Saturday, July 16, 2016

Everything Shane Jones Has Written

Just bought Shane Jones's books LIGHT BOXES and DANIEL FIGHTS A HURRICANE. Loved CRYSTAL EATERS, so I thought, well, I might need to read everything Jones has written. Soon as the mail runs, I'll have that taken care of proper.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Famous Quotes of Sheldon Lee Compton #1

There are people who mistakenly believe they know me. They turn me around in their hands, searching my bruises, my shortcomings, my failures, pointing to them with an alarming and disturbing satisfaction. This is a useless exercise because I cannot be known unless I allow it. I've spent nearly all my life expertly protecting myself from such mishandled taking of my inventory, along with any number of other threats, not the least of which have been physical in addition to emotional. I can save these people time, tell them one simple truth about me, and it is this: You will not know me. Not today, not tomorrow, not decades from now. That is a revelation I alone control implicitly and for all time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kanye West, So Search Engines (?) Pick This Up: The Self-Interview

In 1976 Sheldon Lee Compton was born. It was April. Some say it rained all day. His head was misshapen because the infant Sheldon stayed in the birth canal too long. To be perfectly clear, he had a cone head.

His grandmother, upon first seeing him, fainted, sure, she later said, that he was horribly deformed. What his grandmother couldn't know was that, despite the fact his head went back to normal after a month or so, Sheldon Lee Compton was deformed. His was a mind doomed to deformity.

Q: So you have a new book out, right? Tell folks a little about that.

A: It's this novel that's not about the 1985 Chicago Bears. You know, the Fridge, Sweetness, Singletary, McMahon, the whole championship situation. They had this wonderful and horrible and beautiful and tragic Super Bowl Shuffle rap song and music video. I always assume everyone has seen this video but maybe not. Just in case, here is a link:

Super Bowl Shuffle by the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

That was 1985, the year of Clearly Canadian, BarNone, Cool Ranch Doritos, and Walter Payton, the heyday of Stephen King, Cheers, and Nintendo's Double Dribble. There really was just so much going on. Oh yeah, Bubble Tape. Almost forgot Bubble Tape.

Q: So fans of what type of writing would enjoy this new novel of yours? 

A: I read this article today about the super bloom in Death Valley. That was good reading. Here's the first few paragraphs:

"In a land of extremes, where a barren valley floor sinks below sea level, rain rarely falls and summer temperatures reach a toasty 120 degrees, a riot of color has exploded.  

For the first time in over a decade, Death Valley National Park is experiencing a "super bloom," when millions of wildflowers blanket the barren desert. 

As the driest place in North America, Death Valley receives about two inches of annual rainfall on average, but last October a series of storms walloped the basin. In one area, three inches of rain fell in just five hours. It's this fall soaking, experts say, that have triggered the spring blooms."

So readers who like a lot of flowers pushing up out of the desert floor.

Q: Flowers. Got it. What are you working on now?

A: There's a huge pile of various garbage and refuse I've raked into this enormous pile in the middle of my bottom field I've been burning down in steps. It started with a discarded hot water heater, a couch, a love seat, a recliner, and an old 1972 model organ/keyboard. When I burned that first heap the flames reached so far into the sky it nearly hit a power line some thirty feet overhead. I've got it down to the point that one more mid-sized fire should take care of it. Then I'm going to sow some grass seeds in the big black burn spot, hope for plenty of spring rain.

Q: Your first two books were short story collections and this third is a novel. Are you a big shot novelist now, a real writer?

A: You're not real man!

Q: Whoa okay okay. 

A: Nah, I'm kidding. You're real. You're as real as the radiance of the great star Chi. As to the question, it's interesting, to say the least. Some would say many positives and still others might decide that negatives are the way to go with this sort of thing, or really any sort of thing, to be sort of clear. But, at the end of it all, its depends on luck. Not much we can do about luck, not that we'd want to, you know, I'm just saying.

Q: Who are some writers doing amazing things with literature these days?

A: All of them. Anyone scribbling a sentence, a line, a bit of dialogue, sitting at a computer screen or hunched over a scrap of paper. All the dreamers dreaming things up for people to read, taking that time, their precious labor, to create art, story, entertainment. Every single man, woman, and child. Some are doing it better than others, some people might say, but that's all about perspective and preference, ain't it? I mean, I can say I like David Mitchell novels better than Zane Grey novels, but does that truly make Mitchell's books better than Grey's westerns? Here's the thing, it just does not matter. What matters is that both writers woke every morning and went through the struggle of writing those books. That's all that matters. Of course, I rate Kanye West as far superior when writing song lyrics than pretty much anyone else working today or at any point in human history. If you don't agree with that, you're simply wrong. Are you fluent in West? If not, I think he speaks to his skills best in his song "I Am a God" when he says, "I am a god/ Hurry up with my damn massage/ Hurry up with my damn ménage/ Get the Porsche out the damn garage/ I am a god."

Q: Are you serious?

A: Goodness no. Never again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Coolest Rejection Letter I've Ever Received

A couple weeks back I came across BULL's feature Rejection Notes. Love it. Just plain love it. I couldn't resist submitting one of my own. 

Basically the deal with Rejection Notes is you're standing in as an editor who is rejecting a famous author. Some at BULL have been Arthur Conan Doyle, Franz Kafka, and Norman Mailer. I submitted one based on Georges Perec, the dude who wrote an entire book without using the letter "e." 

