I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying by Matthew Salesses (released February 2013 / Civil Coping Mechanisms) 4 Stars - Flashiest of the Fiction Read 3/13
A very...moreI'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying by Matthew Salesses (released February 2013 / Civil Coping Mechanisms) 4 Stars - Flashiest of the Fiction Read 3/13
A very interesting book, this, and another potential cheat from me. Called a novel in flash fiction, I prefer to look at it as a collection of interconnected stories. Either way, it's written by a guy who knows the confusion of love and the power of hidden secrets coming to light.
I read this at the exact inappropriate time, without realizing it until I was a few stories in, but I was hopeless to stop. I was disgusted and pissed at the narrator, yet at the same time, I was intrigued. And the breaks between each segment urged me to read on even though I knew I shouldn't. Salesses writes as though he is speaking. His words hit the page fluidly, and run quietly down the edges and into your lap, and suddenly you realize you are carrying them with you.(less)
Who doesn't love old school video games, right? If you're a GenXer like me, you can't pass up this collection of poetry inspired by the best of the re...moreWho doesn't love old school video games, right? If you're a GenXer like me, you can't pass up this collection of poetry inspired by the best of the retro-80's Atari and Nintendo games. Finding inspiration in the likes of Dig Dug, Pole Position, The Oregon Trail, and Space Invaders, BJ Best infuses his words with nostalgia and longing. Each poem recalls to us the wonder or aggravation of the game for which it was named, forcing us to recall those simpler times and sweeter victories. How very alike our feelings for these games mirror our interpretation of the world beyond the cartridge and console.
Even the collection's title, cleverly stolen from the Super Mario Bros game in which each castle defeat left the gamer frustrated because the prize - the princess - was yet at ANOTHER castle... even the title causes that familiar ache of love, expectation, and disappointment to wash over us. Imagine what the words contained within will do. (less)
Read 3/2/13 - 3/10/13 3.5 stars - Recommended to readers who don't mind a few kitty cat neck sizzles. 87 pages Publisher: Lazy Fascist Pres...morefrom publisher
Read 3/2/13 - 3/10/13 3.5 stars - Recommended to readers who don't mind a few kitty cat neck sizzles. 87 pages Publisher: Lazy Fascist Press (print) / Electric Literature (eBook) Release Date: March 2013
Sam Pink is a little bit like a teenager trapped in a man's body. He's full of piss and vinegar, finds fascination in the silliest and strangest things, and wants everybody and everything to suck his dick.
In Rontel (as with most of Pink's novels), our narrator finds himself immersed in the humdrum of everyday life - hating his job so much that he simply calls off and never shows back up, hating cell phones so badly that he finds humor in torturing the salesman with ridiculous questions when purchasing a replacement, killing time shooting the shit with Chicago's homeless, and borderline bullying his brother and their excellently tempered kitty cat named, yes, Rontel. The things that poor poor cat has to put up with. Tsk.Tsk.
How this dude has managed to score himself a girlfriend and not die of malnutrition or some insanely unhygienic disease is beyond me. He lives in filth, showers only when he can smell himself through his cologne or is sweating like a dog, and has been known to live in the same pair of pants for nearly a month before giving them a good wash.
He gets pissed off at places when they don't call him in for interviews, even though he turns in the applications half filled out. He enjoys fucking with people and spends a lot of time pondering weird shit like how great it would be to give people "the business" and how long it would take him to use up 18 bars of soap and whether we will even be using soap when he gets down to his last bar. He even daydreams about buying a new video game and locking himself inside his apartment until he beats the thing.
With each novel that Sam Pink pens, I worry more and more about his mental state. He's like a present day Holden Caufield, all grown up, only... not. It's like puberty hit and took up permanent residence in his body. He's like a lost boy, all nasty energy and no idea how to release it. While he's completely bent on being miserable and making everyone around him miserable, I somehow find myself drawn to his arrogant and ridiculous nature and I can't help but think that the real Sam Pink is just like this. Or at least, has been like this at some point in his life.
