Tag Archives: mud luscious press

Indie Lit Classics: Svalina, Xu, Killebrew

12 Sep

MathiasI Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur

Mathias Svalina

Mud Luscious Press, 2011

Add this book to the list of reasons it’s a shame good ol’ Mud Luscious Press shut the doors, blinds, chimney. I’ve read a major portionhunk of their fine books–go ahead and checkmark them all reasons it’s a shame–and this was the last of the bunch that I scurried inside of (so far; got that newish Kimball collection on my to-read list). That’s a shame, too, that I waited so long. Svalina here talks as this fella who has created many lifetimes worth of businesses—intrusive and surreal, heart-wrenching and ingenious. Fancy stereos installed in people’s heads. Wardrobe swap company where you get the rags and robes of someone who recently kicked the bucket. A tour company that shows Americans around their own neighborhoods. But beyond a list of clever constructions what makes this book a small press classic is how it develops each business, not as a professional entity alone, but as a pulsing, dynamic piece of this fella’s life —a block of the self that can fail and can grow and can loop and can puncture. There’s a flurry of these list/series type books in the small press world, many of them super cool!, but here Svalina has captured the fascinating world of creation, of meaning-making, of not letting failure keep one from failing again. “Productive” has many connotations, and Svalina’s telling of the story over and over captures the momentum as it shifts from creating a useful business to creating a large quantity of businesses, the heap as its own kind of product. And beyond, what is most impressive (and sure to be long-lasting) about this work and the world(s) he’s captured is the book’s ability to elude monotony and crippling disappointment; each one subtly shake us further into the throes of this book’s capitalism and unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit. And I hope the people who want to read this book in the future are successful entrepreneurs because apparently a print copy on Amazon is gonna cost them a hundred (or more!) bucks, though of course, it’s still available in fancy ebook form for us less successful folks.

I started this one business that applied to the eyes of our clients the opposite of blinders, what we called Seeingers.

See everything! Every detail before you in intense exactitude! This was our pitch. Our scientists stumbled upon these Seeingers during an experiment on the bone structures of kaleidoscopes. It was a failed venture, until two of the scientists, depressed at their impending unemployment, got gin-drunk in the lab & ended up half-naked with the bones of kaleidoscopes strapped around their faces. What they saw in that moment they could not describe. Later, during his debriefing, the senior scientist said it was the visual equivalent of when you bite through your tongue & suddenly feel how your teeth are both weapons & exposed bones.

The Seeingers made every detail as important as if you were looking into the face of your child for the first time. No patch of spackle or inflamed pore was ignorable. Each dent in the hood of the car after the hailstorm was unique & therefore astounding. The creases on the pants of the person on the other end of the subway were as vivid as the exclamatory breasts of the woman in the window, removing her shirt in a Greek statuary flourish at the exact moment you happened to look up toward the sky.

Read the rest at Everyday Genius.

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You Are Not DeadWendy

Wendy Xu

Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013

Before someone shrieks against this being a indie press classic, let me explain: Though released on a university press just this year (though hey hey right right a university poetry press is often a smidge of a thing, too), Wendy Xu’s first book deserves to be in this here list because of its origins in the small press magazine scene. Let’s mosey into the acknowledgements list where we find tops small press journals like Dark Sky Magazine, Forklift, Ohio, ILK, Phantom Limb, and many more. This book is a triumph in putting together the pieces—the poems lifted from the indie press world to win a university prize, the wacky and startling pieces of life smushed together, voice melding with passion to create a whole new hum. It’s impossible to fall asleep inside a Wendy Xu poem. What you once think you saw (“Here there is an altar made of sand. It dismantles/no less than itself to please the sea.”) gets quietly disassembled and brought back to new life five poems later (“I put some sand in a jar and wait/for it to mean. Some horses wade into/the dangerous ocean because what else/is more important to see?”). It’s impossible to fall over dead from boredom in a Wendy Xu poem, though of course, she reminds us one day we will die, in her ending sequence, each called “We Are Both Sure to Die” (See below). But ultimately these poems, slapped with that sticker You Are Not Dead, remind us that time is not now, there’s still joyous life and tragic sorrow and paranoid delusion and impossible connections waiting for us, blowing into our faces—“In my past life I was just a math/equation and then I got promoted. Now I have/way more variables.”

