Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Nurse Left Work at 5:00

And, leaving, her attention was drawn to a grasshopper, which it appeared someone had painted. Perhaps some small child. The grasshopper toiled in the road, struggling, dragging its cruelly besilvered limbs across the pavement.

The nurse stopped for a moment, those silver limbs flashing in her eyes like realizations.

Should she come to the assistance of another poor creature on this planet, unto whom no good had been done? The nurse debated.

She had an itch on her ass cheek, but she neglected this as a consideration in favor of that which for her was the Trump Card of Her Days.

Ronald had left her not two weeks before. And what had he told her -- terrible Ronald -- as he posed for her memory in the frame of her door? He had said, I've given what love I can give. I know my love is gleaming, baby, and I don't want to smother you.

And now the nurse realized: that painted grasshopper in the street: it was she! She'd been given a chance somehow to save herself via this mechanism. But what, oh what, would she do?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

RB on Twitter Fiction

There's an interesting post on Randall Brown's site about work in the, um, 140 character range. I was interested. (I confess to having written a short on Twitter's real-time character counter -- it's forthcoming in Nanoism).

Brown starts by talking about shorts in general and the test often put to them: "Can you deliver a story in so few words?"

More RB: "Even when [the short] gets Twittersized, people focus on the challenge of delivering a story with so few words. Personally, as either a writer or reader, I don't particularly want 140-character stories."

I'm like: right there with you, right there with you....

I'd actually take it further: not only don't I want them, I really dislike them. I love vsf for its openness, for the freedom it gives writers. But people who try to telegraph full story arcs in 140 characters have rapidly created what I'd call a tight genre -- the antithesis to openness. I mean, you know exactly how these things are going to go. You know how to read them, you know how to write them. Often the exercise turns on the ability to imply a single lurid punchline. Like, oh, she's been poisoning his food. Oh, he doesn't know that she's packing to leave him.

Traditionalists would go, This isn't fiction! Without sharing their reasons, I'd be close to agreeing w/ them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

You Know You Want It

"Jamie Iredell is a stylist with claws." OK, I made that up. But Jamie is double all right.

Here's the link.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tomorrow I Will Shave My Face

and dress myself and go and sit with others, to whom I won't say much, though words will bump around

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Name that Rejection

We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

add meh add meh

After careful consideration, I have decided not to publish your--


After careful consideration, I have decided not to launch a Wigleaf group on facebook. I like the relative personalness of giving news about updates via my own fb account. So if you'd join a Wigleaf group, add me instead.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Guest Post by 4 yr old


Friday, August 14, 2009

Worm du Silk

I just heard they're making a Silkworm documentary.

I wish Tim Midgett would submit something to Wigleaf.

I guess the story of the documentary is: great band nobody ever heard of. That's a new one!

Here's something good. The guy w/ the dark facial hair is the drummer, Michael Dahlquist. He's dead.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On Realism in Fiction

One of the best and really only reasons not to scrap old copies of Houghton Mifflin's Best American Short Stories annuals: the introductions.

Robert Stone edited one in '92. That's almost twenty years back, if you're counting. He worked a lot harder in his intro than most people do, offering a full and pretty enjoyable consideration of the first story in Dubliners, "Araby." Next he said this:

"As of the last decade of the twentieth century, the pleasures and principles of the short story seem to remain generally what they were in Joyce's day."

And how does he understand 'pleasures and principles'? You've got to read Stone's Joyce thing to get a full sense, but here's a big clue, from later in his intro:

"In their variety, these stories (chosen by Stone for the annual) reflect what is probably the most significant development in late-twentieth century fiction, the renewal and revitalization of the realist mode, which has been taken up by a new generation of writers. This represents less a 'triumph' of realism than an obviation of the old arguments about the relationship between life and language. As of 1992, American writers seem ready to accept traditional forms without self-consciousness in dealing with the complexity of the world around them."

