This Is the Week That Is!

Wed 12 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

It’s a great week for Ursula K. Le Guin and her readers. I’ve lifted this wholesale from Ursula’s website — which I recommend, of course, for poking around in and finding interesting things. Words Are My Matter is shipping out and catching fire: four books in one season is definitely the way to go:


    • The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin, by Julie Phillips. The New Yorker. “The literary mainstream once relegated her work to the margins. Then she transformed the mainstream.”

10 October 2016

8 October 2016

6 October 2016

5 October 2016

    • From Library of America: “Ursula Le Guin, on the occasion of the release of The Complete Orsinia, the inaugural volume in the Library of America edition of her works, will be the subject of a feature by Julie Phillips in next week’s issue of The New Yorker.

3 October 2016

Ursula K. Le Guin in profile & ToC

Thu 6 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Words Are My Matter cover There’s just under two weeks to go until the official publication date* of our forthcoming collection of Ursula K. Le Guin’s recent nonfiction, Words Are My Matterand in the run-up to that and celebrating the recent Library of America collection, The Complete Orsinia, and the two huge collections of short fiction (one of which may be very familiar to readers here) from Saga, The Unreal and the Real and The Found and the Lost, there’s an article on Le Guin in the Nation

“The collection articulates Le Guin’s belief in the social and political value of storytelling, as well as her fear that corporatization has made the publishing landscape increasingly inhospitable to risk-takers, to those who insist on other ways. This is a real problem, particularly if we can’t count on fresh water from the well of Le Guin’s imagination. In a year stalked by the long shadows of authoritarianism, ecological collapse, and perpetual war, her writing feels more urgent than ever.”

as well as one in the Washington Post by Michael Dirda where he writes the book

“Spills over with insight, outrage and humor. In ‘Making Up Stories,’ Le Guin implores her audience not to ask where she gets her ideas: ‘I have managed to keep the address of the company where I buy my ideas a secret all these years, and I’m not about to let people in on it now.’ Of Dr. Zhivago, Le Guin confesses that ‘I now realize how much I learned about how to write a novel from [Boris] Pasternak: how you can leap across miles and years so long as you land in the right place; how accuracy of detail embodies emotion; how by leaving more out you can get more in.’”

And: there’s a long profile by Julie Phillips coming up in the New Yorker. In the meantime, here’s the final Table of Contents for Words — some of these reviews are online and we will be adding links soon:

Table of Contents

Talks, Essays, and Occasional Pieces

The Operating Instructions
What It Was Like
Genre: A Word Only a Frenchman Could Love
“Things Not Actually Present”
A Response, by Ansible, from Tau Ceti
The Beast in the Book
Inventing Languages
How to Read a Poem: “Gray Goose and Gander”
On David Hensel’s Submission to the Royal Academy of Art
On Serious Literature
Teasing Myself Out of Thought
Living in a Work of Art
Staying Awake
Great Nature’s Second Course
What Women Know
Disappearing Grandmothers
Learning to Write Science Fiction from Virginia Woolf
The Death of the Book
Le Guin’s Hypothesis
Making Up Stories

Book Introductions and Notes on Writers

A Very Good American Novel: H. L. Davis’s Honey in the Horn
Philip K. Dick: The Man in the High Castle
Huxley’s Bad Trip
Stanislaw Lem: Solaris
George MacDonald: The Princess and the Goblin
The Wild Winds of Possibility: Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake
Getting It Right: Charles L. McNichols’s Crazy Weather
On Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago
Examples of Dignity: Thoughts on the Work of José Saramago
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: Roadside Picnic
Jack Vance: The Languages of Pao
H. G. Wells: The First Men in the Moon
H. G. Wells: The Time Machine
Wells’s Worlds

