Tag Archives: James Tadd Adcox

RCNC Reading (04/23/13): Pope, Krutel, Shaheen, & Adcox

30 Apr

On Tuesday, April 23 in Akron, OH, Glenn Shaheen and James Tadd Adcox rolled through town for their recent Great Lakes region book tour. The writers teamed up with the local poets and co-hosts of The Big Big Mess Reading Series, Alexis Pope and Mike Krutel. Hosted by the artists that run Rubber City Noise Cave, all four readers put on lively performances, excerpts of which can be found below.

Here is Alexis Pope reading her poem “I Think I Would Die”:

Here is Mike Krutel reading his poem “Physical Cliff”:

Here is Glenn Shaheen reading his poem “Predatory”:

And, finally, here is James Tadd Adcox reading from his “Scientic Method” series:

Thomas Jefferson Is Screwed: Anthology of Etiquette and Terrifying Angels With Many Heads

19 Oct

I can’t not smirk even when I look at the cover:  how tongue-in-cheek the design is, recalling something like the 1870-whatever edition of Paradise Lost I found in my hometown library in high school, This is what a distinguished piece of literature looks like.  There’s even a multitude of date stamps on the inside cover’s checkout card.

I think that’s why I find this collection so endearing, not just for the quality of writing but how through so many details the Anthology of Etiquette and Terrifying Angels With Many Heads, the new free e-chapbook from NAP, calls attention to its own unlikeliness of existing, and the absurdity that it actually does, reveling in it with total sincerity one second then riffing on its own ridiculousness the next.  And please don’t think by “ridiculousness” I mean “stupid.” This thing is smart.  I just mean the kind of ridiculousness James Tadd Adcox mentions in his Editor’s Note:

I want to thank as well all of the writers who were willing to contribute work to this anthology, taking it on faith that such a strange book would ever exist.

Matt Bell’s  “When Taking a Terrifying Angel With Many Heads As Your Lover” reads like a sex ed manual for Mormon teenagers from an alternate universe, or a flawlessly proper yet strangely sensually comfortable governess administering a heavenly rite of passage into adulthood, at times boxing your ears for your gross impertinence.  It’s kind of brutal and totally hilarious.  The reader gets constantly reminded of their own childish inexperience and insignificance before their lover:

If asked where you would like to sit at the pre-coital dinner, do not reply smartly: “At the right hand.” But if you do say this, do not also giggle and try to slide the terrifying angel’s own right hand into the drop of your lap. The terrifying angel with many heads is deadly serious about his duties, and will not enjoy your casual nature.

Another one of my favorites here is Joseph Scapellato’s “Thomas Jefferson,” in which said president lives through some dream-within-a-dream mash-up of one of Aesop’s fables and Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness. Throughout the story, Jefferson repeatedly “wakes up” from a progression of dreams in which he is taking part in typically Jeffersonian pursuits—reading books on a variety of subjects, inventing new machines, etc.—hoping to meet the morning as he does every day, only to find the morning absent:

Always they had shared an understanding, matching roles they donned each dawn like masquerade halfmasks, costumes that enhanced rather than concealed their character. Always he had woken into morning and met it with patience, contemplation, and productivity, qualities that came from and were homage to the morning, qualities that when given returned threefold. He headed for the highest hill, his beaded moccasins turning water, the trim of his smoking robe sweeping tips of  grass, his ivory hair-queue loosening with every step. Behind their old clear understanding he began to sense a darker and still older etiquette, artfully opaque, something like a dream that the morning had woken the world into, a dream that for however senseless it seemed was shackled to its own chilly iron logic.

Eventually Jefferson encounters a series of surreal temptations to betray his faith, not in any god but man’s ability and desire for fairness and enlightenment.  He repeatedly rebuffs his tempter, the Redcoat, but their exchanges become surreal and unhinged to the point that it seems hard to think that even Jefferson’s genuine love of reason and orderliness could ever overcome the increasingly nightmarish world around him.  Disorder claws at him, including in the form of a terrifying angel with many heads of his lovers, and we pretty much get that Thomas Jefferson is screwed.  Here, absurdity is not out for laughs, it’s trying to kill the third U.S. President.  Scapellato handles this fucked up morality tale or Bible story or whatever you want to call it with clarity and efficient description—there are just enough monsters present to imagine how many more might be lurking around the corner.

