Monday, December 20, 2010

Small Press Holiday Recommendations: On the Eve of Winter Solstice

Today’s small press picks come from New York, Louisville, and Chicago. Long before making her acquaintance, I remember poet Maggie Balistreri’s brilliant chapbook The Evasion-English Dictionary (since picked up by Melville House) from the consignment shelf at St. Mark’s Bookshop. Later I was thrilled when I heard she was going to library school, and again when she got a job as a librarian at the Poets House, now located in Battery Park City. Fiction writer Jason Jordan was the Beard Guy I used to see at all the New Yinzer literary events, but I finally met him officially when Amy Guth came into Pittsburgh for a reading. I remember seeing Amy talking to Jason at ModernFormations: Realizing how well she knew Beard Guy from cyberspace was one of the first moments I understood the extent of the online small press community. Jason has since left Pittsburgh and I miss seeing him around. I met the always-hilarious Ben Tanzer when Scott McClanahan suggested I arrange a reading for him in December 2009: Ben (a fiction writer based in Chicago) was coming through Pittsburgh en route to a reading in West Virginia. I got Savannah Schroll Guz involved, and the resulting reading launched the Seasonal Shorts reading series, now held four times a year in Pittsburgh (and run by Savannah). Thanks to Maggie, Jason, and Ben for sharing their Small Press Picks today:


1. Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window, Amy Holman (Somondoco Press, June 2010)

2. The Touch, Cynthia Kraman (Bowery Books, 2010)

3. In Paran, Larissa Shmailo (BlazeVox, 2010)

Recommended by
Maggie Balistreri, Librarian
Author of:
There Was a Young Lady Who Swallowed a Lie, written by Maggie Balistreri, illustrated by Ryn Gargulinski (Em Dash Group)
Jabberfucky and Other Poems, edited by Maude Spekes and Sybilia Grogan (Em Dash Group)
(Maggie uses pseudonym Maude Spekes here)


1. If You Lived Here You'd Already Be Home, John Jodzio (Replacement Press)

2. The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, Patrick Somerville (featherproof books)

3. Pathologies, William Walsh (Keyhole Press)

Recommended by
Jason Jordan, editor of decomP (, and blogger at


1. Big World, Mary Miller (Hobart)
As I read the stories in this collection I thought, man these are Carveresque, but when I was done, I thought eh, fuck that, they’re Milleresque.

2. Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt, Ken Sparling (Artistically Declined)
All the quotidian frustrations, triumphs, anxieties, joys, fury and awesomeness of parenting, like a handbook, almost, except that you might never have kids if you read this first.

3. Grease Stains, Kismet and Maternal Wisdom, Mel Bosworth (Brown Paper Publishing)
Mel Bosworth is love.

So sorry, but, also and:

Stories II by Scott McClanahan (Six Gallery Press), The National Virginity Pledge by Barry Graham (Another Sky Press) and Songs of Insurgency by Spencer Dew (Vagabond Press)
The first is Jesus and kidney stones, the second is tacos and prostitutes and third is paranoia and sex, and all are sparse and neat and slamming and humorous and profane and reflect the best kind of storytelling.

Well, and this too:

7. The Lost Episodes of Beatie Scareli, Ginnetta Correli (Marshmallow Press)
I am cheating here, I know, but this book which is almost too disturbing to read, much less put down, deserves more attention.

Recommended by
Ben Tanzer, author of 99 Problems (CCLaP Publishing)


As always, if you are involved in the small press and want to contribute recommendations, please email me at

1 comment:

Ryn Gargulinski said...

yaaay! thanks for recommending our collective efforts, maggie.
i so adore that young lady although she met a miserable demise.
happy holidays!