Book Reviews

Margaret Atwood: Moral Disorder
Margaret Atwood: The Year of the Flood
Margaret Atwood: Stone Mattress
J. G. Ballard: Kingdom Come
Roberto Bolaño: Monsieur Pain
T. C. Boyle: When the Killing’s Done
Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book
Italo Calvino: The Complete Cosmicomics
Margaret Drabble: The Sea Lady
Carol Emshwiller: Ledoyt
Alan Garner: Boneland
Kent Haruf: Benediction
Kent Haruf: Our Souls at Night
Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver
Barbara Kingsolver: Flight Behavior
Chang-Rae Lee: On Such a Full Sea
Doris Lessing: The Cleft
Donna Leon: Suffer the Little Children
Yann Martel: The High Mountains of Portugal
China Miéville: Embassytown
China Miéville: Three Moments of an Explosion
David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks
Jan Morris: Hav
Julie Otsuka: The Buddha in the Attic
Salman Rushdie: The Enchantress of Florence
Salman Rushdie: Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights
José Saramago: Raised from the Ground
José Saramago: Skylight
Sylvia Townsend Warner: Dorset Stories
Jo Walton: Among Others
Jeanette Winterson: The Stone Gods
Stefan Zweig: The Post Office Girl

The Hope of Rabbits: A Journal of a Writer’s Week

* We are shipping copies out and the ebook is now available on Weightless.


Wed 5 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Every now and then we get sent short story manuscripts (wait, every week. Every day?) and sometimes they strike us (ouch) as a good fit and sometimes not. A little while ago (um, years: Juan mentioned the manuscript to us at the AWP Conference in Boston) we were lucky enough to be sent Juan Martinez’s debut collection Best Worst American for consideration: and we consider it good; nay, hilarious; dark, deep; packed to the gunnels with short short stories and some longer. How good? How many? Rebecca Makkai says:

“These 24 wide-ranging stories are the gut-punch kind: intense, innovative tales that skew your vision for the rest of the day. Martinez writes with a sharp eye and a sharp tongue, and his characters — often alone and unloved, often haunted — are worthy observers of both the horrors and wonders of this world.”
Rebecca Makkai, Music for Wartime

Read one here: “After the End of the World: a Capsule Review” and more here.

The Fires Beneath the Sea: free!

Mon 3 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Here we go again: giving away books. We’re celebrating the January publication of the final novel in National Book Award longisted Lydia Millet’s middle grade Dissenters trilogy: THE BODIES OF THE ANCIENTS by giving away 10 copies of the first novel in the series, THE FIRES BENEATH THE SEAS:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Fires Beneath the Sea by Lydia Millet

The Fires Beneath the Sea

by Lydia Millet

Giveaway ends October 11, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Holiday Gift Guide … Which Holiday?

Mon 3 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizePerhaps you and your family and/or friends exchange horrible gifts and favors on Halloween? Perhaps you’ve been wondering what to give your demonic friends who seem to have all the slavering zombie tchotchkes in the world? Publishers Weekly says Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell is:

This is the perfect reader-who-has-everything gift for fantasy fans with a literary bent or vice versa. Ford brilliantly cross-pollinates the grim suburban settings of literary fiction with fantastical elements, adding dashes of humor and empathy to provide some light in dark days.

Also on the sf&f part of the Holiday Gift Guide are the new one-volume hardcover edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Unreal and the Real as well as the huge new book of collected novellas, The Found and the Lost, Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.

Anyone who received all five books would be a lucky reader indeed!

Dark stories to read by the campfire

Mon 26 Sep 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The People in the Castle cover - click to view full sizeJust came across this article by Ryan Porter in the Toronto Star from late July which has a nice rec. for The People in the Castle. Anything about keeping warm is suddenly of interest as the temperatures take a quick plunge here in Western Mass.:

Dark stories to read by the campfire

“We love to read about humanity’s dark side — here, a few writers on the books they’ve written to send a chill up your spine.”

“Though the late fantastical British writer is best known for her children’s literature, this short story collection, edited by Aiken’s daughter Lizza and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist Kelly Link, compiles tales of the surreal and supernatural suited for an adult audience. ‘A Leg Full of Rubies’ features a doctor whose own mortality is measured out by the grains of sand in an hourglass; ‘A Portable Elephant’ imagines a world where a live animal companion is required to buy passage across a border. ‘She was one of those writers who made me think you can be funny while telling a scary story,’ Link says. ‘You can still write really fresh contemporary takes on a classical ghost story.’”