Also check out Vouched contributor Amber Sparks’ reflection about being a terrifying angel with many heads’ long-term platonic, silent companion waiting eons to hear it speak, and Colin Winnette’s story about a terrifying angel with many heads who is also the mother of an uneasy child with rumbling blood, and this chapbook’s many other lovely and unsettling and terrifying heads, here.

Awful Interview: James Tadd Adcox Redux

9 Aug

This is James Tadd Adcox giving no fucks.

Look. I know James Tadd Adcox had an Awful Interview here fairly recently, but there’s no point in arguing. James Tadd Adcox deserves another Awful Interview, because he’s coming to Indy to read next week, and that’s that. It’s final. If you keep arguing with me, I’ll turn this blog around and take us all back home right now. No. You can’t go to the bathroom. Shut up. Shut up.

I said shut up.

Let’s get right to the cut: tell me about Malort, and why on God’s earth do you make me drink it every time I’m in Chicago, and why on God’s earth do I drink it, even though I know it’s the official drink of Hell?

Malort is the official drink of making people who aren’t from Chicago drink it. Generally a night that involves Malort is a good night. Technically, Malort is supposed to be spelled with an umlaut over the “o,” though God only knows why. Besides, umlauts are a pain to type, so to hell with it.

There’s a genre of youtube videos called “malort face.” The idea is, you give someone who hasn’t had Malort before a shot of Malort, and you film it. Like most good ideas, it’s pretty straightforward. The taste of Malort has been described as “like a tire fire,” “like someone just laid asphalt on your tongue,” “like the souls of dead orphans.” The bottle describes its taste as “a unique botanical,” and notes that it is a favorite of “two-fisted drinkers everywhere.” You can only buy Malort in Chicago, which is probably good for the future of the species.

It really is a terrible concoction. The only reason I drink it is because I want you to like me. Do you like me?

I do like you, Christopher. I like you very much. I won’t say that it’s because you drink Malort, but I won’t say that it’s unrelated, either.

Good. I like you, too, Tadd. Just so the record’s clear. Do you listen to vinyl? Are you one of those people?

I don’t, but it’s not because I’m not pretentious enough to. It’s that records are really heavy, and I tend to move about once a year. I am trying to live in all of the Chicago neighborhoods. So far I have lived in Ukranian Village, Humbolt Park, Pilsen, and Logan Square. Candidates for next neighborhood include Andersonville, Bronzeville, Back-of-the-Yards, Boy’s Town.

I think the truly important question here is: Which of those neighborhoods has the most hookers per capita?

Oh man, there was actually a really depressing story in the local free weekly this week about underage homeless prostitutes in Boy’s Town. Well, and the underage queer homeless population more generally. Here, I’ll post a link.

Crap. Did I just bring everything down? Did I kill the mood?

No way, dude. Underage homeless prostitutes are hilarious. I’m actually planning on reading a story about them solving crimes, fucking Hardy-Boys-style, at the reading. Do you have any special things planned for the Vouched Presents reading?

You are a terrible man.

I am imagining what Hardy-Boys-style fucking would be like. I know that’s not how you intended that, but now I’m thinking about it. It seems like of kinky, in a faux-naive way. The word “adventures” would be involved. Flashlights. The possibility of terrible crimes, just outside the borders of the (sexual) fiction.

At the Vouched Presents reading: probably Russ will sing. Maybe I will sing. Russ is actually a musician, so him singing will be less weird. Meghan’s performance might involve some sort of fake blood or animal parts or tiny dolls designed for choking, I don’t know. Possibly I will make some kind of spectacle, if the reading seems to call for it.

Oh, and Russ and I have both made special chapbooks for this tour, which we’ll be giving away for free.

You’re reading too, yeah? What are you going to do?

