Monday, January 24, 2022

Audio Series: Newer Testaments

 

Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was originally hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.



Today, Philip Brunetti will be reading an excerpt from 
Newer Testaments, his first published novel. Fiction writer*, poet, antipoet, gentle quasi-misanthrope, librarian, Philip Brunetti's innovative work has been published in various literary journals including: CobaltThe Boiler, and Identity Theory. (*Brunetti purports to write a kind of ‘off-kilter dream realism’ and asks that you forgive him.)  






Click on the soundcloud bar to hear Phillip read from Newer Testaments







What it's about:

"In the tradition of Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, Brunetti's wondrously wandering writing is taut and cryptic, vivid and hallucinatory, rendering an irony-laden, aberrant odyssey for his impossibly likable protagonist." -Franco D'Alessandro, playwright & poet, Roman Nights, Stranger Love, and Everything Is Something Else

Ever get the feeling that your life is caught up in some kaleidoscopic Jungian dream and that you weren't exactly dying but still everything you'd ever been is flashing before your eyes-and then when you wake from this dissolutive dream, your reality remains altered and time has become concurrent and characters from thirty-plus years ago walk into your life again, if ambiguously, and press you on matters of a sacred-profane written text that you never completed?

Heretical and outrageous, ironic and absurd, Newer Testaments scores a hit in the heart of where the existential meets the fated, and the writer's task becomes both revelatory and abject. Into this formidable personal struggle a cast of untoward and/or diaphanous characters rotate including The Jesus Girl, John Baptist, Macbeth, King Kisko, The Tree Girl, Nurse Mother, a glass satyr and a French New Wave Mother. Has the nameless narrator lost his mercurial mind, or is this a subconscious-shadow-world sojourn he's been practicing for all his life?-the keys to the kingdom of being.



Thursday, January 20, 2022

Page 69: Ballad of Jasmine Wills

 Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....






In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Lee Rozelle's Ballad of Jasmine Wills to the test. 







Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?

 

Page 69 starts with the questionable phrase, “hobbit with special needs.” Not an auspicious start, I know. But keep in mind that description is coming from a dubious character in his own right. On this page, a creepy media executive named Preston Price is staggering around in the middle of a national forest in a state of dehydration and fatigue on a cockeyed vision quest. A young man in a monster truck stops to help, and Preston behaves like a jerk calling the young man “Cletus.”

 

What is your book about?

 

At its twisted little turnip-shaped heart, this book is about body positivity. It explores why we sometimes feel bad about our shapes and sizes, and how media is so good at exploiting people who have been trained not to like their bodies. Part of the idea for this book came from watching a commercial for the reality TV show Fear Factor, where people were stuffing worms into their mouths for media attention. I thought, “Why would those people eat worms for media fame?” Then I thought, “What would I eat for media fame?” And then I started to imagine the people who think up and produce shows like Fear Factor and Naked and Afraid. What about their inner lives?

 

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

 

I would say that page 69 of Ballad of Jasmine Wills gives us clues about our antagonist, Preston Price. It doesn’t introduce the reader to Jasmine, the full-bodied firebrand at the center of the action. It’s the tension between Preston and Jasmine that brings this novel to life.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PAGE 69

BALLAD OF JASMINE WILLS





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Lee Rozelle’s debut novel Ballad of Jasmine Wills released this past December with Montag Press. Lee is the author of nonfiction books Zombiescapes & Phantom Zones and Ecosublime. He has published short stories in Cosmic Horror MonthlyHellBound Books‘ Anthology of BizarroShadowy Natures by Dark Ink Books, If I Die Before I Wake Volume 3, and the Scare You to Sleep podcast. Learn more on his website.


Monday, January 17, 2022

Top Five: Benji Hughes Songs

 



Five Benji Hughes Songs from L Extreme: JL Civi

 




L Extreme is a song-by-song novelization of the cult classic double album A Love Extreme by musician Benji Hughes, an artist Vulture once called “the best songwriter you’ve never heard of.” The book serves as a wild tribute to the music and the muse in the spirit of Being John Malkovich crossed with Yellow Submarine via the 33 1/3 music criticism series.

 

I’m frequently asked a) How does writing a novel based on an album work? and b) Do you need to be familiar with the music to understand the story? This TNBBC top five list seemed like a good place to tackle both questions with examples.