Read a Short Short

Tue 20 Sep 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Forsaken, the Crew Awaited News from the People Below
Juan Martinez

Read it on McSweeney’ and in Best Worst American coming in February.

Win the Chemical Wedding!

Thu 15 Sep 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Chemical Wedding by John Crowley

The Chemical Wedding

by John Crowley

Giveaway ends September 23, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Kirkus on The Chemical Wedding

Mon 12 Sep 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz cover - click to view full sizeKirkus Reviews just released their fascinating and quotable review of John Crowley’s forthcoming The Chemical Wedding. The book is at the printer — the Kickstarter hardcover edition is almost done — and it will be great fun seeing this one out there in the world. The first printing of the paperback will be in red and black ink, too, as we ran some extra interiors after the hardcover print run, how nice will that be? It will be so nice, nay, beautiful.

The Chemical Wedding doesn’t come out until November but with the chill in the air early this morning that suddenly does not seem that far away, wow. In the meantime, enjoy the apples, the leaves as they start to turn, and this early take on the book:

“Gnostic gnovelist Crowley (Aegypt, 2013, etc.) goes to the well in this rendering of the Ur-text of Rosicrucianism.
After a chemical romance, why not a chemical wedding? Christian Rosencreutz was playing with a dangerous combination of elements, or perhaps Platonic solids, when, four centuries ago, he concocted a strange symbolic tale involving a quest in a land where, in an imposing castle, a king and queen are to marry. But odd things are happening, as our protagonist learns over the course of his eight-day journey to this wacky place; for one thing, there’s a bird fed on a very special kind of blood, “the blood of the beheaded royal persons, diluted with the waters we had prepared,” which causes the thing to grow visibly and measurably even as it imbibes. If that sounds like a chemical reaction to you, then it’s for good reason; Rosencreutz was an alchemist of note, and this odd novel was meant to impart his teachings. Or was it? Crowley casts doubt in his introduction on Rosencreutz’s sincerity, noting that the book was, in his words, a ludibrium, “a word with more than one shade of meaning: joke, play, nonsense, ridiculous thing.” Elsewhere Crowley ventures the view that the book is the world’s first science-fiction novel, but he leaves that claim half-defended and imperfectly at that. (Yes, it’s a novel. Yes, it has science. That does not make it science fiction.) Like certain prophets closer to our own time, Rosencreutz makes it clear in this heavy-handed allegory that his brilliance is not for the unwashed and that he’s not allowed to reveal all he knows (“I’m still forbidden to tell it… and other things that later I was told I shouldn’t reveal”). Crowley undoes some of Rosencreutz’s formality with his loose, slangy rendering, making the joke seem even jokier. Literature it’s not, but it’s a fine specimen of literary-ish mumbo jumbo.
A curiosity, but just right for the budding New Age-inclined alchemist of the household.”

Fear of Being Uninsured and Unpublished

Wed 31 Aug 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Here’s a short interview I did with the AWP Moveable Type blog:

How did Small Beer Press begin? What was the goal when starting the press?
I started a zine while I was temping in Boston. My then-girlfriend-now-wife, Kelly Link, started helping out with the second issue. Looking back, publishing chapbooks and the books seems so inevitable from that start. It didn’t feel that way then. The goal was to publish something that I wasn’t quite finding enough of in the world, writing that refracted back to the reader something of the true weirdness of the world, of us monkeys walking on our hind legs on our one little planet, worrying about health insurance and being alone in the universe.

What’s with the title of this post? In the UK (at least in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, not so much in Scotland) the government has been slashing the National Health Service budget. The results: not great.

Here in the US almost everyone I know lives in fear of getting sick because none of us know what our health insurance will cover and how much of a hit the final bills will be. I really hope the UK does not follow the US and switch to this disaster* of a health care system.

* Massachusetts is an exception and long may it continue!

