Thursday, April 15, 2021

Page 69: The Paradox Twins

 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 Joshua Chaplinsky's The Paradox Twins to the test




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

 

This is a scene in which Max Langley, the more successful of the titular twins, is giving a reading at his local independent bookstore for his latest release—the third and final book in his epic YA sci-fi trilogy, The War For Anthropica. His brother Alan and their next door neighbor, Millie, are in attendance. There is also a glimpse of the "webmaster" in the form of a footnote. He is the unseen-assembler of the story we are reading, commenting and manipulating from the fringe. 

 

What is your book about?

 

The Paradox Twins is the story of estranged twin brothers who reunite at their father's funeral to discover they no longer look alike. They move into their father’s house to settle his affairs, only to reignite old rivalries and uncover long-hidden secrets, most of which involve the young woman who lives next door.  It is told in an epistolary format, comprised of excerpts from various memoirs, novels, screenplay adaptations, and documents of public record. It is is an experimental, sci-fi ghost story about the scariest, most unknowable quantity there is—family.

 

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 feel like it would be nigh impossible for any one page of this book to give the perfect example of what it is about, but if you included a few paragraphs in either direction, page 69 totally would. Sibling rivalry and the difficulties of family are huge themes in The Paradox Twins. It also has quite a bit to say about writers and writing and the creative process in general. The nature of stories and storytelling, and how malleable those things are. So with a little context, this is a pretty representative page, thematically. 

 




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PAGE 69

THE PARADOX TWINS





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Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor.com. He is the author of The Paradox Twins (CLASH Books), the story collection Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape, and the parody Kanye West—Reanimator. His short fiction has been published by Motherboard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Pantheon Magazine and Broken River Books. Follow him on Twitter at @jaceycockrobin. More info at joshuachaplinsky.com.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Page 69: Whimsy

 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 Shannon McLeod's Whimsy to the test





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


What you’re about to read is an excerpt from the flashback chapter of my novella Whimsy. In this chapter the protagonist (also named) Whimsy gets into a car accident which kills her roommate and leaves her severely injured. Whimsy meets her roommate’s brother, Frederick, at the funeral, and they begin a flirtatious friendship. In this scene, they hook up, and Frederick seems to immediately regret it.

 

What is the book about?


The book is about Whimsy’s struggle with her body image and social anxiety after the car accident, which left her with facial scarring. The majority of the plot hinges on Whimsy’s relationship with a journalist, Rikesh, whom she meets several years after the accident when he writes a human interest piece about her. The story is about the ways Whimsy’s trauma creates obstacles in her relationships, feeding her isolation. 

 

Does this page give readers an accurate feel for the novel? Does it align itself with the book’s overarching theme?


This page provides a vignette of rejection, which is a big theme in this book. The scene somewhat foreshadows how her relationship with Rikesh plays out. Years after this flashback scene, Whimsy is still trying to figure out her needs and her worth. 




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PAGE 69

WHIMSY



He was careful as he kissed me. I leaned in closer. He lowered his hand, pulled it away from me, as I kissed his neck. His hand reappeared on my low back and snaked its way under my shirt. I pulled away. 

“Please, don’t touch me there,” I said.

He stood up and unzipped his pants. I grabbed him and did what came next. I rushed towards it without question. He seemed to be doing the same. I wondered if his arms were held over his head, like the guy I saw through the window, but I didn’t want to look up.

Afterwards, I asked him to lie down with me. I was supposed to lie only on my back, but I turned onto my left side to make room for him on the twin bed. He stood for a while before he joined me. The bed felt bigger, somehow, with both of us in it, with the way he found space enough to keep his back from touching my abdomen. I placed my arm over him. I hoped to signal that he could come closer. He must have been afraid of hurting me.

“It’s okay,” I said. “Just don’t lean your weight on my collarbone.”

He didn’t move or speak. I thought he might have been dozing off. I left my arm over him, but it felt strange. It looked like something that didn’t belong there, like a rubber hose draped over a birthday cake.

“I’m sorry.” He pushed himself up off the bed and stood. “I don’t have a lot of friends.” He sighed, “Basically just my parents, now.” It sounded rehearsed, his self-pity. He looked up at the wall, where his sister had once placed a whiteboard to write herself reminders and due dates. “I want you to be my friend.”




