Saturday, June 24, 2017

Matthew J. Hall Reviews Brown Bottle

Matthew J. Hall wrote a flattering review of my third book, the novel Brown Bottle at his website Screaming With Brevity. The review came out in February and I'm pretty sure I shared it at that time at another site I used to keep up. But, since I haven't shared it here, I'm going to pop it right up. Follow the below link to read the review.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Seven Drums" Published in BULL

It's a two-way win for me. I've wanted something of mine to appear in BULL for a very long time, and I had a story I felt was the best fiction I'd written in probably a decade that BULL fiction editor said he's like to see. The two-way win came when Ben Drevlow accepted the story, a western called "Seven Drums," for publication in BULL's pulp issue. And it also appears on the website today. I'd honestly love if you'd go read it as soon as you can. I don't usually say it, but I am proud of this one.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Social Media: An A-1 Dodgy Curse

Earlier today I published a post saying I wasn't going to share these on social media anymore.
Well, my post from a couple days ago (which I shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +) had about sixty or so views. The post from this morning has five.

And I'm still not sharing posts from here to social media anymore. These posts are for approximately six people, it seems. And that's turbo okay by me. All are welcome, but six will do fine.

There's Probably a Meme for That

Okay, so the Braves have won their last three games and are only five more wins with no losses to being at 500 ball. Good. Second place in a division where second is really first because the stupid Nats are like 10 games ahead of everybody.

Okay, my back is out, it's 6 a.m., and I've already been at work a half hour.

Okay, something has happened here at my work so that coworkers seem to think my office is Studio 54 and that I love having five to six people in here at all times, which forces me to put on five to six masks at once and nearly cause myself another nervous breakdown. And I also have work to do.

Okay, I'm not going to share this post or any of my other posts to social media anymore because social media is a room full of scratching posts and tomcats and all the tomcats think they have every right to scratch every post. My scratching posts are mine. You cannot touch them. Besides, as the wise and talented Laurence Fishburne said, "My social life is not media worthy." Amen, Orpheus. Amen Jack Crawford.

Okay, my coffee is done and it's now time to grab a cigarette and a cup of McCafe with some hazelnut cream. I'm not even going to talk about how good coffee is, you know? There's probably a meme for that somewhere. Google it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Pure Sounds of Baseball

HEY DAY: Glavine pitching for my Braves.

A baseball game on the radio is a wonderful thing. I've been listening to my Atlanta Braves exclusively on the radio this season (of course along with watching highlight clips of big plays on MLB At Bat) and the option has me like a brand new fan, though I've been watching the Braves for thirty-five years.

As I write this, the boys are playing Miami and coming off their second victorious series this season against the reprehensible Washington Nationals. And I'm listening to it all on the radio, the comfort-food smooth voices of broadcasting royalty Chip Caray and Hall of Famer Don Sutton easing me from inning to inning. In the background I can hear the stirring rumble of the fans rising and falling like a lake current hitting the bank and receding. A full second before Chip tells me Matt Adams connects on a monster hit, I hear the crack and already know. All I need Chip to do now is tell me if it's fair, tell me when it leaves SunTrust.

Any fans who haven't tried the Radio Season, as I'm calling it now, really should test the waters and see if next year would be a possibility. It's a return to some kind of pureness, which baseball will always provide you under any circumstance. As the poet Donald Hall said, "Baseball is fathers and sons. Football is brothers beating each other up in the backyard."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I Hate Being a Writer Today

I hate that writing is so important to me that sometimes the people who love me feel they have to show interest in writing, too, in order to be close to me. Maybe I won't be a writer for awhile.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My Per "Dead" Ohlin Story at Blue Fifth Notebook

Late last year the wonderful Michelle Elvy asked if I'd like to take part in Blue Five Notebook's blue collection 7. Michelle and the other editors solicited ekphrastic works of poetry, fiction, art, and non-fiction that connected in some way with the creative arts.

I contributed a story about the former lead singer of the black metal band Mayhem, Per "Dead" Ohlin called "Draft Notes on Life Eternal" you can read here. His is a strange and sad story in its entirety. If you read this and our intrigued any at all, I'd surely recommend looking further into his life, career, and eventual suicide.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Saw Absolutely Nothing When I Died but Carl Jung Did

I have a bad heart. A really crappy, beat up, scarred, and weak heart. It's flat out not any good and even up and quit entirely on me three years ago. That year, on Father's Day, I had a massive heart attack. Flatlined. Was paddled back to life, and had a heart procedure for a stent placement in my right coronary artery all within a matter of hours. According to the medical staff working the emergency room that day, if I hadn't lived so close (a ten minute drive) to the hospital I would have absolutely died before getting there.

