Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Kristina Marie Darling


The Traffic in Women by Kristina Marie Darling (dancing girl press, 2006)

Our next installment of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop features prolific poet and writer Kristina Marie Darling, tagged by writer Spencer Dew. I'm looking forward to checking out her books, as Spencer speaks so highly of her writing.

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The Next Big Thing: What is the working title of your book?

Kristina Marie Darling: The book is called Petrarchan. I chose this title because the project is basically an attempt to feminize the writings of Francesco Petrarca, a poet whose sonnets about unrequited love are frequently associated with the male gaze. Each chapter takes its title from one of Petrarch's books—including "Guide to the Holy Land," "My Secret Book," and "Triumphs"—but they tell the story of a female protagonist. At the end of the book, readers will find two appendices, which attempt to draw parallels between Petrarch's body of work and Sappho's fragments through an ongoing erasure of the former's pristine sonnets.

TNBT: Where did the idea come from for your book?

KMD: You've probably guessed it: I was suffering from unrequited love. Around the same time, I read a poem by Linda Gregerson that sparked an interest in Petrarch. I wanted to find a way to reconcile my feminism with some of the more problematic aspects of Petrarch's sonnets (i.e., the male gaze, the silenced beloved, and the various master narratives about what love should or ought to be).

TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?

KMD: When asked, I usually call my book an "unclassifiable text." While the last two sections appear as fragments of poems, much of the work is written in prose footnotes.

TNBT: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

KMD: I would play myself. Matt Damon would be the "beloved" to whom my poems are written. Enough said.

TNBT: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

KMD: A woman wakes alone in a house by the sea.

TNBT: How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

KMD: The first draft took approximately a month, but it was an intense month, filled with disappointment, unfulfilled desire, Diet Coke, and Ramen noodles. The manuscript was a kind of ledger, which helped me document some of the things I was feeling, and relate my emotional life to the various literary and theoretical texts I was reading at the time.

TNBT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

KMD: I'd have to say Aaron Kunin's Folding Ruler Star, Kathleen Peirce's The Ardors, and Ken Chen's Juvenilia.

TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Petrarchan is filled with "faint music," "dangerous objects," and even "a cluster of minor stars."

Blog Hop: Here’s who Kristina Marie Darling tags and why:

KMD: Carlo Matos, because I enjoyed his first two books, and I'd love to hear more about his forthcoming poetry collection, Big Bad Asterisk.

And Joe Hall, because his third book will be published this year, and it's going to be stellar.

*****

Now up on Tumblr:
Ocean Capewell's answers to The Next Big Thing Blog Hop questions

Previously:

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Spencer Dew

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Eric Nelson

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Karen the Small Press Librarian

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Eric Nelson


Fiction writer Eric Nelson


Our next installment of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop features fiction writer Eric Nelson. I got to meet Eric when he came to Pittsburgh to read from his Silk City Series, a collection of short stories set in post-industrial northern New Jersey. Eric is a talented writer of place and class, and I'm excited to hear more about his forthcoming book:


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The Next Big Thing: What is the working title of your book?

Eric Nelson: The Walt Whitman House. It’s being released by The Crumpled Press this month.

TNBT: Where did the idea come from for your book?

Eric: This came from a few places. I started off where I wanted to write something about the 1991 Mischief Night Arsons down in Camden (New Jersey) but then it turned into something bigger where I wanted to write a direct critique on how artistic scenes are ghettos in the classic sense of the word. I personally revel in writing teenage characters, it’s a blast figuring out how they speak and react to situations. I would speak about the symbolism of the climax, but it would give too much away.

TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?

Eric: I guess literary fiction, but I hesitate to say that because it sounds exclusionary.

TNBT: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Eric: I would pluck kids right off the street like Larry Clark did in “Kids” but for the role of the older brother I’d cast Chief Keef, the rapper, since he’d probably be more reliable to work with than DMX. Him or the late Patrice O’Neal.

TNBT: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Eric: The Walt Whitman House is a fusion of youth, poverty, and urbanity reacting within the insolvency of early 90’s American culture and the state of contemporary American literature in 2012. Much thanks to my publisher for writing that.

The Walt Whitman House (The Crumpled Press, 2013)
TNBT: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Eric: The Walt Whitman House is being published by The Crumpled Press which is based out of Brooklyn. They do these gorgeous hand-bound books that aren’t relegated to just one genre and garnered some well-deserved press lately. Lauren Belski’s short story collection was published by them last year and I’m psyched to be working with them.

TNBT: How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Eric: I did a few weeks of research in October of 2009, going through old newspaper articles about statistics, what happened on Mischief Night in 1991 and the subsequent aftermath. I didn’t actually start a first draft until 2 ½ years later and then I set it down after only a few pages. Spread out it took three years, but had it not been for that it would have been several months. Mind you the story is barely 4,500 words.