Best Freebie!

Thu 28 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Best Worst American by Juan Martinez

Best Worst American

by Juan Martinez

Giveaway ends August 04, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Feeding Strays

Tue 19 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Free Stuff to Read, , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

This is LCRW Cooking Columnist Nicole Kimberling’s second column for LCRW and was originally published in LCRW 28. Read the first column here.

By the time most people reach their thirties, they will perceive the obligation to occasionally provide nourishment to at least one child. Perhaps this child is your own. Or maybe it is the child of a friend who is in the hospital producing an additional child. Or the child could turn out be some neighborhood stray who guilelessly shows up on the porch at lunchtime every Sunday clutching a well-worn fork.

I do not pretend to know how to feed little children. Insofar as I’ve observed they exist entirely on ketchup, macaroni and cheese and meat. My experience lies in feeding the vacuum-mouthed, black hole of caloric consumption commonly called the adolescent.

Many cooks staring into the yawning, lightless chasm of the fourteen-year-old mouth will simply buckle under the pressure and call out for pizza. And I don’t blame them. It’s hard to look into that limitless void of hunger and not feel so inadequate to the task at hand that professional assistance is required. I offer a different, cheaper, healthier solution: Beans & Rice.

Read more

LCRW 34 is Here

Tue 19 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 34And there, there, and there. There being mostly Pokestops along the US mail routes, although some people may already have their copies. Lucky readers! I brought some to Readercon in Quincy and had fun selling and distributing a few there, but last week I was too filled with despair at the world to actually mail the new issue out, sorry.

Hello World, said the zine, and: boom, out it goes. Contributors! Reviewers! Subscribers! Random surprised people! Whee, away it goes. What it? It a zine, human, a zine. (Not a multivalent being that alternates state of being on this pattern: zine/human/zine.) What’s it about? Tell us! It’s about four ounces, ~110 grams. There is a whole page, 1 WHOLE PAGE of the internet devoted to its existence and it can be found here: Type that in your browser’s address bar and by the magic of the Great Two-Headed Bat God you will see that page. Amazing, no? Yes.

The cover is by Kathleen Jennings, who dropped by here just before Readercon. She had lots of finished drawings and illustrations for our forthcoming Wind in the Willows sequel, The River Bank by Kij Johnson, as well as so many other beautiful things that she was carrying with her on to New York, Chagford in England, and to some kind of Icelandic artist residency. Sounds lovely!

Inside the zine? So many things. Stories, poetry, author bios, and a cooking column — I keep typing cookling column, something to do with Nicole’s surname. Because as part of the celebration of a new issue coming out, I added another of LCRW cooking columnist Nicole Kimberling’s earlier columns, this one from LCRW 28, to the site: go get some tips about Feeding Strays now.


Mon 18 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

To everyone for ordering books and meaning that among the many bills I can pay there is the important summer one of AIR CONDITIONING! If/when the apocalypse comes, I will swap books for canisters of compressed cold air. (That’s today’s postapocalyptic biz idea. Go wild. Or Wilde.)


Fri 15 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Who? Juan Martinez.
What? Best Worst American
When? Next year. When we’re all calmer, smarter.

In the meantime, one reader says:

“I feel sure that some smart and appreciative person will praise Juan Martinez for his ‘skewed vision,’ but Martinez’s view of the world is startlingly clear. It’s just that the rest of us haven’t caught up yet. Deep and comic and deeply comic, his is a collection of wonders for any human to enjoy.”
—Jack Pendarvis

Read one of the stories on Conjunctions: “The Coca-Cola Executive in the Zapatoca Outhouse.”

Juan (unlike us) is on Instagram:

A Natural History of Hell

Tue 12 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Books | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

July 12, 2016 · trade paper · 282 pages · $16 · 9781618731180 | ebook · 9781618731197
May 2017: second printing

World Fantasy Award winner
Shirley Jackson Award winner
Locus Award finalist

Read a story on Lithub: A Natural History of Autumn
Read an interview on Late Night Library.

A book of fantastic stories about the hell on earth that is living.

