Today's small press recommendations come from J.C. Hallman, author of fiction and non-fiction. He came to Pittsburgh in September to read his riveting prose piece, "Spate and Spite," as the runner-up winner of a contest to write about The Night. His story looked back on his time as a casino employee in Atlantic City, while he recalled a run of suicides in that gambling town. The writing was excellent. It was not like what I think of as memoir; it was more like he used his casino-worker (former) self as a character in a meditative novel, a dark lens through which to attempt to comprehend who jumps from hotel roofs in Atlantic City and why. Or who works too long in a windowless casino and why. The piece also employed journalism, weaving seamlessly in and out of stories about the deceased and stories of the casino.
The event was hosted by Creative Nonfiction, the first literary journal to devote itself exclusively to this genre, almost 20 years ago. Founded by Lee Gutkind (who also started the first MFA program for Creative Nonfiction), CNF is a great resource for writers and readers of this evolving genre, and the most well-known journal based in Pittsburgh. At the reading (which was also a release party for issue #42), the editors announced a worldwide circulation of 6,000.
1. To Assume a Pleasing Shape, Joseph Salvatore (BOA Editions)
2. Married But Looking, Daniel Libman (Livingston Press)
Recommended by J.C. Hallman
Author of The Hospital for Bad Poets (Milkweed Editions) and In Utopia (St. Martin's Press)