10E 0.5: Matt Bell and Wolf Parts

by bl pawelek

(an FMC original)

In ten words (no more, no less), describe Wolf Parts.

MB: Wolf Parts is a fragmentary retelling of Red Riding Hood.

Five Questions Here

1. In your research, what was the coolest thing you learned about Red?

MB: I didn’t do an incredible amount of research. Mostly, I read about a dozen old versions of the fairy tale, enough to end up with a pile of common elements (girl, wolf, grandmother, knife, woodsman, woods, and the stones), and then I sat down to write as many permutations of those elements as possible–I wrote sixty, and there are forty in the book. I hadn’t read many of the oldest versions of the fairy tale at that point–I think that, like most people, I thought of Red Riding hood as one fairy tale, not a collection of variations–and I was interested in seeing the way they shifted over time. The earliest tales lack the clear morality of the later French and German version–they’re not so much immoral as amoral–and it was that moral blankness that I wanted to emulate most, as it’s a quality I really admire in fiction, and strive for generally.

2. What is the wolf part you admire the most?

MB: I spent most of the time in this book writing about the jaws, or maybe the fur. But I wonder if it’s not a wolf’s eyes that we remember, shining in the darkness, or else staring at us from across a field or forest. A wolf is like a dog, but its eyes are not–except for those closest breeds–and I think it’s that apartness that freaks us out when we see one.

3. In another version, do Red and the Grandmother live happily ever after?

MB: Of course there’s a version where Red and the Grandmother live happily ever after, but no one believes it. Even that Red, that Grandmother, even they doubt it. They doubt it more than anyone else.

4. Tell me about the world inside the Wolf’s stomach.

MB: In Wolf Parts, the world inside the wolf is sometimes just a stomach, full of all the bile and blood and meat a wolf’s stomach should be. Other times it is full of a certain number of girls, a particular amount of grandmothers. Sometimes those girls and grandmothers are dead or dying, and sometimes they are reaching into their baskets for knives and axes, hammers and hacksaws.

Sometimes the world inside a wolf contains a world of its own, and in that wolf there is another wolf, and in that world yet another.

5. What is the most dangerous kind of wolf?

MB: The one that doesn’t know he’s a wolf.

Five Questions There

6. Have you ever lost your way in a forest?

MB: Sure, but often in the company of others, which is not the same thing: I go backpacking with my father and my brothers, and we’ve lost a number of trails over the years, sometimes temporarily and sometimes for miles. It’d probably be terrifying in the right conditions, but with good company and sunshine and a pack too full of supplies, it’s also kind of exhilarating: This is a place I am not supposed to be, and I am there, and nothing bad is going to happen because of it.

7. Describe who the “I” is in this story.

MB: The “I” is either the narrator of that particular version, or else of all of them, either the original author or else a reteller. There’s at least two sections with direct narratorial intrusions of this type, and a number of subtler ones. And I would say that it’s not necessary that the narrator be the same from section to section, but he or she could be.

8. How did the cover of your book come to life?

MB: Peter Cole at Keyhole took the photo, and did the design. I was there to offer hopefully helpful suggestions and pester him, but it was my wife who added the final touch: The gradient on the cover used to go top to bottom, and she suggested reversing its direction, so the red was on the bottom instead. And, as always, she was right.

9. Did you know that Catherine Hardwicke is directing a Red Riding Hood movie for next year? Thoughts?

MB: I don’t really know who that is–I had to look it up–but my guess is that anyone approaching Red Riding Hood from the angle of religion–as she seems to have done projects in the past–is probably going to miss the point. Don’t expect anything lasting to come of it.

10. In ten words (no more, no less), describe your next project.

MB: Next year, a book about the trials of post-apocalyptic parenting.

Matt Bell, Wolf Parts, 2010. Keyhole Press
bl pawelek, Ten Everywhere

10E 0.4: Barry Graham and The National Virginity Pledge

by bl pawelek

photo by Gena Mowish

(an FMC original)

In 10 words (no more, no less), describe The National Virginity Pledge.

