Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: States of Grace by Steven Graham Jones

26 Sep

Stephen Graham Jones’s collection, States of Grace (Springgun Press) is spilling over with unique short-shorts that are compact, forceful and sharp, kind of like a razor blade you’d keep under your tongue. Similar to Dylan Nice’s Other Kinds, the stories are melancholy, bizarre, tender, and familial. As with any other collection of fierce short-shorts, the first sentences are barbed and laced with a noxious tonic that grab the reader by the scruff of the neck. Here are a few:

From “Modern Love”

My son’s first-grade teacher doesn’t shoot heroin any more.

From “Neither Heads Nor Tails”

My father lost his left nipple in a hunting-related accident.

From “Hatchery”

Martin once tried to shoot a fish he put in a barrel.

From “Seafood”

After examining the facts for eight-odd years, in which both his wife and his job fell away like a second, unnecessary skin he’d never even known he had, Rick finally decided that it had been obvious, really, and, being not just rational but bound by the smallest indicators, he had no choice but to admit that that day he’d taken his four-year old son to the beach it had, yes, been almost solely to have him dragged out by a shark.

From “Bulletproof”

When Ton and Ricky and the rest of them came to shoot my brother in the street in front of our house, I was eleven years old.

From “Easy Money”

All we had to do was record the sound of a wooden bat on a human skull.

Jones takes on a variety of techniques throughout the book, but he’s never guilty of displaying simple literary stunts. Instead, the pieces have been skillfully and precisely crafted, and flow at a feverish pace with rhythm and fluidity:

From “Faberge”

and then there was the day the week the year my mother found the magazine I had hidden in such a perfect place, shuffled in with the rest of my magazines, and I don’t think she even told me at first but thought about it for a week, maybe two, looked at herself in the mirror a little too long some mornings, was too polite to me about staring into the refrigerator for minutes on end, and she never told my dad, either, but that was just because he was dead already so maybe he knew anyway, in the way dead people know things, which makes our skulls into glass . . .

From “Seafood”

If there had been a painting of that day, he knew, then he and Danny would have been at the center of it, every brushstroke radiating out from them. But there had been no painting and he hadn’t even known then to be looking for the brushstrokes.

From “Matinee: A Love Affair”

In the darkness of the theatre we did it too, stretching our fingertips up just to be part of it, a brief shadow. Even walking home we would find ourselves silhouetted against a building by approaching headlights and smile, then cast our eyes down over it, trying to affect a forlorn posture before the car swept past.

From “Backsplash”

You can’t bleach everything, after all. At a certain point, the harsh smell starts to be the thing that gets you caught, not whatever it is you’re trying to erase.

What I’m Reading

25 Sep

Huzzah! A new category of posts. I took up this fun little project of taking photos of what I’m reading wherever I happen to be reading them when the “Oh wow, I love this.” feeling strikes. Keep an eye out for them in our Instagram and also right here. Here’s around up of some of my summer reads, many of which have since been vouched for.:

 

photo 1 photo 1 photo 2 (1) photo 2 (2) photo 3 (1) photo 3

Best Thing I’ve Heard This Week – Trains, Brains & Auto-Erotica: An Oral History of the Dingbats

23 Sep

The Dingbats may not be a real band, but Myke Johns really brings their history to full life – with  and with these readings from Nicholas Teckosy, Bobbin Wages, Adam Lowe, Myke Johns himself and Jeremy Maxwell they really come to life. The whole thing can be read in the latest issue of Deer Bear Wolf, but this performance is completely charming to the ear.

And if that tickles your fancy: in addition to his own written achievements and efforts with Write Club Atlanta, Myke Johns puts a lot of effort showcasing and championing the efforts of Atlanta’s literary scene through his podcast, LitCast, at WABE 90.1. There’s a bevy of goodness to be heard. (We Atlantans really owe Myke a lot – so much heartfelt effort goes into these recordings.)

Single Sentence Review: Easter Rabbit

22 Sep

ER-Cover1

Easter Rabbit by Joseph Young
Publishing Genius Press
104 pg // $10

These are images without context, dialogues without voices – but they are not withholding: feel them in the palm of your hand, then hold them to the light.