Before I poke at those words, I want to articulate a sense of what lots of people would call the difference between then and now. Now, first of all, we're post 'generation.' I don't think there ever really were unified generations of American writers, but now everyone knows it. In the most obvious sense, as of 2009, you've got writers who work within the commercial economy of New York publishing; you've got writers who work within the subsidized economy of American universities and their presses; and you've got Indie writers, who work for free or within non-subsidized sub economies. Obviously there's a lot of blur between those lines, but I'll go on. Now, as of 2009, it also seems clear that American writers are no longer unified in their readiness "to accept traditional forms without self-consciousness in dealing with the complexity of the world around them." And this is probably truest of Indie writers, some of whom look back to the people Stone was tacitly burying in '92--people like Calvino, Barthelme, Coover.

Now for the poking. I'm not an expert on the rhetoric having to do with what Stone calls "old arguments about the relationship between life and language," but it seems to me that at its most basic, it would be like in painting. Do you go representational, like the old masters? Or do you completely cut the line between what you paint and whatever you might see--assuming you've taken your meds--on your walk to the newsstand? Do you go fully abstract? At its most abstract, writing is, you know --words, mixed around on paper. That can be interesting. Personally I like it more in poetry than in fiction. But it can be interesting. Regardless, I don't think it's really what Stone's talking about here. He's not talking about a Jasper Johns of fiction writing. (Who would that be?) He's talking more about fabulism, metafiction, those sorts of things. Why do I stress that? Because both fabulism and metafiction are ordinarily representational--that's to say, these stories often give us what we take to be people, and these people are often moving their limbs.

So then a realist, for Stone, might be this: a STRICTLY representational artist, a writer who deals with the 'complexity of the world' by trying to get us to pass through his prose to what we will take as that world.

I'm going to say some more about this, but first I want to bring in Adam Robinson, whose comments in a recent Dogzplot interview matched what I've heard from others in e-conversations.

Check this out:

"I read a story by Paula Bomer today called “An Important Day in the Life of Marjorie Wallace” that I think fits into the definition of the word “realist” (my quotes are meant to indicate the popular term, marked by straight prose where, for instance, the word “tree” denotes “a leafy plant with a trunk and branches”) and it was okay. It has a beautiful and effective conclusion that is worth reading the story for, but to me, the payoff doesn’t seem big enough to rationalize all the work she must have put into writing it. I mean, when the story was over, the sum of my thoughts was: huh. Not as a question or anything, just blank.

And plus, when you write that way – if you make a tiny little mistake, like she does with this clause – “a wonderful February sun falling onto her face” – you risk losing your audience. And mistakes like this are much more obvious in traditional, unmediated prose. Plus, in this story she has the main character, Marjorie, yell at a merely casual friend for not calling her six weeks earlier. I thought, “No one would do that.” So I was basically workshopping this story as I went along, even though I just wanted to read it for whatever reason people read stories. I did the same thing with a Barbara Taylor Bradford book I recently listened to in my car. With “realist” stuff, I always already feel like an expert on whatever a writer is talking about, and I get distracted by matching it up to my own perspective or something. I figure, why bother – unless there is some flat out stunning style to it."

As I'm reading Stone, he and Robinson are together in seeing realism as strictly (as opposed to loosely) representational--"straight" prose meaning transparent: "the word 'tree' denotes 'a leafy plant with a trunk and branches'." Why Robinson ends up saying "why bother" is to me really interesting, and really revealing, in terms of where lots of people are nowadays. As he says, when he reads realism, he ends up noticing 'mistakes.' I do this too. If realists--or 'strict representationalists,' as I'm seeing them here--are offering us only a vision of a world we can imagine we all share, then we, as readers, are going to invest something in asking the obvious question: is this REALLY the world we all share? And somewhere along the line, this question--which readers and writers both ask--starts to get pretty boring. Like, yes, a person might open a cupboard in the morning before realizing that in fact all of the clean cups are in the top rack of the dishwasher. Like, yes, a good deal of testy dialogue might precede someone or other's breaking into tears. That's pretty boring, right? That's realism for a lot of the more interesting writers nowadays. Realists deal not with what's plausible, in some cases, for certain individuals, but with what's PROBABLE, likely, for most people, in most cases. Strict representationalists give us consensus characters, about whom a majority might say, yes, that's us, these are our lives.

