Over at PANK today, there is a thoughtful review of "Bring the Noise," the anthology I was featured in earlier this year. You can read it here. Reviewer J. Capó Crucet had some thoughtful things to say about the merits of the collection, balanced against a lack of diversity among the contributors. Over on Twitter, the anthology's editor, Tom McAllister (@t_mcallister), gave some interesting context about how the anthology was put together, and his recent efforts to improve the diversity of non-fiction in Barrelhouse. I was really pleased with the anthology, so I hope the imbalance won't dissuade too many from picking up a copy. As Tom showed in his tweets, he's conscientious about the problem and doing his best to address it. That's more than most editors can say, if the most recent VIDA numbers are any indication.
Anyway, my essay is one of 18, and I'm just lucky to be included--it was humbling to be inside a cover with some really great writers who could write me under the table any time. I enjoyed Crucet's one reference to my essay, which tells me that at least for one reviewer, I managed to capture the tone of Return to Oz:
"...that creepy Wizard of Oz sequel (which I’d blocked from my memory almost entirely until this essay brought it back in vivid, nightmare-friendly detail)..."
Exactly. That movie still gives me nightmares.
Something wonderful is happening in Minneapolis. There is a room somewhere (I picture a room, but probably it's not a literal room) where this team of super cool women are making perhaps the best literary website around, Paper Darts. I met two of the wonderful editors briefly at AWP in Chicago...and by "met," I mean they showed me their amazing print magazine and I said, "Whoa, cool!" and probably asked dumb questions about Minneapolis or something. Now, over a year later, I'm extremely proud to say that my story, "We Eat Plums" is live on their site today.
"We Eat Plums" is a story that is about the Apocalypse, but what it is really about is love, and what it is really, really about is the absolute hopelessness of the Atlanta summers of my early twenties, sweating in a collapsing house with nothing but loving someone to get you through. Atlanta summers really are that miserable, and many of the details of "We Eat Plums" actually come from an actual house I lived in when I first moved in with my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time). The flies were real. The writing on the wall was real--the line of the poem I quote in the story is what was really written on the wall in our bedroom. The strange, schizophrenic former tenants were real.
The amazing thing about Paper Darts is that they produce gorgeous illustrations to accompany each story and poem that they publish online. This really sets them apart from a lot of other online literary magazines. They post several times a week, so if you're not reading it yet, you should be reading it from now on, and gobbling up the many, many pages of archives, and buying things from them and donating to them and everything. Enjoy the beautiful and creepy imagery of plums, flies, and boils.
Oh, and if you read the story, read it while you listen to this Mountain Goats song, which influenced me heavily in the writing:
There are moments that feel like real triumphs, and my essay on "Return to Oz" being included in this book is among them. Who would have thought as I watched this movie from some German guy's VHS rip on YouTube, in seven parts, with the sound often not matching up, scrawling notes on a series of Post-Its, that someone would say, "Hey, we want to publish this in a book." Now that it is in a book, I sort of regret not fitting in there that the director of the movie is the sound designer for Apocalypse Now! I have been published on several websites, and in (fewer) print literary magazines, but this is the first thing I've had published in a book. So, I'm going to drop the air of detached professionalism and just admit that when I get my copy, I will probably lie in bed next to it, and while it rests on my pillow I will touch it with my fingers and attempt to use astral projection to share the moment with my 15-year-old self while he cries about something stupid and writes a bad poem. You can read about the volume, or buy it, here.
Very cool write up at ArtsATL on the Solar Anus reading series, and specifically the reading with Aaron Belz that I was lucky enough to be included in last month. They have a few kind words about my E.T. piece:
Matt Sailor, editor in chief of New South, read two prose works. The first, an essay filled with long, running sentences, addressed the “crash” of the video game industry in 1983, which was topped off with the failed “E.T.” game. Sailor smartly interpreted the crash as “a holy purge, the clean burn that leaves the forest smoking, but ripe for the taking root of fragile seeds.
You can read the full write up, including some background on the impetus for the Solar Anus series, here. Thanks to Scott Daughtridge for writing the piece, ArtsATL for running it, and of course to Jamie/Amy/Blake for including me in the event.
Matt Sailor puts words here.