Without coffee and only very minor explosions
to spell our names. One will actually just be
a bird meeting a clear pane of glass. Fanfare
and various stems of wine. People circulating
in a slow, meaningful fashion around
other people exchanging gifts. One time you
gave me a gift. One time everything
was rare and dispensed in intricate
packaging. One time it was a real accomplishment
to find someone a coat they could wear
into a mountain and its forgiving silence.

Read the rest (and another from this sequence) at Diagram.

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KillebrewFlowers

Paul Killebrew

Canarium Books, 2010

Mr. Ware brought forth Killebrew’s new book, Ethical Consciousness, in his great style not that long ago. But here I wanna poke back further, into Killebrew’s debut collection, Flowers. Flowers is one of those rare books that gives off a mist of rowdy and loud, yet still bends its knees to talk insightfully into your face, an effusive mix of the emotional and the intellect. Meaning: Killebrew is a pure delight, a fuse lit before the fireworks even begin; each poem in Flowers demands to be read—read aloud, read to someone, read with your heartrate a bunch of notches higher. Killebrew relentlessly searches, asks questions, demands from us and the world (answers okay I guess, but also cooperation, curiosity and enthusiasm). In “For Beth Ward,” Killebrew begins, “One of my basic human dilemmas/goes something like, Does metaphor/contain us, or do we extend ourselves/out into it?” and as he moves from himself, the “my,” to include the “us,” we relearn what contains us, what shapes us, what room we have to wiggle.

…Dark blue clouds approach
from the west like a future from California
full of the natural tragedies of living there:
mudslides, earthquakes, house sinking into the ocean,
B-movie actors in positions of public authority.
I hope it’s not all happening on my account.

The coasts shape our boundaries
and in this way define us, though sometimes
you forget all about them, forget that you’ve got ears
on either side of your head, that a lake
in Carlisle, Illinois isn’t, in fact, the ocean,
but just a place out in the corn
where people in shorts circle arbitrary triangles
under the fact of dark blue clouds arriving without thunder.
The clouds just sit there, a quiet, heavy metaphor
we share like a giant backyard.

Wow, no, don’t be thinking Killebrew is searching for meaning, is trying to convey meaning, but rather, he exports ideas to bend this world backwards into a new light. It’s impossible to know where our next step will land us, where Killebrew’s next breath will guide us, but two books into this dude’s career, I’m invested and committed and will hop in the buggy for the wild ride every time, all along the way asking the question I ask all my pals who haven’t read this fella, “Why aren’t we throwing parades for Paul Killebrew?”

SS Review: Poisonhorse by Brandi Wells

26 Feb

Poisonhorse

POISONHORSE by Brandi Wells

Nephew, 34 pgs., August 2012, $10

A literary eruption, is that a thing, if that’s a thing, it just happened over here, out comes a saddened–>tortured love cry, a near-epic struggle twisted forward and within and out of over a bitty 34 pages, the story of Poisonhorse shrieks, as the horse and the poison the narrator gives it and the bears and the rats and the lady in the cistern and etc. burrow their way into you, as you begin to see yourself as one of the severed heads in the bear’s belly, as what you thought to call love expands and then immediately bursts in your hands.

Check out pieces of Horse here and here. Get the Horse here.

Ben Spivey Excerpts from Black God

24 Jul

It is clear to me that this will be yet another skull slapping book from the MudLuscious Press/Blue Square Press mega-book creators. If you’re not paying attention to what shuffles out of their hands by now, then I just, I just don’t know.

The tape recorder hissed its cursed breath, elapsed time. We burgeon many more children. Found our way through the single door, opened the single window. Took the boys to the waves. Took the girls to the garden.

Read the whole issue here, including the whole sampling of Mr. Spivey’s Black God.

SSR #10 of 15: Cataclysm Baby

12 Jul

Cataclysm Baby
by Matt Bell
Mud Luscious Press
105 pgs, $12

Twenty-six fathers, each the victim of his wayward child, of his own greed, of his own fury (when Icarus fell from the sky, he took Daedalus down with him- because it was Daedalus who put him there).

SSR #4 of 15: [C.] an MLP Stamp Stories Anthology

6 Jul

[C.] An MLP Stamp Stories Anthology
by Various Authors
Mud Luscious Press
100 pgs, $12

Plot, protaganist, ending, inch by inch by inch.

Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell

15 Apr

Cataclysm Baby by Matt Bell

Mud Luscious Press, April 2012

105 pages, $12

This book is finally out today, and I know we Vouched Books people are rolling on our Sunday rugs at that. In honor of this release, I thought I’d shake up some goodness to share about the book.

These stories found their way into a lot of stellar magazines, in print and around the web, so I thought I’d link to a couple that really radiate what these stories are doing:

Xarles, Xavier, Xenos at >kill author (full story)

While I spend my days adding new supports to our house, burying new beams in search of solid ground, this son—this boy I no longer wish to claim—he makes portraits of his mother with the cheap watercolors we bought him as a child. He paints her eyes wrong, colors her hair black instead of blonde, and so every night I take away his papers and throw them into the puddle of our yard.

Every night, I tell him, Again you didn’t paint her right.

Virgil, Virotte, Vitalis in Ninth Letter

Quella, Querida, Quintessa in Guernica (full story)

How beautiful our daughter is in her white Tethering dress, dancing with her younger cousins across the decorated length of our yard: First the waltz, then the cha-cha, then the tango. Old people dances, she called them when she was eleven, but now, twelve years old, feet shod for the final time in bobby socks and dress-flats, she can’t wait to teach the others every step, every turn and twirl, every last aching contact of foot upon grass.

An Amazing Book Trailer for Cataclysm Baby

Cataclysm Baby Trailer from chris heavener on Vimeo.

An Interview in elimae

My Single-Sentence Review

Nearly every story dog-eared, so difficult to choose my favorites, each one shining the darkness, in how brilliantly Bell handles these sick,  twisted, broken children; these flailing, failing, heartbroken parents; and this world, post-apocalyptic, rolling for the edge, getting mushier and more dreadful, me both shocked at the doom portrayed and relieved for the moment to escape, momentarily at least, the cracked worlds living on.

Awful Interview: Matt Bell

5 Apr

It’s easy to see that everyone at Vouched is in Matt Bell’s corner. Just search his name in our search bar (up there at the top right corner of your screen) and be amazed at how many posts pop up with his name. There are all sorts of reasons to like Matt Bell: he is likeable, he is accomplished, he has important things to say, he isn’t afraid to say those important things, and he writes crazy/awesome/beautiful words that will make your spine shiver.

I couldn’t be more excited for Matt to read in Atlanta with the rest of the Over the Top gang (along with Jesse Bradley, Melysa Martinez, and Amy McDaniel!) tomorrow evening.

In your first Awful Interview with Christopher, you told him that when you were young you read a lot of Science Fiction books. Any specific titles that stand out in your memory?

There’s tons of books I could pick probably, but I still have a few of the ones I had when I was a kid on my shelf: Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov, the first of his books I read, I can see from my desk still, and I know that was a book my brother and I read and reread, and not just for all the implied robot-on-Spacer lust. (I can still get pretty excited about the Three Laws of Robotics, if prompted in conversation.) There’s a book (now out-of-print) by a writer named H.M. Hoover (who I just realized was a woman, since I knew nothing about her) called This Time of Darkness about two teenagers who have to escape an underground city that’s sort of a combination of 1984 and Soylent Green—I loved that book, but lost my copy and then couldn’t remember its name to buy another. Thankfully, it showed up again at my parents’ house, in the basement I lived in for a year or two between colleges.

More than just sci-fi, it was sort of broad genre fiction: I almost certainly read more fantasy than sci-fi, although there was enough of both. I read a lot of the D&D novels, like the Dragonlance Chronicles, and I was a huge fan of David Edding’s different series, especially the Elenium and the Tamuli trilogies. I actually got into Stephen King in the fifth grade or so through his The Eyes of the Dragon. When I was slightly younger, I got introduced to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which quickly led me other series that combined the CYOA style with D&D-style role-playing, including character sheets and combat and so on. The best of those was a series called Lone Wolf, by a writer named Joe Dever, that I played over and over. I recently found my cache of those books as well, and then set about buying all the ones I was missing: The last few were never released in the U.S., and so count as one of the few things I’ve imported to collect.