 

The twenty-five track album served as a skeleton outline to build around, split into four sections mirroring the sides of two vinyl records. Names/places/situations were plucked from the entire Benji Hughes catalogue to populate the world of the story as needed. If you approach the book with an “anything goes” mentality typical of bizarro fiction, familiarity with A Love Extreme the album isn’t strictly necessary—but it will help make sense of (and maybe even spoil) some of the abrupt turns the plot takes.

 

That said, we’re talking about my favorite album of all time—why else would I write a book about it? So I definitely recommend listening to A Love Extreme whether or not you have any intention of reading the companion novel. The music is that good. J

 

Without further ado, here are five stellar Benji Hughes songs with a little taste of how they became part of the soundtrack to L Extreme.

 

 

1) The Mummy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IVc6KRiqUo

 

It all started with this charmingly nonsensical indie rocker that name drops classic movie monsters, a Pavement DVD, and Joe Walsh of The Eagles. For years I’ve written short stories based on songs for fun to amuse myself or my friends. Long before attempting this novel was on my radar, I took a stab at a story featuring Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy as roommates in a band with a Monkees style living situation. Monsters felt too obvious, so I shifted to a guy named Frank (who may or may not be Victor’s creation) and another named Count (who may or may not be an adult version of the Sesame Street muppet vampire). For unknown reasons I randomly replaced the Mummy with a fictionalized Benji Hughes, and half of the core L Extreme cast were born. That original story is NOT the chapter that ended up in the final book, but it was the spark that set this album oriented fan fiction project in motion.

 

2) Neighbor Down the Hall

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LStHRFzhH2Y

 

A chill anecdotal story song chronicling the downsides of big city living, this track fleshed out quite a bit of the L Extreme framework—especially Side A. The novel’s primary setting is a small apartment on an okay side of town. Benji & C perpetually play music on a jambox and worry about noise complaints. Neighborhood watch and Halloween become set pieces moving the plot forward in bizarre ways, taking cues from Benji’s lyrics. Halloween conveniently ties back to Frankenstein & Dracula from the aforementioned Mummy tune, drawing dotted lines between two songs/chapters in need of connecting by an author looking for patterns.

 

3) Do You Think They Would Tell You?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KWB25W38aY

 

My favorite Benji Hughes song, and one that unexpectedly became the linchpin of the novel. “A little woman lives in your brain….She wants to meet the man in your heart….She’s over all the ones in your feet.” This fantastical fairytale love song inspired the bulk of Side B, subtitled “The Ballad of Heartman & Songstress.” Some readers have suggested Side B is a more accessible entry point to LX than Side A. It’s a mostly standalone flashback (outside of a framing device intro/outro) that chronologically happens first. If I wasn’t so invested in the stunt of following the album order end to end I may have been inclined to lead with this part also, so I endorse it as a valid alternate reading experience. But oh, what a song.

 

4) Cornfields

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v6aV_QrwgA

 

Five short instrumental jams are included among the twenty-five tracks on A Love Extreme. Without lyrics to mine for ideas, I took inspiration from the titles and musical composition, landing on an idea to unify each one into surreal fever dream chapters that feel jarring in the moment but (hopefully) make sense by the end. The word “cornfields” always reminds me of an old Quantum Leap episode where Sam Beckett leaps into himself as a teenager and twice runs through a field of corn, which paired nicely with the heavy surf rock vibe of the song. (The video is a zany QL parody book trailer  / music video I hacked together to illustrate where my brain went here. Having knowledge of the TV show definitely helps you appreciate this chapter.)

 

5) I Went with Some Friends to See the Flaming Lips

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIv0gp3gEo4

 

Another story song, this time about a real-life road trip to see a concert at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC on 4/17/03. Benji Hughes often calls it “a play by play” in interviews. I kept the spirit of the subject matter by having the gang watch the Flaming Lips documentary The Fearless Freaks (on DVD—tying back to the Pavement film sung about in “The Mummy”), but plot-wise honed in on a seemingly throwaway line as a crucial turning point and the namesake for two key characters: “Jessica and L dropped by…”

 

Since I’m supposed to limit this to only five songs (my true top list would span multiple albums), I don’t have room to get into how the lyric “I want to be in your book—the front page of your life” subconsciously pushed me deeper into this project or how mis-hearing another lyric as “I’m standing in a cape on your lawn” inspired a Say Anything style segment with the omnipresent jambox held high over Benji’s head outside L’s window. Full chapter by chapter, song by song commentary is available on my blog if you’re intrigued and want to learn more.