BG: Enjoys snowflakes, Indian food, cartoons, long walks on the beach.

Five Questions Here

1. Tell me how this book is like a poker hand.

BG: Is this where I declare my philosophy of life and disguise it as a poker metaphor? I knew there was a reason I liked you. I don’t know. I think I tried to construct these tales in such a way that every detail is important and meaningful in any number of ways, depending on the reader and what they are bringing to the table at any given minute. Hopefully a reader can read the same story two or three or fifty different times and have a different reaction to it and it’s details every time they read it. So I guess the comparison is. You can be dealt any hand at any given time, hell you can get the same two shitty hold cards three or four times in a row, but if you know what you’re doing, there’s a better than 74% chance you’re gonna play those cards different every time you get them. It all depends what you’re bringing to the table before you sit down.

2. I have got to ask, what is the Tic Tac Toe thing?

BG: I wish I had some cool story to make up but I don’t. In K-12 I went to thirteen different schools, so I spent much of my childhood (and well into adulthood, depends who you ask), the stereotypical fat, awkward, poor, pimply, picked-on, friendless, new kid in school. Come sixth grade I was starting my sixth school and I just happened to get seated next to the kid who was “that kid” before I showed up. Well, this kid happened to be a sort of genius, so he never needed to pay attention. I didn’t bother because I knew I’d be heading off in a few months to a different school, so we kind of made a good pair. So he spent about three months kicking my ass every day at Tic-Tac-Toe, until the week before I moved. He taught me the secret to life, the sure fire way never to lose, and I haven’t lost since.

3. What is the history of the cover graphic?

BG: Kris Young, the editor at Another Sky Press, is pretty bad ass. When he asked me if I had any ideas for the book cover I said yeah, let’s have a blank cover, nothing on it anywhere. He said, let me think on it. Two weeks later he sent me an email and said, how bout this. The image he sent was pretty much the image you see on the cover. He didn’t tell me how he got it and I didn’t ask. We spent a week tweaking it, and that was that.

4. ‘Cats and Dogs; Like Rain’ – damn. How much of Barry Graham is in these stories?

BG: One of the best literary events I ever experienced was when Davy Rothbart gave a reading and Found Magazine presentation at Eastern Michigan University. I was teaching his short story collection (my favorite short story collection of all time), The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, in my writing classes and I was taking questions from the class to ask him. One of the students noticed that all of the stories had a first person narrator, but only one of them went unnamed. It was the last story of the collection, Elena, about a young drifter who finds himself involved in a scam to rob truck drivers near the Mexico-California border and ends up falling in love with a fourteen-year-old prostitute, Elena. So after the reading I ask him some of the questions from the students and when we get to the unnamed narrator, I was hoping to relay some existential metaphor to the class, something funny and heartbreaking, maybe the clue to figuring out the Mayan calendar, so Davy laughs and says, oh, I didn’t even notice. So I guess just tell them, without a doubt, it’s always Davy. So yeah, apply that little story to your question any way you choose.

5. How would you describe ‘All His Chips’ (other than brutally sad)?

BG: I see All His Chips the same way I see all my writing, as a love story—with all the intricacies and complexities and contradictions that you’d expect to find if you hid in the closet of any given house on any given road in any given town and observed two people attempting to find happily ever after.

Five Questions There

6. What was the best poker hand you lost with?

BG: I’d like to tell you about the most heartbreaking hand I ever lost, but I’ll do that in person when you come to Jersey. But the best hand I ever lost with. I was playing a home game with some country boys, which is never an easy way to make money, country boys are born with a poker gene passed on by their daddies and granddaddies. So I’m holding on to a full house, kings over aces, and two people were still in it. I figured they both had flushes which made me smile, because when you have an ace or king high flush you never see the full house coming if there aren’t two pairs on the board. Well come to find out one of them had the big dog, the royal flush, clubs, and that was that.

