Wednesday, March 25, 2015

These Books Will Change Your Life - The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes by the David S. Atkinson and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty by the Brian Alan Ellis.

Travel. Read. Florida. Read. Alabama. Blizzards. Hotels. Read. Shrimp and Grits. Gin & Tonics. Read. And both The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes by the David S. Atkinson and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty by the Brian Alan Ellis. Both of which are blurbed by the Bud Smith. Both of which reference the Village Inn. And both of which arrived at the corporate headquarters within days, if not hours of one another, and are hence, and forever, intrinsically linked in our collective lit memory. Which raises the question of whether these books, and authors, have anything to do with one another, and if there is some connective tissue beyond a diner, a Smith, and a common destination? Or whether they are in fact part of some kind of movement. They are indy lit, but so are most books we read. They are male, but that's not saying much, we know a lot of those. They do relationships at once young, and tortured, and the people in those relationships talk a lot. Maybe something Mumblelitcoresque then? Is that even a thing? And if not can we coin it as such, or something just like it? Though regardless, is any of this even necessary? Maybe not in the greater hustle and flow of all things lit and movement, but it is to us.

And yet, these are very different productions as well. Ellis is all about grime. His words and pages are caked with it. Not that this grime can cover-up his characters rampant sense of failure, though more than failure it's their existence as those among the never was. They never were going to be anything, but what they are, coke-addled, diner smashing denizens of Ellis world, who endlessly talk shit to compensate for just how much suck there is in said world. Which isn't to say that Ellis doesn't draw a rich world full of colorful characters doing colorful things, because he does, and they are, and that as Ellis completists, we are quite enjoying watching his canon expand, and the rougher edges grow more honed with each outing, the words full of life, and dance. And there is the Atkinson, he of Bones Buried in the Dirt, easily one of out favorite reads in 2013, and now The Garden, which lo and behold, is an epically different reading experience entirely, hipster magic realism, full of satire and sadness. But then not so different either in that these are characters who only know loss, and live in bubbles, both self-made and thrust upon them, while seeing no real way out, something writ much larger and metaphorical certainly in The Garden. Which is to say that Atkinson has stretched here, pushing the sparse language and realism of Bones somewhere funnier and weirder, while still retaining his characters ability to hurt and be hurt by one another. All of which is to say that this may be what Atkinson and Ellis share after all, hurt, inescapable and real, with no real sense how to escape from it. Now does that make for a movement? Why not? We just need a name. Well, that and people reading the books themselves. So do hit it, them, because it, they, just might change your life.      

Monday, March 23, 2015

The new edition of This Zine Will Change Your Life is live, and we are thrilled to have new poem, we pray to Mary Magdalene by Jessica Robinson, and (almost) as always, photo action from Adam Lawrence, music curation from Jason Behrends and Mayoral runoff prose love from Pete Anderson. We hope you enjoy this edition and we appreciate all shout-outs and links. Finally, please note, we are hoping more of you will submit comix, and music, novel excerpts, and art, and video, yes, video, and combinations there of. And most finally, Ted Cruz, really.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"With moments that bring tears to the eyes and others that disgusted me beyond what I thought I was capable of, Tanzer also made me laugh, wonder, and feel excited to see Two Rivers again and again." The New York Stories. The Chicago Writer.

Most humbling. And greatly appreciated. Excerpt? Word.

"Ben Tanzer’s strength lies in his recurring characters. It’s a small enough town, right? So some characters are going to come back, you figure. And they do across the span of several years—some stories of children later unfold when we see those little boys and girls turn into confused, fucked up adults. When one marriage ends, another begins and we find that protagonist’s ex-wife as a different protagonist’s wife. Though, not all the stories are told from the point-of-view of men either. Sometimes, we see women discover their independence again, or embrace it in the wake of the oncoming storm. Many of the protagonists are children, and sometimes, the point-of-view is from a collective community. Either way, these characters often return, and sometimes, they’ve learned something from the things they lost. At other times, they come back as fresh as we left them, as befuddled and lost as they once were when they first set out into the world, setting out yet again into the storm. It’s because of this, it’s easy to develop a relationship with these characters as they struggle through the strife of that begets Two Rivers, in spite of the narrative distance built by a lack of description. We knew that this character when he was just a kid, after all, so it’s really easy to maintain your relationship with him, even if you kind of hated Stevey or Frank or any of those assholes when they were just in high school. And seeing them as children before watching them succumb to their fate is what makes this book brilliant. It’s not quite the same way that Salinger or Ellis bring characters back around again, almost as a masturbatory reference to their other works, because it’s just as important to the later stories that you saw the past stories in order to understand the full circle that some of these characters take, even if those past stories aren’t directly referenced. Like a chain, they link together, but each link alone still makes a full circle."

Sunday, March 15, 2015

This Book - The Dark Will End The Dark - and This Podcast - Episode One Hundred and Three - Like Real Life If It Was Just Slightly Fucked - written by and starring the Darrin Doyle respectively - Will Change Your Life.

Like real life if it was just slightly fucked. We told the Darrin Doyle that we would say this, somewhere, and somehow when describing his work, and more specifically his new joint The Dark Will End The Dark. And so we have. Because that's the thing with Darrin Doyle. He's a college professor in a nice suit, with a neatly trimmed beard. He's lovely to speak with. A husband and dad of two boys. All things not especially gothic, or seemingly all that fucked at all. And yet his characters are swallowed whole, commit mass suicides, and always in a sort of harried motion. But still stuck, and wrapped in darkness and loss, of relationships, body parts, children, and possibly their sanity.

All of which can almost feel normal too. Because there are no ghosts, not really, or demons. Instead we have the horror of normalcy, things falling a part as things do, and stories that owe more to Stephen King, Shirley Jackson and Samuel Beckett, than say Alice Munro or Raymond Carver. All of which is to say, that we think you should consider reading the Doyle, and listening to our podcast with him, now, both, and experiencing all the fucked normalcy contained therein for yourself. Because it just might change your life, if even for only a moment at that.