Mark Rich, the writer, not the pardon

Wed 26 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Edge of Our LivesOne of our favorite short story writers, Mark Rich (not the financier, instead the guy who writes about toys for a living), has a couple of new short story collections out—what’s that joke about buses never coming, then three arrive at once? Maybe there’s another collection ’round the corner?

We just got a copy of the first of these, a thick little brick of a pretty book from Redjack Books. Here’s what they said about it:

Edge of Our Lives by Mark Rich. This collection of new and previously published short stories spans the width of Mark’s considerable range of voices and themes. From the deeply poetic to the wryly humorous to the just plain bizarre, the stories take the reader to the edges (and depths) of the human (and inhuman) experience. ($10.00 US. 272pp, 4.75 x 6.5″ ISBN 978-1-892619-11-2).

The second is from Fairwood Press, Across the Sky, and it comes out in January but you can order it now:

In nineteen ventures into the future, Mark Rich moves from a moving moment during human-alien contact, in “Across the Sky” … to madcap conflict between Human and Vegetable, in the antic “Foggery” … to a vision of life in Venusian orbit, in “The Apples of Venus”—which SF giant Robert Silverberg called “science fiction in the classic mode, a contemporary version of the sort of work that makes old-timers speak with warm nostalgia of John W. Campbell’s famous magazine Astounding Science Fiction of fifty years ago.”
($15 US, 272pp)

More Mark: check out the title story, “Foreigners,” from a chapbook of Mark’s stories we published a couple of years ago: Read more



Pandemonium tonight

Tue 25 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Tonight we’ll be in Boston with Benjamin Parzybok for his reading at 7 PM at Pandemonium Books (ok, Cambridge) then Ben will take his tour back to the west coast. So far no one on the east coast has brought a couch to a reading. Boston couch carriers, represent! (We do have some nice pics of couches, will get those online soon.)

Kelly is being interviewed by Lizzie Skurnick at the 21st Annual Indie and Small Press Fair in a couple of weeks in NYC:

Sat. Dec 6th, 5:00 PM: Author and Indie Publisher Kelly Link interviewed by Lizzie Skurnick
Kelly Link has built a serious cult following with her uncanny and affecting fiction. She flirts with fable, fantasy, and horror and stands among the best of short-story writers. After two collections, Link’s new book, Pretty Monsters, is targeted at young adults — though she hasn’t turned down her sublime strangeness one bit. Link is also the co-publisher of Small Beer Press. Lizzie Skurnick is a writer, editor, poet, and, according to Forbes.com, “one of the smartest bloggers on the Web.”

The Table of Contents for Jonathan Strahan’s The Best SF and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 3 is out and includes Joan Aiken’s “Goblin Music” from The Serial Garden, the title story of Pretty Monsters. Looks like another great book in the series.

Ben Rosenbaum interviewed on Sci Fi Wire (is there a Fantasy Wire?):

“My feeling, after reading Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, that its protagonists, the Dashwoods, have so much verve, aplomb and admirable self-control that they are a bit underchallenged by merely arranging for matrimony in Georgian England, and that if, say, they were living on the body of a colossal naked giant who was living on a fractal series of ever-larger naked giants…”

Wish Christopher Barzak’s new book a happy birthday!

Shelf Awareness had a note on Powell’s new solar array which will provide 25% of the power for their warehouse—another reason to support this amazing indie bookstore. In our town there’s a fantastic toy store, A2Z, which installed something like 40 panels to (again) provide about 25% of their power. You can see a snapshot of the power generation system every 15 minutes or so—not quite yet as it’s a bit dark and rainy here this morning.



Kevin Huizenga’s new LCRW cover

Mon 24 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Given the happy events of November 4th, we asked one of our favorite artists, Kevin Huizenga, if he could come up with a suitably celebratory cover for the next issue of LCRW—which goes to the printer right soon now, subscribe and this could be Your First Issue! Here’s what’s on the insides, and what’s on the outside:

Fiction

lcrw23-web.jpg by you.Nick Wolven, “The LoveSling”
Kat Meads, “The Emily(s) Debate the Impact of Reclusive on Life, Art, Family, Community and Pets”
Susan Wardle, “The Chance”
Alex Wilson, “A Wizard of MapQuest”
Jodi Lynn Villers, “In the Name of the Mother”
Daniel Lanza, “Holden Caulfield Doesn’t Love Me”
Kirstin Allio, “Marie and Roland”
William Alexander, “Ana’s Tag”
Mark Rich, “The Leap”
Angela Slatter, “The Girl With No Hands”

