That New New in Lit: Sept/Oct

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What to read now and what's to come next month in the book world.

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Jacob Kaplan | October 9, 2013

mellow pages

Credit: The New York Times

Introducing a new monthly column from Jacob Kaplan—writer, teacher, editor of Sporadicus Mag—on what's going on in the literary world that you might have missed because you were too busy looking at GIFs. That New New In Lit will highlight under-the-radar lit releases, upcoming events (mostly New York-based, but we'll expand!), internet tendencies, comments on new fiction, recommended authors, the occasional blog roll call, and what you should be reading instead of, well, looking at GIFs.

1. Eric Nelson spoke with Scott McClanahan for The Airship; their conversation—discursive, cryptic, fun to read—might verge on cosmic truth. “A potato is as alive as anything,” says, at one point, McClanahan. The West Virginian's book Hill William is out October 29 from Tyrant Books, and if you haven't already read Crapalachia (Two Dollar Radio, March, 2013), now's the time!

2. Recommended Reading is a weekly fiction publication by indispensable lit resource Electric Literature; once a month, a story or excerpt is hand-picked by an established author, along with an explanation of the selection. Recently, J. Robert Lennon chose Steven Polansky's “Leg,” a story about a man whose leg wound festers. Lennon has some insightful things to say about the story and about writing in general. Electric Literature also runs a great blog called The Outlet, which lists, among other things, noteworthy literary events in NYC.

3. The current installment of Recommended Reading features an excerpt from writer and filmmaker Carson Mell's novel Saguaro, which was originally self-published in 2006; Mell quickly sold out of the 1,000 copy run. Electric Literature is re-publishing the novel as an eBook on October 8th, and there's a launch party at SideWalk Cafe on October 10. Saguaro is about rock legend Bobby Bird, a recurring character in Mell's work, who has hallucinogenic adventures in the desert and gets a spider tattooed to his chest.

4. The existence of Mellow Pages Library in Bushwick, Brooklyn is a cause for celebration. A cozy, medium-sized room off the Morgan L, Mellow Pages was founded in February 2013 (to critical acclaim) by Matt Nelson and Jacob Perkins, two friendly dudes who will make you coffee. The impressive collection skews toward indie lit, chapbooks, and the literary obscure, and a lot of the prettier covers are hung on the wall in a fetching display. Mellow Pages host readings and events all the time. Check-out privileges are twenty bucks a year, but you can also loiter/read on their couches, one of which still has the seatbelt buckles attached.

5. Speaking of Mellow Pages, they're hosting a “poetry event” called Selfies Nite (!) on Monday, October 14 at 8:00 pm. Internet celebrity/enigma Steve Roggenbuck is headlining; Stephen Tully Dierks will also perform, among others. We can't tell you what to expect beyond a good time, and, according to the description, “a selfie battle in honor of ee cummings.”

6. If selfies aren't your thing, go instead to the next installment of the always-inspirational Franklin Park Reading Series, also on October 14, also at 8:00pm, at the bar Franklin Park in Crown Heights. The lineup is stellar and all-female, and includes Miami writer Laura van den Berg, whose forthcoming story collection The Isle of Youth (FSG Originals, November 5th, 2013) was hailed by Karen Russell as “scary and hilarious and beautiful.” Also reading are Susan Steinberg, T Kira Madden, Vanessa Veselka, and Karolina Waclawiak.

7. Karolina Waclawiak is the deputy editor of The Believer and she wrote a funny, sad novel called How To Get Into The Twin Palms (Two Dollar Radio, August, 2012). Waclawiak knows how to be a writer in New York, and here's the Q & A to prove it.

8. The Center for Fiction publishes a magazine called The Literarian, and the latest issue includes an analytical discussion of Gordon Lish's work and the range of his influence. Lish has edited and endorsed the likes of Raymond Carver, Sam Lipsyte, Gary Lutz, Amy Hempel, and Barry Hannah, among many others.

9. The journal Science published a study showing that readers of literary fiction are exceptionally empathetic and emotionally perceptive, and the New York Times wrote about it. Bookworms might be more in touch than you think! Or at least really good at matching facial expressions to corresponding moods.

10. There's an exhaustive who's who of indie presses up at Flavorwire. Baltimore-based Publishing Genius is at the top; check out their webzine, Everyday Genius, for exciting new stuff, every day.

11. For an impeccably designed blog about short fiction, look no further than The Short Form. They post fiction recommendations every week, accompanied by excerpts and links. They also do interviews with important people, all of which are accompanied by a spot-on drawing of the interviewee. Check out their latest, in which Nina McConigley, author of the collection Cowboys and East Indians (coming out this month from FiveChapters Books), speaks on writing, race, and living in Wyoming. She also recommends a number of short stories!

12. Matthew Sharpe is a novelist and teacher who has, since May, published twenty-one very short, very readable stories in twenty-one weeks for a self-directed web experiment called Very short stories r us. Each one is punchy, sad, unindented, and, often, absurd. A guy walks to the moon; a woman is plagued by black rectangles. Sharpe plans to do a full year—that's fifty-two stories! Writes the author: “If you would like to be notified each time a new story is published here, please send an email with the subject heading ‘add’ to poopsie.schmelding [at] gmail.com.” Poopsie Schmelding?!

13. Subscribe for free to Bodega Magazine. Founded in September 2012, Bodega is a high-quality online-only literary publication. They've published the likes of Lydia Davis and Colum McCann, but the real gems are works by fiction writers and poets you may not have heard of. See, for instance, C.A. Kaufman's knockout “Mother” in the August 2013 issue, C. Dylan Bassett's poem “We're all waiting for the sex doll…” in the September Issue, and Austin Hayden's story “The World's Finest Journalism” in the current one.

14. Rachel B. Glaser does exciting language magic via poetry and fiction, plus makes paintings of basketball players. Her latest poetry collection, MOODS (Factory Hollow Press, March, 2013), will wake you up for good. And her short fiction is also incredible but we don't want to gush. Check out this piece Blake Butler wrote for VICE.

15. You'll have to wait until June for this one, but what a great title!

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