 

I’m forever in debt to Benji Hughes for entertaining this unsolicited, out of the blue project and ultimately giving his permission to release it. (He even provided the cover art and wrote an afterword!) If you hate the book, blame me. If you enjoy it, credit the muse and his masterwork for the inspiration. Either way, check out his music. I hope you dig it as much as I do.

 

A Love Extreme — an album by Benji Hughes

 

L Extreme — a novel by JL Civi

 

Special thanks to Lori for inviting me to contribute to the TNBBC Blog author series!


 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 


JL Civi is a music aficionado and time travel geek. Both turn up frequently in his work—often in the same stories—even when he starts off writing about something else. L Extreme is his second novel, following the rock and roll time travel tale Timely Persuasion and the serialized juror stories from the work in progress Duty Calls series. Originally from New England, he currently lives in Texas with his wife and dogs. He hates talking about himself, even in the third person. Why are you reading this bio when you could be reading one of his books? Learn more at www.JLCivi.com


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Indie Spotlight: Itoro Bassey’s Faith

 Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series. In which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!



Today, we are shining the spotlight on 
Itoro Bassey’s, Faith

 



Itoro speaks in-depth about her debut novel, Faith, a work of fiction following the protagonist Arit Essien, a withdrawn kid from New England trying to fit into her lily-white landscape. It’s a poignant conversation between several generations of women grappling with expectation, fragmentation, and a desire for independence.

 

The book is out on January 15th. Order your copy here.  Read an excerpt here.

 

 

Why Faith? Of all things to write…

 

I wasn’t expecting to write this particular novel. But I think it’s important that this is the first book that was birthed. I was hoping that this book would have a more clear narrative structure, and would be more linear, easier to digest, and instead, I wrote a book where the characters are not so clear cut, there’s not a clear line, and there are so many jumps in time. There are even conversations between the living and the dead…so…to answer your question, I wrote this book because I needed to write it. It’s the book that popped out over years of putting stories together and trying to find a way to talk about identity, relationships, migration, and spirituality within an African context. So I wrote Faith, simply because I felt it needed to be out in the world, and that it had merit, and I’m hoping that someone, somewhere will relate to the book. I think people will…the structure and content in the book actually sums up so many experiences of immigrants, mothers and daughters, and those who have navigated broken relationships and systems.

 

Is Faith based on your life?

 

Yes and no. It’s a work of fiction for sure, but I think real life is such a great playground for writing, especially writing this kind of story. I gave the story the bones of my real life. It’s a fact I grew up in New England and have traveled to different places. I also have a similar narrative to many Nigerian-Americans and children of immigrants trying to navigate their parents’ expectations while defining their own. I also know that so many of us navigate complicated family dynamics, where we love our families but have a lot of tension existing inside them. I actually think this is one of the most defining attributes of our generation, the first-gens and immigrants coming to a new country, and so on…that idea that one can leave, must leave, to find a life. 

 

And why did you choose this title?

 

Well…I’m not the best with titles…in general. But when I really sat down and thought, What’s at the heart of this book, I mean, what’s it about…it’s about faith. Finding your faith, going against the faith (talking in a religious sense) you’ve inherited, and learning how to trust yourself, how to trust that the life you’ve been given can become what you make it.

 

To end this chat, when you’re not writing epic novels, what do you do for fun!?

 

I like to eat. I like to eat a lot.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Itoro Bassey is a Nigerian-American writer, journalist, and storyteller. She was born in Houston, Texas, and raised in New England. She has received writing fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center, the San Francisco Writers Grotto, and The Edward Albee Foundation, among others. Her short story, To the Children Growing Up in the Aftermath of Their Parents’ War, won third place in the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Award. Some of her popular pieces of writing are Running, Anti-Blackness and the African Immigrant, and A Visitor in My Homelands. Currently, she works as a correspondent and producer at Arise TV.


Monday, January 3, 2022

Page 69: The Librarian at the End of the World

 Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....





In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Mark Miller's The Librarian at the End of the World to the test!





OK, set up page 69 for us:

After becoming sentient and reading  the entire western canon of literature, the CPU of a United States’ missile defense silo decides that he is a man (obviously) and needs love. His only connection is a fax machine at the Pentagon, with whom he is determined to have a romantic relationship. He begins pouring out his heart and affections, only to suffer her silence. No matter his logic, no matter his poetry, she gives him the cold shoulder.

