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Catching Up on Some Good Reviews

Fun Camp ebookAt The Baltimore Review, Seth Sawyers reviews Fun Camp by Gabe Durham. It’s always nice when a great review comes out a couple years after the book was published. It seems like the most authentic thing, to be moved to write about a book based on the enjoyment of reading it. What could be better than that? Sawyers writes:

Reading Gabe Durham’s Fun Camp is like listening to your smartest, funniest, cleverist (and sometimes weirdest) friends talk about, on top of, around, behind, inside of a single subject: a week-long summer camp for kids in their early teens. What tickles is Durham’s love of language, the playfulness of it, his love of its ability to pierce, to tease, to confound. It’s a very funny book. Durham seems like he’s probably a very funny person.

 

 


Quimba Nobody Dancing CoverAt The Quotidian Bee, read an excerpt from Cheryl Quimba’s poetry collection, Nobody Dancing, which came out this week. I love how elegant and invitingly this poem tells an ordinary story:

… Remember when Randy said you looked
like a Spaniel and you threw a tin can
at his head and he ducked but his ear got banged
anyway? You were

. . . . . . . so mad I thought your freckles
would burn off

but later
you laughed and I pinched your forearm
like a kiss that would bruise. …


Creative Loafing interviewed Jarod Roselló about The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found. Shae Kripinski provides a great summary of the graphic novel, saying (correctly) that it “can be a quick, easy read, or a dense, deeply philosophical and political statement.” In the conversation that follows, it’s amazing as ever to read Jarod’s thoughts on things like cultural displacement and literature and the act of creating:

I write and I draw for different reasons. The joy of writing for me is in using language to make sense of something, to interpret, and make meaning, even if those meanings are temporary and qualified. When I draw, though, I tend to disrupt, to break apart, to move outward from experience and into imaginary and impossible spaces. For me, writing is an act of empowerment, and drawing is an act of freedom.

 

 


At American Reviews & Microreviews, Megan Turner reviews Edward Mullany’s third book from PGP, The Three Sunrises, the final book in his apocalyptic trilogy. Turner writes:

… the book, which consists of the three parts—“Legion,” “The Book of Numbers,” and “The Three Sunrises”—is oftentimes apocalyptic, each novella following a seemingly incessant, maddening loop, taking the reader on a journey that often ends in a quite a similar place as where it started. Mullany’s novellas, which read as prose poems, point to the banality of life. The novellas are funny—surprisingly so—as they are often relentless in the same breath.

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Ebook Flights Review

Flight1At The Collagist, there is a thoughtful and thorough review of all the Ebook Flights from our fledgling ebook imprint. Huge thanks to James Yates for reading the books by Lily Hoang, Gabe Durham, and Bob Schofield and writing about them.

The concept of an e-book flight is, from a reading standpoint, brilliant: the pairing of novellas and story collections with similar themes is entertaining, but it makes a reader pay a special kind of attention to craft, ideas, and the overall atmosphere of the works at hand. This might seem obvious, since those details are essential to any reading, but with three books served in one package, there’s a lot of mental cross-referencing to consider.

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Review of VRtH by Jen Hinst-White at The Common

Short stories! Available now!
Short stories! Available now!

The Common is a beautiful print and online journal from Amherst, Mass. Their superslick website featured a great review of Madeline ffitch’s short story collection Valparaiso Round the Horn (March 2015). Its scope is deep and wide, exploring the Madeline’s prose style and how the stories work and what they mean, and it’s the sort of review that added to my own appreciation of the book. Jen Hinst-White concludes the review:

Whether your home base is rural, like ffitch’s, or you dwell in the city or in the suburbs, as I do, finding a potent book like this frees up the imagination—resets the moral compass—not through moralizing, but by jarring us. I read this book aloud, story by story, to my husband on our commute, and each time, it jolted me out of routine. It made me feel alive.

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Leela Corman’s Praise for “The Well-Dressed Bear”

Corman, from her website

Jarod Roselló sent The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found to Leela Corman, author of the graphic novel Unterzakhn as well as an illustrator, radio host, and dancer. She responded with this blurb:

“A line-drawn tragedy of dual identity, code-switching, and hiding in plain sight. Rosello’s story made my heart break a little bit.”

The three elements that she pulls from the book really resonate. “Dual identity” and “hiding in plain sight” were clear to me the first time I read it, but I never would have thought of the term code-switching, which is something that happens when a speaker uses two languages in one context. Now I’m thinking about all the ways that applies to the Well-Dressed Bear, who is constantly so displaced.

wdb-front-picI think a fundamental question about the book is whether questions of the bear’s identity come from the outside—the woman who calls him on the phone and insists that he is someone named Jonathan, the neighbors who follow him around and want him gone—or from within himself. Probably both things are there.

Anyway, I ramble. You can find out more about Leela Corman at her website.