For the past two months I've been having chest pains. There's nothing more terrifying than trying to sit still and prepare for death. Because here's what you need to know: there is no preparing for death, and there is nothing more terrifying than being right at the edge of it. If anybody tells you differently, they simply haven't experienced near-death.

On the way to the hospital three years ago, I was convinced I was having a heat stroke. It was a particularly hot day that day and I was cutting grass when I started losing my breath and couldn't get it back. My mouth started to draw and my fingers started to curl up. And all this time I still couldn't catch my breath. I heaved hard and long, the way you do after running at a full clip for as long as you can, but could never catch my breath. It was a deeply black shade of horror.

I was, in fact, having a massive heart attack while on the table in the ER. A nurse who had been wiring me up and holding me still while other nurses and assistants cut my jeans from me said, "Mr. Compton you're having a heart attack." I thought she was made of plastic. I thought she had fallen from a cartoon somewhere or was an extra on Cheers who had slipped through the barely stitched together fabric of the universe and landed in the hospital just to mess with me. Everything after that is unclear except the moment I flatlined. I had my head held up looking around the room when I started feeling it get really heavy, sort of like it was filled with wet sand. About one second later, I felt the back of my head hit the bed and everything went black.

Since everyone asks me what happened during the roughly 20 seconds I was dead, I'm going to give you the visual answer:

Yep. Not one thing. Nada. A big whole bag of zero.

Back in the world of the living, I thought I had passed out, even saying as much when all the shocking me with paddles actually kicked my heart back to life. "I passed out," I said, and even giggled a little, embarrassed. I don't remember anything after that, really. I left the hospital and my days of worry began.

Yes, the worry started after the heart attack. Before the heart attack I never thought about death. Death was, as everyone knows before suffering near-death, only an abstract notion. Something that would happen when you've got gray hair or no hair or wearing diapers in a nursing home somewhere. But post-attack a small pang of pressure anywhere near the area of my chest where my heart is sends me into total lock down mode. I have to start the process in my mind of accepting the insane fact that I am about to leave the world I have always known. Forever. And I have no idea what, if anything, is on the other side. All I've seen of that place was blackness, a dreamless sleep, nothingness times infinity. All of which means nothing, really. Nothing one way or the other.

Fear of death has spawned religions since time immemorial. Living each minute having to be prepared for my final breath gives me a certain amount of envy for people who can take comfort in some idea of where they go when they die and what will happen at that time. Envy isn't too strong of a word. But if the religious beliefs you had instilled in your youth somehow gets tilted or even shattered, getting back to that place of pure belief again is impossible.

Carl Jung once broke his foot and then subsequently, and somewhat strangely, had a heart attack. Jung wrote that while he was hanging at the edge of death he saw the earth from a thousand miles above somewhere in space. Of course at the time he was experiencing deliriums and visions while attending medical professionals gave him oxygen and administered camphor injections. So mostly unreliable, probably. And it's Jung, who was a genius who gave us analytical psychology but was crazy as a cracked out bedbug.

Thing is, Jung's descriptions of the earth viewed from space were stunningly accurate. That wouldn't mean much except his heart attack and vision happened in 1944, roughly two decades before people would travel to space. Do with that what you will.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Short Stories @ Connotation Press

I want to thank Jonathan Cardew up front for being great in dealing with me on getting a couple stories in shape for Connotation Press's May 2017 issue. He's been doing a remarkable job there at CP as fiction editor and I'm sure we'll see more great work in the coming months.

That said, I have two stories - "Oldbones" and "Persistence" - published at CP this month. The entire issue offers a lot of solid work so cruise around and give it a read.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Relax Again, It's a Reading Roundup, Again

Cause it's my childhood and warm and wonderful.

Here is some work worth checking out. Well worth checking out.

On Beauty and Other Poems by Olivia Marwdig @ Vending Machine Press

Kept by Meredith Alling & Agam Neiman @ 7X7

Three Poems by Howie Good @ RASPUTIN: A Poetry Thread

In the Country of the Broken by David Roden @ gobbet

Hungry by Nasreen Khan @ Anti-Heroin Chic

Storm Girls by Cathy Ulrich @ Fair Folk

The House That Jack Built by John Madera @ Conjunctions

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fluland Is the Name of a Lit Journal

I'm sending poetry out to some journals lately and getting good news. I like that. In fact, I'm so into poetry right now that I may not be able to stick to my plan of focusing on long fiction for the next several months. I need Russell Edson. I need James Tate. I need Francis Ponge. I need prose poetry. As Edson says, I'm a little prose poet. The form just feels comfortable for me. I've always looked at writing on a sentence level and images and the unspoken or unspeakable. The narrative has always been hardly more than the structure that enabled me to lay down these sick phrases, etc.