I know that I will continue to read whatever new novel Sam Pink writes. I suppose I am glutton for punishment. Dude keeps it real, again and again... and I have mad respect for that.(less)
Read 1/12/13 - 1/15/13 4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of Warm Bodies, zombie lit, and prequels that refuse to give it all up Pgs:...morefrom publisher
Read 1/12/13 - 1/15/13 4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of Warm Bodies, zombie lit, and prequels that refuse to give it all up Pgs: 128 (E-novella) Publisher: Zola Books Release Date: 1/28/13
It's the early days of the collapse. The streets are littered with corpses, buildings have been looted and cleaned out, and the dead are slowly taking to their feet.
Twelve year old Julie rides in the SUV with her parents as they move from city to city in search of safe zones. She misses her friends and her school, but is learning to adapt to this hard, new life. Somewhere else, Nora and her little brother Addis pick through stores and buildings in search of food and temporary shelter, always on the lookout for other survivors. They are starving and scared, and are being followed by a silent large man with a gaping hole in his gut. Meanwhile, in the woods, a tall man begins to stir, a new kind of life animating a body that was once dead. He has no memory of who he is but immediately feels a strong desire to find others.
As these characters make their way towards each other, awful and unexpected things will happen and as the dead become more aware, underestimating their power and hunger can be fatal.
The New Hunger behaves very much like a prequel - giving its readers a glimpse into each characters' back story, building the tension and expectations typical of a zombie apocalypse that pushes these separate groups together - while still screaming for even more back story and falling this short of leaving off where Warm Bodies began.
Fans of Warm Bodies will be happy to find themselves falling back into Isaac Marion's capable hands, trusting the decisions he makes along his destroyed and demolished landscapes, eagerly anticipating his every twist and turn. Never read Warm Bodies? No worries, The New Hunger works very well as a stand-alone novella too. Zombie fiction lovers who pick this up are guaranteed to find something to sink their teeth into.
Spectacle by Susan Steinberg (released January 2013 / Graywolf Press) 3 Stars - Stories for all styles Read 4/8/13 - 4/14/13
You can really never go wrong...moreSpectacle by Susan Steinberg (released January 2013 / Graywolf Press) 3 Stars - Stories for all styles Read 4/8/13 - 4/14/13
You can really never go wrong with a Graywolf Press title. Their short story collections always impress me and this one was incredibly interesting - Steinberg plays around with story structure here AND retells the same story multiple times throughout the collection. A trickster, this one!
Though I totally got into it for the first few stories, I began to tire of the switching styles and different perspectives, and found myself rushing through the current story just to see if the next was any better. What began as promising and intriguing soon became distracting and disjointed for me. I wonder what impact spacing the stories out - pacing myself through the collection over a longer period of time - would have had on me? If you give this a go, that would be my recommendation to you. Space the stories out. Give yourself time to read other things in between. I bet their magic would work better that way. (less)
Read 12/18/12 4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended / mondo cute factor Pgs: 83 and 123, respectively Publisher: !t Books
How adorable are these?! Born of an int...moreRead 12/18/12 4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended / mondo cute factor Pgs: 83 and 123, respectively Publisher: !t Books
How adorable are these?! Born of an internet collaboration under the nurturing hands and minds of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and mysterious cohort "wirrow", The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories Volumes 1 and 2 are a product of Gordon-Levitt's HitRECord production company.
Initially self published in 2010, !tBooks - which focuses on celebrity authors and picked up the cutsie collection - released Volume 1 just in time for it make its way into everyone's Christmas stockings last year and dropped Volume 2 this past November.
True to their title, these books, which are about the size of my hand from palm to fingers, contain super-short, super-smart illustrated flash fiction. According to HitRECord, it doesn't matter which came first , people from around the world were encouraged to upload stories and illustrations - sometimes a story was submitted for a specific illustration, sometimes an illustration was submitted for a particular story. And out of a total of 23,515 submissions, 129 tiny stories married themselves so perfectly that they made their way into the two collections.
As with any collection, large or small, some of the illustrated stories spoke to me louder than others. Among my favorites?
From Volume 1: "Ok, I'll admit, I have a few skeletons in my closet; but they weren't skeletons when I put them in there." "I collect flickering stars in old pickle jars, poking holes in the lid so they can breathe." "I know other worlds exist. I can see them in my peripheral vision." "If I read our story backwards, it's about how I un-broke your heart, and they we were happy until one day, you forgot about me forever."