7. What is your favorite line of the book?

BG: “I love you.”

8. I told you this reminded me of Bukowski. What do you think of comparisons?

BG: Comparisons to me and Bukowski or comparisons in general? I’m indifferent. Let talkers talk and comparers compare. But I will tell you this, if anyone tries comparing any of the new Legend of Zelda games to the old school shit on the Super NES, they are just plain fucked in the head.

9. Part of the title of this book is “short stories and other lies.” What is one true fact in this book?

BG: My father is dead.

10. What is the first sentence of the pledge?

BG: In the beginning God created the heaven and the Earth.

In ten words (no more or less), what are you working on now?

BG: A plan to pay back everybody everything I owe them.

Kate Braverman: Writing as a Criminal Act

by Rebekah Hall

We only just caught wind of this. Lucky for you, too, because it’s not too late; this is the greatest writer’s retreat you probably don’t know about: Kate Braverman is currently accepting applicants for a rare writer’s workshop—Writing as a Criminal Act—at her estate in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The darkly lyrical Braverman has the enchanting ability to slip her entire fist into the very center of human life and drag from it all that is deep and shallow. She captures the simultaneous emptiness and fullness of existence in a language that is at once raw and poetic, accessible and immersive, a perfect synthesis of rhetoric and image. She’s a longtime favorite of the Flatmancrooked crew, and I’m super excited to head out to Santa Fe with Kate and smear coyote blood all over my manuscript while howling at the stars and full moon with twelve other writer-criminals.  Come lie and steal with me!

From Kate’s website:

Writing as a Criminal Act

Santa Fe Workshop, September 25, 2010 Kate Braverman will teach a rare total immersion one-week writing workshop. Participants will stay at her retreat, write, howl with the coyotes, write, watch the sunset like a massacre across their faces, write, eat, write, witness the promiscuous moon leave her greasy streaks across the innocent sky, write, have nightmares and write.

Ms. Braverman is interested in the concept of Writing as a Criminal Act. As writers, we employ the methods of professional criminals. We break and enter, we rob, we assume aliases and false identities, engage in fraud, lie, omit, impersonate, autopsy the living, exhume the dead for interrogation and deny everything. Recognizing the full extent of one’s writing tools should be liberating. We will use them with the ruthless conviction of people willing to be incarcerated for their acts.

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10E 0.3: Aaron Burch and How To Take Yourself Apart, How To Make Yourself New

by bl pawelek

(an FMC original)

In 10 words (no more, no less), describe “How To Take Yourself Apart, How To Make Yourself New”.

AB: Collection of instructional prose poems about dads, growing up, girls.

Five Questions Here

1 – The book is dedicated to your dad. Tell me your best dad memory.

AB: Hm. This is going to sound lame, but no single memory jumps to mind. But it’s dedicated to my dad because what does jump to mind is basically all the little moments that come up or are hinted at in the book – going fishing together, camping, baseball games. All that stuff.

2 – (p10) If you ever had to perform an autopsy, where would be your first cut?

AB: If not, like the short, at the “front of the scalp,” then probably just right in the middle of the chest. Which seems the most obvious, right? Cut right in, splay the body open, see what’s in there? An obvious starting place, but I’m a kind of obvious guy.

3 – (p12) What dream are you currently injecting?

AB: Whatever I think, right before falling asleep, will help me write something good when I wake.

4 – (p14) Describe yourself as a complicated math equation.

AB: Hell. One of the reasons I started writing was so I no longer had to deal with math, as much as I liked it. Recently, while having a conversation with someone about what we write, and the stuff we write over and over again, I said something like “dads and clouds and bible stories and paper cranes and malaise.” So, maybe something like:

X = (N(F + C + B) + M)/SD + PC

Or something like that.

5 – What is your favorite line in this book?