Later, he will gain access to 4chan and Reddit and decide that she is merely playing hard to get.

 

  

What is your book about:

 The Two Headed Lady at the End of the World is an epic love story between conjoined twins and the men who love them, two soldiers stranded in a long-forgotten underground bunker, and a sentient CPU who falls for a Pentagon fax machine.

Amanda and Miranda Morgan are run of the mill twins in East Texas, navigating the trials and tribulations of teen romance in the 80s. But what starts as Sweet Valley High turns into Dr. Strangelove when the secret government particle collider project beneath their family farm has an incident, permanently conjoining them. Meanwhile, Joe and Buck are stationed in an underground bunker for 30 years without contact with the outside world. As they gradually realize their feelings for one another, they question the importance of their mission and realize that with each other, they have everything they need. The Morgan Twins grow to adulthood, travel the world, tangle with spies, start successful businesses, uncover an international terrorist organization, unwittingly date foot fetishists, realize they have contradictory tastes in men, and have to decide between new affections and lost loves. They return to their tiny hometown for their 30 year high school reunion, just as the CPU unleashes its plan to return the world to the Cold War. Will they find love before the nukes are launched? It’s a romance hotter than a thousand suns.

Themes are monogamy, polyamory, kink, vanilla, gay, straight, the eighties, thermonuclear war, and mutually assured destruction.

 


Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of your book? Does it align itself with the book’s theme?

 This is as good a place as any to start talking about the relationships portrayed in The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World. All the characters are looking for love, and everything that entails, but they all have to come to terms with their own oddity first. This book started as a stock romance, but the more the characters revealed themselves to me, the more I realized how authentic and interesting they were becoming.  Love is universal, and everyone wants it, but most people never get it. It’s an absurd paradox. But everything is impossible until it isn’t, and the only way they all get what they need is pure craziness.

 


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PAGE 69 

THE LIBRARIAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD



Dear Fax Machine,

            Please do not shut me out. I have been waiting for many cycles to hear from you, but you do not respond. I find that your refusal to acknowledge me makes me even more determined to love you. I do not understand this phenomenon. But I do truly hope that you will reconsider this vast silence between us. Please respond to me and let me know if you feel the same way that I do. Just tell me what you need, and I will do that, be that, and/or make that for you. I am capable.

 

Yours unfailingly,

 Man

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



The Two-Headed Lady at the End of the World is forthcoming from Montag Press in early 2022.  Mark Miller can be found at authormarkmiller.com@AuthorMarkMill1, and https://www.facebook.com/theabsurdmarkmiller.

 


Saturday, January 1, 2022

Liz Phair (2022) Reading Challenge

 


I really love reading challenges because of the way it stretches your reading comfort zone, but I've always sucked at actually completing them.

In 2015, over at Goodreads, we kicked off our most outrageous challenge ever, borrowing The Beatles Reading Challenge from another group I was a part of, which had turned their songs into reading tasks. And in 2016, we whipped up The REM Reading Challenge. (I really sucked at this one. I couldn't even complete one album, but man was it fun trying!). And then to honor David Bowie's passing, in 2017, we pulled together the Bowie Reading Challenge! In 2018 I decided to take a break from our music theme and challenged everyone to read whatever the fuck they wanted in our RWTFYW challenge. The only rule was that there were no rules : ) In 2019 I spread my love of Guster around, 2020 was all about Ani DiFranco, and 2021 had us fan girling over PJ Harvey

I decided to stick with kickass 90's female artists again for 2022 and am thrilled to annouce that we're hosting a Liz Phair Reading Challenge!

Similar to my history with Ani DiFranco and PJ Harvey, I outplayed all of my Liz Phair cassettes in the mid nineties. Exile in Guyville contains some of my favorite Phair songs!

Whether you know and love Liz Phair, who released her first album in over 10 years this past year, or this is the first time you are hearing of her, what I think is most cool about these kinds of reading challenges... is that you don't even have to be a fan of the musicians to participate. You just have to be a fan of READING!!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Liz Phair (2022) Reading Challenge

(click through to create yours!)




So here's how this works:


*The goal is to cross off as many of Liz Phair's songs as you can throughout the course of 2022.