I am, which is weird, maybe. In the underground music scene, it’s common practice for the band that booked the show to include themselves on the bill, but that doesn’t seem so kosher in the lit scene. I feel like I’m breaking barriers or something, though I know I’ve been to plenty of readings where the organizer also read. Nothing is new under the sun.

I’m actually considering a set comprised completely of poetic performances of Ted Nugent songs. There might even be archery involved, and the killing and eating of various game. Not to ruin the surprise, but perhaps even a loin cloth. I don’t know.

Thoughts? Any final words for your would-be audience?

I don’t know. I’m just really excited about the prospect of archery. I want to shoot something. Let’s shoot things. Shooting is the new reading.

Some Favorite Parts of Some Favorite Indie Books I’ve Read Lately

9 Jul

ImageFrom The Map of the System of Human Knowledge, by James Tadd Adcox, published by Tiny Hardcore Press

I’ve run out of dreams. For the past four nights, all that’s been in my head, the entire time I slept, was a dial tone. I tell my friends about this. Everyone congratulates me. They tell me they had secretly run out of dreams long ago. We go out to celebrate. My friend Thomas, who hasn’t shaved in days, leans in extremely close to my face. He’s had too much to drink. He tells me that all we can do now is wait for the night that the dial tone goes silent, when whoever is on the other side of our dreams answers.




Continue reading

Vouched on the Road: Chicago with James Tadd Adcox

28 Jun

In the second of my road trip posts, I visit with James Tadd Adcox of Chicago for some a few days of city living and great times.

My road trip took me next to Chicago to hang with James Tadd Adcox (though who calls him James? I call him Tadd. I like how it thumps!). Tadd is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago and head honcho of Artifice. He is the author of the recently released The Map of the System of Human Knowledge, out now from Tiny Hardcore Press. Most importantly, he is a fun dude who loves Chicago.

I read his book, this ambitious and (obviously) incomplete and great map-in-stories, a week before visiting Tadd. Stemming from a project where Tadd wrote a flash fiction piece a day for a year (he never missed a day!), these are stories that let you bite into them and bite back, with some touching mix of morality and humor and deep emotion. Here is Tadd reading my favorite story from the book:

Pre-Visit Mini-Interview with Tadd

1. How long have you lived in Chicago?

I’ve lived here around 5 years. Different neighborhood every year or two: Ukrainian Village, Humbolt Park, Pilsen, Logan Square.

2. What are your favorite pieces of Chicago?

I really love Pilson. I lived there for about eight months. It’s kind of an island, it feels like it’s connected to the rest of the city through warp zones or a series of underground tunnels.

3. What brought you to Chicago? What keeps you in Chicago?

I originally came to Chicago because I realized that a friend of mine was paying less in rent here than I was, in Lafayette, Indiana. At the time I was finishing up an MFA at Purdue, and didn’t have any definite plans for my future: I just wanted to move somewhere interesting and find some mindless work and write.

The first year I was in town I worked a lot of really terrible jobs: I was a “data entry specialist,” a canvasser, at one point I got paid to sit in the audience for a daytime talk show (that was a pretty good one, actually, though it wasn’t steady or well-paid enough to live on). Eventually I decided to apply for the PhD program at UIC, and that’s what I’m doing now–working on a PhD and teaching.

4. How has Chicago influenced your writing?

Hm. I’m not totally sure. Certainly there’re a ton of writers in Chicago, and I feel like knowing and talking to all of these people influences what I do.

Chicago’s maybe a little more open to formalist or non-realist work. Or maybe that’s just the small-press scene in general. But there’s a pretty huge, supportive small-press scene in Chicago. If nothing else, it’s nice to have other people around you writing, so that you don’t feel like it’s a totally crazy thing to be spending your time doing.

5. If you could live in any city, what would it be and why?

Oh man, I’ve got a list. In the US: Boston, Milwaukee, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Kansas City, Anchorage, Savannah–Savannah’s a big one. Savannah’s gorgeous. Somewhere in Virginia–Charlottesville, maybe? Charleston, both of them.