Nonfiction

Ted Chiang, “The Problem of the Traveling Salesman”

Poetry

Kim Parko, “Sailor,” “Shiny Hair,” “Schoolgirl”
Christa Bergerson, “Heliotrope Hedgerow”

Comics

Abby Denson, “Jingle Love”



Mon 24 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Apparently One lucky driver in the US will be going around in a Mitsubishi i MiEV! Here’s what it looks like (and a pic of the toy one we have to content ourselves with until this country is lucky enough to get some for actual people to drive):

ybfh20.JPG by you.



Mon 24 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Apparently One lucky driver in the US will be going around in a Mitsubishi i MiEV! Here’s what it looks like (and a pic of the toy one we have to content ourselves with until this country is lucky enough to get some for actual people to drive):

ybfh20.JPG by you.



Amherst Tonight

Thu 20 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

http://www.amherstbooks.com/Images/Site/Store.jpgOh yeah, Ben Parzybok is reading tonight at 8 PM Amherst Books and then we will be heading over for refreshments at the Amherst Brewing Company. This afternoon you can hear him read, pick music, and so on at 4 PM EST on WAMH.

Last night Ben read at KGB Bar with Caitlin R. Kiernan (who read a couple of erotica pieces from her Subterranean Press books and was kind enough to sign a paperback since we forget to bring anything down, dur. It was a great, packed house and dinner afterwards at Grand Sichaun made the trip to NYC even more worthwhile.

Friday Ben’s off to New Jersey, Tuesday: Boston. Wednesday, the world!



Coming up

Thu 20 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We have interviews with Ben Parzybok and Andi Watson coming up here soon. If you have questions, send them on in.

Herbivore has some excellent stuff for You. Not sure that the tray of cupcakes comes with the shirt, but you got to love the people they get to model their stuff:

Herbivore Cross Zip Up Unisex HoodieHerbivore Koala Women

Eat Like You Give a Damn Unisexual Tank TopEat Like You Give a Damn Unisex TeeKeep Singing Unisex Tee



IAF anthology reminder

Tue 18 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The second Interstitial Arts Foundation Interfictions anthology is still open to submissions until December 2. More here.



The Lone Star Stories Reader

Sun 16 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Lone Star Stories Reader CoverEric Marin of Lone Star Stories just sent along a couple of copies of The Lone Star Stories Reader which has stories by Martha Wells, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Gavin J. Grant, M. Thomas, Sarah Monette, Catherynne M. Valente, Tim Pratt, “Manuscript Found Written in the Paw Prints of a Stoat” by Samantha Henderson, and an Introduction by Sherwood Smith. We’d recommend you order it direct from the source but it looks like Eric decided not to do that any more. Can’t think why! The book looks good and has received some really good pre-publication reviews:

“From both established talents like Nina Kiriki Hoffman and relative newcomers like Marguerite Reed, these stories offer a wide enough range to keep the reader fumbling to find some commonality other than editor Marin’s excellent taste. Hoffman’s contribution, the short and sweet “Seasonal Work,” is the holiday retail season seen through a very strange lens—the kind of thing she does so well. Reed’s gorgeous “Angels of a Desert Heaven” is the story of a musician and a Hopi seer and the ways the gods of their shared desert home adopt even the Anglo, if the need is great enough. Despite the book’s title, the stories don’t have any Texas connections, though several take place in various Western settings. Title and stories come from the Web zine Lone Star Stories, where the latter are electronically archived. At any rate, this selection suggests that LSS is a force to be reckoned with.”
Booklist

“In Catherynne M. Valente’s stunning ‘Thread: A Triptych,’ a fantastical mail-order bride is brought to the ‘real’ world, only to be cast aside. The western meets dark fantasy in Martha Wells’s standout ‘Wolf Night,’ when a group of people barricaded in a stockade are attacked by an otherworldly creature. Other standouts include Ekaterina Sedia’s ‘The Disemboweler,’ where a robot explores a world where little spirits animate machines, and Sarah Monette’s ‘A Night in Electric Squidland,’ where two queer psychic cops infiltrate an occult BDSM nightclub…. the gems really shine.”
Publishers Weekly



Cream City Review competition

Sat 15 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Kelly, along with Lee Martin and Arielle Greenberg, is one of the judges for the Cream City Review writing contest:

Deadline for current year’s contest: December 20.
Fee: $15/story (no longer than 30 pages) or 3-5 poems, payable to Cream City Review
Each entrance fee includes the Spring 2009 cream city review wherein the winners will be published.