AB: I know you aren’t really supposed to admit this about your own stuff, but I feel like I like a good number of lines in this book. I’m pretty proud of the lines and, as someone who doesn’t really think of himself as a language or line writer, I find myself surprised by a decent amount of the stuff in there. Lame, I know. That said, I like “There, there.”

Five Questions There

6 – Your favorite folded piece of paper would be a …

AB: Folded checks are nice. Or love notes. Maybe my “favorite” would be, like, a junior high love note or something, with hearts and spirals and everything, back in those heady days when everything was so innocent and new. OK, OK… the “N” in the equation above is nostalgia.

7 – (p34) What is the best ‘piece of trash’ you have ever found?

AB: Hm. I’m actually not much of a trash collector, or even picker-upper. I’ve got this great, old Paul Bunyan book here on my desk that I’m not sure where I got, but I think grabbed for free at some garage sale giveaway or something.

8 – (p48) On the last piece of paper you have eaten, what was written?

AB: If I told you that, I wouldn’t have needed to eat it, now would I have?

9 – When you become a father, what is the one thing you will teach your son “How To” do?

AB: Is “take himself apart, make himself anew” two things? Is it a cop-out answer?

10 – What was the hardest part of this book?

AB: Organizing it. I wrote all the pieces pretty quickly, never once thinking of them as a collection, or a whole of any sort. But… the odd side benefit to only being able to write one or two things, over and over again, is that when you collect them, if you put the puzzle pieces together just right they can, hopefully, feel like they were meant to be like that all along. A kind of whole greater than the sum of its parts. So the hardest part was definitely deciding what fit, what didn’t, and how (if it was possible) to arrange them for best presentation.

In 10 words (no more, no less), describe your next project.

AB: My cheating preamble and so too-long answer is that I have two “next” projects – a book from Keyhole in September, and then what I am actually writing right now:

a) Novella made from shorts about clouds and a relationship.
b) Cliché roadtrip novel with religion, video games, and more.

Zero Emission Book Tour: Doc Preview #2

Here is the second-of-two previews giving you a brief look at what is to come from the Zero Emission Book Project Documentary. If you have not purchased a copy of this amazing book yet, now is the time to support this author and this project. If you haven’t made it to an event yet, James is reading this coming Monday in Davis, CA at Avid Reader, at 730pm. Then, a huge homecoming bash in Sacramento, Ca, Tuesday, Pangaea Cafe, from 730-1130pm. Come on out. Show your support!

July 18, 2010 | Posted in: Blog | Comments Closed

10E 0.2: Ben Tanzer and Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine

by bl pawelek

(an FMC original)

In ten words (no more, no less), describe Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine

BT: Boy meets girl. Sparks fly. Things implode. Things change. Done?

Five Questions Here:

1 – Tell me another lyric title you thought of for your book.

BT: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right. I was in a Dylan mode and everything sounded right.

2 – What is the one thing you dig about Bob Dylan?

BT: He tells stories about relationships that are somehow sad, funny, political and sweeping, yet still taut, all at once. He also reminds me of my dad. Sorry, that’s two things.

3 – So, who is who on the cover?

BT: From left to right: Geoff. Jen. Paul. Rhonda.

4 – What is the best and worst thing about dating in New York City?

BT: As a former New Yorker, the best thing about dating in New York City is that you get to date in New York City, the greatest city in the world. And as someone who now lives in Chicago, the worst thing about dating in New York City is that you have to date in New York City, a place the incredibly obnoxious locals consider the best city in the world, despite endlessly clear evidence to the contrary. What is that evidence you ask? We’re not allowed to say, it should just be obvious.

5 – (p29) So, are you Bob, Jones, Edwin, Descartes, or Oscar?

BT: On a good day, I probably fall between Bob’s very dude-like thinking and Descarte’s wishfully intellectual approach to providing sound advice. But after three drinks I am very Oscar.

Five Questions There:

6 – Do you think Geoff and Jen will last past page 200?