TNBT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Eric: I guess Hubert Selby Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, or else Celine’s Journey to the End of the Night. That part where the character Robinson tries to kill the old widow with fireworks but blinds himself instead is amazing. Celine was also kind in writing children in that book.

TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Eric: Scott McClanahan, who is one of the absolute best fiction writers out there right now said I “write the type of dialogue you don’t see out there anymore,” which is super nice to hear, I’m grateful for that. The only other thing I could add is that the story itself isn’t a moral parable. Morality is good, but Eric Nelson is for the children.

Blog Hop: Eric Nelson tags writers for the next round of The Next Big Thing:

Maggie Craig wrote and published The Narrows and runs Papercut Press, a small press out of Brooklyn, New York. 

Chiwan Choi is a Los Angeles poet whose book Abductions was published in April 2012. He is editor-in-chief and publisher at Writ Large Press.

*****

If you're in New York, the release party for Eric's book is tomorrow night, Thursday January 10th, from 6:00-8:00pm at Treasure & Bond, 350 W. Broadway in Manhattan.

Previously:

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Spencer Dew

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Karen the Small Press Librarian

Guest Review: Johnny Ryan reviewed by Eric Nelson 

Guest Review: Julia Wertz reviewed by Eric Nelson

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop: Spencer Dew


Spencer Dew at his desk

The Next Big Thing is a weekly blog hop with a standard set of questions for writers to answer about their forthcoming book projects. Last week I answered questions about my bookstore memoir, and as it turned out, two out of the three writers I tagged don't have their own blogs, so I'll be blogging their answers here today. This installment features novelist Spencer Dew. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of Spencer's novel and I can't wait for it to come out in March on Ampersand Books: it's smart and hilarious and has its finger on the pulse of something very American. I'll let him tell you more:

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The Next Big Thing: What is the working title of your book?

Spencer Dew: Here is How it Happens. It is a novel about Northern Ohio in the 1990s, about a specific place and a specific time, plus those ways that place and time get turned to something in our memories—nostalgia, for instance, or the expectation of hindsight in the moment, if that makes sense. It’s a story about kids at a college in a small town, and they try to overthink things, strain to paste pretty words on their situations.

TNBT: Where did the idea come from for your book?

Spencer: The original idea came when I was in college myself. I wrote what I thought was a short story the second semester of my senior year, and before I dropped out of an MFA program I was told it wasn’t a short story but the start of a novel, so I wrote a novel, and then I rewrote it, a few dozen times.

TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?

Spencer: It is a novel. I don’t know all the marketing categories, but I guess it gets shelved in either “fiction” or “literature” or maybe “indie/small press,” unless you shelve it in a store or library in Northern Ohio, in which case maybe you’d call it “local,” though it wasn’t written in Ohio and I haven’t lived there since college.

TNBT: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Rick Gonzalez should be Eddie Yoder. That one’s for sure.

TNBT: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Spencer: Courtney and Martin have practiced their cynical in-jokes and nonchalant pose, but beneath this fa├žade of self-satisfying ennui, these kids are staring down their futures and facing the traumas of their pasts.

That one sentence sounds a bit serious, however. The kids are serious, or semi-serious, or their situations—those traumas of their past, as well as their dead-end but still-living relationships—are serious, a serious problem, but the novel itself is comic. I wrote it and all, but it cracks me up. Reading the galleys I laughed out loud. That, to me, was also the mark that the manuscript could finally be called “done,” that it could consistently make me laugh and keep reading.

TNBT: How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Spencer: I wrote the first draft as a student at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It took me a couple of months. It was, shall we say, rough.

TNBT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Shiela Heti’s How Should a Person Be? Kenneth Patchen’s The Journal of Albion Moonlight. I guess it depends on the point of the comparison, but I’d be curious what people make of either of those. Patchen is a presence throughout, as a product of Niles, Ohio. The kids are always quoting Patchen.

Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008)

TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Spencer: In Boulder I knew a woman who collected used tampons from public toilets for an art project she had in mind. It was slow going, as you might imagine, and not without its own set of risks. So she bought some pigs’ blood, to make her own used tampons, in mass. She tried to microwave it. That is where I learned about what happens when you microwave blood, which figures in the book.

Maybe that will only pique the interest of a certain sort of reader? The history of Ohio is important, and things like paper place-mats, all-night diners, youth in ill-considered and ill-aimed rebellion, kindness to animals, true love. Like I said: there’s Kenneth Patchen all over the place.

