Mon 10 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Books | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Ebook now contains an excerpt from Benjamin Parzybok’s second novel, Sherwood Nation.

trade paper · 9781931520546 | ebook 9781931520973

COUCH. A novel. An odyssey. An epic furniture removal. A road trip. An exuberant and hilarious debut in which an episode of furniture moving gone awry becomes an impromptu quest of self-discovery, secret histories, and unexpected revelations.

Download [download id=”57″] or get it on Scribd.

The Oregonian: Oregon Benjamin Parzybok and the art of couch-moving

Thom is a computer geek whose hacking of a certain Washington-based software giant has won him a little fame but few job prospects. Erik is a smalltime con man, a fast-talker who is never quite quick enough on his feet. Their roommate, Tree, is a confused clairvoyant whose dreams and prophecies may not be completely off base.

After a freak accident floods their apartment, the three are evicted—but they have to take their couch with them. The real problem? The couch—huge and orange—won’t let them put it down. Soon the roommates are off on a cross-country trek along back roads, byways, and rail lines, heading far out of Portland and deep into one very weird corner of the American dream.

Now available as an audiobook.


A freak flood evicts three unlikely roommates from their apartment forcing them to get up off the couch . . . and start carrying it. The couch, though, has designs of its own and the roommates—uncertain of their own paths—follow the couch’s will as it leads them out of contemporary Portland and straight to ancient trouble. A once successful computer hacker with girl problems, Thom looks to science to explain the couch; Erik, a bumbling con man, hopes to capitalize on it; and Tree’s curious dreams make him the group’s truest believer.

Parzybok creates a world in which the most domestic of objects transports the reader into magical and foreign lands. He offers a welcome antidote to the doom and gloom of the television news, cheering every adult who still hopes to discover adventure lurking in the living room.

Benjamin ParzybokRead more about Benjamin Parzybok.


“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

“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 comfy couch at an indie book store: bliss.Two views from The Daily Evergreen:

“What I like about the novel is its epic scope and the constant, unapologetic insistence that there is something magical about this inanimate piece of furniture.” —Andrew McCarthy

“Benjamin Parzybok’s debut novel elevates this common piece of furniture from the stuff of everyday magic to something much more powerful.” —Jessica Schubert McCarthy

“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. His book 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

“Stylistically brilliant, Couch is also by turns hilarious, poignant, tender, and energizing.”

“This novel made me think, laugh, cringe, and question. It doesn’t get much better than that in what I look for in a book! Highly recommended!” —Stephanie, Twenty-Third Avenue Books

“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

CouchIn the world and on the web

  • Bookslut interview: “I used to read exclusively fantasy fiction for years. I loved Ursula Le Guin, the Earthsea Trilogy, The Sword of Shanara — David Eddings was a grocery checker at a local grocery store in Spokane where I grew up. I remember reading the Belgariad and then going to visit him in the store where he still checked groceries and being so amazed that this man had written those books (and that he was still checking groceries!) It was a humbling and inspiring experience. I believe David Eddings went on to do rather well — but at the same time it was a nice introduction to the writer’s life.”
  • Featured in the PNBA Holiday Catalog (Best of the Northwest)
  • Video Interview at Library Journal
  • Benjamin Parzybok
  • ISFDB | Wikipedia | Library Thing | Goodreads
  • Find Couch in a library near you.
  • Competition winners
  • Ben was on tour in late 2008 and early 2009. If you missed it, download the  Tour Flier (PDF).
  • An interview about Gumball Poetry.


  • Cover art © Andi Watson.
    Download cover for print.
  • Author photo © Laura Moulton.

King & Russo

Fri 7 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Last night we went to see “The Odyssey Bookshop and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts present A Conversation with Stephen King and Richard Russo moderated by Joe Donahue, host of ‘The Roundtable‘ on WAMC” at the Chapin Auditorium at Mount Holyoke College. The event raised more than $18,000 for the Food Bank and the Odyssey—one of our great local(ish) bookshop—gave them a huge check which made everyone laugh. We also supported local coffee roaster Pierce Roasters (mm, cookies) as they were donating all monies to the Food Bank. Odyssey are celebrating their 45th anniversary, not bad! Next week Rosamond Purcell is coming and the week after it’s Amitav Ghosh. Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies is the next title in their First Edition Club, which has more than 250 members. Wow.

