John O’Brien’s Stripper Lessons: A Study of Loneliness

Stripper Lessons by John O'BrienStripper Lessons by John O’Brien is a story about a lonely middle-aged guy (Carroll) in a dead-end job, who spends his evenings watching nude dancers at an L.A. strip club called Indiscretions. He’s friendless and has no interests beyond the strip club. Socially awkward, he worries constantly (both at work and at the club) about saying or doing the wrong thing.

As in his first published novel, Leaving Las Vegas, O’Brien provides no backstory for his main character (or any of the characters). There’s no easy psychological explanation, no hint of childhood trauma. By refusing to divulge any biographical details for such a character, O’Brien makes Stripper Lessons a study of loneliness itself, and that makes the novel hard to put down. Continue reading John O’Brien’s Stripper Lessons: A Study of Loneliness

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John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas – The Exhilaration of Suicide

Leaving Las Vegas by John O'BrienThe film version of Leaving Las Vegas is a depressing view of an alcoholic (Ben) who is drinking himself to death, and his touching friendship with a prostitute (Sera) he meets in Las Vegas in the final weeks of his life.

The novel Leaving Las Vegas is an exhilarating experience inside the head of an alcoholic who has decided to drink himself to death, and his touching friendship with a prostitute (Sera) he meets in Las Vegas in the final weeks of his life. Continue reading John O’Brien’s Leaving Las Vegas – The Exhilaration of Suicide

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Leland Pitts-Gonzalez’ The Blood Poetry: Uncle Fester Gets Religion

Blood Poetry by Leland Pitts-GonzalezEpstein 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

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Quote of the Day, David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace

I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.  I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves.

David Foster Wallace,
“An Interview with Larry McCaffery,”

The Review of Contemporary Fiction,
Summer 1993

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Jack Kerouac’s Good Blonde & Others – Between Sadness & Exultation

good-blondeGood 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

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John Edward Lawson’s Last Burn in Hell: Director’s Cut

Last Burn in HellIn 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

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Adam Golaski’s Worse Than Myself – Short Stories Like Nightmares

worse-than-myselfAdam 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

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An Interview with Indie Author Jonathan Sturak

Jonathan Sturak

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

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