Blog Hop: Here’s who Spencer Dew tags and why:

I know Jill Summers from Chicago, where she is a pillar of the performance scene with stories at once hilarious and heart wrenching. She made a puppet show about Dracula before that movie came out, and it was at the Chicago Cultural Center, which is profoundly badass. Her work has been featured on National Public Radio and tons of other places (Monkeybicycle, Make Magazine, Annalemma, etc.). Her website is http://dottysummers.com/

I have never met Kristina Marie Darling, but the three books of hers I’ve read have been astounding. She has an approach to literature which, as I imagine it, has been equally informed by close attention to visual art (the assemblages of Joseph Cornell, for instance) and to that stuff that gets lumped as “theory” (by which here I mean a spread that runs from the private letters of Sigmund Freud to the musings of Maurice Blanchot). Darling constructs meticulous texts from varied sources, with entrancing results. Her website is http://kristinamariedarling.com/

These two are writers I’d recommend to anyone, and urge everyone to follow.

*****

Thanks to Spencer Dew for participating in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, a franchise someone who isn't me invented and started spreading around the literary blogosphere many months ago.

Stay tuned for Eric Nelson's Next Big Thing answers later today and Jill Summers' next week. And I hope that Ocean Capewell will be blogging her answers on her blog sometime this week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop



I'm a big fan of Lori Jakiela's writing (poetry and literary nonfiction), so I was excited to read more details about her forthcoming book via The Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Lori tagged me for the Blog Hop for this week, so I'll answer the Next Big Thing's standard questions about my next book project. (See which writers I tagged for next week's Blog Hop at the end.)

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TNBT: What is the working title of your book?

Karen: Bagging the Beats at Midnight: Confessions of a New York Bookstore Clerk

TNBT: Where did the idea come from for your book?

Karen: I was in library school a few years ago, and the students around me were arguing that printed books were a thing of the past. Someone said that a PDF or a blog was the same as a book: Just "an information container." Others loved to say that video games and DVDs and books were the same thing, just equivalent forms of “content delivery.” These students were in the majority, and the book lovers among us were looked on as being an outdated generation, people who hadn't gotten the memo, and a hindrance to progress. But I knew that books and book culture had, at times, contained my whole life, and never more so than during the years I worked at St. Mark's Bookshop (1997-2005). I decided to write an account of these years, telling the stories of books and bookstore life and the people with whom I shared books.

TNBT: What genre does your book fall under?

Karen: Literary nonfiction/bookstore memoir

TNBT: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Karen: I'm going to need a film optioning fee before I discuss that.

TNBT: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Karen: Bagging the Beats at Midnight is the bookstore memoir of a budding novelist in New York at the turn of the millennium: one part story of a great bookstore, one part story of a young writer and her adventures through the underground literary world of Downtown and Brooklyn.

TNBT: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Karen: No agent involved thus far. When I get finished or much closer to finished, I plan to approach my favorite literary presses.

TNBT: How long did it take for you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Karen: I started the book as a monthly column for Tim Hall's Undie Press magazine, in Fall of 2010 (through the Summer of 2011). I'm still working on the book; no first draft yet.

TNBT: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Karen: I'm not sure I know another book that's doing quite the same thing. It's different from other bookstore memoirs in that it's a series of non-fiction pieces connected by the bookstore, but it's not trying to be a chronological account of my time at the bookstore. It also goes in and out of the bookstore, exploring other aspects of my life with book and print culture: I self-published a novel and went on a book tour by Greyhound, I worked on an anti-war and poetry newspaper after 9/11, I spent my days off at used bookstores, I dreamt of selling books on the street.

I've been getting inspiration from a variety of books: The much talked-about Gutenberg Elegies; Eileen Myles' Inferno: A Poet's Novel; Chloe Caldwell's book of essays, Legs Get Led Astray; Mark Spitzer's bookstore memoir, Writer in Residence; the new oral history about Williamsburg, Brooklyn called The Last Bohemia; and books about customer service work in other fields: Checkout by Anna Sam, and Hey, Waitress by Alison Owings.

TNBT: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Karen: Set at a bookstore which is central to the cultural life of an uniquely creative neighborhood (the East Village), Bagging the Beats at Midnight tells the story of an indie bookstore clerk navigating friendships and the small press lit scene at the height of print culture, just before the internet and social media dominated communication, publicity, and book sales.

The latest excerpt can be found in COMPOSITE ARTS MAGAZINE, Issue 10:
http://www.compositearts.com/composite_no10interact.pdf 
This excerpt is one example of the way the story goes in and out of the bookstore. The chapter revolves around an East Village reading organized by a small press of Russian expats; St. Mark’s Bookshop is used as a lens or an organizing principle, a place where I was introduced to, and made sense of, the poets and small presses who mingled on the shelves and in (and out of) the store.

***** 

Blog Hop: Now I get the pleasure of tagging three terrific writers–-Ocean Capewell writes the zine High on Burning Photographs and she has a novel and a manuscript-in-progress I hope she’ll tell us more about. Spencer Dew is the author of Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008), Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and a forthcoming novel from Ampersand Books, Here Is How It Happens. Eric Nelson wrote The Silk City Series, a zine that became a book (Knickerbocker Circus Publishing, 2010); he has a new book forthcoming from The Crumpled Press in January 2013.