And, you know, that's like pretty dull (not to mention the political fact that people outside the consensus get buried).

Literary writers working within the subsidized academic economy may be the worst offenders here. Commercial writers, always focused on the big buck, tend more towards the exceptional. A homeless man's journey to the White House.... something like that.....

Back to '92: Though Stone was probably willing to consign people like Barthelme to the history books, I definitely don't think he was thinking about realism in this greatest-common-denominator way. His own fiction isn't much like that. And look at the stories he was talking about in his intro. This is from the third paragraph of one of the 'realist' stories Stone picked--DFW's "Forever Overhead":

"And dreams. For months past, there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and yielding and distant, full of busy curves, frantic pistons, soft warmths and great failings; and you have awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of feeling from an inside deeper than you knew you had, spasms of a sweet deep hurt, the street-lights through your window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling...."

I mean, if this was what we thought of as 'realism' now, I think we'd see more writers open to it.....

Kurt Vile

I love this guy.

Here, via The Fader, is an mp3 from his second full-length album, which is forthcoming from Matador. (The track is called "Overnite Religion.")

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Twitter Sucks

but I just put Wigleaf up there and will (grimace) 'tweet' when there are updates.

Monday, August 3, 2009

FALL ROUND-UP, or: Do I Really Want to Share Names with a Weed Killer?

If you edit something, you read subs, and if you read subs, most of what you read isn't going to delight you. Does that sound negative? It's meant more as a prelude to what I really want to say: the stuff that delights, it often REALLY delights. It's not just good. It's new. It's now. I mean, there's a reason I don't get subs from people like Paul Auster. Dude's accomplished. He's got channels. A lot of the people who read and sub to online mags--they don't have channels yet. They're working on their own, in the dark. And when they hit-- sometimes it's the most amazing, original stuff.....

A lot of the people who've offered their stories to Wigleaf in the last couple of years--they've already gotten a lot further in their writing lives. It occurs to me that it might be worthwhile to pass along some of their good and exciting news.

(Pls let me know about what I've missed here; will fix)

MEGHAN AUSTIN'S story, "Pittsburg," was named a Million Writers notable this spring. She and Kirk Lanzone are working on starting a literary podcast, Esperpentico.

LAUREN BECKER is the new fiction editor @ Dogzplot (Barry still does flash).

MATT BELL: Where to start? He's been named fiction editor at Dzanc's webzine, The Collagist, which gets going in a little under two weeks. He's published two chapbooks in the last year--HOW THE BROKEN LEAD THE BLIND (Willows Wept Press), and THE COLLECTORS (Caketrain). And the big news: Matt's full-length collection, HOW THEY WERE FOUND, is to be published by Keyhole Press in '10. (The title, I'm very happy to note, comes from his story in Wigleaf).

CRISPIN BEST has three e-books up @ Unnecessary Press, and his work made this year's Million Writers notable list.

RANDALL BROWN has recently done invited readings at Chico State and at the University of Pittsburg (with Sherrie Flick and Michael Kimball)

LEAH BROWNING'S second chapbook, PICKING CHERRIES IN THE ESPANOLA VALLEY, is due out from Dancing Girl Press this fall (I think I remember the title poem from Salome. It's good).

AARON BURCH'S collection of shorts, HOW TO PREDICT THE WEATHER, is being published by Keyhole Press (should be out before the end of the year.

BLAKE BUTLER: another 'where to start' here. He's had two books published in the last year, a novella, EVER, with Calamari Press, and a collection of linked stories, SCORCH ATLAS, with Featherproof. His work is featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology and on the Million Writers notable list. With Shane Jones, he's launched a new press, Year of the Liquidator.

JIMMY CHEN's chapbook, TYPEWRITER, is out from Magic Helicopter Press. His work is also featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology.

KIM CHINQUEE'S second collection, PRETTY, is in the works at White Pine Press. Her work made this year's Million Writers notable list.

THOMAS COOPER'S collection of vsf's, PHANTASMAGORIA, won Keyhole's chapbook contest and was published this spring (still a few copies available, I think, if you hurry).