In other WDB-related news, we’ve got two events planned for the book: a release party in Tampa on October 2, and then on October 15 Jarod will be here in Atlanta to have a joint launch party with Matt Bell and his new novel, Scrapper.

And if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to read this interview with Jarod that we just posted.

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Stephanie Barber Talks with Laura Van den Berg

Over at BOMB Magazine, Laura Van den Berg interviewed Stephanie Barber about her new book, All the People (Ink Press 2015), which is a collection of short, prosey portraits of dozens of fictitious-but-real humans. It’s a beautifully produced book—the cover is nicely printed onto cereal boxes and the binding is hand-sewn  In the interview, Laura prompts Stephanie to talk about the thinking behind her varied types of work like writing a haiku everyday on Facebook, or the time she installed her studio for a month inside the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Stephanie Barber talks about the what:

But also, as regards media, I feel very strongly that I am simply making pieces of art. I don’t think a painting is a poem, or a film is a song, but I do think they can be received and created and considered as simply emotional or philosophical offerings made somehow sensorially manifest. I like the Buddhist word ayatana, which includes the mind as a sense organ.

and also how that works in her new book, specifically:

I’m also interested in using a sort of generic vernacular, particularly when what I am writing about is potentially too precious or heavy. There’s a desire to balance the depth of the concept with a light—or degraded?—handling. Mostly I was thinking about how something is being said as “the portrait,” not what is being said.

Read that interview here. Also check out Stephanie’s brilliant photo essays at Art21—and right here you can buy her DVD of films or her sensational YouTube book, Night Moves.

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Review of Well-Dressed Bear at The Small Press Book Review

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 5.00.22 PMAt the Small Press Book Review, Melissa Reddish has put together a thoughtful look at Jarod Roselló’s graphic novel, The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found. Her review centers on current events—responses to the shooting of Cecil the lion in contrast to the shooting of unarmed people of color (she goes on to reference Trayvon Martin and his hoodie, as some characters in Roselló’s book wear hoodies)—and how through that we seek connection. She points to the ringing telephone and how it’s always the wrong number. In summarizing WDB structure, she says:

There are two parallel narratives in The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found: the text, which tells the story of a persistent wrong number, and the artwork, which tells the story of the Well-Dressed Bear’s persecution.  Although seemingly separate, they occasionally merge within the artwork.  The wrong number that rings, again and again, evokes Murakami while the menacing streets filled with hooded figures and helicopters beaming searchlights evoke a kind of noir/sci-fi mystery.

Read the review and then don’t forget to order your copy of The Well-Dressed Bear using the coupon BEAR-Y CHEAP for 33% off.

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WORDS: music by David Smooke

BabyBigger
The first couple pages of the story

Composer David Smooke has written a musical monodrama (Wikipedia’d it) based on a story from WORDS by Andy Devine by Michael Kimball. It will be performed in Baltimore on September 8, as a collaboration with Margaret Rorison. The piece will feature vocalists and woodwinds.

From the Facebook invitation:

The September 8 concert will feature the world premiere of Baltimore composer David Smooke’s “A Baby Bigger Grows Than Up Was,” an hour-long monodrama on a text by Baltimore writer Michael Kimball (from the book “Words” published under the name Andy Devine), with visuals by Baltimore filmmaker Margaret Rorison. In this alphabetized tale, the relative stress created by repeating individual words as many as 443 times allows us to perceive elements of an underlying narrative structure while the repetition of words forces us to perceive them as sonic events. Within this unusual organization, we find intimations of more traditional stories that might possibly provide expressive foundations for our listening experience. What at first appears to be an abstract series of words eventually reveals itself as a beautiful, emotionally charged story. The narrator gradually develops a sense of self, growing up with a doting mother and a nearly absent father.

I can’t imagine a better description of what the book does, or a better medium to capture this effect.

Years ago, when Words was released, “Andy Devine” went on tour to dozens of cities across the country by having other people perform as if they were Andy Devine himself. I got to see Smooke perform as Devine in Baltimore, and his presentation was skillful and musical … and funny. I’m excited to see the final project, years in the making, in concert.

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Meet Jarod Roselló in AWP’s Spotlight

JarodRoselloJarod Roselló, author and artist of The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found (coming out soon! Preorder it here), is featured on AWP’s website this month. It’s a cool interview about reading habits and his writing and teaching. “Part of the joy of reading,” says Jarod, “comes in entering into dialogue with a book. I want to be affected by a book, of course, but I want to answer back as well. So, I need to write in a book.” Why not read the whole interview how about?

 

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Eat, Knucklehead Featured at Hopes&Fears

Thanks to Kristen Felicetti for featuring Eat, Knucklehead! for summer reading over at Hopes&Fears, a very beautiful new culture website. Her description of the book is wonderful, and it ends, “This book should also appeal to those who understand that cooking can truly be a performance, or an act of creative expression, just like any other art.” Spot on. Order Eat, Knucklehead! right here.