From Volume 2: "Your kisses are like snowflakes: each one is unique. They land on me, before they melt away and leave me cold." "I just need some time away to remember why I stay". "You have reached the edge of the world. Please stand behind the barrier and take no photos." "As my story came to a close I realized that I was the villain all along." "No one was even aware of its existence, but when it sounded out we all knew..." "And in the morning they shook their pillows violently, hoping all the dreams they lost that night would tumble out." "Your heart has a little empty corner. You won't even know I'm there - I'll be very quiet."
The magic of the Tiny Stories volumes is the tender and moody atmospheres the drawings and words create as they come crashing together on the page. The blushing cheeks of the little emo-boy, the violent red of the wolf's severed head against the grey and black background, you really have to see the way the words and the pictures compliment each other on the page.
A book, a miniature work of art, a thing to have and hold.
Read 1/15/13 - 1/16/13 3 Stars - Recommended to fans of the emotionally charged and slightly taboo Pgs: 180 Publisher: Dzanc Books
While reading Jen Michalski's Could You Be With Her Now, I found myself oscillating between a slew of emotions, which, for me, is the mark of an talented writer. Unafraid of the strange and uncomfortable, Jen pushes and pounds against the walls that separate the acceptable from the unacceptable with these two novellas.
In I Can Make it to California Before it's Time for Dinner, Jen introduces us to Jimmy, a mentally handicapped teen (think 5 year old Jack of Room and Lenny from Of Mice and Men, all rolled into one) whose knowledge of the world is limited to the street in front of his house and the shows he watches on TV. This naivety leads to the accidental death of a neighborhood girl when he heads out in search of his tv show "girlfriend" after a fight with his brother. Guilt ridden and fearful of the consequences Jimmy will face, his brother tells him to hide behind the schoolyard until things blow over but Jimmy loses his way and gets picked up by a sleazy truck driver with bad intentions.
May- September deals with the unlikely pairing of two women and the relationship that develops between them as they begin working together. Alice, a young writer who has just broken up with her girlfriend, is hired by Sandra, an intense and particular older woman, to write her memoir. As their awkward friendship develops into something more, they struggle to let go of their individual baggage and the unspoken taboos that come with the territory.
While both are well written and open our eyes to the delicate, fragile side of humanity, my favorite of the two - I Can Make it to California... - will drown you in an ocean of emotion. Unaware of the ugly and inappropriate side of human nature, Jimmy's childlike ability to trust strangers and believe what is told to him is almost too painful to bear and its simplistic point of view makes your heart bled for him as events begin to unfold. As I read, I was finding it harder and harder to breathe, feeling my throat constrict with disgust and my stomach sour as I watched every parent's worst nightmare unfolding before my eyes.
May-September offered my brain a welcomed reprieve by switching gears and gracefully dealing with a more appropriate (and for me, slightly less realistic) form of human interaction. While their relationship is incredibly tender, I had a very difficult time understanding what attracted Sandra to the much younger woman, even as I questioned Alice's infatuation with her.
As a woman in my mid-thirties, I feel I am right on the cusp of the age-gap crisis. On one side of the fence are the twenty-somethings. While they are not entirely taboo, the early twenties are longer attractive to us. They are too untouched by life, too wide-eyed and fickle, too chiseled (yes, believe it! It is possible). On the other side hang the forty and fifty-somethings. Closer to us in age and maturity, defined much more by what they've done than what they wish to be, their life experience is more of an aphrodisiac Look at Viggo Mortenson, George Clooney, Michelle Pfifer, and Sharon Stone. Amirite? Ladies, wouldn't you take Robert Downey Jr over Ashton Kutcher? Johnny Depp over Robert Pattinson?
But someone who is on the early side their twenties falling in love with someone who's settling into their sixties? I have a hard time processing that. The age gap is just too incredible, the personalities and interests just too vast and divided.
Kudos to Michalski for giving me ALL THE EMOTIONS. Whether you fall into these two stories willingly, or struggle to catalog and exercise all of the demons you are dealing with as you make your way through, one thing is certain. Michalski will make you feel. And feeling... well, feeling anything feels good. (less)