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Shannon McLeod is the author of the novella Whimsy (Long Day Press 2021) and the essay chapbook Pathetic (Etchings Press 2016). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Prairie Schooner, Hobart, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among other publications. Born in Detroit, she now lives in Virginia where she teaches high school English. You can find Shannon on her website at www.shannon-mcleod.com.



Monday, March 22, 2021

Audio Series: Lost Girls

 


Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was iriginally 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, Ellen Birkett Morris is reading an excerpt from her book Lost Girls, a collection of short stories called "a varied set of tales from a skilled practitioner of the short form" by Kirkus Reviews. Her fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, South Carolina Review, and Santa Fe Literary Review, among other journals. She is a winner of the Bevel Summers Prize for short fiction. Morris is a recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council.





Click on the soundcloud bar below to hear Ellen reading the title story from Lost Girls. 






What it's about: 

Lost Girls explores the experiences of women and girls as they grieve, find love, face uncertainty, take a stand, find their future, and say goodbye to the past. A young woman creates a ritual to celebrate the life of a kidnapped girl, an unmarried woman wanders into a breast feeder’s support group and stays, a grieving mother finds solace in an unlikely place, a young girl discovers more than she bargained for when she spies on her neighbors. Though they may seem lost, each finds their center as they confront the challenges and expectations of womanhood.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Where Writers Write: AVNER LANDES

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!




Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 






This is Anver Landes. 

He earned an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and works as a ghostwriter. He lives near Tel Aviv with his wife and two children. This is his debut novel. 

Find him online at avnerlandes.com








Where Anver Landes Writes




Not wanting to manipulate the moods of houseguests, John Ashbery left the walls of his house bare. The white walls of my home office aren’t the result of a calculated decision. I’m a lifelong renter and forever fearful that an unfilled nail mark will forfeit my security deposit. Besides, what would go up? I’m aged out of being inspired, and I’m certainly not keen on staring at photos of the people whose histories I’m digging through for adaptable material.



So, until recently, I sat on a white, swivel chair at a white desk, writing longhand onto white printing paper, vacant white walls surrounding me, no images or tchotchkes to lift me up or tie me down. Quarantine came, and my wife, several hours into turning my office into a coworking space, judged the whiteness of the room’s setup to be too dreary and uninspiring. Moving the desk away from the wall and turning it to face the balcony door, she forced a flood of sunlight into my work area.



Not much has changed with my practice since this alteration except that I’m now often tempted to take my pages and coffee to the patio table outside, where a skyline of cranes and newly built residential towers that mostly obscure the rolling hills in the distance, more often than not, end up swinging my mood and unsticking me. Now I’m on zoom more often promoting my book, so we put a bookcase in the room that can act as a background. As I move away from an all-white working existence, I’m learning that a little mood manipulation is not always a bad thing.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Ladies Night @ SMOLfair


 

Oh my gosh you guys! We did it! We hosted our very first zoom reading and it. was. phenomeonal! I mean it, truly, and not just because I curated the event. Our authors knocked it out of the park! It was a dream lineup and their readings were even dreamier. 


We were thrilled to get this gorgeous group of women writers together for a reading during SMOLfair! Check out this fabulous line up of ladies... (listed in the order of their reading) Francine Witte (sitting in for Meg Pokrass) Beth Gilstrap Tara Isabel Zambrano Leah Angstman Tara Lynn Masih Jenn Stroud Rossman Sara Rauch Margo Orlando Littell Jayne Martin Karin Cecile Davidson Gwen Goodkin Cathy Ulrich Melissa Duclos Their words were large, their readings were SMOL, but oh my god they were powerful and beautiful!! Many thanks to our co-organizers Jesi Buell, Annalyse Gillmen, Miette Gillette, and Jason Teal. Without them, there would be no SMOLfair!

Watch it here:




Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Blog Tour: Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons

 



We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.