Outside the US: Buenos Aires, Monterrey, Vienna, Heidelberg, Berlin, Santiago de Compostela, Barcelona, Helsinki, Glasgow, Toronto, Lyons, probably I’m forgetting some.

I’d really like to be able to city-hop, live in a place for a couple of years, head somewhere else. I don’t like feeling like a tourist, like I’m somewhere without having any reason to be. But I do really like the feeling of living someplace new, figuring out how life works there, etc.

6. How’s the literary scene in Chicago?

Pretty friendly, I’d say. It seems like the number of readings has fallen off a little over the past year, but it’s possible that I’m just being a little more asocial recently. Hard to say.

7. Describe Chicago in three words.

I’m terrible at these. I always want to be super-witty, but everything I come up with just seems “clever” (in the sense of clever that means “actually kind of annoying”). Here, let’s try just being descriptive: flat, navigable, (nevertheless fairly often) surprising.

“Flat” is something that I’ve come to really like, particularly since my main form of transit in the city is biking.

I realize that the parenthesis is a bit of a cheat.

8. What are you most stoked to show me in Chicago?

I’m pretty excited about taking you to Feed, which is this awesome chicken place on Chicago Ave. It’d be great if we got the chance to go to Maria’s, which is one of my favorite bars, down in Bridgeport. Do you have a car? Or a bike, a bike would work too. Some form of non-CTA transportation will make this a lot easier. There are a couple of great bookstores: Quimby’s and Myopic, the Seminary Co-op down in Hyde Park. The Garfield Park Conservatory, which is one of my favorite places in the city, and also one of the primary ways that I survive winter. The Harold Washington Library, which is the big one, downtown. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Institute, duh.

I am particularly stoked to introduce you to Malort at some point. Do not Google “Malort.”

(Ed. Note: Oh, I got some Malort. Gracious, I didn’t know people actually drank laundry detergent.)

One of my favorite experiences was visiting the Chicago Cultural Center’s exhibit Morbid Curiosity with Tadd, fellow Indiana-man Chad Redden, and that Akron knucklehead Joshua Kleinberg. From the collection of Chicago-dude Richard Harris, this is a massive, two-room collection of death artifacts. Ranging from pieces for The Day of the Dead to a collection of skulls (one even covered in diamonds!) to modern-day war protest pieces, this collection is shocking and a beautiful reminder of the (sometimes) uglier part of existence. As it is a free exhibit running until July 8th, I definitely suggest this for any Chicago visitors.

As one enters the collection, this monster of a painting (only a third-sh of it captured here), “Death March,” rattles expectations right. (Pardon the stoked-shaky-hands picture!)

A few nights before I headed to Chicago, the band Cloud Cult played a show in Indianapolis. Several pals, including Vouched top dog Christopher, went to it and said WOW. As I was getting together some plans for Chicago, I found out that Cloud Cult were playing a free show at Chicago’s Millennium Park on my second night in town. A host of several free concerts every summer, this amphitheater is perfect for such things, big and booming and beautiful. Though not a huge fan of Cloud Cult’s jams, I had a fabulous time at this show with Tadd, Kleinberg, and other Chicago friends, rolling around in the grass.

I like this picture of Tadd at the Cloud Cult show.

Tadd showed me several rad eating places, including a Logan Square diner that cured two hangovers during my visit. My favorite place though was the catalyst for the first of those hangovers, The Boiler Room. The atmosphere is borderline kitschy at times (like the “L” theme in the restroom), but it certainly makes up for it with great booze specials and awesome pizza. Like the PB&J special (a slice of Pizza, a tall boy of PBR, and a shot of Jameson for seven bucks). Like how they only take cash, but if you use the ATM, they reimburse your transaction fee with a shot of Jameson. Like Jameson soft serve ice cream. A visit here on my first night in town was the right move, oh yes.

Tadd also took me to two of Chicago’s raddest book stores, the ultra-independent Quimby’s and the packed-with-goodness used shop Myopic (below is Tadd at Quimby’s). Appropriately (I guess I can play that here), I snagged Chicago Stories by Michael Czyzniejewski from Chicago’s Curbside Splendor Press at Quimby’s (selections of these available in places like Tadd’s Artifice Magazine and The Collagist, among others).