A few days ago I had four poems accepted at the lit journal Fluland. I saw a friend's piece there a couple weeks back or something like that and checked out the rest of the journal. It's all kitschy and odd and publishes all different kinds of innovative work including comics and such. A place like that draws me in. The different and strange always has had that effect on me and that makes me wonder how in the world I wrote realism for so long. Not to say I won't write more realism at some point (although I seriously don't see me doing it) but just that I can't see how I did so for so long when my interests are in the fantastic. Oh well, only I really care.

So yep, Fluland. So I sent them four the innovative poems. Side Note: I use the word innovative not as a brag sort of thing but because I dislike the term experimental fiction or poetry. It implies possible failure. An experiment can go wrong. Innovation is simply moving past the normal borders in my mind. I prefer the moving past borders option. Yep. So they took four of my poems. One called "a Lectus" that deals with my dad; one called "Forty's Year Mind" that is about Nabokov's death; one titled "Things to Fix With a Hammer" that is about exactly what it says and features some clip art; and a poem called "Rain in Gutters" that is, yep, about rain in gutters. Well, and some other stuff.

This is the first time a journal has accepted a bundle of my poems so I'm excited. I mean Fluland isn't The Paris Review and.....isn't that awesome! I'm serious. I want more journals like Fluland around. This is where the real innovation in poetry and prose is happening. We all know this.

I'm not sure when the poems will appear (I was told when they were published I would be contacted). I'll post here when they are live.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Duotrope Editor Interview for The Airgonaut

Some of you may know that I edit the online journal The Airgonaut; some of you may not know this. If you don't, then pay no mind to what I'm posting here this morning. No worries. If you do, then here is an interview at Duotrope I took part in about The Airgonaut. I basically answered a series of stock questions about things ranging from what I look for in a submission to who are some writers I like. Things such as that. I will say if you're planning on sending something my way there then this would be a benefit to you if you're not already familiar with the journal.

Monday, May 8, 2017

There Are No Prizes

So I'm gearing up to enter some pages for the Italo Calvino Prize this year. I wish I didn't care about awards or prizes because they're intensely arbitrary and a set of certain opinions from certain humans at a given time and place under certain circumstances of which we have no idea the levels of Aristotelian confluences that brought them to their decision that day. But I do care. I hate myself, but I do care. If other people did what I should do and not care then this wouldn't be a problem. My mind keeps going back to the last two sentences in Michael Ondaatje's masterwork Coming Through Slaughter.

"Thirty-one years old. There are no prizes."

Yes, Mr. Ondaatje. I hear you, sensei. But I'm still probably going to make a run for the Calvino. I mean if it was named after just about another other author I'd be able to pass it up right now. But I'm writing Calvino influenced work these days (or had have been the past several months, although that's about to change for a bit). I've also been reading Calvino like a madman. I've been basically trying to take in everything about him and Borges that I can almost as if by osmosis. And I started doing this much much before I learned there was even such a thing as a Calvino Prize. Or that it was given out by the University of Louisville, where I basically went to grad school. Or that someone I actually know (Ryan Ridge) won it last year. Now that's a series of confluences for you. So basically I can't resist. Wish me luck or don't. Either way I'm going to be dropping a $25 entry fee for nothing, as I will not win. I know this because Tyler knows this.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Refocusing on longer stories for now

For the next few months I'm going to be working on some longer stories set in Appalachia but having nothing to do with Appalachia per se. Reading Moshfegh has me kickstarted back to writing about characters. Keeping the focus directly on them and what they want. I've missed that while writing other material since September of last year. I have starts for about ten or so stories like this so hopefully I'll emerge with some decent work when this is all said and done. Wish me luck.

Another Ottessa Moshfegh Post

Yep, another one. Because you can't get enough Ottessa Moshfegh in your life.

I'm reading Eileen now (the book she admits was written along a familiar paradigm in order to make money). Yes, to sell books. I absolutely love that she says this without any shame, for she should feel none. What's wrong with writing to sell a book? Not every endeavor we make as writers has to be Van Gogh-like in its unappreciated genius and obscure innovation.

Moshfegh comes across as completely real to me, at least in the interviews of hers I've read. Her interview with Luke Goebel in whatever place it was I read it was what led me to read her most recent book, the short story collection Homesick for Another World. Those stories were written in such a pitch as I've never encountered before in fiction. I didn't think that was still possible today. And there's nothing really flashy about them that makes them so good. It's mostly how she tells a story - like she starts from inside the characters and makes her way out to you so that by the time her story is told it's like you've lived it along with the characters and her. It's a subtle talent, and a beautiful one.

Yesterday I ran across a guest post by her that I'm surely going to share here now. It was published at The Masters Review and is titled "How to Shit." Seriously, how amazing great is that? she talks a lot about shit, sort of. She talks about things in only the way she is able to talk about things. Have a look. Just follow the below linked title.