That’s dedication. How long did it take you to track down the final few books? Did your love of D&D and role-playing ever branch out to text-adventure games, or are you strictly a twenty-sided die man?

It wasn’t terribly hard, honestly: the internet makes it pretty easy. The hard part was deciding to part with the cash, since the rarer ones were priced well above their early nineties cover prices. I actually think there’s still one I don’t have, because the copy I found was eighty bucks or something and I just couldn’t do it. Some day!

I played a lot of text-adventures when I was young. My younger brother and I would play them together, and try to solve the puzzles together. I’m not sure we understood them very often. The best ones were made by Infocom, and I think we probably played dozens of them. One of our favorites was based on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (you can play an illustrated version at the BBC), which at the time we hadn’t read. Of course, the book works by a sort of absurdist logic that makes it hard to reason your way through the puzzles, and we were just completely stumped. There was no internet to look up clues, no one else to figure things out with. Somehow we beat the game, and it seems to be there’s something telling about my brother and I there, in that experience: that the two of us spent countless hours trying to understand and interact with an illogical world—and then succeeded—seems like a good example of how we became who we’d end up being.

You know what’s odd is my sister and I had the exact same system, except we played the King’s Quest series from Sierra Entertainment (and then later on Myst, Riven, etc., not to mention a bit of Wolfenstein 3D)
Do you feel that you are able to apply your RPG/text-adventure experience to real life? Can you give any examples?

We absolutely did the same thing with those Sierra games as well: We loved those, deeply. (A couple of years ago, I wrote an essay for Hobart about Leisure Suit Larry. It’s not online to link to, but a teaser I wrote for it is.) I’m not sure I ever applied the knowledge I gained in those games directly to real life, but it is funny how playing a lot of a game can seep into your daily awareness: A year or two ago I played a game called The Saboteur, where you’re a resistance fighter against the Nazis in WWII Paris, and in the game there are these communication towers you’re constantly knocking down—and they look just enough like cell phone towers that every time I saw one in real life I would have this urge to run over and knock it down. Not a real urge, that I was going to act on, but just that tinge of muscle memory, of learned behavior burning a track in my brain. I think there are a lot of those little reactions that build up, as we spend time interacting with video games. In the same way that one of the functions of the novel (especially of social realism) is to give us a way to think and feel through social interactions (something we’re never given second chances to do in real life, where every decision gets made on the fly and is irrevocable), so do video games give us opportunities to act out certain kinds of exploration, problem-solving, and behaviors. We’ll probably never be called upon to do the exact kinds of activities you and your sister did in Wolfenstein 3D, but that kind of exploration of spaces, avoidance of danger, and exploitation of limited resources is probably a handy kind of practice for many other experiences in real life.

 For certain! I couldn’t agree more. I imagine some of those lessons may come in handy when you’re on the road with Oliu, Newgent, and Gobble this week. I mean maybe not necessarily anything directly from Wolfenstein 3D or Leisure Suit Larry, but every road-trip usually involves those kind of limited resources/avoidance of danger scenarios you mention.
What’s your biggest hope for this book tour? What are you totally pumped for?

I think a lot of people go on book tours with the idea that they’re going to sell books, or get some kind of local fame, or some other kind of promotional goal. Nothing wrong with any of that, I guess, but if I had to choose I think I’d pick adventure over sales, memories over fame. With these three brothers in the car and three cities full of great people hosting our visits, I can pretty much guarantee that both the adventures and the memories are forthcoming—for us, surely, but also for anyone who comes out to join us. Tuesday morning I’m hopping on the Greyhound to Indianapolis, and from there I’m setting the GPS to QUEST for the rest of the trip. Can’t wait.

Is “Where You Were” Realer Than “What You Were Feeling?”

4 Mar

Big bummer for us all that Gregory Sherl could not be at AWP but his words showed up during all that mess. Read the big great stuff he says for the new Vouched Satellite post at Smalldoggies Magazine. 

I like to talk about memoir because I find it so fascinating. What is memoir? Is it an actual event that occurred, or is it an exact emotion that happened? Is where you were realer than what you were feeling? Can a book about the Oregon Trail be a memoir if the emotions are real? How many memoirs are false because some of the emotions that were going on during that time frame were omitted?