Awful Interview: Todd Seabrook

19 Sep

Todd Seabrook This is Todd Seabrook. Todd’s real first name is William, but that’s no matter. He hails from Ohio, was educated in Colorado, and is working on scoring his Doctorate from FSU as. you. read. Along with getting a host of awesomeness published over the years, his chapbook, The Imagination of Lewis Carroll, was the winner of this year’s chapbook contest at Rose Metal Press. We’re celebrating its release here in Atlanta at a big ol’ party at the Highland Ballroom, hosted by 421 Atlanta (who published his collection The Passion of Joan of Arc earlier this year) and Rose Metal Press. To celebrate, Todd allowed me to awfully interview him.

So, Todd. (Or should I call you William? Mr. Seabrook? W.T.? – you tell me!) with release about Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll now, I’m guessing you’re a bit of a historian. Is that true?

I have always gone by my middle name, a family tradition that was created, I assume, to make sure there is always a source of confusion in my life. So you may call me Todd, thereby fulfilling my parents’ penchant toward single-syllable middle names, chaos.

If I am a historian, I am a terrible one. It does not take an acute reader to know that Joan of Arc did not actually burn at the stake before standing witness in her own trial, or that Lewis Carroll did not kill the same person twice in two separate duels. But I still maintain these biographies are very accurate, except for all the things that didn’t actually happen, of course. I’m guessing such a statement does not qualify as good historical methodology, but these books are not interested in history so much as the individual characters. I am a fan of Joan of Arc and Lewis Carroll, and I write their life as a fan would. Their stories have been in our culture for centuries, and have somewhat fossilized over the ages, shorn and condensed into banal trivia questions. In order to show what they accomplished—Joan of Arc, a 19-year old girl, single-handedly saving France from becoming England II, and Lewis Carroll telling a story one afternoon on a whim that is still being told today—accuracy took a back seat to the dramatic, the colossal, the impossible. I am a fan, not a historian, and these books are my noblest attempts at true fan fiction.

Historical fan fiction – I like it! What other historical figures are you a fan of? I’m a total fangirl for Teddy Roosevelt, personally.

I have written two other magical realist biographical chapbooks—if that’s what these can be called—one on J. Robert Oppenheimer and one on Steve Prefontaine. I would also add Robin Hood into my list of favorite historical figures even though he never actually existed. But obviously such quibbling details concern me not. It is an incongruous melee of people, who share very little with each other (different eras, countries, ages, talents), but they all stand out to me as people who were exceptional at what they did, and that is why I am drawn to them.

Great choices! Wouldn’t it be funny if they all did have something in common that we just couldn’t possibly be aware of this day and age? For instance, maybe they all had a peanut allergy. Or maybe none of them were very apt at climbing trees.

What if I am their only connection, and they all existed solely so that I could write about them in a series of limited-run chapbooks. What grand design!

Wow! That’s so Being John Malkovich. Remember that movie?

I do, one of Kaufman’s best.

I couldn’t agree more. Did it make you want to take up puppetry, a little? Do you think you’d be good at that? Do you have any other comparable secret hobbies the world should know about?

In a related field to puppetry, I am a juggler, and own a  set of juggling balls and pins. I am also a marathon runner, which is why I have a preoccupation with Steve Prefontaine. Aside from running and juggling, my friends know me as a lover of cats,  a fan of science-fiction and  ICP, and a collector of beer caps, which, as I see them all together, seems like another odd assortment.

 That is quite a menagerie of talents. Will you be juggling at this Saturday’s reading? No pressure! But other than your juggling act and reading – what are you looking forward to most about this weekend’s festivities?
I will be dressed as the Mad Hatter for the reading, and I may bring my juggling balls, or maybe even my pins, just to delight the crowd. I can’t wait to see who else will be dressed up for the event, and I am looking forward to reading with Laird Hunt (making a reading-Laird-Hunt sandwich). All in all, I can’t imagine a launch party that could be any more fun than this.

