Friday, January 18, 2019

So much good happening: Updates on the Pancake book, Dysphoria, short stories with X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine and New World Writing, and an upcoming reading at Taylor Books

For the past month or so I've been riding this nice wave of book-related good news. The Pancake book coming out with West Virginia University Press and my Appalachian gothic novel Dysphoria due out this coming spring. An excerpt from that novel was published yesterday at Cowboy Jamboree Magazine. I do hope you link to it and give it a read. I'll also be reading some of my work and then discussing the Pancake book at Taylor Books in Charleston, West Virginia tonight at 7 p.m. thanks to my amazing friend Jay Hill. Jay also worked us up a website for featuring news related to the upcoming Pancake book and other news related to my writing. He's a jewel, you all. Here's a link to that website, which, by the way, and awesomely, can be found at the url

But, in addition to this, I want to share some good short story news.

On January 15 my short story "A Shadow the Length of a Lifetime" appeared at X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, a publication that has quickly became one of my absolute favorites. This will be the second short story of mine they've published. The first was a story called "Victory Party" that appeared this past July. Editors Jennifer Greidus and Chris Dankland have built a stunning collection of fiction, nonfiction, interviews, and reviews. I really would love if you visited and spent some time reading the work there.

Not long after finalizing things for the upcoming publication of "A Shadow the Length of a Lifetime" I heard back from one of my other top three favorite journals, New World Writing. The fantastic writer Kim Chinquee, who is the senior editor at NWW, accepted my short story "Almost Alone in Dark Valleys" last week, making it the fourth short story of mine to appear there, dating back to its days as Mississippi Review Online and, after that, BLIP, before becoming New World Writing. Regardless the journals name, you should never overlook NWW when searching out the best short fiction available today.

I'm telling you all this kind of post always just feels like bragging to me, but I'll be rather damned before I don't share these kinds of wonderful news.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Adam Johnson on the second person point of view

"The second person is out there at the end of the periodic table of point of view. It is mercurial, a complicated thing. Maddening when not used well. It is difficult because the second person personal is singular and plural, hence the need for 'ya’ll.' We also use it to form the imperative. A properly used second person can seem like you are being commanded to do something as a reader; people love that. What I think is the most interesting about the second person is that it is the pronoun with which most persons refer to themselves inside their own mind. It is something you would never let out. So while as the first person is an externalized, orchestrated voice with an inherent sense of audience to it, the second person is very personal, private, an unsentimental voice with which we speak only to ourselves."

- Adam Johnson in an interview with The Rumpus, 2015

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Half & Half

During the Spanish Flu Epidemic in Eureka, Utah a woman lost five of her six children and her husband. She would no sooner return home from the cemetery only to find that another child had died. This happened to her and no one remembers her name.

There is still no explanation as to how cattle are being found drained of all blood and with organs removed with surgical precision but with no signs of hemorrhage and no trace of blood on the ground around them or anywhere on their bodies. The first written account of this kind of event was in 1606.

For the past four or five months I've felt like I have one foot in this world and one foot in the next. I somehow survived a massive heart attack five years ago and still can't quit smoking and am only gaining weight due to lack of exercise and terrible eating habits. These facts add up to another fact: At forty-two the chances of seeing my fifties are not at all good. I've been trying to live with this knowledge while being unable to change my life to avoid it. It is what it is.

The late, great Thom Jones said: “You know, they call it earth, but actually it’s hell. Even a good day is so full of horrors it’s almost unbearable. When I open my eyes, there’s a chasm of despair waiting for me.”


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Nobody writes better than William T. Vollmann - as good as, maybe, but not better.

Reading several books right now and all of them good. Easily the most skillfully written is The Atlas by William T. Vollmann. Here are two quotes.

"Catacomb, honeycomb of the slow bees of souls, the slow crowd in the halls, where do you keep my little sister? Not in Saint Cecilia’s tomb, where the marble corpse lies on her side, offering three fingers in remembrance of the Trinity. You won’t find her there. Tell me, catacomb, and I’ll leave fresh flowers in the webbed niche around your daylight."

And this.

"But she would not trust me anymore, and so once again, sister, you’d had your revenge as easily and purely as an antler of sunlight slitting a woman’s throat on a passing bus."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Help me help Donald Ray Pollock, please

I'm helping Don Pollock, author of Devil All the Time, with an accent-related project the studio producing the film and the director filming the movie version of the novel has asked him to work with on. Yep, you fans, after seven years setting on it, they are finally making this movie. So I'm looking for West Virginia residents.

I know a couple people who would be interested but since Don don't traffic on Twitter I thought I'd put out a call here. So here's the deal: I would send you two items - A PDF of a story piece called "Arthur the Rat" that you would read and record in whatever way you'd like.

The second part is a questionnaire that I would send to you as a Word Doc. You would record yourself reading the questions and answers. Get both those recordings back to me and Don and you'll be richly rewarded with the gratitude of one of the best writers living today.

So if you're a resident or know a resident of West Virginia and are interested at all, please write me back and we can further connect to get started. I'm hoping to have five totaI recordings back to Don within a week.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tolstoy's most recent bit of goodness

"'Yes, but then how often the happiness of these prudent marriages flies away like dust just because that passion turns up that they have refused to recognize," said Vronsky. “But by marriages of prudence we mean those in which both parties have sown their wild oats already. That’s like scarlatina — one has to go through it and get it over.”

“Then they ought to find out how to vaccinate for love, like smallpox.”

- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina 

So much good happening: Updates on the Pancake book, Dysphoria, short stories with X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine and New World Writing, and an upcoming reading at Taylor Books

For the past month or so I've been riding this nice wave of book-related good news. The Pancake book coming out with West Virginia Univ...