THE MASTERS REVIEW - "How to Shit" by Ottessa Moshfegh 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Reading log from 2014 to present


1. Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

2. The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

3. Cult of Loretta by Kevin Maloney

4. The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire

5. Saw Strokes My Father Taught Me by G. Arthur Brown

6. Root and Shoot by Nathan Leslie

7. United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

8. Cartoons in the Suicide Forest by Leza Cantoral

9. Visions by Troy James Weaver

10. Naked Friends by Justin Grimbol

11. Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck: Rejection Letters from the Eyeshot Outbox by Lee Klein

12. Handwriting by Michael Ondaatje

13. Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell

14. Bluets by Maggie Nelson

15. Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery by Tim Earley

16. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins

17. On Broad Sound by Rusty Barnes

18. The Second Sex by Michael Robbins

19. Whim Man Mammom by Abraham Smith

20. EOB: Earth Out of Balance by John Minichillo

21. Paris Blues by Charles Baudelaire

22. The Devil’s Trill by Ron Houchin

23. Tinderbox Lawn by Carol Guess

24. Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Italo Calvino

25. Jorges Luis Borges: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by Jorge Luis Borges

26. Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino

27. Homesick for Another World: Stories by Ottessa Moshfegh

28. Dreamtigers by Jorge Luis Borges

29. Plainwater: Essays and Poetry by Anne Carson

30. The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memory by Jorge Luis Borges

31. The Cinammon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje

32. The Lucky Body by Kyle Coma-Thompson

33. Best Experimental Writing 2014 edited by Cole Swenson


1. Easter Rabbit by Joseph Young

2. Best Small Fictions 2015 edited by Tara L. Masih and Robert Olen Butler

3. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction edited by Tara L. Masih

4. Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons by Tara Laskowski

5. Hint Fiction edited by Robert Smartwood

6. Metal Gear Solid by Ashley and Anthony Burch

7. The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret

8. Micro Fiction edited by Jerome Stern

9. Rashomon and other Stores by Ryünosuke Akutagawa

10. Severance by Robert Olen Butler

11. Slade House by David Mitchell

12. Hiding Man: A Biography of Donald Barthleme by Tracy Daughtery

13. If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

14. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 guest edited by Guillermo del Toro

15. Studies in Hybrid Morphology by Matt Tompkins

16. Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories edited by James Thomas

17. A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham

18. Appalachian Elegy by bell hooks

19. Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges

20. The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli

21. There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

22. Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert

23. The Humble Assessment by Kris Saknussemm

24. Gil the Nihilist: A Sitcom by Sean Kilpatrick

25. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

26. Bolaño: A Biography in Conversations by Mónica Maristain

27. Underworld by Don DeLillo

28. The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges

29. Tables Without Chairs by Brian Alan Ellis and Bud Smith

30. The Tent by Margaret Atwood

31. Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

32. The Quiet American by Graham Greene

33. Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor

34. A Universal History of Iniquity by Jorge Luis Borges

35. Souvenirs and Other Stories by Matt Tompkins

36. In Case We Die edited by Aaron Dietz and Bud Smith

37. The Color Master by Aimee Bender

38. Split Rail by Mark Welborn

39. Relax, You’re Going to Die by Tai Sheridan

40. Hoopty Time Machines by Christopher DeWan

41. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

42. Marigold by Troy James Weaver

43. The Insufferable Goucho by Roberto Bolaño

44. Light Boxes by Shane Jones

45. Best Small Fictions 2016 edited by Tara L. Masih and Stuart Dybek

46. He Stopped Loving Her Today: George Jones, Billy Sherrill, and the Pretty-Much Totally True Story of the Making of the Greatest Country Record of All Time by Jack Isenhour

