Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Podcast Will Change Your Life, Episode Eighty-Eight - Stars Are Made, starring the Joanna MacKenzie.

We are so totally podcast. We are also quite Joanna MacKenzie, not to mention Browne & Miller Literary Associates, pitching books, the state of publishing in Chicago and beyond, The Parlor, Tipper Gore, sort of, Gillian Flynn, and so very much more. So do hit it. It just might change your life.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This Book Will Change Your Life - Conquistador of the Useless by the Joshua Isard.

We suppose there must be something out there called "Dick Lit." Said lit would be the spawn of High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, who can legitimately be called out for exposing state secrets, and might be described as literature about men as boys not quite wanting to be men. Said lit is also required to touch on music, sometimes books, and lists, girls, escape, if not outright quest, outsiderness as cool, and the idea that John Cusack, bless his heart, is all we need to know or aspire to. Post-Dick Lit, there is the nebulous next stage in life, as well as, lit manhood, and books such as Fathermucker by the Greg Olear, which neatly, and brilliantly, capture this world. These books retain the same touchstones, but are a sort of coming of age tale for those who have already come of age, have found some kind of adult groove, are now faced with what comes next, and how any of it can possibly work out. Conquistador of the Useless by the Joshua Isard falls into this latter group, and in doing so, is rich in both detail and humor, and is not only hits the touchstones, music, lists, quests, etc., but fluidly creates a whole suburban world of marriage, office, neighbors, and aging, though not aged, parents. What's needed for these books to truly work though, is two-fold. First, there must be a new take on the old wrinkles, and in this, Isard is not only successful, but possibly prescient, in creating a protagonist who is all about work, and yet is comfortably striving for nothing more than happiness and contentment. Work is work, and necessity, certainly, but it is not life, nor intended to be anything greater than what we do day to day so we can do everything else, assuming we know what that is. Secondly, and harder to capture, the story must be authentic, or at least have moments that are so authentic, or real, that they elevate the tale beyond good writing and storytelling. Olear wrote several such scenes, including one in which the protagonist fulfills his quest after such a bad day of fathering that he, and we, are utterly amazed, and moved, he could do so. It is a scene that feels so real, it indeed elevates an already terrific book. Isard accomplishes this as well, and there is one scene that resonated with us in particular. The protagonist has made a connection with a young, female neighbor, actions that will always feel suspect, because they are always suspect, and then tells his wife that this young woman will someday be hot, something which is ultimately no different than saying she already is. When his wife calls him on this, he pleads ignorance, though there's no point in doing so. Like Hornby's best characters, he has spoken the unspoken, something men think, but shouldn't say, much less imply: in this case, the idea that really young women won't always be so young and men are all to aware of that. It is in speaking the unspoken where literature has the chance to take off, moving from good to great, and changing lives, even if only briefly at that.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The new edition of This Zine Will Change Your Life is live. All Green. And full of Fisk.

The new edition of This Zine Will Change Your Life is live, and we are thrilled to have new poem(s), The Green Woman Poems, by old friend Jason Fisk, and (almost) as always, photo action from Adam Lawrence, music curation from Jason Behrends and nothing politically humorous or ironic at the moment 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, Snowpiercer, bam.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Everything a person in need of a guide through the uncertainty of adulthood, manhood, parenthood, personhood, could hope for." Lost in Space. Literary Chicago. Love. Much.

So much love and so many thanks to Literary Chicago and the wonderful Jeff Toth for this absolutely lovely review. Excerpt? Word.

"Full disclosure: despite what may seem like a daunting title, Ben Tanzer’s Lost in Space: A Father’s Journey There and Back Again is neither hard to read nor difficult to navigate. It is, instead, an incredibly honest take on the joys and fears every parent experiences, sometimes long before their children are even a part of the picture. With a blend of humor, inventive structuring, and sometimes sobering truth, Tanzer explores the wide array of influences and instances that continue to shape his journey as a father and as a man. As signs go, Lost in Space is everything a person in need of a guide through the uncertainty of adulthood, manhood, parenthood, personhood, could hope for. At least that was the experience of this reader."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"This story of love and family survival is a must read." Lost in Space. MONOLOGGING. Moved. Totally.

Quite moved we are. Embarrassed as we may be about that. We are also very appreciative. Endlessly in fact. And that we aren't embarrassed about at all. Excerpt? Word.

"Lost in Space provides many detailed and entertaining anecdotes about raising children, but the book’s best qualities are revealed throughout Tanzer’s introspective monologues illuminating the cognitive processes underlining fatherhood. The author is painfully conscious that when it comes to his children, he is powerless to control the outcomes of their futures or the future of the scary world in which they live. This story of love and family survival is a must read recipe for coping with unpredictable trials, and a reminder to enjoy life’s gifts. The book will inspire many parents and expecting couples, especially those with boys. It’s a heartfelt laugh to pass and share with friends."

Monday, July 14, 2014

"His exposure of his own mind and methods is fearless." Lost in Space. Amazon. Humbling and wonderful.

And massively appreciated too. Excerpt? Word.

"The essays in Lost in Space are raw, and not in the way that people like to talk about loud, discordant, thrashy music being raw. They're raw in the sense that when you read Lost in Space, you get the feeling Tanzer has feverishly scrubbed away any layers of gloss-over polish that might otherwise coat these recollections, leaving us with an extremely real, relatable, sometimes-wounded, sometimes-wounding look at his parenthood reality."