Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Demons in the Spring" Review Up at Verbicide

My review of Joe Meno's excellent story collection "Demons in the Spring" (Akashic, 2008) is up now at Verbicide. The collection is awesome, check it out. It's definitely one worth buying.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recommendations, Skips and Hmm's

I started a new job recently and haven't had as much time as I'd like to read, let alone write, or blog about either one. That said, most of what I have read has been pretty good, as I haven't had the patience of late to stick with things that don't grab my attention right off. Even the skips here have sections that are commendable.


1) "A Better Angel: Stories," by Chris Adrian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). One of the standout story collections of the past few years, Adrian's collection also has to be one of the most underrated artistic responses to the events of 9/11 currently in book form. It's interesting to note that the protagonists of these stories are nearly always observers, and that the emotional climax often comes late, when the protagonists finally decide to actually do something. I couldn't recommend this book more.

2) "No Doors, No Windows," a novel by Joe Schreiber (Del Rey, 2009). I interviewed Schrieber shortly before "No Doors" came out in advance of a local book signing. However, the interview focused on his other novel, released the same day as this one, which is a "Star Wars" horror novel titled "Death Troopers," (the bulk of the interview, incidentally, was published in the Fall 2009 issue of Weird Tales). My editor was primarily interested in hearing about the latter, and so Schreiber and I spoke about "No Doors" only in passing. It's a shame, as the book is fantastic. It's one of the few horror novels in the past few years that I've stuck with to the end.

3) "Ghost Machine," poems by Ben Mirov (Caketrain, 2010). Winner of Caketrain's 2009 Chapbook Competition, Mirov's collection is like an expanded version of his previous chapbook, "Collected Ghost," available free online from H_NGM_N and discussed at length in a previous post. "Machine" is worth checking out whether you've read the previous chapbook or not. The "petal in a glass of vodka" line always kills me.

4) "Stitches," a poem by Lucas Farrell (La Petite Zine). The poem first appeared in La Petite Zine, but it's been collected in Farrell's "Bird Any Damn Kind" (Caketrain, 2010), which was the runner-up to Mirov's collection in Caketrain's 2009 Chapbook Competition. The poem introduces the collection, which I'm only about 60 percent through reading but can't help feeling has gone downhill since the beginning. The collection will probably end up in a "Hmm's" section in the future, but the poem in question is too good not to check out. You can read the poem (the collected -- and much improved -- version actually starts at the line "The bird fell from the sky") through the link in the title.


1) Star*Line 33.1 and Star*Line 33.2, by various writers (SFPA, 2010). Star*Line is the official journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and is distributed free to all members. A newly christened member myself, I received my first two issues a few weeks ago, the January/February and March/April editions, respectively. There are perhaps a couple of gems in these collections, but I have to say that nothing great has stayed with me enough to mention here.

2) "My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes," stories by Bradley Sands (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2010). I reviewed this collection recently for Verbicide and basically wrote that I felt these stories -- written in the "bizarro" genre -- would appeal to those familiar with the genre but would be less accessible to those not terribly interested in bizarro literature. I am among the latter.


I haven't been on the fence about much of my reading lately -- I either dug it or wasn't too excited to keep reading. Recent lackluster issues of Wired and Esquire likely fall into this category, however, as well as a number of movies I've seen of late ("Iron Man 2," I'm looking at you).

Soon I hope to be fully settled into my new job and up for posting more regularly.

President Obama Speaks in Kalamazoo

President Obama gave a commencement speech to graduates of Kalamazoo Central High School last night, right here in my native Kalamazoo, Mich.

I caught the bulk of the speech, which I thought was a breath of fresh air relative to the talks Obama usually has to give, doing his best to put out fires everywhere. He seemed laid back and casual, though I suppose he seems that way a lot.

The photo above was taken at the event by Kalamazoo Gazette photographer Mark Bugnaski, who just happens to be stationed in the newsroom just down the hall from my cube. You can view the commencement speech here on the Kalamazoo Gazette's website.