Prize: $1,000.00 plus publication.

Address your submission to one of the following:

The A. David Schwartz Fiction Prize
The Beau Boudreaux Poetry Prize
or The David B. Saunders Award for Creative Nonfiction

and send your entry to:
cream city review
Department of English
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO Box 413
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Submissions must be typed, double-spaced, and include the author’s name and address plus an SASE (for results only). Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as cream city review is notified in the event the manuscript is accepted elsewhere. The reading fee, however, is non-refundable.



Fri 14 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We just got a draft of the cover of the next LCRW from Kevin Huizenga and it is all the happy we hoped it would be.

Tonight at his reading at Powell’s, Ben Parzybok isn’t promising anything, but may take off his clothes, run screaming, or just do some gentle knee bends. (For his reading at Amherst Books, we’re going to give free copies of the book to anyone who brings a couch!)

The Oregonian writes about moving a couch:

Ten years ago, Benjamin Parzybok and Laura Moulton bought a couch at the William Temple House thrift store. They didn’t have a truck or enough money to pay anyone to help them move it and started carrying it down Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Parzybok and Moulton had to go about 14 blocks, “and it was a really heavy couch,” Parzybok said. The couple had to stop and rest every half-block or so, and what better place to rest than on the couch?

People stopped. They talked. They offered to help. This being Portland, they asked if moving the couch was some kind of performance art.

Pretty Monsters is on one of the best reading lists around, The Winter ’08 /’09 Children’s Indie Next List, at #9:

“You’ll find a little bit of everything in this book, from a mother-daughter team of ghost collectors to a cult-like organization waiting for aliens to return to Earth. Kelly Link gives us great stories in this collection — a wonderful (and thought-provoking) read.”
–Samuel Morris Barker, Summer’s Stories, Kendallville, IN

Miette reads “The Specialist’s Hat” for her Bedtime Story podcast.

Read “The Specialist’s Hat”? How about “El Sombrero del Especialista“? Traducción: Hernán Ortiz y Viviana Trujillo. Presentado en Descarga Fractal:

“Cuando estás Muerta,” dice Samantha, “no tienes que lavarte los dientes…”
“Cuando estás Muerta,” dice Claire, “vives en una caja, y siempre está oscuro, pero nunca tienes miedo.”



Fri 14 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We just got a draft of the cover of the next LCRW from Kevin Huizenga and it is all the happy we hoped it would be.

Tonight at his reading at Powell’s, Ben Parzybok isn’t promising anything, but may take off his clothes, run screaming, or just do some gentle knee bends. (For his reading at Amherst Books, we’re going to give free copies of the book to anyone who brings a couch!)

The Oregonian writes about moving a couch:

Ten years ago, Benjamin Parzybok and Laura Moulton bought a couch at the William Temple House thrift store. They didn’t have a truck or enough money to pay anyone to help them move it and started carrying it down Northwest 23rd Avenue.

Parzybok and Moulton had to go about 14 blocks, “and it was a really heavy couch,” Parzybok said. The couple had to stop and rest every half-block or so, and what better place to rest than on the couch?

People stopped. They talked. They offered to help. This being Portland, they asked if moving the couch was some kind of performance art.

Pretty Monsters is on one of the best reading lists around, The Winter ’08 /’09 Children’s Indie Next List, at #9:

“You’ll find a little bit of everything in this book, from a mother-daughter team of ghost collectors to a cult-like organization waiting for aliens to return to Earth. Kelly Link gives us great stories in this collection — a wonderful (and thought-provoking) read.”
–Samuel Morris Barker, Summer’s Stories, Kendallville, IN

Miette reads “The Specialist’s Hat” for her Bedtime Story podcast.

Read “The Specialist’s Hat”? How about “El Sombrero del Especialista“? Traducción: Hernán Ortiz y Viviana Trujillo. Presentado en Descarga Fractal:

“Cuando estás Muerta,” dice Samantha, “no tienes que lavarte los dientes…”
“Cuando estás Muerta,” dice Claire, “vives en una caja, y siempre está oscuro, pero nunca tienes miedo.”



on books

Fri 14 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Alan has a hilarious AP piece that might have run in the NYTimes the other day:

WASHINGTON–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for “emergency and limited financial assistance” for the battered U.S. independent bookstore industry today, and urged the outgoing Bush administration to join legislators in reaching a quick compromise….