Anyway: King and Russo were great fun. There were 900 people and the mics were acting up so there was some technical (and other) monkeying around (as well as some spooky feedback), but for the most part it was two pros talking about writing and the writing life.  They talked about novels vs. short stories (King’s new book is a collection, Just After Sunset) and about grounding work in the everyday details. Richard Russo (Bridge of Sighs just came out in pb) talked about something he’d been told, “You can’t jump from air to air,” which seemed to catch something right about writing. Joe Donahue (we will get one of our authors on that show!), the moderator, was very good, too. At the end he asked them a question he isn’t allowed to ask on public radio, “What’s your favorite curse word?” King talked about colloquialisms (“I wouldn’t give a tin shit for that”). Gales of laughter.

It was most excellent to see so many people at the reading. Both King and Russo signed books. The bookstore had numbered the tickets so that readers came up in blocks of 50. There are famously fast signers out there but Stephen King is up there with them, it took maybe an hour to reach our tickets, which were numbered in the 400s.

Kelly in France

Thu 6 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Wonderful news from France: La Juene Detective et Autres Histoires Estranges received the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Nouvelle Etrangere. The translator, Michelle Charrier, also won an award:

4) Nouvelle étrangère
La Jeune détective et autres histoires étranges (recueil) de Kelly Link (Denoël)

6) Prix Jacques Chambon de la traduction
Michelle Charrier pour La Jeune détective et autres histoires étranges (de Kelly Link) (Denoël)

Everything about this edition is great: the story titles (“Plans d’urgence antizombies”), the cover, everything. It’s a mix of stories from Kelly’s first two collections and it means that Pretty Monsters will probably come out over there soon.

There’s a new interview with Kelly in BoldType:

BT: What was the first story that truly scared you?

KL: . . . My sister and I both loved a picture book called Teeny Tiny and the Witch Woman. There was a drawing of a house in a forest surrounded by a fence made of human bones, and another drawing of the witch’s long, long fingers reaching out toward the bed where Teeny Tiny was supposed to be sleeping. We spent a lot of time poring over those pages. There was another picture book written and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer, called The Beast of Monsieur Racine, and we loved finding all of the bizarre details in the illustrations — a man with an axe stuck in his head in a crowd scene; a woman with a green face.

Green Man Review likes Pretty Monsters and Amazon chose it as one of the Best Teen Books of ’08.

Free Obama stickers

Thu 6 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

obama coffee stickersBlogged at Bookslut about David Erik Nelson’s fabby stickers and now Move On are giving some away:

Want a free Obama sticker to celebrate our victory? It’s designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic HOPE poster. And MoveOn’s giving them away totally free–even the shipping’s free. I just got mine. Click this link to get your free Obama sticker:

The future is here

Thu 6 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

This is an amazing time to be alive. President Barack Hussein Obama. Yay! As Alisdair Gray quotes in many of his books: “Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”

Boo to California (and Florida and Arizona) for officially being Anti-Love States.

Some other things:

  • Christopher on spelling (and it makes us all weepy).
  • Jack is fascinated that Rahm Emanuel’s “brother is Ari Emanuel, the real-life inspiration for Ari Gold, the Hollywood agent played by Jeremy Piven on HBO’s Entourage.”
  • NYTimes on an Ecuadorian cocoa-growing coop that apparently makes great chocolate bars under the Kallari name. You can bet we are going to try this. (Ecuador is on our minds these days.)
  • Read a great science fiction YA novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go, which won the Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize. It has a very old-school (think John Wyndham, Heinlein, The Giver) set-up with a boy growing up in a village cut off from outside contact. As the world gets filled in it becomes clear that things have not gone well on this recently-settled world. Also: talking dogs! (To paraphrase: “Todd. Todd. Need a poo, Todd.”)
  • Jenny on Armitage Mondays.
  • PW looks at two presses we like a lot: Featherproof Books and Two Dollar Radio and the idea that indie presses can make beautiful objects that are also books.
  • Speaking of Two Dollar Radio, we both get a little bit of love in the latest issue of Details, sadly not from cover boy Keanu Reaves, but lovely to get a shout out along with Two Dollar and the magnificent Dalkey Archive. Is this the first time John Crowley (or at least one of his books) has appeared in Details?
  • The new LCRW is in the process of being assembled (a leg from here, and arm or three from there) and let’s just say how much fun it is to get a great nonfiction piece from Ted Chiang.