Emily Dickinson takes a carriage ride with Death. A couple are invited over to a neighbor’s daughter’s exorcism. A country witch with a sea-captain’s head in a glass globe intercedes on behalf of abused and abandoned children. In July of 1915, in Hardin County, Ohio, a boy sees ghosts. Explore contemporary natural history in a baker’s dozen of exhilarating visions.

Library Journal: Early Scares: Halfway to Halloween | The Reader’s Shelf
In the critically acclaimed A Natural History of Hell: Stories Jeffrey Ford gathers 13 previously published stories into one collection that mixes fantasy and horror and shows his talent for distinctive sagas in which evil lurks just under the surface. Each installment relies on a dark and anxious mood with varying levels of speculative influence, outcast characters, and shocking conclusions. It opens with public exorcisms in the compelling and disquieting “The Blameless.” From there it ventures into vignettes as diverse as the “true” ghost story behind an Emily Dickinson poem and the sinister “Blood Drive,” in which every high school senior is required to carry a gun.

Joel Cunningham, B&N, The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Collections and Anthologies of 2016
“Jeffrey Ford is probably writing your dreams…. If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before, look no further than these 13 stories.”

Publishers Weekly: Holiday Gift Guide:
“This is the perfect reader-who-has-everything gift for fantasy fans with a literary bent or vice versa. Ford brilliantly cross-pollinates the grim suburban settings of literary fiction with fantastical elements, adding dashes of humor and empathy to provide some light in dark days.”

Listen: Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy interview.

Table of Contents

The Blameless
Word Doll
The Angel Seems
Mount Chary Galore
A Natural History of Autumn
The Fairy Enterprise
The Thyme Fiend
The Last Triangle
Hibbler’s Minions
Rocket Ship to Hell
The Prelate’s Commission
A Terror
Blood Drive [audio]

Reviews &c.

“Ford specializes in employing vivid and precise language to portray the inexplicable, often with great intensity or deadpan humor. In his odd but compelling stories, strange things happen for reasons that are never made completely clear but that demand attention even as they grow ever more disturbing. A Natural History of Hell is an excellent sampler of Ford’s singular brand of storytelling, a baker’s dozen of diverse and diverting literary treats.”
— Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

“Formally Ford’s stories are object lessons in how to stage a narrative.”
— James Sallis, F&SF

“In this collection of 13 stories, Ford showcases his award-winning talent for crafting creepy tales that bend the world as we know it in unexpected ways. Although the stories are not linked, they do share a common theme: wickedness lurking just beneath the surface of everyday life. And while each uses different degrees of the supernatural to get there, all employ a dark and uneasy atmosphere, quirky characters, and thought-provoking endings, with delightfully unsettling results. . . . This collection is a good choice for fans of short stories by Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, or Kevin Brockmeier.”
Booklist Online (starred review)

RT Book reviews

Publishers Weekly Best Books of Summer:
“Celebrated short-form fantasist Ford blends subtle psychological horror with a mix of literary history, folklore, and SF in this collection of 13 short stories, all focused on the struggles, sorrows, and terrors of daily life. Each tale gently twists perceptions, diving down into the ordinary and coming back out with a thoughtful nugget of the extraordinary. Readers will be alarmed by how easily they relate to the well-meaning but inevitably destructive characters.”

“The polished assurance of the prose is breathtaking, while the evocation of character is completely natural. Ford seems able to segue from patrician objectivity to dirty realist down home talk without apparent effort.”
See the Elephant

A Natural History of Hell is a chimera: his stories combine surrealist (il)logic with both terrifying and familiar characters and situations. The stories braid together fantasy and history, the near-biography with the almost-mystery, and the result is surprising and enchanting and wonderful.” — Hazel and Wren