47. The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret

48. Jeff Bridges by Donora Hillard

49. 13 by David Tomaloff

50. Failing This by Alec Niedenthal

51. Kitty by Lindsay Hunter

52. The Map of the System of Human Knowledge by James Tadd Adcox

53. I’ll Give You Something to Cry About by Corey Mesler

54. Our Hearts Are Power Ballads by J. Bradley

55. Daniel Fights a Hurricane by Shane Jones

56. Philip K. Dick: The Last Interviews and Other Conversations

57. The Equation of Constants by b.l. pawelek

58. Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

59. The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

60. A Death in the Family by James Agee

61. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

62. Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

63. Horror Film Poems by Christoph Paul

64. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

65. My Friend Ken Harvey by Barrett Warner

66. Museum of the Weird by Amelia Gray

67. Two Hundred and One Miniature Tales by Alejandro Cordoba Sosa

68. Not Quite So Stories by David S. Atkinson


1. Tampa by Alissa Nutting

2. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

3. The Baltimore Atrocities by John Dermot Woods

4. Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill

5. Where All Light Tends To Go by David Joy

6. Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash

7. Sinners of Sanction County by Charles Dodd White

8. Hell and Ohio by Chris Holbrook

9. The Cove by Ron Rash

10. Burning Bright by Ron Rash

11. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

12. Straight to Hell and Astrology by Danielle Etienne

13. American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell

14. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill

15. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich

16. Gap Greek by Robert Morgan

17. Witchita Stories by Troy James Weaver

18. Hall of Small Mammals by Thomas Pierce

19. Big World by Mary Miller

20. The National Virginity Pledge by Barry Graham

21. When You Cross That Line by Sam Slaughter

22. Fourteen Stories and None of Them Are Yours by Luke B. Goebel

23. Gutshot by Amelia Gray

24. The Marble Orchard by Alex Taylor

25. Winterswim by Ryan W. Bradley

26. Haints Stay by Colin Winnette

27. Trampoline by Robert Gipe

28. In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell

29. Blurb by Ravi Mangla

30. Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History by Phong Nguyen

31. Our Love Will Go the Way of the Salmon by Cameron Pierce

32. The Way the World Is by Michael Henson

33. Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean edited by Karen Salyer McElmurray and Adrian Blevins

34. Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky

35. The Meadow by James Galvin

36. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

37. Swann’s Way: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 1 by Marcel Proust

38. Beloved by Toni Morrison

39. Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes

40. Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

41. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

42. The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek

43. The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing by Nicholas Rombes

44. Is That You, John Wayne by Scott Garson

45. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

46. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders

47. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

48. The Trial by Franz Kafka

49. The Stranger by Albert Camus

50. The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel

51. V by Thomas Pynchon

52. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

53. Lucky Alan and other Stories by Jonathan Lethem

54. Suddenly, a Knock On the Door by Etgar Keret

55. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

56. Taipei by Tao Lin


1. Nightwork by Christina Schutt

2. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

3. Tenth of December by George Saunders

4. Galaga by Michael Kimball

5. The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus

6. Hill William by Scott McClanahan

7. Out of the Woods by Chris Offutt

8. Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones

9. Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan

10. The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell

11. The Uncertainty Principle by Rob McLennan

12. The Day the Cloud Stood Still by Patrick Trotti

13. In the Season of Blood and Gold by Taylor Brown

14. Billie the Bull by xTx

15. Pathologies by William Walsh

16. Baptism and Dogs by B.L. Tucker

17. The Least of My Scars by Stephen Graham Jones

18. Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler

19. The Fun We’ve Had by Michael Seidlinger

20. Backswing by Aaron Burch

21. Brown Dog by Jim Harrison

22. Alone with Other People by Gabby Bess

23. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock

24. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

25. Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson

26. Panic, USA by Nate Slawson

27. Third Class Superhero by Charles Yu

28. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’ Conner

29. Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale

30. Baby Babe by Ana Carrete

31. Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

32. I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying by Matthew Salesses

33. I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic by Jamie Iredell

34. Colony Collapse by J.A. Tyler

35. Low Down Death Right Easy by J. David Osborne

36. Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz

37. My Friend Ken Harvey by Barrett Warner

38. Witch Piss by Sam Pink

39. The Black Dog Eats the City by Chris Kelso

40. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

41. Addicts and Basements by Robert Vaughan

42. The Tommy Plans by Cooper Reener

43. Bark by Lorrie Moore

44. Drinking Until Morning by Justin Grimbol

45. High as the Horse’s Bridle by Scott Cheshire

46. Dry by Augusten Burroughs

47. Palm-of-the-Hand Stories by Yasunari Kawabata

48. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

49. My Salinger Years by Joanna Rakoff

50. Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story by D.T. Max

51. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

52. Annihilation by Jeff VandeMeer

53. Lost in Space by Ben Tanzer

54. King Shit by Brian Alan Ellis

55. 33 Fragments of Sick-Sad Living by Brian Alan Ellis

56. 10:04 by Ben Lerner

57. Misadventure by Nicholas Grider

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Relax, It's a Mini-Roundup

A few pieces I've come across over the past couple weeks that I shared on social media but am pretty sure didn't really make it to a lot of people's feeds because I probably suck, which is a shame, so I'm sharing them again here as a whole.

The Fruiting Body of the Mycelium by Becca Borawski Jenkins @ The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts

Birthplace of the Saints (comic) by Kevin Reilly @ The Nashville Review

Poems by Howie Good @ Queen Mob's Teahouse

The Mall We Called Commas by A.E. Weisgerber @ Five 2 One Magazine

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thanks for Your Feedback. I Appreciate It.