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For today's stop, author Keith Rosson discussed drinks, and shares a brief excerpt in one of the stories that make up this collection. Check it out below:





DRINKS

 

In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” the final story in my collection Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, the titular character goes out to a bar. Brad Benske has been brooding and isolating for months after his wife has left him to join a doomsday cult. He has a goiter – possibly stress-related – growing on his face, and he can’t stop obsessing over it. A lawyer on embarrassed sabbatical from a respected corporate firm, Benske’s gone to a bar on a whim with a man who has come to his door claiming to be with the Water Bureau. The two men strike up an odd friendship after the latter comes to collect on a bill from the former. Consider it a testament to Benske’s grand loneliness that when the Water Bureau guy – Cameron – invites him out to see a Swedish black metal band, Benske says yes.

An excerpt:

 

The show is at a bar across town. Cameron pays. I feel underdressed and old: Denim and leather abound, and nearly everyone is wearing a black shirt with a band logo that is pointy and indecipherable, barbed wire brought to heaving life. I buy drinks from a solemn bartender with Cut Here written on his throat and by the time the band starts, I’m intoxicated and the music is so loud I can feel my ribs vibrate. I haven’t drunk in a long time. Cameron is headbanging beside me, and someone is pushing against me, and my cocktail, somewhat expensive, is sloshing down my shirt. The music is a sea to get lost in. It’s like a world being born. The singer’s face is painted in white greasepaint and he points at us and yowls and we scream back in response. I yell until something in my throat threatens to crack and still I can’t hear myself. It’s lovely, really. It’s a lovely way to get lost.

After the band stops, Cameron and I drink some more, and he buys a shirt with the band’s barbed indecipherable logo on it. There’s a picture of a wolf’s severed head beneath the logo, and he makes a grand gesture of gifting it to me. I put it on right there over my other shirt.

By now the crowd has thinned, everyone pressing themselves into booths or going out onto the patio to smoke cigarettes and yell at each other. I lift my cocktail – something called a “Norwegian Fuck Cloud” that annoyed the already annoyed bartender when I asked for it - and take a sip and bellow over the jukebox, “My wife left me! For a cult! Nine months ago!”

Cameron frowns and nods. He’s put his baseball hat on backwards at some point. “That’s intense!” he yells.

 

What could possibly be in a Norwegian Fuck Cloud? Who knows. I certainly don’t, though I imagine it’s served in a tall glass. It is blue, choked with ice, semi-opaque. Has a straw and a turquoise umbrella moored to the rim. A few NFCs in a row will lead you to become that person in the bar, the one trying to climb on someone else’s table and take your shirt off, demanding chicken strips or world peace at the top of your lungs. And it’s these dichotomies – Benske as a powerful man ordering a frivolous, colorful thing; Benske as a once-virile man now feeling emasculated; Benske as a once-successful man with a thing growing on his face, painful and poisonous and the size of a walnut and still growing – that is the basis of Folk Songs. Two things in collision. Two things that stand out in stark relief when placed beside each other. A folk song; a trauma surgeon. An exhausted middle-aged lawyer; a greasepainted black metal vocalist; both yowling at the top of their lungs and both finding freedom in it.

Folk Songs is also replete with addicts and alcoholics. Many scenes take place in bars. People in various states of sobriety and non-sobriety populate many of the tales. It is, surprisingly to me, a book that many consider to be about the painful scar-worn valleys of addiction, at least in part. I didn’t plan this when writing the collection, but I’ll admit I find myself drawn to characters that struggle with chemical dependency. I appreciate the struggle inherent in moving past such things. Writing about addiction seems to encapsulate so much of what we’re all going through. Not that every reader is an addict of something, but it’s a microcosmic way of writing about struggle; the isolation, the backsteps, the regrets. And also, yes, as someone who grew up amid addiction and violence, I have a tremendous amount of empathy towards people struggling to kick or those neck-deep in the wreckage of their lives. I like writing about criminals and people struggling to move from point a to point b with very limited options. When I write them, some readers call these “crime” stories, other people call them “literary fiction.” I’m fine with either. In “Baby Jill,” when the Tooth Fairy struggles with the mortality and frailty of the children she helps, that is a dichotomy too, and she has become addicted to her own mortality and the trappings inherent in it: She smokes, obsesses over the internet, etc. Or “The Lesser Horsemen,” when three of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are sent on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. Again, these can be considered “fabulist” stories or pieces of literary fiction.

