Lots of exciting news to report from the lands of books and Hobart lately. Here's a round-up:
-Hobart contributor (issue 11) Steve Himmer's novel The Bee-Loud Glade is out now from Atticus Books and it is an amazing, wild ride of a book about a guy named Finch, a decorative hermit. Yes, really. Here's an excerpt, published first at PANK in a story called, "Be Your Own Boss:"
Before getting fired I’d never measured how much empty time makes a day. I’d spent years writing blogs on the company’s dime, leading dozens of made-up lives with their own careers and diseases and hobbies, and all those voices I had to keep speaking carried me through each eight hours of work and through five days of the week in which enough tasks and chores piled up at home to last me the weekend. And now, with seven of seven days free? Without those extra lives to occupy mine and at home every day to keep up with the house? I’d always worked at one job or another and though I’d never enjoyed it, that’s what I knew. As often as I might have imagined winning the lotto and quitting my job, now that I’d come closer than ever all that shapeless, idealized freedom had lost its appeal.
-Hobart contributor ("Not Hearing the Jingle") Brian Allen Carr's story collection Short Bus is out now from Texas Review Press. I got the book in the mail yesterday and have been reading it in little bursts. The stories are at turns grotesque, disturbing, hilarious and heartbreaking. Here's an excerpt from the first story, the terrific "Running the Drain" which first appeared in NOÖ Journal:
I’ll jump a bus to the coast at Tampico. I’ll rent a palapa and lay in a hammock in the shade. I’ll drink quarts of Corona with slices of lime. In the evenings the woman at the inn will slaughter a chicken and roast it over an open flame. The skin will crack and pop as the coals burn bright red below. When the bird is cooked she’ll wrap it in foil. I’ll buy half of the chicken. She’ll bring me a plate of onions, cilantro and lime. She’ll bring me corn tortillas and grilled Serrano peppers. I’ll eat giant mouthfuls, sucking down beer and salty air between bites. I’ll sleep with the inn keeper’s daughter. She’ll be fourteen, but her body will be mature. She’ll smell like cinnamon toasting in a cast-iron pan. My hammock will sway with our sex. I will not stay in Tampico. The beach is corrosive.
-And a sneak peak at Matt Bell's next book Cataclysm Baby in an interview with our own Aaron Burch over at the Ninth Letter blog. Here's an excerpt:
When I wrote ["Abelard, Abraham, Absalom"], I didn't have any idea that I was beginning something larger, or at least not until I was nearly done with the first revision of it. There's a passage in that story that in, some ways, generated the larger book: "For our baby, a name chosen from a book of names. Each name exhausted one after the other. Sequenced failure." Once that emerged from the writing, I saw that it could be the structure for a series of the shorts, in which I could write out all these failed families, these futures that mostly didn't pan out. So from describing the project, it might sound like I had a "project" in mind that I then set about figuring how to write, and maybe that's partially true.
I like what Matt has to say here about a project coming together organically, in such a way that structure of the larger whole emerges from the dramatic potential of the language or the implication of idea, stacked, waiting to be realized. This book seems really exciting.
The mother mowed the yard again. She mowed the yard, the yard, a prayer. The mother was slick with sweat. Her skin was red in certain places from sun and where she’d scratched herself to keep the ants and bees off. The insects swarmed her head no matter how fast she moved. They had wings and teeth and eyes. They swarmed the yard, the street, the long horizon. The mother had mowed the yard twenty-seven times in the last week. Sometimes she’d go on for hours. Her biceps and pectorals were getting meaty. The grass was going dead around the edges from where the mother had pushed the mower so much. The mother kept her eyes wide and turned her head back and forth from side to side. Where was the man who’d fixed the mower? What else could he put a hand to? All those surrounding lawns on all those houses.
-I'll be at the Juniper Literary Festival at UMass Amherst starting tomorrow with Hobart books and journals (and a couple flasks for new subscribers!). Stop by the table if you're in Western Mass. Bonus, for doing so: Hobart friend (and contributor) Roy Kesey is reading tomorrow night at 7:30! And, I'll be moderating a panel on first books and the publishing process, featuring Cynthia Arrieu-King, Margaret Luongo, Kiki Petrosino, Mira Bartok and Pam Thompson on Saturday at 2:45. Come see me be really nervous and ask some really talented writers and poets some questions about book publishing. I'd like to imagine you all in your underwear.