This submission resulted in the most amazing rejection letter I've ever received from the editors of BULL.

Below is my original submission followed by BULL's rejection. It's classic.

Rejection Notes: Georges Perec
by Sheldon Lee Compton

F bruary 12, 1968

D ar Mr. P r c,

Thank you for giving us the chanc  to r ad your nov l La disparition. W  w r  amaz d at the l v l of constraint in your work. How in th  h ll did you manage a 300-pag  nov l this way? That said, w ’r  going to pass, though our associat   ditor insists the abs nc  of the l tt r should b  consid r d a m taphor for the “author’s own disapp arance,” consid ring it app ars four tim s in your nam  alon . The probl m is that onc  w  notic d this amazing omission, focusing on the nov l its lf b came as difficult for us as it must b  for you to focus on this l tt r.

With kind r gards,

Charl s Scribn r Jr.
Pr sid nt
Scribn r Publishing Company

And BULL's reply:

D ar Sh ldon, 

Thanks for s nding "R j ction Not s: G org s P r c" to BULL. Whil it isn’t xactly what w 'r looking for, w did appr ciat th r ading. Pl as b sur to k p us in mind with anything ls you think would suit us in th futur . 


BULL ditorial 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Relax, It's a Lit Roundup 3

This week's roundup includes everything from an infant dictator to an interview with one of our most prolific literary citizens, from calling bull shit on formula writing to poetry about strong-willed grandmothers.

Blake Kimzey writes some fiction for The Boiler that has as much pose in prose as anything I've read in a long time. Read his story "The Quiet." 

One of my favorite regional writers is Misty Skaggs. Her poem "Vangeline" in Not Kidding just tore me down in the best ways. A sample: "She gave birth to a general store/on a rural route, instead." Read her poem.

Gabino Iglesias is one of those rare literary figures who does as much for the community as he does within the community. He has an inexhaustible passion for both roles. So it was great to see him interviewed at Entropy about his recent book Zero Saints. Read the interview.

At Autre Magazine Matthew Vollmer takes something topical and tighropes his way to a great story. There's so much wonderful risk-taking with the voice and tone of this one. Read his story "Fat Kid."

I hope someone has said so before me, but Bud Smith is probably one of the most natural, unassuming writers out there. There's something about his fiction and poetry that seems like a relaxed conversation with a close friend. His story "Jant" at the spectacular Monkeybicycle puts this on display perfectly. Read the story.

Could not agree more with this essay by Lincoln Michel at Electric Literature calling bull shit on formula writing. Read the essay.

Many of the stories in this issue of Microfiction Monday Magazine are good, but Len Kuntz's stands out. An excellent example of what a good story can do with just the right amount of ambiguity. Read the story.

I've been trying for years to land a story in Hobart. If I could write like Dave Housley I'd have a much better chance. Just take a look at his story "Baby Hitler and the Slow Talking Man." Read the story.

This story "Bearish" by Leesa Cross-Smith at NANO Fiction has not a single word that doesn't fit together perfectly. More than any other, this story made me want to write better this past week. Read the story.

Writing prompt queen and writer extraordinaire Meg Pokrass has a new book of prose poetry available. Cellulose Pajamas, to my mind, is a promise of magical work primed and ready to please your eyeholes. Find out more.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Relax, It's a Lit Roundup 2

At the risk of jinxing myself, I hope to start putting out this sort of roundup about once a week again. Here's the second installment. It's important to note that these are various lit-related items I've come across in the past week, not necessarily published in the past week.

1. I don't know how long they've been doing this, but I noticed this past week that Ploughshares is picking their favorite short story they read for the past week. This one I'm pleased to say is from the epic Smokelong Quarterly and is by Nicholas Olson - Read the story.

2. This one's a throwback to a journal I miss a great deal called >kill author. It's a beautiful thing that their archives are still up to read. This is a story from Issue Two. Enjoy Steven J. McDermott's "Big Dumb Animal" - Read the story.

3. It's probably no secret that I consider Chris Offutt to be the best writer from Kentucky working today. In fact, let's go ahead and say of all time. Best from Kentucky of all time. In any case, The Gaurdian recently published an article called "The Best Book We've Read All Year" that has various writers and readers pick the best books they read in 2015. Chris's first story collection Kentucky Straight was chosen, a book published all the way back in 1992. Way to go Chris! - Read the article.

4. A lot of insight in this talk with Ravi Mangla about flash fiction and more at Buffalo Almanac. He's one of the best at the form, hands down - Read the interview.

5. This interview at Smokelong with micro-boss Joseph Young. I just finished reading Young's Easter Rabbit, so that's one read down about twenty to go - Read the interview.

6. I've been clear the book I'm most looking forward to reading this year is Ryan W. Bradley's Nothing But the Dead and Dying. Second on that list? No hesitation, Mel Bosworth and Ryan Ridge's Camouflage Country. Here's an excerpt from that book over at Nerve - Read the excerpt.

7. Meg Tuite has a new collection of flash fiction out. It's called Lined Up Like Scars. Here's a press release about it, complete with a link to order. Congratulations, Meg! - Read about it.

8. Ig Publishing is starting an interesting series of book that will be edited by my former mentor Kirby Gann, who will also author one of the books. It's about books that inspired writers to become writers. Ig says they see it as similar to the 33 1/3 books on influential music - Read about it.

Yes, I googled myself. But look what I found!

I googled myself yesterday. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I have a busy online life and so I like to see what...