It’s all about that dichotomy. The Tooth Fairy checking her email. Pestilence playing foosball and doing trust falls. Or the lawyer, once tight-buttoned and proud and closed off, drinking the toxic blue drink and spilling his guts at a bar.  


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Released 2/23/21

Collection | Speculative Fiction | Magical Realism | Literary


With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels. In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.


BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Monday, February 22, 2021

TNBBC at SMOLfair

 


As some of you may know, I've been incredibly lucky to have been a part of some of the behind-the-scenes planning and canoodling for the upcoming SMOLfair, alongside creators and organizers Jesi Buell, Annelyse Gelman, Miette Gillette, and Jason Teal.

If you're not familiar with it, SMOL Fair is an alternative book fair which will be 'live' from March 3-7, 2021.  In addition to featuring small presses, there will be organized readings and opportunities for readers to connect with authors and publishers. To attend events, join our mailing list.  To enter give-aways, follow SMOLfair on Twitter or Facebook.  

Participation is 100% free.  If you're a small press publisher or author, and plan to host anything remotely bookish during that week and wish to have your event listed on the events calendar, just hop on over there and fill out the form on the site!



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I'm actually super stoked about the fair. Not only does it bring together all of the things I love most about the literary community, but it actually motivated me to host a few events myself! Check it all out down below, and I hope to see you there:





Wednesday March 3rd
8pm EST

I'll be kicking off the SMOLfair Mixer. 

In order to get the invite, you need to sign up for the SMOLfair newsletter (or email or message me). This zoom hangout will include random breakout rooms... think of it like The Before Times of book fairs, when you could head out to the bar and just chillax with a couple drinks and have super awesomely awkward conversation with strangers who also love books as much as you do. 

BYOB and get ready to rub elbows with fellow SMOLfair publishers and authors as the week of events is just getting started! 

Ooooh, I've got some wonderfully cheesy icebreakers for us, you really shouldn't miss this. Really!






Thursday March 4th
6pm EST

Ben Tanzer and I will be reviving our IG Happy Hour livestream, and chatting with Darrin Doyle about his newest story collection The Big Baby Crime Spree and Other Delusions. Darrin will read an excerpt or two and we'll be taking audience questions throughout the hour. All you need is an instagram account. We'll be live here - https://www.instagram.com/lorihettler.tnbbc/




Saturday March 6th
5pm EST

I'm hosting another zoom event. This one is an all female lineup and I'm dubbing it Ladies Night @ SMOLfair. I've pulled together a group of former and future clients for a night of mini readings. Each author will be sharing a 5 minute excerpt of their work, and then if we're all feeling frisky afterwards, we can hang and chat until the clock runs out. The readers will include Karin Cecile Davidson, Gwen Goodkin, Jayne Martin, Beth Gilstrap, Meg Pokrass, Margo Orlando Littell, Jenn Stroud Rossman, Sara Rauch, Melissa Duclos, Tara Lynn Masih, Cathy Ulrich, and Leah Angstman.

If you want to join us, just email or message me for the invite - mescorn@ptd.net or @TNBBC on twitter. We're limited to 100 participants so it's first come first in... Will I see you there? 



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SMOLfair is also hosting two other events that we'd love for you to put on your calendars. 



Thursday March 4th
700pm EST

SMOL Reading will be hosted by author Wendy Fox, and features a yet-to-be announced lineup of randomly selected readers who signed up for the reading panel. 






Friday March 5th
8pm EST

SMOLfair's Keynote featuring Kathe Koja, introduced by Meerkat Press's publisher Tricia Reeks! I am super excited for this event and will not miss this for the WORLD. 


I have the invites for both of these as well, so hit me up if you want to attend!




Aaaahhhh.... it's almost here you guys! I cannot WAIT!!!!!



Where Writers Write: Shawn Rubenfeld

  Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!




Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 






This is Shawn Rubenfeld. 


Shawn has had short fiction appear in journals such as Permafrost, Columbia Journal, and Portland Review. A native New Yorker, he earned an MFA from the University of Idaho and a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is currently a Lecturer. His first novel, The Eggplant Curse and the Warp Zone, is due out in May 2021 from 7.13 Books.





