Electric Literature, Pushcart Prize, and Taylor Swift: second half of 2014 round-up

Dear non-existent blog readers,

I've clearly let this blog die. I haven't updated since May, and a ton has been going on. Here's a quick recap:

- My story "If It Were Anyone Else" from NOON was included in the 2015 Pushcart Prize Anthology! I just got my contributor's copy in the mail. I'm extremely honored to be included alongside so many authors that I love, including writers who influenced me when I was first starting out. The anthology comes out this month.

- The new issue of Gigantic came out last month! Gigantic Ha-Ha includes work from Amelia Gray, Franz Kafka, James Hannaham, and a "The New Gigantic-er" insert with cartoons that are too dirty for a certain prominent magazine to publish.

- Since mid-May, I've been the Online Editor of Electric Literature and have published a ton of pieces by myself and others. Here were the most popular of mine:

- In other venues, I had two short stories appear in Midnight Breakfast in August.

- For Halloween, I wrote an essay on Horror fiction for The Masters Review called "Vocabulary of Fear"

- If you are an Oyster user, I made some some lists you can use to find cool books there

- In Buzzfeed, I had a long essay on "The Future of the Future of Books"

- And in June, I interviewed four debut novelists (Scott Cheshire, Julia Fierro, D. Foy, and Alena Graedon) on how to get published

- Lastly, I drew some new Monsters of Modern Literature trading cards and had them printed up for Halloween (hey, they make good X-Mas gifts too!)


Round-up of recent stuff: Coffee House, Ploughshares, Literary Mothers, etc.

It has been over a month and a half since I updated this, so here is a quick round-up of recent things:

- At Buzzfeed, I interviewed the great Jonathan Lethem about his "finishing" the final Don Carpenter novel that was just published by Counterpoint:
I’m not arguing that he’s Melville or James; reorganizing the 20th-century American canon around Don Carpenter would be as heedless as reorganizing a video store with a section for “Harry Dean Stanton Movies” up front. But then again, if you stuck to that section, you’d be in pretty good shape.

- After some Twitter ranting about the overuse of the term "realism," Rebecca Meacham asked me to have a conversation with her for Ploughshares. Here's part 1 and here's part 2.
Art can and should do a million things. But speaking purely for my own tastes, I want art that makes the world seem more unreal. I want fiction that can crumble the world and build it back into something new. This does not have to be done through a form of non-realism though. Many of my favorite writers—Lydia Davis, Diane Williams, Thomas Bernhard, Joy Williams, etc.—write work that is arguably realist, and yet they write with such originality (of voice, of authority, of syntax, of structure, of vision) that they cause me to see the world in new and surprising ways.

- For Nadxi Nieto's awesome Literary Mothers project--where writers talk about the female authors who inspired and influenced them--I wrote about the masterful Flannery O'Connor:
Writers create their voices by stealing bits and pieces of other writers and assembling them, Frankenstein-like, into a new whole. Then we pray it comes alive on the page. Since this essay is part of an important series on female literary influence, perhaps here is a good place to say that if a writer only reads men (or only reads white writers or only reads Americans, etc.) then their writing monster is going to be missing some important parts. For myself, good chunks of my writing monster are borrowed from O’Connor. I undoubtedly took parts of her dark humor, her deployment of the grotesque, and her willingness to be a bit nasty. 

The first twelve essays were excerpted on Buzzfeed for a mother's day article. You should check out the whole site, which includes Deb Olin Unferth on Gertrude SteinMatt Bell on Christine Schutt, Alissa Nutting on Lynda Barry, and many more. Submissions are rolling, so send one in!

- If you happen to see this post TODAY (5/17) and happen to live in NYC and happen to be looking for something to do tonight: I'm reading with Kelly Luce, Julia Fierro, and others for Lit Crawl. Come on out!

- Lastly, and most importantly, I finally signed my contract with Coffee House Press and was able to officially announce that my debut collection, Upright Beasts, will be published in 2015. I really couldn't be more thrilled/excited/honored to be working with a press as awesome as Coffee House!