Don’t know why this version of WordPress hates pictures being aligned and insists on them being freestanding. Oh well.

Updated: King Rat made us check the html—this visual editor is weird. The image above has a weird “float” tag, so changed that and it went in on the right ok. The one below, the lovely Two Dollar tattoos (they’re real: see them at the Indie Press Book Fair in NYC in December) can stay where it is.

On voting today

Tue 4 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Thanks to everyone who bought books from Small Beer Press and helped us donate money to the Obama Campaign. We donated $539, $138.60, $144.80, $30, for a total of $852.40. Thank you.

Living in Northampton, Mass., our votes don’t really matter. Obama won this town in the state primaries and will win it again. The state will mostly vote for the Democratic party and John Kerry, despite his utterly useless campaign 4 years ago, will get re-elected. The next couple of years don’t look pretty here. The state is making cuts, the city is making cuts, our local hospital is letting go 75 people today. No one is expecting that in an Obama presidency great things will happen immediately (apart from the great thing of him being elected) but everyone knows that he is a much better choice than 4 more years of McCain/Bush.

It won’t make a difference, yet everyone knows voting matters. So this morning we walked down to the voting station at the local elementary school. We had our water bottles and something to read in case there was a queue. We were ready to wait in line (thanks Gwenda) to make our marks and take part in this amazing day.

Voting goodiesBut there was no wait. There were two voting booths open and we took them. In all it took maybe five minutes to get in and out the door—and that includes a couple of minutes wandering up and down the bake sale fundraiser for the defense department (now that all the government monies are being redirected to education and health, wait, maybe that happens next week, so maybe this was a fundraiser for the school).

We did our part for them (that apple walnut bar was verrry good) and ate our chili and corn bread outside basking in the late autumn sun and enjoying the sound of the kids chanting “Obama!” How about you? How was your vote?

Poets in the world

Mon 3 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

From an interview with Dana Gioia about the Big Read, Ursula Le Guin, etc., at the Clarion blog (via Locus):

Q. You have recently announced that you will be leaving the NEA in January, although both parties seem to want you to stay. Looking back, what do you hope people will see as your legacy at the NEA?

Gioia: I hope I am remembered as a good writer who put his own work aside for six years to help heal his country’s culture in a dark and divisive time. It’s important for a nation to have a few poets in its history who have played a role in civic life.

On Voting

Mon 3 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Democracy is an experiment that changes with the times. If the people choose not to vote, it opens the door to a different system of government—something I’d rather not see.

I don’t believe in the Electoral College and I don’t agree with many people who will vote tomorrow but damned if I don’t believe everyone has a right to vote. In fact, I’d rather it were like Australia here and people had to vote. If I were king (or President, I suppose) I’d go further and declare the first Tuesday in November a Federal Holiday—who doesn’t need a holiday before winter comes in?

Please vote. It is a right that few people now or ever have had.

Thanks Colleen.

Win a copy of Couch

Sun 2 Nov 2008 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A little fun to keep us going this month:

  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 and we will send a couple of winners copies of Couch and maybe some other books.

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 23

Sat 1 Nov 2008 - Filed under: LCRW | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

stapled ·  8.5 x 7 ·  60pp · $5 · Available from Microcosm.

Made by Gavin J. Grant, Kelly Link, Jedediah Berry, Kendell Diane Richmond, Michael J. DeLuca, Sara Majka, Danielle Baldassini, and Anna Brenner.


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”

Ted Chiang, “The Problem of the Traveling Salesman”

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

Abby Denson, “Jingle Love”


Kevin Huizenga


“Carruthers, put that bloody thing down. I think I heard a …”

About the Authors

Kirstin Allio‘s novel Garner (Coffee House Press) was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award for First Fiction. She was selected one of “5 Under 35” writers to watch (and hopefully read) by the National Book Foundation. She lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband and sons.

William Alexander lives in the middle and writes on the side. This particular story is dedicated to Kelly, both of them, the sister and the author and the editor. His stories have appeared in Zahir, Weird Tales, and Postscripts, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008. He contributes to Rain Taxi Review of Books.

Jedediah Berry‘s debut novel, The Manual of Detection, comes out in February 2009 from The Penguin Press.