Just found a piece on PW about Obama and Chicago bookshops:

57th Street’s most famous customer, who’s been a member of the three-store consumer cooperative since 1986, was elected president of the United States last night.

More books for the holidays stuff: Bookselling This Week reports:

More than 70 alternative newspapers are encouraging their readers to spend at least $100 at locally owned businesses in their communities this fall … according to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, a trade organization …  which developed the project with … the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA).

They use some specious math to come up with some huge amount of cash that could be circulated into local economies. At least some of those readers don’t have $100 to spend on books and some other proportion will be spending at least that amount but, sure: why not use hyperbole to get coverage of a good idea: buy books and buy them locally.



Fighting talk

Thu 13 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Paul Constant in Seattle’s Stranger talking about Couch:

Besides romance, fantasy is perhaps the last of the popular genres to get an overhaul for the 21st century. Not much has changed in the genre since the invention of Bilbo Baggins. Hundreds of writers have slavishly imitated—or outright ripped off—Tolkien in ways that connoisseurs of other genres would consider shameless. What Parzybok has done here in adapting the same old song to a world more familiar to the reader is to revive the genre and make it relevant again. And by making the magical MacGuffin a beloved household item that nearly everyone has a complicated relationship with, he gives the story the depth and allure of the best modern literary fiction.



Maps

Wed 12 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

This one (a map of events in Couch and locations of Gumball Poetry machines from a great Willamette Weekly piece on Ben P.) is for Christopher (whose Kentucky map skills are legendary):


View Larger Map



Serially Amazoned

Wed 12 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

There’s a movement online to buy books for Christmas—or the holiday of your choice—which is a fine idea (although we also like gifts given to Heifer, Greenpeace, Amnesty, Habitat, etc.) especially as this year we have the perfect gift book: Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden—we just got a great note from Politics and Prose in DC saying they are “delighted to carry it; Joan Aiken is a favorite of ours.” Yay!

There’s a great interview with Lizza Aiken on Omnivoracious:

The Serial Garden by andi watsonThe story of The Serial Garden had always haunted her, and many of her readers too, and I think she felt a real duty to try and resolve the terrible sadness of its ending. It was her idea to use the name of this story for this collection, and I understand that this was why she chose it. She had written a couple more stories about its hero, Mr Johansen and his lost Princess, and gave them the possibility of a happy ending, but perhaps was still worried that she had been unduly harsh to Mrs Armitage, whose brisk spring cleaning had caused an unwitting tragedy. Mrs Armitage was in many ways a portrait of Joan’s mother, and it is she who is really redeemed in a later story, Milo’s New Word and remembered as the patient and loving mother she really was.

The book has an illustration for each story by UK illustrator Andi Watson (who we’re going to interview here, if you have any questions for him, send them along).

The Serial Garden was reviewed on The Cultural Gutter: (“It would be perfect for reading to kids”) and on Green Man Review (“Readers of all ages have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best writing by one of the most superb and timeless fantasy writers”) and is a pick of the week on a kid’s radio show(!):

This week’s show’s Book Time with Ella will be about the late Joan Aiken’s The Serial Garden.

and was a recent critic’s pick at Salon: “Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age.”

This Sunday we’ll be in New York City for an event at Books of Wonder celebrating the book’s publication (and picking up a few cupcakes!) with one of our favorite writers, Michael Dirda, Joan’s daughter (which makes her Conrad Aiken‘s granddaughter) Lizza Aiken, and Joan’s long-time US literary agent, Charles Schlessiger.

Sunday, November 16th 1-3 pm, Books of Wonder 18 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011. 212-989-3270. Free.



Endless Things pb

Tue 11 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Just emailed our interior files from Endless Things to the Overlook Press so at some point (January!) the paperback will come out and all those readers who have been waiting to get the 4 book set can at last sign in relief. (We wanted to do this set but got outbid, c’est la vie!)



Tue 11 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | 5 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Listen to Ben Parzybok on kboo.fm today at 1.30 EST (10.30 PST).