Always exciting to see a friend’s work at the cool book shop. Even cooler to see it in the window, as The Map of the System of Human Knowledge chills in the window at Quimby’s. Apparently, Quimby’s is stellar when it comes to consignment, so THUMBS UP TO THEM OKAY.

Another exciting city, another cool writer pal, another hunk of rad experiences. Big thxxxxx to Tadd and everyone else in Chicago for their hospitality and fun spirits and Malort.

Tadd Adcox Wants to Read to You a Story

4 Jun

All this week, James Tadd Adcox is opening his Google Chat/Skype to anyone who wants Tadd to read to them. Here’s some info from his blog:

Monday through Friday [this] week, I will read you a story if you contact me through Gmail or Skype. The story will be from my first book, The Map of the System of Human Knowledge, which came out this week from Tiny Hardcore Press. I will be at my computer working from 10 am to 6 pm, Chicago time, so that’s the best time to contact me, if you want me to read to you.

All of the stories are fairly short, between 1 and 5 minutes maybe.

This is a good thing to do if you are wondering whether you would like the stories in this book, or also if you just want someone to read to you for 1 to 5 minutes.

My Gmail address is jamestaddadcox AT gmail DOT com. My Skype name is jamestaddadcox.

I am excited about this.

I just got this book in the mail last week, and started digging into it myself. It is full of so much goodness, and the way the stories hang on you feels like newly laundered clothes, or maybe the way feathers would feel against our skin if humans were feathered creatures. A feeling like we could take flight at any moment if we simply raised our arms high enough and pushed against the air beneath us and above the ground.

Tyler Gobble On The Road

11 May

This summer, I’m taking a two-month road trip, doing a few readings, playing lots of disc golf, hanging out with cool people. You can read more about that here.

I can’t bear to leave this beautiful blog behind, so to keep me in the loop, I’m gonna meet up with a writer at each of my major stops. I wanna experience this strange city, learn more about the writer, and get a sense of how they live in this place.

And then, I’ll report back here with audio/video, a mini-interview, and a recap by me, plus anything else the writer might wanna feature.

So far, here’s the lineup:

Akron, Ohio: Nick Sturm, Mike Krutel, Sammy Snodgrass

Chicago, Illinois: James Tadd Adcox

Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Katy Gunn

Atlanta, Georgia: Jamie Iredell

I’m also looking to add a few more writers, if any of you have suggestions/requests for the series (MI, KY, TN, NC, and WV are other possible locations).

Also, to help raise money for the series (like buying the writers’ dinner, etc.), I’m doing a poem-postcard fundraiser for the trip. Here is more info on that if you’re interested.


Awful Interview: James Tadd Adcox

13 Jul

James Tadd Adcox is an authority figure. He once punched a t-rex in the jaw. He’s the editor n’ chief of ArtificeHe writes good words that  you can read all over the place, which is how you may have heard of him. On Sunday, July 24th he’ll be reading at this little shindig known as the VouchedATL launch reading.

This is my first ‘awful interview’, you should know that. So I’m going to pull out my ace in the hole first if that’s okay with you: If you were a candy bar, James Tadd Adcox, what kind of candy bar would you be, and why?

What’s that candy bar that Steve Almond is searching for in Candy Freak? The candy bar that he remembers from his childhood, that he had like once? That may or may not exist? A Maravell? Something like that? A ghost candy bar. A candy bar marked by its own absence.
That or whatever candy bar Ghostface would be most likely to promote.

I think it was a Caravelle that Steve Almond was looking for. You mean Ghostface from Scream, right? Not Ghostface Killah?

Hm. If it’s an option, I’d like to say that I mean both.

Would you ever consider ghostwriting Ghostface Killah’s autobiography? What if Ghostface Killah turned out to be Ghostface? That would be so meta.