SSR: Flowing in the Gossamer Fold

3 Jan

Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, 
Ben Spivey 
Mud Luscious Press,164 Pages, $12

After his wife becomes a bird and takes to the air, the attrition of Malcolm Blackwell’s existence takes place on every plane… this his story of unforseen deliverance.

Holiday Book Buying

4 Dec

I’m sitting here working on my list of books that I’d like to buy, be given, and/or give this holiday season. I’m becoming overwhelmed as I realize (again) that tricky situation: so many books, limited money. I thought I’d share a few books that I haven’t read but really really want (or want to give) that seem like great choices for holiday shopping this December.

1. The Oregon Trail Is The Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl (MudLuscious Press): Every book MLP puts out is that beautiful blur of story and sound. In his past work, Sherl is a fearless traveler of emotions, searching inside himself and carrying whatever he finds to his readers. Add in that obvious connection to the video game of my (our?) youth and this could be a good gift for any literary lover of our generation, despite it being a pre-order (better a little late than never!). Check out this excerpt from the book’s page:

In my dreams we always ford the river.
In the wagon I cover you with blankets
when you sleep. You often dream of ghosts
while I hunt bison wherever bison live.
The ghosts are vegetarian, your heart
is April wind, raindrops the size of half dollars.
We never hire the Indian guide. Instead,
we keep the five dollars, roll it up, hide
it in my wool sock. You look better in 3D.
I touch your breasts with my fingertips.
Then I touch your breasts with my whole
hand. I swallow the idea of independence,
finding the West before the dirt was soiled
by factories that build heat-seeking missiles,
amusement parks, & chain restaurants.
Chimney Rock is underwhelming. I spit
in the cracks of the rock, tiny crevices
that hide who the fuck knows. You are hot
shit & the other carpenters from Ohio
are jealous. They think about your hair
while they’re inside their wives, think about
your dimple while they try to repair the axle
on their wagon. True love is finding wild
fruit. We eat without bibs. By rivers I sleep
easy, knowing you’re cleaning the clothes nearby.

2. Issue 4 of Artifice Magazine: The next installment from our favorite super self-aware journal promises to be beautiful, both inside and out. It also will fit in a stocking. Most importantly, it features new work by wonderful writers like Ryan Ridge, Richard Chiem, and Caroline Crew that are sure to be mind-thumping.

3. So many things from Dzanc Books’ Holiday Sale: With sales like Buy One, Get One Free or free eBooks with every print book or sweet bundles, Dzanc continues to offer some of the best literary booyeah for your buck. Maybe you have a friend/relative that needs some good lit exposure; try some the 30 Under 30 Anthology edited by Lily Hoang and Blake Butler, featuring innovative fiction from the likes of Matt Bell, Evelyn Hampton, and Brian Oliu. Or maybe–like me (silly I know)— you still haven’t read Kyle Minor’s book, so ask for that. Or maybe one of those wild new releases has caught your eye, like Animal Sanctuary by Sarah Falkner:

Winner of the 7th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction

A wild and mysterious novel of multiple characters and episodes structured around the life and career of a fictional actress and animal rights activist, is the winner of the 7th Starcherone Fiction Prize. The manuscript was selected by novelist and short story writer Stacey Levine.

Animal Sanctuary is a challenging, readable, powerful, and mysterious novel. The story—not a single plot, but multiple, peripherally connected episodes and discourses – concerns an American actress, Kitty Dawson, who stars in two movies by a famous (and famously obscure) British director, Albert Wickwood, both having animal disaster themes. Kitty then goes on to make a great many other pictures with animal themes, and to found in the 1970s a sanctuary for big cats that rich people decide first to have as pets, then abandon. Later, Kitty’s only son, Rory, raised in the animal sanctuary and as a young teen the lover of a renowned Austrian big cat trainer, becomes an installation and performance artist whose work incorporates animals & animal themes, as well as attempts to critique and get outside of institutions.

4. Please Don’t Be Upset by Brandi Wells: Missed out on Tiny Hardcore Press’s sweet sales awhile back? That’s okay, you’re not alone. But, you can still snag Well’s sure-to-be-sweet book for a stellar $8.99. I’m always impressed by how Wells’ writing, and THP books in general, can be in-your-face without being obnoxious, intimate without being awkward, and 100% hard-hitting.