ain't easy

(This Japanese animated adaptation of "A Country Doctor" is great too.)


dripping dark so dense

When I was in middle school, I started listening to punk and hardcore. Easily the most important band for me at that age, and in high school, was the Dead Kennedys. The twisted collage art, the dark humor, Biafra's weird vocals, the surreal satire. An inordinate amount of my aesthetic can probably be traced back to this song in particular:


Now, I am become blog-Death, destroyer of words

I just deleted all of my 2005 blog posts and most of my 2006 ones. I'll probably thin out the early years more too. Google+ deleted all of my old images last year and it is too much work to replace them. Don't worry, there was nothing juicy deleted. It was mostly just links to random things. (Maybe I'm lying but now you'll never know!)


Pirates and friendship

It's funny that pirates were always going around searching for treasure, and they never realized that the real treasure was the fond memories they were creating.

- Jack Handey


Comic attempt #2

Here is my second attempt at a comic strip (or third really, but the other needs some revision). Check out the first comic here. This one may be a little obvious with its meaning, but I think the message is an important one in these trying economic times.


ever-shifting and contradicting blobs of absurdity

The Collagist interviewed me today about about my story "Hike" that they published last October. Mostly we talked about forests and cramming dreadfulness into fiction.

I’ve always thought that escalation is essential in fiction, so I am glad you think it builds to something. Or maybe what I mean is acceleration. I like the effect of tumbling down the slope of the story, picking of speed, getting dirt on your clothes, and nicking your skin on exposed rocks, until you crash into whatever lies at the bottom. It doesn’t have to be something violent, of course. Perhaps you tumble out into a field of dandelions. 


Boring personal reading habits 2k11

Below are all of the 70 books that I completed in 2011. Only the books I finished, not all the ones I started or read most of. 70 is a pretty healthy number, except when I filter out the graphic novels and comic collections, I only completed 26 prose books. This is not to say that prose books are superior to graphic novels or anything like that (I read so many because I'm collaborating on one with the artist and writer John Dermot Woods) but I have to acknowledge that graphic novels take me almost no time to read. The shortest ones on my list were probably completed in twenty minutes and the longest ones were still likely quicker reads than the shortest novellas. So, I'm going to break things into two lists.