Where Shawn Rubenfeld Writes


Today, there is snow where I write. But tomorrow there might be grass--stray cats, lilacs, cucumbers in garden cages. I’ve moved around a lot and so has my desk. It’s faced six different windows in five different neighborhoods in two different cities in the last six years. The desk itself doesn’t ignite anything in me. It’s always the window. Or, I should say, the world I see on the other side of it. Last year it was a gravel driveway in the alley, a garage at such a bad angle that the neighbors hit it everytime they tried to back out. Once, the back tires launched a rock at my desk which stayed lodged between the screen and the window until it was time to move again. Before that it was a yard encapsulated in a tall wooden fence with overgrown dogwoods and evergreens. And before that, in another city, it was a busy street where I’d watch the same trooper hide behind a shed with a speed gun. Once, when I was having a particularly good writing day (working on the first draft of The Eggplant Curse and the Warp Zone), a car pulled off that street and stopped in front of my house. Then a dude opened his door and projectile vomited over every inch of the driveway. But my current view, I was able to choose. When my wife and I started the home buying process this time last year, the view from my desk was a big consideration. The view that we chose looks out over our large, fenced backyard. 

 

We’re all settled in now and these days, the window shows me the fruits of my labor. When we first bought the house, the yard was one of those unremarkable flat lawns encircled by a low chain-link fence tended to by grandmas. A lilac bush in the back corner that blooms fragrant purple flowers in May. Rusted clothesline poles, bent from a long fallen tree branch. 

 



 Since my wife and I spend much of the summer outdoors, we knew that we would have to put some elbow grease into making this yard our own. Driven by oncoming warm weather and wanting to grow our own vegetables, we built two large garden boxes the weekend we moved in. Shortly after, we dismantled the short retaining wall around a large tree stump in the center of the yard left by the previous owner after the tree blew over the previous spring. This was the worst of the projects; blazing sun, entangled garter snakes unearthed under every paver. 

 



Then came the patio and privacy screen. We agonized over the color of the concrete for weeks, deciding on a soft sand color the day before the pour began. Landscaping came next, with large flower beds etched into the lawn covered by mulch left from the ground out tree stump. We planted skinny evergreen shrubs that barely reached the top of the fence, watering them almost daily in hopes they would soon provide some shade and privacy. We lined the back fence with two more lilac shrubs, honoring the old women who tended the yard before we took ownership. Several varieties of herbs were thrown in, in hopes to disway the stray cats from sunning their bellies in our beds and catching a cat nap under the existing shrub.

 



 

As the summer wore on, the work slowed and we harvested cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini from our garden boxes. Unfortunately, we didn't grow any eggplant. Amidst the bustle of creating our oasis, I always found time to sit at my desk, write, and look outside. 

 

We still enjoy garden salsa, canned tomatoes, and pickles as a reminder of our first summer in the house, but all I see now when I look out the window is snow on top of snow, disguising so much of the work we performed this summer. Some years in Nebraska, it feels like the winter will never end. But of course it always does and then it'll be back to work. Maybe there’s a metaphor for writing in all of this? For the opportunity to start over? For making something your own? For telling the stories that you want to tell? For putting in the work? For getting it finished? It's there somewhere, like our yard buried beneath the snow. 48 inches since December, more than three-times the annual average. 

 


 Whatever it will come to look like this summer or next--behind this house or yet another one--I feel quite fortunate to have a space of my own that I can see whenever I sit down to write. Because that's work, too, that never ends, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Blog Tour: Speculate: A Collection of Microlit

 


We're happy to help Meerkat Press support the release of their latest title Speculate: A Collection of Microlit by participating in their blog tour. And if you're at all into winning free stuff, they're running a giveaway where you can potentially win a $50 book shopping spree.



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For today's stop, author Dominique Hecq talks about the collection and microlit. 
 



Legs caught in their escaping possibilities, I tried to fly. Hands snared in their groping of air, I thumped back on the ground. Let out a cry of anguish. The cry that accompanies all explorations of limits. That’s my life story in a nutshell. That is the nut that can’t be cracked at the heart of all the books I wrote.

 Yes, over twenty of them across genres and disciplines—and sometimes across tongues. And now, Speculate, a collection of microlit co-written with Eugen Bacon.