More soon. Maybe.


An essay on Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Over at Flavorwire, I wrote about one of my favorite novels: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I also talk a bit about the problems with always calling female characters either "strong" or "unlikable," and say this:

I’m reading to be surprised, gripped, and then carried off — like deer downed by a pack of wolves — into the woods of an author’s mind.


Lush Rot: Flannery O’Connor, True Detective, Southern hip-hop, and the gnarled roots of Southern Gothic.

I was asked by Guernica to write about something related to Southern Gothic and I went a little nuts cramming in everything from Dirty South hip-hop and Flannery O'Connor to kudzu vines and The Walking Dead.
If the Gothic was ethereal in England, it became earthy in the South. Where Emily Brontë writes of mythic lovers in candlelit parlors, William Faulkner writes of an impoverished family dragging their mother’s corpse through the countryside.
The essay is part of Guernica's awesome Southern issue that also features Kiese Laymon, Laura van den Berg, Catherine Lacey, Jamie Quatro, and a bunch of others.

New stories in UNSTUCK and NOON

I've got two new stories in two of my favorite literary magazines: NOON and Unstuck. Both issues have pretty amazing line-ups. NOON 2014 has Clancy Martin, James Yeh, Brandon Hobson, Christine Schutt, Ann DeWitt, Anya Yurchyshyn, and many more. Unstuck #3 has Matt Bell, Amelia Gray, Patrick Somerville, Lindsay Hunter, Rick Moddy, and a ton of others. Check them out.

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Over at Buzzfeed Books, I interviewed Jeff VanderMeer about his rad new novel, Annihilation

 "If the reader enters a kind of immersive experience reading a book, then I have to enter a kind of immersive state to do my best work. Dreams, though, are just one kind of inspiration — no more or less special than something in a newspaper article or from the world around you sparking inspiration. The main thing is to put yourself in a place where you’re receptive to what offers itself up to you."


Adam Wilson interview and House of Cards reading list

I had two recent Buzzfeed Books pieces:

1) An interview with author and friend Adam Wilson where we talk about writing sex scenes and humorous fiction.

2) 23 Books Every Fan of House of Cards Should Read in which I list novels and non-fiction books filled with Machiavellian schemers and political intrigue.


more monster fiction

In January, I had six monster flash fiction pieces published in Necessary Fiction. In February, I had one monster flash fiction story published in Monkeybicycle. This is the first line:

This morning I murder your mother, but then I always murder your mother. 

Only a week left to do your True Detective homework

Two weeks ago I wrote a True Detective reading list for Buzzfeed Books. Forgot to post it here until now, but check it out for suggestions on books that inform the show's mythology and philosophy as well as just some rad southern gothic and weird fiction books fans might dig.


Literary books that YA readers might love: Calvino, Jackson, Yu, Carter, Bender, etc.

I wrote a list for Buzzfeed called 13 Literary Books that Young Adult Readers Will Love. Note: not making an argument about "literary" vs. "young adult"--literary is certainly a problematic term in many ways--only suggesting some books that are normally shelved as "literary fiction."


flash fiction monster flicks

I was asked by Necessary Fiction to write some movie-inspired fiction, and came up with six flash fiction pieces loosely based on classic movie monsters: Frankenstein, Nosferatu, Mummy, Creature, Poltergeist, and Werewolf. Check them out.


"Fragments of a Young Conquistador" in e-single form

My Day One story "Fragments of a Young Conquistador" is now available as an e-single. It's only 99 cents (or free if you have Amazon Prime).

I also now have an author page on Amazon as well as on Goodreads, which is pretty rad.


don't judge a book by the taste of its cover

I somehow succeeded in starting a hashtag on twitter with puns on book titles and candy. Buzzfeed wrote about it and made an awesome collection of fake covers book like If on a Winter's Night a Twizzler and Fall of the House of Gushers.