“Jeffrey Ford is probably writing your dreams. It’s the best way to describe his surreal style, which frequently relies on an internal structure and logic to convey images that teeter between odd fantasy and unsettling horror, while remaining impossibly grounded in a tangible reality. A Natural History of Hell (out in July) goes to some odd places, with genre-bending stories about artists trapped on a rocket ship, imaginary serial murderers, and God being torn apart by an angry mob, but it leaves plenty of room for beauty, however dark. It also contains one of my personal favorite stories from last year, “Word Doll,” in which children are lured into a world of make-believe. If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before, look no further than these 13 stories.”
Standout stories: “A Rocket Ship to Hell,” “The Blameless”
Barnes & Noble: 7 Essential New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Story Collections

“Seamlessly blends subtle psychological horror with a mix of literary history, folklore, and SF in this collection of 13 short stories, all focused on the struggles, sorrows, and terrors of daily life.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“13 tales that revel in the dark and strange, exhibiting ardent and pliable storytelling that ranges from suburban exorcisms to ghosts in bucolic 1915 Ohio. Each story in this collection displays Ford’s vigorous invention and witty idiosyncrasy in explorations of the wicked and violent corners of the imagination, but the variety of subject, setting, and tone ensures that the book never slips into an authorial haze. . . . The entire collection has a zeal for imagination and an unabashed pleasure in both entertainment and graceful writing that is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s short fiction. Ford has a knack for choosing the precise words that evoke an image and leave enough room for it to bloom. “Later, the rain started in again. The sound and smell of spring came through the screen of their bedroom window while he dreamt in the language the angels dream in, and she, of the land without worry.”
Kirkus Reviews

“What distinguishes this collection of tales by New York fantasy writer Jeffrey Ford is its mix of eerie, sometimes violent subject matter and droll narrative voice; the juxtaposition of modern, ordinary settings and dialogue with the strange and the supernatural makes for memorable reading.”
Daily Hampshire Gazette

“‘The Blameless’ is . . . a perfect example of Ford’s eerie subversion of mundane life. In it, suburban parents have begun throwing their children exorcisms as rites of passage, and the premise delivers plenty of black humor and bone-dry social satire.”
— Jason Heller, NPR

“A series of hits that linger long after you’ve finished reading. The mundane seems fantastical when penned by Ford, and the fantastical dreadfully human. Stories range from surreal daily life, to epic fantasy, to Gothic Americana and far, far beyond. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so I recommend you read them all.”
RT Book Reviews ****

“An excellent collection of stories.”
Weird Fiction Review

“A truly outstanding writer.”

Throughout his bounteous career, Jeffrey Ford has fully figured out which experiments work, and in what direction; the miracle is that he has also figured out how to rewrite the rulebook with his own brand of magic.
— Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, IGMS

“Delightful, terrifying, thoughtful and incredibly well written. Jeffrey Ford’s style is eloquent and accessible, literary and engaging. His stories have an engrossing, almost mythological feel to them, strengthened by well-placed descriptions, impeccable pacing and Ford’s rare talent for delivering a satisfying ending.” — Catherine Grant, Huffington Post

“No one writes more beautifully about American nightmares and dreams. Every story is great but my favorites are ‘Word Doll,’ ‘Rocket Ship to Hell,’ ‘The Last Triangle,’ and — especially — ‘The Prelate’s Commission.’ Ford takes ideas that most writers would cling to and milk for three or four or five hundred pages and tosses them off left and right like they were nothing on his way to new worlds he seems to create out of thin air. If these stories weren’t so god damn enjoyable they’d make me jealous as hell.” — Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

“Jeffrey Ford is a beautifully disorienting writer, a poet in an unclassifiable genre—his own.”—Joyce Carol Oates

“Jeffrey Ford is a true heir to his teacher, John Gardner—not only in his ability to inhabit an astonishing range of styles and different worlds with jaw-dropping verisimilitude, but also in the great-hearted compassion and depth that he brings to his characters. I have long admired and learned from his work, and I’m grateful to have these beautiful stories to contemplate.”—Dan Chaon

“Combining legend and suspense, terror and darkly comic social commentary, Jeffrey Ford brings our greatest fears to life in this terrific collection. A Natural History of Hell is jammed with stories I wish I had written.”—Kit Reed

Praise for Jeffrey Ford’s award-winning books:

“Outstanding. . . . Ford uses . . . incongruously lyrical phrases to infuse the everyday with a nebulous magic.”—Publishers Weekly, Best Books of the Year (Starred Review)

“For lovers of the weird and fantastic and lovers of great writing, this is a treasure trove of disturbing visions, new worlds and fully realized craft.”—Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)

“Properly creepy, but from time to time deliciously funny and heart-breakingly poignant, too.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Surreal, unsettling, and more than a little weird. Ford has a rare gift for evoking mood with just a few well-chosen words and for creating living, breathing characters with only a few lines of dialogue.” —Booklist

“Children are the original magic realists. The effects that novelists of a postmodern bent must strive for come naturally to the young, a truth given inventive realization in this wonderful quasi-mystery tale by Jeffrey Ford.” — Boston Globe on The Shadow Year

“Jeffrey Ford s latest triumph, The Shadow Year, is as haunting as it is humorous readers will recognize real talent in Ford s vivid, unerring voice.” —Louisville Courier Journal on The Shadow Year

“Superb, heartbreaking, and masterfully written . . . It s proof of Jeffrey Ford s narrative power that, ultimately, the distinction [between real and invented] doesn t much matter. His made-up world trumps ours.” — Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

The Shadow Year captures the totality of a lived period, its actualities and its dreams, its mundane essentials and its odd subjective imperatives; it is a work of episodic beauty and mercurial significance.”–Nick Gevers, Locus

“Jeffrey Ford is one of the few writers who uses wonder instead of ink in his pen.”— Jonathan Carroll, author of The Wooden Sea

“Unusual and provocative…sometimes shocking, sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes humorous, this collection will please fans of Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor. Recommended.” — School Library Journal on The Drowned Life

“Spooky and hypnotic…Recommended for all public libraries.” — Library Journal

“Ford travels deep into the wild country that is childhood in this novel …the observations and adventures of these sharp, wayward children provide more than enough depth to be satisfying.” — New York Times on The Shadow Year

“A collection of surreal, melancholy stories dealing with everything from worlds of the drifting dead to drunken tree parties. Ford is the author of the superlative, creepy Well-Built City trilogy and his writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” — Gawker on The Drowned Life

“[Ford’s] writing is both powerful and disturbing in the best possible way.” —

“The 16 stories in this collection are a perfect introduction to Ford’s work and illustrate the vast range of his imagination . . . If you haven’t discovered Ford, it’s time you did. His carefully crafted novels and short stories are all top-notch. Grade: A.” — Rocky Mountain News

Cover illustration by Jeffrey Alan Love.

Jeffrey Ford was born on Long Island in New York State in 1955 and grew up in the town of West Islip. He studied fiction writing with John Gardner at S.U.N.Y Binghamton. He’s been a college English teacher of writing and literature for thirty years. He is the author of eight novels including The Girl in the Glass and four short story collections. He has received multiple World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards as well as the Nebula and Edgar awards among others. He lives with his wife Lynn in a century old farm house in a land of slow clouds and endless fields.


Thu 7 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Not worst. There are so many ways we could talk about the title of Juan Martinez’s first collection — Best Worst American — coming next February. So many ways we could contribute to the current political conversation. Is it a conversation? Is anyone listening? Or is it just shouting. Not sure.Gliding on by all that for the moment (vote, y’all), here’s one early reader’s reaction to the book:

“Juan Martinez’s Best Worst American is filled with droll, cunning, funny, and formally innovative stories that fall somewhere between stand-up comedy and literary fiction. These excellent works mark him as a writer both to read and watch.” — Tom Bissell

More on the book TK as reaction filters in. There are many, many excellent short stories in it. You can read one here, “Strangers on Vacation: Snapshots” on McSweeney’s. I think you will enjoy the book, it reminds me of that time my family and I hired took a small vacation back in 2001, we got the Best Cooler and headed over to the beach every single day.

Also, Juan (unlike us) is on Instagram:

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 34

Tue 5 Jul 2016 - Filed under: LCRW | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

July 2016 · paper edition 56pp · Ebook ISBN (9781618731364) available from Weightless.