 On edge and on the edge of genre. Looking out to new possibilities and looking in at genre itself, all the better to cross its borders. Suddenly. That’s the heart of Speculate, a conversation between two writers who can neither tolerate boredom nor delimitations.

 Oh, what fun.

 We were part of a prose poetry chain where we’d post sudden fiction, short shorts and prose poems, riffing off each other’s texts, testing each other’s limits. We noticed that there was a synergy between our entries. Then Eugen, best known for her cross-genre speculative fiction, challenged me to write what turns out to be a speculative dialogue of microlit.

 The word ‘microlit’ deliberately blurs the distinction between forms and modes of writing. You will encounter flash fiction and prose poems. You’ll feel the epic drive in lyrical prose and the subliminal thrust of anti-realist prose poems. That’s why we decided against the term ‘sudden fiction’. There is no right or wrong approach to Speculate. It’s a hybrid boundary replete with surprises.

 All of my work explores limits: the limits of body, of sanity, of language. My first story, ‘Embabelled’ (1994) was about the limits of language and sanity. ‘Magic’ (1997) recounted the experience of giving birth and relinquishing control over the body. My first poem, ‘Grief’ (1997), was about losing a child, and thereby testing symbolic boundaries. The novel, The Book of Elsa (2000), is a book of autogenesis, where the main character recreates herself in ‘the land of furphies’ and eventually gives birth to a child and to the book she has just written

in the tongue of a mythical father whose work she emulates, i.e. James Joyce. In a similar vein, Out of Bounds (2009) has its protagonist reinvent herself across languages as a woman, mother and poet. Stories and poems revolving around these themes abound in Magic (2000), Mythfits (1999), Good Grief (2002), Noisy Blood (2004), Couchgrass (2006), Hush (2017) and Tracks (2020), while After Cage (2019), Kosmogonies (2019) and Kaosmos (2020) tackle head on the limits of language.

 Comparatively, there may be more restraint in Speculate because its intertextuality is embedded in a dialogue between two authors who listen to and for each other.

 Perhaps this is why a number of the pieces are dreamlike, recounting snatches of strange journeys, memories of travel which harken back to the journey of discovery that is the writing process. Perhaps this is why others are sharp as cut diamonds glittering by your hand.

 Look out for weird conjunctions of events, jazz, rock’n roll, alliterations, anaphoric repetitions. Expect the use of the second-person address as we tango.

 Here cages are seas or creeks and everything is in a liquid, changeable state. Dreams are poems and names are paintings and seas and creaks become sculptures aflame.

 Microlit resists pinning down. Embrace it. Don’t box it.



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Released January 19, 2021

Collection | Prose-Poetry | Speculative Fiction


ABOUT SPECULATE:

From what began as a dialog between two adventurous writers curious about the shape-shifter called a prose poem comes a stunning collection that is a disruption of language—a provocation. Speculate is a hybrid of speculative poetry and flash fiction, thrumming in a pulse of jouissance and intensity that chases the impossible.

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.

Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She now lives in Melbourne. Her works include a novel, three collections of stories and ten books of poetry. Hecq’s poems and stories have been widely published in anthologies and journals. Often experimental, her work explores love, loss, exile and the possibilities of language. Kaosmos and Tracks (2020) are her latest books. Among other awards such as the Melbourne Fringe Festival Award, the Woorilla Prize for fiction, the Martha Richardson Medal for Poetry, and the New England Poetry Prize, Hecq is a recipient of the 2018 International Best Poets Prize. 

AUTHOR LINKS: Website | Twitter


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Neither a kitchen nor a sky

 An excerpt


Her heart is a room full of photographs and pillows wafting around rehearsing melancholy and reinstating torment. But there is still no word, just somber silence in the floating photographs and neglected pillows cartwheeling like burnt toast past the IKEA blender and microwave in a fairy tale of space that does not involve breathing.

 

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His heart smells of burnt toast. If you look closely, you will see a paisley design—the sort found as all-over design for an IKEA bedspread. The main motif and the background of ferns are done with pure (that is unmixed) colors: just red (turkey) and black (jet) to conjure up the marriage of blood and vegemite, the staples of his diet, as well as his sign in the Chinese horoscope. Yes: he is a tiger. Enter the chambers of his heart at your peril. Don’t say you were not warned. He grinds his teeth.