Epstein Dorian is at loose ends. His wife is missing. His mother’s a vampire. His teenage daughter’s a basket case. He spends all of his time at home watching documentaries about gruesome murders and serial killers. His sexuality is confused. He entertains libidinous thoughts about his mother, as well as his wife and girlfriend, and at one point even convinces a young male street beggar to perform oral sex on him for money. Continue reading Leland Pitts-Gonzalez’ The Blood Poetry: Uncle Fester Gets Religion
Good Blonde & Others is a collection of Jack Kerouac’s short writings, some autobiographical, some discussions of literature—including his novel The Subterraneans—others talking about jazz or baseball or his cat or whatever caught his attention for that moment.
One of the joys of the collection is of course just the writing itself—Kerouac’s sadness in constant interplay with poetic exultation. Another joy of the collection is the clarity it brings to your understanding of Kerouac’s fiction, just by watching his themes and obsessions unfold around a wider variety of topics, in short essays that are often more accessible than his fiction. Continue reading Jack Kerouac’s Good Blonde & Others – Between Sadness & Exultation
In Last Burn in Hell: Director’s Cut, John Edward Lawson isn’t giving us a novel so much as he’s playing with the concept of what a novel is. And just in case you don’t get the message from the “Director’s Cut” subtitle, the sub-subtitle is “a film by John Edward Lawson.” It comes complete with photo stills, promotional images, an R rating, and a soundtrack. The soundtrack is mostly composed of actual tracks by hiphop/synth/sampling artists like Techno Animal and DJ Spooky, which you can listen to on Youtube while you read to get the full flavor of the book. Continue reading John Edward Lawson’s Last Burn in Hell: Director’s Cut
Adam Golaski’s stories in Worse Than Myself are scary. They’re also compelling stories—the word that comes to mind is addictive. I’ve never gone out of my way to read horror stories, but if I saw that an Adam Golaski story had been published anywhere—in a magazine, on a blog—I would go out of my way to read it.
George Williams’ stories in Gardens of Earthly Delight (review) are frightening because they deal with the real horror around us—modern weapons, our growing irritation with each other, the degeneration of civility, our strip-mined landscapes.
Golaski’s stories are scary because each of them hones in on a familiar and permanent source of human anxiety—the fear of sinking into an obsession, paranoia about the opposite sex, the fear of squandering your life, the fear of helplessness. Continue reading Adam Golaski’s Worse Than Myself – Short Stories Like Nightmares
Jonathan Sturak self-published his first novel, Clouded Rainbow, in 2009. In the three years since its publication, it’s had more than 100,000 downloads on Amazon’s Kindle. Since then, Jonathan has self-published another novel, A Smudge of Gray, and a collection of short stories, From Vegas With Blood. Jonathan maintains a fiction blog at sturak.com.
I became interested in Sturak’s work after he submitted an extraordinary novella to Vegas Lit, which I’ve asked him to expand into a full-length novel. I was also interested in interviewing him for Write-aholic because of his resourcefulness and success at self-publishing. Continue reading An Interview with Indie Author Jonathan Sturak
Bukowski’s Women is a ribald comedy about a poet, Henry Chinaski, who’s reached that point in mid-life where you find yourself thinking a lot about your own mortality. Here’s a self-description (on his way to a poetry reading) that reminds me of Yeats’ description of himself, at 60, as an old scarecrow:
I had on my dead father’s overcoat, which was too large. My pants were too long, the cuffs came down over the shoes and that was good because my stockings didn’t match, and my shoes were down at the heels. I hated barbers so I cut my own hair when I couldn’t get a woman to do it. I didn’t like to shave and I didn’t like long beards, so I scissored myself every two or three weeks. My eyesight was bad but I didn’t like glasses so I didn’t wear them except to read. I had my own teeth but not that many. My face and my nose were red from drinking and the light hurt my eyes so I squinted through tiny slits. I would have fit into any skid row anywhere. Continue reading Women by Charles Bukowski – Love in the Face of Mortality
been in i. c. u.
with someone i care about
danger now is past
Michael Konik is one of those renaissance men who’s been everywhere, done everything, and somehow keeps finding new ways to make us normals envious of his talents. He’s been an actor, an improv standup comedian, a TV commentator, a jazz musician, a magazine columnist, author of seven nonfiction books (including one of the most acclaimed books of gambling stories in print, The Man With the $100,000 Breasts) and now we get his first novel, Becoming Bobby.
I had the honor and privilege of editing this novel, which meant I got to start laughing a few months before anyone else at Michael’s hilarious and brilliant take on Las Vegas casino culture as a metaphor for America. I caught up with Michael in L.A. for an interview as Becoming Bobby was about to go to press. The novel is available now at ShopLVA.com and will be available at Amazon in about a week. —Arnold Snyder
Continue reading Interview with Michael Konik about His Novel Becoming Bobby
You Can’t Win by Jack Black is a memoir of life among the “yeggs,” an American subculture that existed for decades in the early twentieth century, with tens of thousands of members pretty well hidden from the society at large. Today, the slang term “yegg” has become synonymous with “safe cracker.” A hundred years ago, yeggs were vagabonds who traveled by hopping freights, convened in the hobo jungles that sprang up on the outskirts of towns that had railroad yards, and lived primarily by committing small-time theft. Continue reading Jack Black’s You Can’t Win: On the Vagabond Life
The most haunting story in Look How the Fish Live, a collection of short stories by J.F. Powers published in 1975, is the eponymous story that opens it, “Look How the Fish Live,” a story about the indifference of the universe. Every time I read it I think of Jack London’s “To Build a Fire,” although the stories could not be more different on the surface. The story was in the first book Powers published after his masterpiece, the novel Morte D’Urban (see review), with which Powers beat out Nabokov, Updike and Katherine Anne Porter for the 1963 National Book Award. “Look How the Fish Live” is now available in The Stories of J.F. Powers.
Continue reading Look How the Fish Live by J.F. Powers, the Poet of Frustration