LYDIA COPELAND'S chapbook of shorts is part of the much-anticipated FOX FORCE FIVE collective, forthcoming from Paper Hero Press.

DAWN CORRIGAN has had a hand in resurrecting the online mag, Girls with Insurance (she's an associate editor there now).

KRISTINA MARIE DARLING'S collection of essays, STRANGE GOSPELS, is out from Maverick Duck Press.

ELIZABETH ELLEN'S chapbook of shorts is part of the much-anticipated FOX FORCE FIVE collective, forthcoming from Paper Hero Press.

NICOLLE ELIZABETH has chapbook forthcoming from Achilles. Apparently she's also secured the role of 'young hipster girl' in a forthcoming Adam Sandler movie.

BRIAN FOLEY and E.B. Goodale have started up a new press, Brave Men Press.

MOLLY GAUDRY launched Willows Wept Press earlier this year (w/ the Matt Bell title). Her novel in verse, WE TAKE ME APART, is now pre-orderable from MLP. Her work is featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology and on this year's Million Writers notable list.

GREG GERKE is now editing vsf for Buffalo Art Voice. His debut collection, THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH SVEN, was published this spring (BlazeVox Books).

BARRY GRAHAM's debut collection, THE NATIONAL VIRGINITY PLEDGE, came out earlier this year (Another Sky Press).

AMELIA GRAY's debut collection, AM/PM, was published earlier this year by Featherproof. Her next collection, MUSEUM OF THE WEIRD, has won the FC2 Ronald Sukenik / American Book Review contest and will be published by FC2.

TAI DONG HUAI'S work made this year's Million Writers notable list.

JAMIE IREDELL may have a novel forthcoming from Orange Alert Press.

JAC JEMC's debut novel has been accepted by DZANC and will be published--when. '11?

STEPHANIE JOHNSON'S debut collection of stories (title story in Wigleaf!) is just out from Keyhole Press.

Film rights to SHANE JONES' novel LIGHT BOXES have been optioned by producer Spike Jonze. His next novel, THE FAILURE SIX, is forthcoming from Fugue State Press. With Blake Butler, he's launched a new press, Year of the Liquidator.

JASON JORDAN'S collection, CLOUD AND OTHER STORIES, is due out by the end of year from Six Gallery Press. (At the bottom of this post, check out Jason reading "Reverence" from Wigleaf at the Pear Noir #2 release.)

SEAN KILPATRICK has a book forthcoming from Six Gallery Press. His work made this year's Million Writers notable list.

SEAN LOVELACE's book of vsf, HOW SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR EGGS, won the Rose Metal Press contest and should be out by the end of the year.

KENDRA GRANT MALONE has e-books forthcoming from Happy Cobra and Bear Creek Feed.

RAVI MANGLA'S chapbook of vsf, HEAR YE KNIVES, is forthcoming from Achilles. He's started up a popular reading-list and interview site, Recommended Reading.

COREY MESLER's new novel, THE BATTLE OF THE TWO TOM MORES, is due out this fall from Bronx River Press. His work is featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology and on this year's Million Writers notable list.

MARY MILLER'S first collection of stories, BIG WORLD, came out earlier this year from Long Drive/Short Flight.

DARLIN' NEAL'S work is featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology.

PEDRO PONCE has a collection of shorts in the works at Willows Wept Press.

CLAUDIA SMITH'S next collection, PUT YOUR HEAD IN MY LAP, is due out from Future Tense by the end of the year. Her work is featured in Dzanc's 2009 Best of the Web anthology.

BRANDI WELLS' chapbook of shorts is part of the much-anticipated FOX FORCE FIVE collective, forthcoming from Paper Hero Press.

MYFANWY WILLIAMS' work made this year's Million Writers notable list.

KEVIN WILSON'S debut collection of stories, TUNNELING TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, was published by Harper Perennial earlier this year.

JOSEPH YOUNG'S collection of microfictions will be out by the end of the year from Publishing Genius Press.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First of New Season

Dave Housley's story, "Pop Star Dead at 22." Plus p-card.

(very happy to get my face off the main page. have to do something else next yr. Ravi's face?)