  • SciFi Dimensions is having their annual auction—so you can go pick up some good books and support the site, including Couch and The King’s Last Song.
  • Tamora Pierce on Pretty Monsters; PM is a Staff Pick at Powell’s; Creative Commons blog; what about that YA label; a book collector writes about PM and The Serial Garden;  an illustration for Stranger Things Happen.
  • A week late: slow zombies, please: “Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.”
  • Go on: declare yourself Indiebound.
  • Leslie & the Badgers “Old Timers” is sweet.
  • Garrison Keillor (sorry Alan!) gives the Pres-Elect some good advice.
  • A review of LCRW 21 on Xerography Debt. The good news from Davida is that the print edition will keep going by partnering with Microcosm for printing and distribution (so keep sending zines in for review!):
  • “I very much enjoyed reading LCRW #21; it’s primarily fiction but also includes poetry, nonfiction, and comics. The layout and design is impeccable: crisp, clean, beautifully formatted. Carol Emshwiller is a regular contributor and the material itself covers a wide range, from odd boarding schools to a strange co-worker writing code (I don’t want to say much more for fear of giving it away), and there isn’t a single wrong note in here.”
  • Michelle Tea, Jess Arndt, Andrea Lawlor, Miel Rose, Sara Jaffe read in Northampton on Friday, 11/14, 8 PM, at Pride & Joy.

Circuit City: why does none of the coverage of CC’s bankruptcy cover the part where they fired all their long-term staff and hired people who didn’t know anything about what they were selling and sales, duh, fell?

Duh again: The government doesn’t want to prop up the car companies: yay! These same companies have been selling more fuel-efficient cars in Asia and Europe than here. And now they’re surprised to find that this may have been a mistake.



Tue 11 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Listen to Ben Parzybok on kboo.fm today at 1.30 EST (10.30 PST).

  • SciFi Dimensions is having their annual auction—so you can go pick up some good books and support the site, including Couch and The King’s Last Song.
  • Tamora Pierce on Pretty Monsters; PM is a Staff Pick at Powell’s; Creative Commons blog; what about that YA label; a book collector writes about PM and The Serial Garden;  an illustration for Stranger Things Happen.
  • A week late: slow zombies, please: “Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.”
  • Go on: declare yourself Indiebound.
  • Leslie & the Badgers “Old Timers” is sweet.
  • Garrison Keillor (sorry Alan!) gives the Pres-Elect some good advice.
  • A review of LCRW 21 on Xerography Debt. The good news from Davida is that the print edition will keep going by partnering with Microcosm for printing and distribution (so keep sending zines in for review!):
  • “I very much enjoyed reading LCRW #21; it’s primarily fiction but also includes poetry, nonfiction, and comics. The layout and design is impeccable: crisp, clean, beautifully formatted. Carol Emshwiller is a regular contributor and the material itself covers a wide range, from odd boarding schools to a strange co-worker writing code (I don’t want to say much more for fear of giving it away), and there isn’t a single wrong note in here.”
  • Michelle Tea, Jess Arndt, Andrea Lawlor, Miel Rose, Sara Jaffe read in Northampton on Friday, 11/14, 8 PM, at Pride & Joy.

Circuit City: why does none of the coverage of CC’s bankruptcy cover the part where they fired all their long-term staff and hired people who didn’t know anything about what they were selling and sales, duh, fell?

Duh again: The government doesn’t want to prop up the car companies: yay! These same companies have been selling more fuel-efficient cars in Asia and Europe than here. And now they’re surprised to find that this may have been a mistake.



Pub Day!

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

CouchYes, it is the day to get ye to the pub. And whether you do or don’t, we recommend taking a copy of Benjamin Parzybok’s debut novel Couch with you. It’s publication day for Couch: yay! Ben starts a bi-coastal for the books on Friday at Powell’s (should be a party!)

Ben posted a Big Idea on Scalzi’s Whatever and got a trigger-pulling response, gave a cool-headed (inspired by our Pres-Elect??) reply, and everything ended well.

Order your copy here. If you’d like a signed or personalized copy and can’t get to one of the readings, you can order one from Powell’s or: send us a note and we will make sure your copy gets signed.