In the past couple of days I've made my new book A True Story: A Novella available in every way I know how so that as many people as possible can read it without cost. If you've downloaded it I thank you and hope you will will share your thoughts in some way, be it on Goodreads or in a small review or simply by posting in the comments here or elsewhere to let me know what you thought. I thank you and appreciate it more than you can know.

Author Nicholas Grider sits in the Chaos chair

I've got a new Chaos Question interview up with author Nicholas Grider. Go have a look! Back to the Future is mentioned. Just saying. Back to the Future.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ottessa Moshfegh & Anne Carson

I'm reading Ottessa Moshfegh's short story collection Homesick for Another World and it's restoring my faith in the goodness of the long short story. Numerous of these stories in the collection are upwards of thirty pages long. I mean, that is insane. The first story I read in the book was great. Then I realized it was almost as long as Wittgenstein's single published book of philosophy (short, I'll grant you, but a short story this size?) and almost returned the book to the library (would have loved to have bought this one but alas). I'm glad I didn't because unlike with other thirty and forty page long stories I never feel bogged down during hers. It's hard to put my finger on but I think it's the way she commands the sentence and then latches the next sentence on in a nice fit. It's something like that. If you've not read Homesick for Another World and you're like me and hate long stories don't let the breakdown of the table of contents put you off. She pulls off some kind of magic trick, I'm telling you. Also, she gives great interview.

While taking a few strides between Moshfegh's stories I'm also reading Anne Carson again. I finished Autobiography of Red last year with full intentions of just plowing right on through the rest of her oeuvre but it wasn't going to happen. Too many other book distractions. Books for me are like a long table of various donuts. I move from one to the other and the other and so on. I've always wanted to read straight through someone's full body of work but it's not going to happen. The same way I'm never going to eat two plain, beautiful, glazed donuts in a row in a roomful of various donuts. I resign myself to this.

But Anne Carson. Yes, Anne Carson is the personification of insight. One paragraph (sometimes one sentence to the next) throbs out from the page and into some place inside my brain that I hope will activate lively enough to store it away for later enjoyment. I have terrifically bad recall. Lately (especially with Carson and Ondaatje) I've started reading with a highlighter tucked between the fingers of my writing hand. In Carson's case I've highlighted more than I've not, really. Now I've just taken to highlighting the titles or headings, entire pages with a sloppy neon green or yellow star in the corner. Plainwater: Essays and Poetry, which is the Carson I'm reading now, is five parts. I've just finished the second part, the exceptional Short Talks section. 

Examples of full on brilliance from Short Talks section:

"Now Ovid is weeping. Each night about this time he puts on sadness like a garment and goes on writing." - from "On Ovid"

"...will Andreas continue to travel the world like the wandering moon with her borrowed light?" - from "On Parmenides"

"Major things are wind, evil, a good fighting horse, prepositions, inexhaustible love, the way people choose their king. Minor things include dirt, the names of schools of philosophy, mood and not having mood, the correct time." - from "On Major and Minor"

And here's the thing: all of these examples are on just two facing pages of the book (32, 33). Ridiculous right? These two ladies have a lot to teach me, and a lot to teach all of us, civilians and writers alike; those with wounds that heal normally and those who are the wound, opened and bright.

Meredith Alling Adds New Praise for A True Story: A Novella

So here's the early praise so far for my new book A True Story: A Novella:

“Held in a cryptic in-between place fraught with many Alices, new bodies that struggle to know hunger and monsters that once were men, Compton’s A True Story: A Novella boldly unfurls itself.  With every sentence a poem and its vibrant imagery, Compton completely captures."

- xTx, author of Today I Am a Book 

"Wild as a charging boar and tender as a raindrop, Sheldon Lee Compton's A True Story: A Novella is a surreal sleepwalk through a world in which love is a storm and death is a question. It will wake you with a jolt." 

- Meredith Alling, author of Sing the Song 

Once again, you can get this book for free by going here and opening the link in your browser to download. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Publication Day for My New Book. And It's Free!

It's publication day for my newest book, A True Story: A Novella!

The good news is that it's free and downloadable. Not like downloadable the way you buy and download a Kindle book at Amazon, but hey I'm poor. This version will open as a PDF in your browser and then you can download it as normal. I probably shouldn't even call it downloadable. But I am.

Get it; read it; share it; review it; pan it; praise it.

Here's an early blurb from the amazing person and author xTx -

“Held in a cryptic in-between place fraught with many Alices, new bodies that struggle to know hunger and monsters that once were men, Compton’s A True Story: A Novella boldly unfurls itself. With every sentence a poem and its vibrant imagery, Compton completely captures."   -xTx, author of Today I Am a Book

In any case, here's a link that will take you to the place at my author's website where you can get the digital of book:


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Italo Calvino's Magic Moon

 "Now, you will ask me what in the world we went up on the Moon for; I'll explain it to you. We went to collect the milk, with a big spoon and a bucket. Moon-milk was very thick, like a kind of cream cheese."