Single Sentence Review: The Book of Joshua

12 Sep

The Book of Joshua 02j

The Book of Joshua
Zachary Schomburg
Black Ocean 
128 p // $19.95

This is a journey without a departure, which makes it endless – an expedition through the space between grief and trauma, an unwieldy terrain that aching with hunger.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Sprezzatura

10 Sep

sprezzatura-cover-front640

Sprezzatura
Mike Young
Publishing Genius 
132 pp // $14.95

 

Mike Young doesn’t fuck around – but does he? This collection will make you pause and think things like “Wow, it’s great to be alive” but also it will make you think, “I wonder what the weather’s like in Switzerland right now?” What I’m saying is that you’ve got to follow the thread, follow Mike Young. The thread is a colorful thing that’s all tangled and strung in odd, unexpected ways. If it gets dark – don’t worry! – it’ll lighten up soon. If it’s too bright just shade your eyes and squint a little. It’ll all even out soon enough.

 

 

 

Single Sentence Review: Bangalore

9 Sep

1514_lg

Bangalore
Kerry James Evans
Copper Canyon Press
96 pages / $16

Not every soldier goes to war, but these are stories of battle just the same.

Single Sentence Review: The Way We Sleep

7 Sep

Front Cover - 5.21.12

The Way We Sleep
Edited by C. James Bye and Jessa Bye
Curbside Splendor
220p/$14.95

Whether we are nestled or sprawled, heavily cushioned or atop a hardwood floor – these slumber stories occupy the most intimate of spaces: just as much the pillow made by the crook of a heavy arm a the endless expanse of our technicolor dreams.

 

VouchedATL (& friends) at the Decatur Book Festival!

26 Aug

2013 DBF Logo Hor

It’s Labor Day weekend which in Atlanta means the Decatur Book Festival is taking the city by storm! Once again, the Vouched table will be set up at the festival all weekend, this time we’ll be sharing a booth with the 421 and Publishing Genius in the ART | DBF pavilion, and in really good company there, neighbored by arts organizations such as our pals at BURNAWAYDad’s Garage, Deer Bear Wolf, Mike Germon & John Carroll, Lily & the Tigers, and more! You’ll find us in BOOTH 324 – 325. 

Here’s a map!

2014-map

(it’ll get bigger when you click on it, promise.)

As always though, there will be plenty of other things to do and see at the festival. I’ve compiled a list of events below that may help, but I heartily suggest you take a peak at the full schedule of events here. For updates on events throughout the weekend you can check out VouchedATL’s twitter page, and of course, the Decatur Book Festival’s twitter page!

Here are some highlights from the weekend’s schedule for you!

Saturday, August 30th

10 a.m.: Labor of Love: Running a Small Press – (Marriott Conference Center Ballroom C) moderated by Amy McDaniel with panelists Bruce Covey, Matt DeBenedictis, Amanda Mills, and Adam Robinson

10 a.m.: The Wren’s Nest Scribes (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio) listen to the works of the students of the Wren’s Nest KIPP Strive Academy 1

3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Best American Poetry Book Launch (The Decatur Recreation Center Gym) featuring Jericho Brown and Patricia Lockwood!

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Worth A Thousand(At the Decatur High School Stage) a collaboration between Vouched Books and #WeLoveATL. Readings from Thomas Wheatley, Christina Lee, Alex Gallo-Brown, and Amy McDaniel, inspired by the photographs of David Voggenthaler, Wes Quarles, Jennifer Schwartz and Stephanie Calabrese.

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: The Wren’s Nest High School Publishing Co. (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio)

5:3o p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Yells & Oats: Write Club Atlanta tackles the classics (the Decatur Recreation Center Gym)

 

Sunday, August 31

12 p.m.: LGBT Poetry (Eddie’s Attic Stage) Megan Volpert, Matthea Harvey, and Mark Wunderlich

2:30 p.m.: The Collected Works of Lucille Clifton (The Decatur Conference Center Ballroom) Jericho Brown, Kevin Young, Sharan Strange, and Dana Greene

4:15 p.m.:  Emory University (Local Poetry Stage) Bruce Covey, Jericho Brown, Gina Myers, Dana Sokolowski

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,852 other followers