Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On the 7th Day of Hanukkah: Small Press Picks, 2010

Welcome to our ongoing small press picks, which I've been blogging since November 10. Today’s small press recommendations come from Brooklyn and Chicago, with an author giveaway from Putnam County, New York. Brooklyn-based Ken Wohlrob (formerly founding editor of Bully Magazine) writes fiction that is often gritty, urban, and rough, but is never jaded or cynical. He reveals the ugliest side of his characters, and then manages to make you have a serious soft spot for them. I have no idea how he does it, but I recommended his last collection, The Love Book (2007), on this blog, and I’m excited to announce his newest story collection, Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners (Bully Press).

Tim Hall is a longtime friend and comrade, and his enthusiasm for the small press is at least half of the reason for my own involvement with it. We met through my first self-published novel and then solidified our mutual fandom with the publication of Tim’s bold debut novel about the horror of sobriety, Half Empty. That novel was also the debut of Tim’s publishing works, Undie Press (Undie = underground + indie), which recently grew into an amazing literary website where I’m lucky to be a contributor. The columns at this smart and edgy webmag highlight things that the media keeps telling us are going away: print books, indie bookstores, print newspapers; there's even a fiction serial about "the day money stopped."


Giveaway Contest:
Mike Faloon (editor of the zine Go Metric) has generously offered to give away a copy of his story collection The Hanging Gardens of Split Rock (Gorsky Press) --the title is below on Ken’s recommends list. I’ll choose a winner from the comments. Just tell us:
1.) what you do in the small press
2.) what you’ve enjoyed about the 2010 small press recommendations on this blog, or what you’d like to see more of in the future.
I’ll take comments on Blogger, Facebook, or emails at eyescorpion@gmail.com. Previous winners are disqualified.


1. The Hanging Gardens of Split Rock, Mike Faloon (Gorsky Press, 2010)
Mike is one of the funniest bastards I know. No one tells a yarn like him. It never seems forced. Like a blues player. My favorite line:
"Did I injure an autistic child to get my team into the Little League World Series? Yes and no."

2. The Journeymen, James Jay (Gorsky Press)
What I like about James' poetry is his sense of storytelling. The characters have blood in their veins. You feel the grit in your teeth. Favorite line:
"At the wheel of the V.W. bug,
Jesus, short-legged, pot-bellied,
he rounds up the kids from the trailers
of Kingman, of Birdland, of Butler.
He sticks his hands out the window
into the scorching summer air
as the V.W. takes slow wide turns
all on its own. 'The hands of God
now have the wheel!
You better believe.'
The Jesus of the V.W. hollers."

3. Repetition Patterns, Ben Tanzer (CCLaP Publishing, 2009)
In many ways, Ben's writing reminds me of Mike's in how unforced it all is. There seems no effort behind it. And the stories are always great. This e-only collection was a nice step up for Ben. He took it to a whole different level compared to his previous work. And I always like that he writes good female characters, something too many male writers can't do very well. I also liked that CCLaP was experimenting with a different publishing model for this release and doing it as a digital- only release. Favorite line:
"But the sounds that engulfed her outside of her home, these she could hide in, and revel in, creating a world that was hers and hers alone. Sound made sense; it provided her with both an anchor and a lifeline. Sound could be classified, explained, and organized, whereas regular life could not."

Recommended by
Ken Wohlrob, author of Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners (Bully Press)


1. Dick Briefer's Frankenstein, Dick Briefer (IDW Publishing)
I just learned of Dick Briefer's Frankenstein comics of the 1950s and 60s, which were recently reissued in a beautiful package by IDW. Briefer's monster is possibly the best rendition I've ever seen, and bizarre in the extreme--like putting the monster's nose above his eyes in most

2. i am here And You Are Gone, Shome Dasgupta (Outsider Writers)
Okay, I'm biased on this one, since I got to cast the deciding vote that made this charming story of young love the winner of the 2010 Outsider Writers' chapbook contest.

3. Daddy's, Lindsay Hunter (Featherproof)
I absolutely love Lindsay's work and think she's a breakout star on the Chicago lit scene. I've had the privilege of reading with her and her incantatory, non-stop, lilting gothic prose-poemish stories always floor me.

Recommended by
Tim Hall, author most recently of One Damn Thing After Another (Outsider Writers Press) and Full of It (Undie Press). Tim is editor of the new literary entertainment site, UndiePress.com.

1 comment:

TBWCYL, Inc. said...

What a nice surprise, thanks all, and my list is so forthcoming.