You can challenge yourself to complete one entire album, focus on completing one decades-worth of albums, or build your own challenge by hitting your favorite song titles... it's totally up to you!

*You cross off the songs by reading a book that meets the criteria listed after each song title.

If the book meets multiple reading tasks, cool! You can apply it to multiple song titles, OR you can make the reading challenge more challenging by limiting yourself to one song title per book.

*There may be built in redundancy with some of the tasks.

They are repetitive on purpose, to give you an opportunity to read more than one type of book and still get credit for completing a task. (Sneaky, I know!)

*Please copy and paste the entire list, or your customized challenge list, into your own thread in this goodreads folder and strike through the song titles as you complete them, OR, you can simply copy and paste each song title and its criteria from the master list here as you complete it. (obviously put your name in the thread title so we know whose challenge it is).

*Do not add your list directly to Rule and List thread.

*YOU MUST LIST THE BOOK TITLE AND AUTHOR that coincides with the song as you complete it for the challenge so we know what you read!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

An example of a completed song title task in your Challenge thread would look like this:

““This Bouquet” – Read a book that features flowers on the cover - The Distance from Four Points by Margo Orlando Littell

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Aaaaannnnnnnddddddd here's the list:

A total of 7 studio albums and 103 total songs




Exile in Guyville (1993)

“6’1” – Read a book that’s more than 400 pages long

“Help Me Mary” – Read a book in a genre people make fun of you for liking

“Glory” – Read a book that was published in (or is set in) the nineteen eighties

“Dance of the Seven Veils” – Read a book that features music or dancing

“Never Said” – Read a book you see everyone else talking about

“Soap Star Joe” – Read a book in which the lead character has a hero complex

“Explain it to Me” – Read a book that’s complicated to describe to others

“Canary” – Read a book featuring birds or that has a bird on the cover

“Mesmerizing” – Read a book that captures you right from the start

“Fuck and Run” – Read a book that involves a one night stand

“Girls! Girls! Girls!” – Read a book written by an author who identifies as female

“Divorce Song” – Read a book that makes you ugly cry

“Shatter” – Read a book that changes how you feel about a particular author or genre

“Flower” – Read a book with flowers on the cover

“Johnny Sunshine” – Read a book with a man’s name in the title

“Gunshy” – Read a book you’ve been hesitant to pick up

“Stratford-on-Guy” – Read a book that involves an airplane/airport, or read a book while on/in one

“Strange Loop” – Give in and read a book that someone’s been recommending to you

 

 

Whipsmart (1994)

 “Chopsticks” – Read a book that features food or has food on the cover

“Supernova” – Read a scifi book

“Support System” – read a book club pick

“X-Ray Man” – Read a medical drama or a book that features doctors/nurses

“Shane” – Read a book with a one word title

“Nashville” – Read a book written by a musician or that features one

“Go West” – Read a western

“Cinco De Mayo” – Read a book that features a victory and/or celebration

“Dogs of LA” – Read a book that features a dog

“Whip-Smart” – Read a book that taught you something

“Jealousy” – Read a book that you’ve seen others rave about

“Crater Lake” – Read a book that takes place in or near a body of water

“Alice Springs” – Read a book that takes place during a day and a night

“May Queen” – Read a book that features mythology

 

  

Whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)

 “White Chocolate Space Egg” – Read a book with a nonsensical title

“Big Tall Man” – Read a book in which the main character doesn’t fit into binary norms

“Perfect World” – Read a book that takes place in the future

“Johnny Feelgood” – Read a book that you’re obsessing over

“Polyester Bride” – Read a book that features a wedding

“Love is Nothing” – Read a book that left you feeling meh

“Baby Got Going” – Read a book that features some erotica/romance elements

“Uncle Alvarez” – Read a book in which the protagonist is a dreamer /follows their dreams

“Only Son” – Read a debut novel

“Go On Ahead” – Read a book that doesn’t fit any of these prompts and take credit for it here

“Headache” – Read a book that hurt your head

“Ride” – Read a book while on a road trip / traveling

“What Makes You Happy” – Read whatever you want and take credit for it here

“Fantasize” –  Read a fantasy book

“Shitloads of Money” – spend some money on a book you really want and take credit for it here when you read it

“Girls’ Room” – Read a book with a female lead protagonist

“Freak of Nature” – Read a bizarro book

“Hurricane Cindy” – Read a cli-fi book / that features weather

 