BT: I hope so, it’s possible, even probable, but it will be hard for them until at least page 700 or so of the imaginary ongoing story I hope someone, somewhere is attempting to write, because by then they will know enough about themselves to really make it work.

7 – What was the best pickup line you had for a girl?

BT: I was never good at this, persistence and alcohol were always my strengths. But many years ago, my best almost line, meaning I said it to someone I hadn’t really seen in some time, but then didn’t actually follow-up on their surprisingly positive reaction was, “I apologize for staring at your breasts, but I can’t help myself, their amazing. Did they look like that when we used to know each other?”

8 – Do you consider yourself a writer of romance novels?

BT: I’m going to be borderline cheesy here, but I consider myself a writer of confusion and coping, and so in that way, yes, romance for sure, but also death, loss, compulsion, friendship, humor and sex as well.

9 – Have you ever thought of making this into a screenplay?

BT: Sort of. I’m always thinking about what else I might work on, and I know I would really enjoy doing something like this, but I think I need someone to want me to first, because there is too much to do otherwise that seems more likely to be successful. That said, I did pick my cast for the proposed movie version of the book per the request of the fine folks at StoryCasting.com – and so I am ready when, and if, the request comes.

10 – You are one of the funniest writers I know. Hit me with your best joke.

BT: First off thank you, that’s a big compliment, and just to confirm, it doesn’t take much more than that to get me into bed, so really, you’re in. I should say though, that I think of myself in more of the Patton Oswalt meandering funny storytelling vein. Wow, that was grandiose of me. But as not to avoid this further here is the first joke I ever loved and on some level the joke that probably impacts much of what I say and do: A guy wanders into a convention hall at a hotel he’s staying in and sits down after hearing everyone inside is laughing. A dude near him yells out, number 72, and everyone continues to laugh. The guy says to the guy next to him, what was that about? The guy next to him says, we’re comedians and this is our annual convention. Since we’ve memorized every joke we just yell out the numbers now. The guy says really, I can do that and yells out, number twenty-seven. No one laughs. Nothing. He looks at his neighbor, and says, what was that, no one laughed. The guy next to him says, yeah, well, it’s all in the delivery.

In ten words, describe your next project.

BT: Interns. Neighbors. Babies. Marriage. Work. Friends. And The Hold Steady.

Breaking Realism: An Interview with Brian Evenson, Epistemological Terrorist

By Steve D Owen

Author of fifteen books of fiction, most recently the story collection Fugue State, and the novella Baby Leg, winner of the O. Henry Award for his short story “Two Brothers,” the International Horror Guild Award for his story collection The Wavering Knife, and the ALA/RUSA prize for his novel Last Days, Brian Evenson has quickly become one of the most important American writers of our time. Questioning the epistemology posited by Enlightenment philosophers, Evenson’s oeuvre can be taken as a critique on the traditional values of a realist-dominated American literature. While many of his contemporaries simply assume the possibility of human rationality—endlessly repeating the formulaic (and profitable) clichés of free will and epiphany—Evenson takes the epistemological dilemmas delineated by postmodernism seriously. With a jarring brand of intellectual horror, he explores the problems of human perception, language, and the unconscious, and breaks the artificial boundaries between so-called literary fiction and genre.

Steve: Reading Altmann’s Tongue, my first experience of your work, I knew I’d discovered something unique in the literary world—the dark mystery and humor, the visceral use of language to create startling effects. This was powerful writing that unapologetically shocked with inexplicable violence yet ran deep in its epistemological subtext, that respected genre and employed it to its full intellectual potential. What’s it like to be the inspiration of a whole new generation of writers?

Brian: I don’t know how to answer this exactly. I feel at once flattered and a little afraid, like the next step will be for me to be ritually executed and eaten. It also makes me feel older than I want to feel, but maybe that’s a good thing in that it suggests that I might be too tough and stringy to eat, even ritually.