Christa A. Bergerson is a guardian of Nature and all of her wondrous inhabitants, even those who writhe betwixt the veil. In twilight hours, she finds pleasure traversing the wilds of Illinois and beyond. She is a Luddite, a bibliophile and suffers from occasional bouts of Chronophobia. Her poetry has appeared in Quantum Pulp, The Candor, Open Ways, Faerie Nation Magazine, and Balticon 42. She was a finalist in The Mattia Family 11th International Poetry Competition. Her poem “Sekhmet Upon the Horizon” garnered third place in the 2008 B.S.F.S. Poetry Contest.

Ted Chiang is a mild-mannered reporter by day, but at night he dons a costume and commits crime. Or fights crime. Or is a victim of crime. History will be the judge.

Abby Denson is a cartoonist and rock’n’roller in NYC. She is the creator of Tough Love: High School Confidential, Dolltopia, and Night Club, among others. She has scripted Powerpuff Girls and comics for Nickelodeon. She has webcomics on and a dessert comic column in The L Magazine.

Daniel Lanza was born and raised in Northern California, but currently resides across country while he finishes a Masters in Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. His work has appeared in Toasted Cheese Literary Quarterly and Zephyr. Like half the known world, he is currently at work on a novel. He is also collaborating on a graphic novel which will, at some point, have a website.

Kat Meads‘s most recent book publication is a novel, The Invented Life of Kitty Duncan (Chiasmus Press). She lives in California.

Chris Nakashima-Brown lives in Austin, TX. His most recent story is in the anthology Fast Forward 2.

Kim Parko is a writer, visual artist, and seasoned worrier who lives in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and dog. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3rd bed, The Bitter Oleander, Caketrain, Diagram, and 5AM.

Mark Rich has two new fiction collections: Edge of Our Lives (RedJack) and Across the Sky (Fairwood). New stories are in Talebones, Tales of the Unanticipated, Zahir, and Analog. He is working on two books for McFarland, one on C.M. Kornbluth and what that author says about us, the other on Modern-century science fiction toys, and what they say about us. He and Martha Borchardt and Scottie Lorna, an avid squeak-toy aficionado, live in the Wisconsin coulee region.

Anna Sears is a writer/artist currently employed as a migrant holiday store worker in Staten Island, NY. She hopes to settle down soon and adopt a cat.

Angela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer studying for a PhD in Creative Writing. Her stories have appeared in Shimmer, ONSPEC, Strange Tales II, and Twelfth Planet’s 2012. Three of her stories gained honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 20; her story “The Angel Wood” was short-listed for the Aurealis Award, and she was short-listed for the Ditmars Best New Talent award in 2008.

Jodi Lynn Villers has her MFA from North Carolina State University. She lives in downtown Raleigh with a beagle named Turtle and has written a novella about a rehabilitation camp for girls who have killed their parents. Her short-shorts have also appeared in Staccato and Quick Fiction.

Susan Wardle is a graduate of Clarion South. Her fiction has been published in the Shadow Box e-anthology, Overland, Andromeda Spaceways, Antipodean SF, Fables & Reflections, Shadowed Realms, Ticonderoga Online, and The Outcast to name a few. Susan currently lives between Sydney and the South Coast (Australia) and spends her daylight hours (and some of her night time hours) working for local government.

Alex Wilson writes fiction and comics in Carrboro, NC. His work has appeared/will appear in Asimov’s, The Rambler, Weird Tales, The Florida Review, Outlaw Territory II (Image), and elsewhere. He runs the audiobook project Telltale Weekly and publishes the minicomic/zine Inconsequential Art.

Nick Wolven‘s short fiction has appeared recently in Asimov’s and Paradox. He lives in Brooklyn.

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No.23, A Celebration, November 2008 (but actually December—and very much looking forward to January 20, 2009). ISSN 1544-7782. Text in Bodoni Book. Titles in Imprint MT Shadow. Since 1996, LCRW has usually appeared in June and November from Small Beer Press, 150 Pleasant St., Easthampton, MA 01027 · [email protected] ·

Subscriptions: $5 per single issue or $20/4. Please make checks to Small Beer Press. Library and institutional subscriptions available through EBSCO. LCRW is available as an ebook through,, and, and as a trade paperback from

Contents © the authors. All rights reserved. Submissions, requests for guidelines, & all good things should be sent to the address above. No SASE: no reply. Printed by Paradise Copies, 30 Craft Ave., Northampton, MA 01060. 413-585-0414.

Thanks for reading.

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