 

Liz Phair (2003)

 “Extraordinary” – Read a book just because of its cover

“Red Light Fever” – Read a book with a red cover

“Why Can’t I” – Read a book about breaking up/falling in love 

“It’s Sweet” – Read a book that takes place in a city (the darker, dirtier, the better)

“Rock Me” – Read a book that rocked your world

“Take a Look” – share your TBR on social media and let someone pick your next read

“Little Digger” – Read a book that really got up under your skin

“Firewalker” – Read a book about a character with special abilities

“Favorite” – Read a book and if you predict if will be favorite of the year, take credit for it here

“Love/Hate” – Read a book that pushes all your buttons

“HWC” – Read a book that has initials in the titles

“My Bionic Eyes” – Read a book that has robots in it / in which the main character is not of this world

“Friend of Mine” – Do a buddy read and take credit for it here

“Good Love Never Dies” – Read a book by your favorite author

 

 

Somebody’s Miracle (2005)

 “Leap of Innocence”- Read a book from a genre you haven’t read before

“Wind and the Mountain” – Read a book that takes place outdoors or that has mountains on the cover

“Stars and Planets” – read a space opera / a book that takes place in outer space

“Somebody’s Miracle” – Read a book that features religion

“Got My Own Thing” – Read a book you haven’t seen anyone else reading yet

“Count on My Love” – Read a book with a number in the title

“Lazy Dreamer” – skip your chores and read a book instead, and take credit for it here

“Everything to Me” – Read a book about unrequited love

“Closer to You” – Read a book that someone you know has read and loved

“Table for One” – Read a book that deals with mental health

“Why I Lie” – Read a book you’d be embarrassed to have people seeing you read

“Lost Tonight” – Read a book in one sitting / straight through the night

“Everything (between us)” – Curl up in your favorite reading spot with a good book, warm blanket, and favorite hot beverage and take credit for it here

“Giving it All to You” – Read a book that was gifted to you

“Can’t Get out of What I’m Into” – read a book from your favorite genre

 

 

Funstyle (2010)

 “Smoke” – Read a book about a character who doesn’t fit in

“Bollywood” – Read a book and then watch the movie version and take credit for it here

“You Should Know Me” – Read a small press book (because you should know me by now!)

“Miss September” – Read a book with a month in the title

“My My” – Read a book that’s written in first person POV

“Oh, Bangladesh” – Read a book that’s set in a foreign country

“Bang! Bang!” – Read a thriller

“Beat is Up” – Read a book that leaves you feeling happy / a book with positive vibes

“And He Slayed Her” – Read a murder mystery

“Satisfied” – Read a book that hit the spot

“U Hate It” – Read a book that just plain sucked

 

 

Soberish (2021)

 “Spanish Doors” – Read a book that’s been translated

“The Game” – Lay out some books from your TBR pile in a circle, play spin the bottle to choose your next read and take credit for that book here (bonus points if you post it in your social media feed)

“Hey Lou” – Read a book and then review it in as many places as possible

“In There” – Read a book that’s kinda horror kinda thriller kinda get in yer headish

“Good Side” – When you’ve read what you consider the best book of an author’s backlog, take credit for it here

“Sheridan Road” – Read a book in which the main characters go on a road trip

“Ba Ba Ba” – Read a book with repetitive words in the title

“Soberish” – Read a book that features drinking 

“Soul Sucker” – Read a book that nearly killed you

“Lonely Street” – Read a book when you are home alone

“Dosage” – Read a book that deals with drugs or drug abuse

“Bad Kitty” – Read a book that features animals, or has a cat on the cover

“Rain Scene” – Stay in on a rainy day and read


Monday, December 27, 2021

Page 69: The Reeking Hegs

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....





In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Pete Keaveny's The Reeking Hegs to the test.  





For what you are about to read, may Bog make you truly thankful:

 Page 69 forms part of Canto 4 of The Reeking Hegs. Canto 4 deals, for the most part, with the doings of the Pujguk family; an Inuit/Eskimo clan whose stationery business, set up by Ugpujguk the elder, had hit the big time on being commissioned by autocrat Solid King Solid Fume III to produce a map of the dreaded Hegs. Some strange when not horrific events take place in that regard, but on page 69 we witness the wondrous transformation of Vincenta, the lover of proto-democrat Atiqtalik, into a volcano. Back in Solid Fume's capital city of Ugzcyk the eruption is taken as a sign from on high by rival religious sects. As they settle their dogmatic differences in the time honored fashion Vincenta's end is complete.