Ben Parzybok on tour:

Friday, November 14, 7:30 PM
Powell’s Books
1005 W. Burnside, Portland, OR

Monday, November 17, 7:30 PM
Elliott Bay Book Company
101 S Main St., Seattle, WA, 98104

Wednesday, November 19, 7:00 PM
KGB Bar (with Caitlin R. Kiernan)
85 E 4th St, New York, NYC

Thursday, November 20, 8:00 PM
Amherst Books
8 Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002

Friday, November 21, 7:00 PM
Raconteur Books
Metuchen, NJ

Tuesday, November 25, 7:00 PM
Pandemonium Books
4 Pleasant St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Thursday, December 04, 3:00 PM
The Willamettte Store
900 State Street, Salem, OR, 97301

Friday, December 05, 5:00 PM
Waucoma Bookstore
212 Oak St., Hood River, OR, 97031



Aiken on Salon

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Here’s good news: Laura Miller including The Serial Garden in Salon‘s critics picks:

The Serial Garden“The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories” by Joan Aiken
Throughout her life, Aiken, one of the 20th century’s greatest authors of children’s fiction, wrote stories about the Armitage family: a mother, father, sister and brother whose lives in a rural British village are routinely disrupted by magic — mostly on Mondays. Unicorns overrun the garden, the Board of Incantation attempts to requisition their house for a school for wizards, and the annoying kids next door get turned into sheep. The delicious unflappability of the parents is one of the most amusing aspects of these tales. Mrs. Armitage barely looks up from her knitting when her husband observes that the two children are riding broomsticks in the backyard: “I think it’s much better for them to get that sort of thing out of their systems when they’re small.” Buy it to read to your kids, and you’ll find yourself sneaking tastes on the sly; a little Aiken is a fine thing to have in your system at any age. — Laura Miller



Couch – Competition

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Authors | Leave a Comment| Posted by: intern

We’re delighted to announce the winners of our couch photo competition: Gina Teh and Lea Deutsch, both of whom will be receiving copies of Couch.

Gina Teh:
Couch

Lea Deutsch:
Couch At the office

And a bonus shot of Will Ludwigsen:
Will Ludwigsen's couch Will Ludwigsen ponders the ineffable

Also: a fun link (via Scott Beeler).

Thanks to everyone who emailed in pics and those who spread the word. If you come across any, we’re always interested in more couch-carrying or weird couch pics.

Original rules:

  1. Carry a couch somewhere unexpected: take a picture of it. (Or, take a picture of a couch in a weird place.)
  2. Email your picture (or a link) to us by November 30, 2008 and we will send a couple of winners copies of Couch and maybe some other books.


Couch – Reviews

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Authors | Leave a Comment| Posted by: intern

CouchReviews of Couch
Benjamin Parzybok

“Meet Erik, Tree and Thom, three unlikely new roommates sharing a Portland apartment with an inherited handmade gigantic orange couch. Here’s the plot: the three, thrown out on the street after a freak flooding of their apartment, and told to take the couch with them, appear to be compelled to carry their possibly “magical” couch on a journey of the couch’s making through the streets of Portland west to the Pacific and a different reality thousands of miles away. Quirky doesn’t begin to describe it. Parzybok, in his debut novel, sketches the three roommates and the various characters they encounter with an amazingly sure hand for one so new to the trade, and the outrageous storyline (is the couch really the “seat of power” spoken of in ancient South American legend? Is there really an ancient but still vibrant hidden civilization that is calling the couch to itself?) provides a fascinating framework on which Parzybok hangs his social and political observations and off-the-wall humor. A perfect Portland fantasy.”
Willamette Live

Couch hits on an improbable, even fantastic premise, and then rigorously hews to the logic that it generates, keeping it afloat (at times literally) to the end.”
Los Angeles Times

Couch shouldn’t be half as entertaining as it is…. In the end [Parzybok] pulls it off, even though he shouldn’t be able to.”
—Adrienne Martini, Locus

“Once upon a time, Donald Barthelme, Jonathan Lethem, and Umberto Eco attended a film festival together. The featured flicks were Kiss Me Deadly, Fitzcarraldo, and Repo Man. Inspired by this odd bill of fare, the trio set out to collaborate on a novel. The result was Benjamin Parzybok’s debut, Couch.”
The Barnes & Noble Review

Couch is a quick and funny read, a short fable that ensnares us in its quixotic intentions and encourages us to believe for a short time in something magic, even if it is just a couch.”
—About.com

“A fun adventure with a seductive premise.”—Popmattters.com

“My wife has a set of stories that she describes as ‘guy stories,’ a category that contains such notable tales as Easy Rider, City Slickersand Deliverance. In such a story a group of young males decide to set them selves to some inconsequential task. The journey is filled with adversity, strife, joy and tragedy as the men struggle to finish their quest. In the end the characters discover who they really are. Couchby Benjamin Parzybok is one of these stories with a healthy dose of magic realism added for seasoning.”
—SF Site