     - Italo Calvino, "The Distance of the Moon" from Cosmicomics

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Let's Send a Case of Water to Flint, Michigan

I'm going to order a case of water and have it shipped to Flint, Michigan. Ten bucks or so, that's all it will take. I'm asking that my Facebook friends do the same thing. I'm going to order mine from Wal-Mart and have it delivered there. On Monday, I'm going to call the mayor's office in Flint and ask what is the best address for it to be sent to. Please, please, please, please, please do this with me. I'd love to know how many cases we can get sent, so, if you don't mind, direct message me and let me know if you're willing to do this. Let's do this anonymously and not put our names on the shipment. Let's do our part to fix this. If everyone in the United States sent one case of water, well, I don't have to tell you what that would do. Just imagine.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Dark Setup

I write some. I wrote this thing called a haibun yesterday and that was fun, like a puzzle there at the end. But let's not talk too long into the night about writing. Then this morning I became stressed and then angry and got in an argument with my girlfriend. I had a massive heart attack, a flatliner, back in 2014 and this morning I could feel my heart weakening. It's damaged in a way that can't be fixed and this morning I could feel it getting weaker and straining to beat in my chest and I realized again that I don't want to die angry or stressed or unhappy or tired. I'm forty and, at best, I probably only have about twenty years left to live. Likely less. For the past forty years my life has been nothing but hardship - survival. What I'd like is for my life to be about living, just living instead of surviving whatever shit storm is happening at the time. And the horrible part is that there's no way for that to happen. As long as I'm alive, it's going to be a survival situation. People around me will keep hating each other and the tension of that will never let up. My heart will stop and I will die. And then, friends, there's nothing. I've been there. I have been dead and let me tell you that there is nothing. A forever dreamless sleep. So what's to be gathered from this? Well, you need to understand that this one life, however long it may be, is the only thing you get. There's no hereafter, not of any kind. There's no continuation. Dead is the end. I've spent forty of my however many short years worrying and feeling tension and hurting and being depressed and being in the middle of such impossible hardship. I have to find a way out of this if I'm going to have any sunlight in my life. I wish I could hit myself in the head really hard with something and reset my brain, wake up as somebody who can't remember anything that has happened to him and start over, less invested, less heart hurt, less beaten. But it's not going to happen. I'm going to keep waking up every morning to all of this until my heart can't take it anymore and I die. What a fucking dark setup. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Science and Biology and Aliens

So I watched the first episode of Cosmos, hosted by Neil Degrasse Tyson. Now I have some really really different takes on things. Mostly about the fact that DNA evolution is such a unique series of events that it is mathematically impossible to come up with the same living species twice. Not even something closely resembling say the human species or the dinosaur species or another other DNA strand that evolved. With the insane amount of tiny "mistakes" that happen during what Tyson referred to as the proofreading stages of DNA transference, there is no way. Simply no way whatsoever.

Keeping that in mind, let's study for a moment people who want to believe that aliens have traveled here to Earth from some distant place where they evolved completely separate from us. These accounts nearly always include some version of what is called the grays. Below is one abductee's drawing of a gray:

Have you reached the problem yet? Maybe you have. If DNA evolution is a series of proofreading errors that culminate in the finished product (and it is, just saying) then there is no way whatsoever that aliens from another universe or even a new species evolving on this plant would ever look anything near like us. Now, have another look at old gray ass up there. Arms, legs. Check. Feet, hands. Check. Even the structure of the face - the location of the nose, eyes, mouth - are all far far to similar to that of our own species to make any report detailing an alien looking anything like this to be anything more than a super-sized order of bullshit.

The only way this sketch and the sketches like this one are to be thought of as anything other than bullshit it must be assumed that these "beings" originated here on this planet and are from the some string of DNA as we started from but only deviated dramatically at some point. Any other proposal don't hunt, as they say.

Think of dinosaurs, to further explain this. Now there was a species that did originate here on Earth but in an entirely different DNA strand as ours. Thus, and very predictably, those fuckers look a million times different than us, were a million times different than us. The series of proofreading errors - the distinct and exact set of errors in the same exact sequence - was not matched perfectly when we crawled from the natural heating vents and toward land. The end result: we are nothing like dinosaurs. 

Maybe I'm completely insane, but I don't think so. I think my very limited understanding of science and biology has led me to a logical conclusion that changes a few things, at least as far as grays are concerned. 