Steve: Unfortunately, stringiness has never been sufficient reason to escape ritual execution, or eating. But I can promise you that your apostles will attempt to tenderize your flesh before taking their first communion.  Fortunately, a mallet solves most spiritual problems.

Brian: We should move on.  All this talk of food is making me hungry.

Steve: I see your work holding a broken mirror up to reality. I say “broken” because it seems, in principle, your characters have no logical possibility of accessing an objective reality or truth, Kant’s “thing-in-itself.” They are blocked by perception, language, the unconscious. Do you consider your work a critique of literary realism?

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10E 0.1: Cooper Renner and Dr. Polidori’s Sketchbook

by BL Pawelek

(an FMC original)

Describe Dr. Polidori’s Sketchbook in ten words (no more, no less).

CR: Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies and drawings.

Five Questions Here:

1. Polidori had a quick, short life. What is his saddest fact?

CR: Byron called him Polly-Dolly (although I’m not sure that’s how he would have spelled it.) Wouldn’t that make anyone happy to die young?

2. So what is so bad about the Skeltonic form?

CR: You can’t write a limerick in iambics.

3. Are you trying to make the chicken hawk a popular haircut?

CR: The Chicken Hawk is a direct copy of innumerable bad haircuts on ancient busts of Caesar Augustus, but generally considered an improvement on Julius Caesar’s comb-over. At least Russell Crowe seemed to think so in adopting it for “Gladiator”.

4. What is your best line from The Vampyre?

CR: “It was then that I found myself the object of the gaze of a predator whose hungers had never been denied.”

5. You had rather I didn’t what?

CR: It out-Bartles Bartleby. Pray you avoid it.

Five Questions There:

6. What is the best and worst thing about the Romantic Period?


— The best thing: “Christabel”; the worst thing: virtually everything Wordsworth wrote after “Lyrical Ballads.”

— The best thing: “Don Juan,” which is hardly a Romantic poem at all, though written by the man whose life is supposed to be almost prototypically Romantic; the worst thing: rhapsodic solipsism.

— The best thing: rhyming Blake; the worst thing: non-rhyming Blake.

— The best thing: JMW Turner; the worst thing: that oaf Shelley and his skylarks.

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Pure Trash/Seeing Harmony

by Aaron Davidson

(an FMC original)

The best part of Harmony Korine’s new film, Trash Humpers, was Harmony Korine’s introduction. It was the first west coast showing, at the Nuart Theater in western Los Angeles. An article in the Weekly piqued the interest of anyone still interested in Harmony Korine, enough people to sell the show out. My roommate read the article in line for tacos, and an hour later I caught a Facebook post from a friend getting rid of two tickets for reasons involving a bus station. I moved to LA a few weeks before, and this seemed like as good an option as any for a warm Friday in a new city.

The lights came up after the previews, and Korine shuffled down aisle to replace the Matthew Barney humanoids ghosted on my retinas. Korine thanked everyone for coming then explained that we weren’t really about to watch a movie, but “something else.” He said the Trash Humpers project manifested from taking photos of his wife and friends wearing “silly” masks and committing misdemeanor vandalism and other pranks around Nashville, including defecating in driveways and fornicating with trashcans.

Korine transitioned to an anecdote about a neighbor he doesn’t trust, the man that “invented the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.” This guy, apparently, has trash bins full of VHS tapes in his backyard. One bin, according to Korine, had every hour CNN aired in 1988. Korine wanted to make something that might be found in such a bin, or (and I’m paraphrasing), “lodged far up in the guts of a Jonas brother.” The crowd ate this up.

Korine explained he couldn’t stay for the film, because he had “important people to meet.” (This was misheard by some, who thought he said “porn people to meet.” The idea of a Korine-helmed porn remains intriguing.) He offered to do a Q&A anyway. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t seen the film, Korine said, because for those who’d seen the trailer, the movie was “more of the same shit.” Big laughs. Read the rest of this entry »