For my birthday a couple years back a friend of mine gave me The World According to Pretty Tony, written by Ghostface Killah. I’ve read it a couple of times. It had some pretty good advice in it, about like how you need to eat properly if you’re going to keep hustling and also some things that you can eat that would enable you to keep hustling. It also pointed out at one point that cocaine will make you shit, which I didn’t realize. There was a CD that came with it that was basically just Ghostface Killah reading the book, which is pretty nice if you want to look at the pictures and have Ghostface read to you.

I didn’t realize he had written a book! That sounds absolutely lovely. What other kinds of books inspire you? Also, would you say his advice about cocaine directly influenced your work in any way?

He said some stuff about not effing up Mother Earth that I think I’m still working through, like conceptually speaking, I guess. As far as other books go, I’ve found that when I’m working on a project, I like to go to the Harold Washington Library, which is the big one downtown, and check out more nonfiction books about the subject I’m writing about than I could ever possibly read, at least before the due date, and just kind of gorge myself on them. I think of it as stuffing myself, overeating. I end up with all of these random scenes and bits of dialogue on the scraps of paper I’ve been using as bookmarks.
When I’m reading fiction I really like dead Russians and Germans and dead or dying Americans. In the last category I particularly like the postmodernists or experimentalists or whatever you want to call them from the sixties & seventies. I keep going back to Donald Barthelme. And then it took me a really long time to get around to reading David Foster Wallace, and I kind of thought that I was going to be “meh” when I did, but I ended up really loving him. The Incandeza filmography in Infinite Jest is one of the most fun things I’ve read in a while.

Would you like to say anything to people who think that our reading on the 24th may just be “meh”?

There’s that one .gif animation that was a meme for a while, of a little rolly cartoon guy striding down the street, exuding confidence in said stride, and the words “Haters gonna hate” in a little thought bubble coming out of his head. That. Not just the “haters gonna hate” part, the whole animated .gif. Like, if I could learn the underlying 0’s and 1’s that made that .gif up, and just spout them off at someone. That’s what I’d say.

Vouched Atlanta Launch Reading!

7 Jul

¡importante!  Our launch reading date has been changed to Sunday, July 24th!

Great news everybody! The time has come for the VouchedATL launch reading!

RSVP on facebook! 

It’s time to celebrate! What better way to do so than with some of our favorite writers? Come join us at the Young Blood Gallery and Boutique (656 N Highland Ave., 30306) on Sunday, July 24th at 6:30pm. Don’t worry, admission is free. There will be wine, beer, books, and lots of awesome readers.

A boatload of thank you’s go out to PurgeATL for their sponsorship and assistance in planning the reading, specifically Matt DeBenedictis, Johnny Carroll, and Tim Song. Also to Jason Travis for the awesome poster design.

Another round of thank you’s to Maggie White and everyone at the Young Blood Gallery for so graciously donating their space.

Come and join us! You don’t want to hear about this second-hand afterwards, do you? (You really don’t)

Why didn’t I know about these?

30 Jan

So, I’m looking for a home for a couple pieces of flash I have all polished and shiny, and I think, “Tri-quarterly. I bet they might dig these, might open their door and see them swaddled in a basket on their doorstep, take them in and nurse them to full-grown. Love them so much they don’t even know they were adopted.”

And I’m poking through the current issue, and here is James Tadd Adcox with four short and powerful pieces. I can’t even breathe. I love them so much I can’t stand up. Read them.

1) She decides the best course of action is to layer tape over that part, to muffle the sound, maybe. She’s in there for a while. There’s more noise involved than one would expect. “How’s it going?” I call out. “I’m still sad,” she calls back.

2) I’ve run out of dreams. For the past four nights all that’s been in my head, the entire time I slept, was a dial tone. I tell my friends about this. Everyone congratulates me.

3) The off season is a kind of war between you and corrosion. You sit in the boardwalk bar and you wait for some kind of revelation and when that doesn’t come you ask the old woman in the tube top at the end of the bar what she’s drinking and she tells you. You’ll have that.

4) Finally the Internet will be populated almost entirely by ghosts. It will be impossible to do anything online, check one’s bank statement, watch a movie, check e-mail, etc., without running into some piece of script still functioning years after its author’s death.