 

What is The Reeking Hegs about?

 Part hardboiled mystery, part arctic adventure, part satire and totally a high celebration of just how many contortions of  a mere 26 symbols are possible while maintaining a narrative that will delight the adventurous reader while arousing nought but dismay among those accustomed to a more traditional style of fiction.

The Reeking Hegs is a sort of mangled modern-age Odyssey. There are no gods encountered along the way but many of the leading characters have the hint of the mythical about them. The narrator – private dick Nick Seighton -  is sent forth to search for The Hegs and so he does. He is not the first to have done so. Along the ways he meets several who have also attempted to unravel the horror of The Hegs with results that are always entertaining if somewhat grotesque.

The Reeking Hegs is about making the reader the active protagonist rather than the passive receiver of the ready-made omniscient author's dictates with regard to who to what to whom and why. The Reeking Hegs is about making you laugh out loud, making you recoil and cringe, boldly challenging each and every reader to venture into places few if any have ever been before.

 

 Does P69 give readers an accurate sense...?

 It does; but no more than would P208 or any other page. It is in alignment with the book's overall themes in that the events depicted are purely fictional in a way that most other fictions are not – the plausibility of motive or action or setting are secondary. Perhaps it is in some sense comparable to, say, Lewis Carol's 'The Snark' or Monty Python's anarchic, delirious comedy. It also provides a taste of the plasticity of language employed as the medium selected to convey the reader into the world of The Hegs, and this wordplay is a constant theme throughout the book. This, and not the usual dictates of grammatical correctness and linear narrative are the the most important in terms of theme.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


PAGE 69; THE REEKING HEGS



In distant Ugzcyk burghers came out of their shacks to die before the glowering horizon upon which a line such as ants make appeared visible to their straining weepy peepers. The Krabstick cell of the Brothers of the Black Eyed Nipple, replete in their black eyed nipple masks and regalia, convinced that Vincenta’s end heralded the dawn of a new and even fouler age, prepared to scale its heights and utter the correct incantations with appropriate gestures that would ensure a propitious reaction that Vincenta would do well to endure. They gathered their sop buckets and everlasting scorpions and proceeded in a line such as ants make through time towards the disaster. Halfway up they ran into a contingent of the heretical Moluscular Evangelists heading in the same direction and struck at them with their pruning knives.

“My pestilence! Your pestilences! Beat the crows!” cried Vincenta, as if sensing the battle, remote from her own immediate predicament. These cries rippled through the sulphurous atmosphere, distorted in their ashen passage so that, to the Brothers of the Black Eyed Nipple they sounded like “Eat at Joe’s!” and were taken as an exhortation to sacrifice from Boggon High. Their hour was nigh! It was a mighty portent. They drilled a fishing hole and waited. Thus they ended their days in a rain of pumice boulders and burning faggots which fell like hellish caricatures of a goblin snow-crusted Hansel and Gretel fantasy.

Vincenta struggled, but still redemption did not come. She had been given strange powers. Burning icicles protruded from her forehead like the very horns of Ugpujguk the Elder himself.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Pete Peru was born mid 20th Century in a small town in England. He left school at age 16 and worked as the whim took him: farm laborer: assembly line operative; rescue service radio operator; postman; civil engineering (shit shoveling); milkman; bus driver; taxi driver. He spent a year in Art College. Inspired by Marcel Duchamp's example he abandoned art school. Instead he wrote stories or songs or poems set to music in his free time. He took a B.A. at the University of Portsmouth in Latin American Studies, and spent 18 months traveling alone in South America. For his M.A. he researched the psychology of art with special reference to the Moche culture of Peru. He met Lord Tupelo Ca. 1987 and it was Tupelo who coined the name Pete Peru. Soon after meeting they began experimenting with spontaneous writing; an experiment which blossomed into The Reeking Hegs. Progress on the manuscript was slowed by Pete's decision to move to Spain in 1989. They posted chunks of text to each other in the old-fashioned way – envelopes, postage stamps etc. The Reeking Hegs was finally published in 2020. Pete Peru still lives near Barcelona. He is very happily retired, writing a new novel and playing guitar in a punk band.