“The essential message of Couch appears to be that the world and our lives would be better if we all got off our couches (literal and metaphorical) a bit more often.”
—The Zone

“The world of furniture has been given an Odysseus. I was completely swept into the story of three loafers who burden themselves with a couch and are given a chance to risk everything and maybe save the world a little. It’s easy to look at the world today and feel a sense of hopelessness, but Couch reminds us that there is still magic in the world and that we are the heroes of our own stories.”
— Mara Lynn Luther, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT

“Beyond the good old-fashioned story, Couch meditates on heroism and history, but above all, it’s an argument for shifting your life around every now and then, for getting off the couch and making something happen.”
The L Magazine

“The book succeeds as a conceptual art piece, a literary travelogue, and a fantastical quest.”
Willamette Week

“Hundreds of writers have slavishly imitated—or outright ripped off—Tolkien in ways that connoisseurs of other genres would consider shameless. What Parzybok has done here in adapting the same old song to a world more familiar to the reader is to revive the genre and make it relevant again.”
The Stranger

“Delightfully lighthearted writing. . . . Occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, the enthusiastic prose carries readers through sporadic dark moments . . . Parzybok’s quirky humor recalls the flaws and successes of early Douglas Adams.”
Publishers Weekly

“A lot of people are looking for magic in the world today, but only Benjamin Parzybok thought to check the sofa, which is, I think, the place it’s most likely to be found.Couch is a slacker epic: a gentle, funny book that ambles merrily from Coupland to Tolkien, and gives couch-surfing (among other things) a whole new meaning.”
—Paul La Farge

“One of the strangest road novels you’ll ever read. It’s a funny and fun book, and it’s also a very smart book. Fans of Tom Robbins or Christopher Moore should enjoy this.”
—Handee Books

“It is an upholstered Odyssey unlike any other you are likely to read. It is funny, confusing in places, wild and anarchic. It is part Quixote, part Murakami, part Tom Robbins, part DFS showroom. It has cult hit written all over it.”
Scott, Me and My Big Mouth

“An amazing debut novel about three roommates who get evicted and take their couch with them on a journey that becomes a epic quest that becomes one of the most truly weird and original books I’ve read in ages.”
Karen, A Stranger Here Myself

Reviews of “The Coder” (LCRW 21)

“My favorite story in the issue was “The Coder” by Benjamin Parzybok. Set at a software company, Brian is given the job of taking care of the one actual programmer who writes code that no one really understands but somehow works. This is pure fantasy but the story felt like myth.”
SF Revu

“A simple enough story about a mystical programmer who produces perfect code for Nebbets Inc. and their apparently petty software. The Coder is a hermit-like figure who lives on Nebbets Inc.’s roof and who deals only with Brian Gorman, the story’s narrator. Brian modestly exploits his unique position for his own benefit—though less than others might—and his job largely involves delivering food, collecting screeds of handwritten code, and hiding from everyone, except the company’s most senior managers, the fact that the entire organisation exists on the whim of a madman on the roof. The end of “The Coder” will hardly come as a surprise, but it is nicely handled, and it maintains a neat air of mystery and irony.”
The Fix



Benjamin Parzybok Bio

Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Authors | Leave a Comment| Posted by: intern

Benjamin ParzybokBenjamin Parzybok is the creator of Gumball Poetry, a (now defunct) journal published through gumball machines, the Psychic Book Project and the Black Magic Insurance Agency, a city-wide mystery/treasure hunt. His projects have twice been selected as Best of Portland for theWillamette Week: “Best Guy Who Walks His Talk” and “Best Quarter’s Worth of Culture.”

Parzybok’s previous jobs include: congressional page, ghostwriter for the governor of Washington, web developer, Taiwanese factory technical writer, asbestos removal janitor, potato sorter, advertising copywriter, waiter, house painter, caterer, UPS unloader, alphabetizer, grocery clerk, and carpenter’s apprentice. Besides freelancing, his most recent start up is Walker Tracker, a walking community for pedometer enthusiasts.

He received a BA in Creative Writing from the Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA. He has lived in Central America, Taiwan, R.O.C., Ecuador, up and down the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with the writer Laura Moulton and their two children.



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