Even with this logical evidence, at the end of a long day, though, it is still my own personal thought that every single alien encounter of any kind has been an encounter with our own vile government as part of a perpetuated plan unknown to its citizens and for a never-to-be-known purpose. How's that for goddamn crazy as all hell.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tonight I Have Scurvy

Got home at 2 p.m. from work today and went to bed. Woke up at 10:30 p.m. Refreshed but have that speculative feeling one gets when having been displaced from the world for a time and returned in the middle of some darkness that seems metaphysical.

I'm watching a television program about the 1980s and buffering that with occasional smoke breaks outside in the cold. The 80s for me is a land of nostalgia, which some have said is a specified form of scurvy. I have scurvy then. Bring me orange juice, but not too much, because I like my current state of remembering Cheers and the championship Chicago Bears and Jimmy Carter and the credit-devouring Ronald Reagan because, yes, Carter negotiated the release of those hostages people and Reagan took credit in the first hour of his presidency. Believe it. And Carter stayed as quiet as fuck about it because he is and was the actual definition of a true patriot - a person who does the right thing, the hard thing, without concern for who gets credit and who gets an unfair amount of shit thrown in their face.

Ordered four books from Amazon today - Blake Butler's Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, Dennis Cooper's Frisk, The Best American Experimental Stories, and a book I lost in a storage locker back in the dark days of 2008, Charles Baxter's Burning Down the House.

Jesus, those dark days of 2008. I lost my vehicle to the repo man, my house to the mortgage company, a wife I needed to get rid of anyways to an ex-boyfriend who ultimately inherited a fine mess, and my sobriety to the beginnings of a battle with alcoholism that wouldn't end for another six years.

No real thread here, just some rambling.

Also, I really want to read Abraham Smith's book Hank.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Baseball in January

It's January but I'm watching a baseball game thanks to the magical wonder of MLB At Bat. Paid meh twenty bucks and now I'm set for the next year. The Braves spring training games start on April 3 so now I won't have to miss a single pitch. By god. By god.

Today I've been watching San Fran Giant Matt Cain's 2012 perfect game on the classic games option. I'm now in the seventh inning and the crowd and the commentator's are just beginning to mention the fact that Cain hasn't allowed a base runner. I wondered in what inning they would start this up. Also, it's just amazing to hear and watch a baseball game in January.

My plan is to watch classic games from now until the first week of April. The Braves are going to fucking suck, yes. I don't care. They're my team and I will watch them every chance I get. I don't need them to win every game. I want to listen to commentators chatting each other up. I want to tune out to the pops of leather and cracks of the bat. I just want to watch baseball and chill.


I Won't Get To Read All the Books I Want To Read Before I Die

It's horrible. A devastating thought. I will not get to read all the books I want to read before I die.

Right now, this second, I have 567 books on my "to-read" list at Goodreads. I currently average reading about 70 books a year. The math is discouraging.

A couple years back I wanted to become a better reader. I still want to become a better reader, but the temptation to skim is strong in me, too. And I'm going to admit it here in this place that I have started skimming.

For years I've been able to anticipate and immediately recognize a passage from a book that is pretty much nothing else but the writer enjoying they way they write, how they can turn a phrase, etc. It's like standing in the mirror and appreciating how you have good hair that day or making your profile picture one that's really flattering, etc. Once upon a time I would read through these bits and pieces but not anymore. I'm moving right along and feeling less and less bad about it.

Anybody else doing this? Or am I just the worst person on the planet?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1982 - Revenge of the Creature in 3D

Oh my gob I remember this exact night, everything about it. The first nationally televised 3D movie Revenge of the Creature. I can't believe there's a post about it somewhere out there in the shining glitter. I was six years old. Me and my mom and everybody else along the back road in the town where I lived got together at our landlord's house. I remember that fucker's name. It was Thurman Johnson.


Everybody brought food - watermelon, corn on the cob, chicken. It was the first time I ever ate watermelon with salt. Something about this night has stayed with me as clearly as when it happened. That was thirty-four years ago. I'd give anything if it was tomorrow.

Fellow Humans

Okay fellow humans of the world, this is the only time I'm going to mention this here, but if you want to see all my writing-related shit and stuff you should follow the link below:


Thanks fellow living beings of Earth.

On Mortality

It's more than an unhealthy dose of self-pity, I'm aware. But then concerns about the level of self-pity innate to daily life are concerns for other people now. I'm not other people anymore. I'm the more quickly dying, the organic specimen fully graduated from the slowly dying bestowed upon all of us at birth. All that's left for me to do now is live here at The Farm in these replicate hours until someday soon, and without realizing it, I begin to live my last one, sixty minutes of which I will only live twenty-three or forty-seven or twelve. I'm not unhappy, despite what it may seem. I'm only preparing for the end, the great mystery. And when a human begins to turn their gaze to the unknown, I suppose the known, the reality of life, diminishes, becomes an outro that one listens to but doesn't really hear because the life of the song has already been born and died.