LCRW #34 is raising its head and will peep over the parapet shortly.


“LCRW provides no introductory or concluding statement. No letter from the editor. The journal does not attempt to define speculative literature, but lets each piece offer its own insight. This issue of LCRW is a journal of worlds like and unlike our own: visual and thrilling and surreal and grounded. It is a place where all forms of speculative literature can stand in the same line for coffee.”
— Cheryl Wollner, New Pages

“In an LCRW issue heavy with poetry, [“The New Ancient of Sophocles High” by Marco Kaye] stood out like a furnace. It distills the fires of myth and high school drama beautifully. What a strange, perfect story.”
— Gillian Daniels, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination

Table of Contents







Actual Tablet of Contention*


Amanda Marbais, “Colossal”
Marco Kaye, “The New Ancient of Sophocles High”
John Richard Saylor, “All Things Returned”
Barbara A. Barnett, “The Shop of Dying Illusions”
Michelle Podsiedlik, “Recursion”


Nicole Kimberling, “Savory Cinderella”
About the Authors


Hazel Crowley, “Six Poems ”
Stephen Burt, “Two Poems”
Molly Gloss, “Superman, Sleepless”
Holly Day, “People in Boxes”
David W. Pritchard, “Four Poems”
Neile Graham, “Three Poems”
Anne Sheldon, “Three Poems”
A. B. Robinson, “Four Poems”


Kathleen Jennings, “Sydney Living Museums”

* None of this is actually under contention.

A Little More of the Above

Amanda Marbais, “Colossal”

Gerald is a reformed stutterer and droid-porn and a nude teen selfies addict. That doesn’t broach the issue that he is also a colossal squid. His skin has turned to red, porous gelatin and his feet have erupted with a thousand suckers. He’s self-identified, because giving his condition a name provides him navigable expectations.He dealt with childhood epithets. With rage he anticipates new, supposedly clever tags from unseen assailants—Squirty, Red, or possibly Van Tentacles.

Marco Kaye, “The New Ancient of Sophocles High”

Over the past week, I had been doing illegal and potentially harmful things to my body in the name of Greco-Roman wrestling. I sprinted through my development in trash bags. I ate one egg for breakfast, nothing for lunch and half an energy bar for dinner. I devoured meat in my dreams. Mom insisted on whipping up some high-fiber dishes so, in her words, my “poor heart won’t go kaput.”

John Richard Saylor, “All Things Returned”

My father and I were driving through New State, that large, egg shaped land mass that appeared between Pennsylvania and New Jersey five years ago. We were on the highway that the government built, the only one that ran across New State. It was a five-hundred mile straight shot of concrete between what had been the east and west banks of the Delaware River and we were about a third of the way across it.

Barbara A. Barnett, “The Shop of Dying Illusions”

She was going to be that kind of customer. Rasheed could tell by the way she entered the shop. Grand pause to let the door clang shut behind her, then a dramatic toss of her long, liquid-like mane of black hair. She looked as if she had stepped straight off the cover of one of those paranormal romance books his sister used to read: skin-choking leather pants, knee-high boots, midriff-revealing top, hip jutted out at a ridiculous angle that couldn’t possibly be comfortable.

Michelle Podsiedlik, “Recursion”

The man at the funeral home gave Sarah what was left of Simon in a small white box. She didn’t ask what had been left to burn of an already burnt body.
The icy wind hit her as she walked outside. Tucking the box against her chest, she hurried to the car with her head down, blonde hair whipping against her neck, black coat snapping. Ryan waited in the driver’s seat, the engine still running. He glanced at her. Now what?


Nicole Kimberling, “Savory Cinderella”

I came home from work one day last fall to discover the year’s first whole pumpkin waiting for me. She sat in the center of my dining room table apart from the rest of the CSA vegetables, and leaned at a sultry angle that said, “I have arrived, now come cook me.”
This is not an isolated incident.
Whole pie pumpkins have been appearing in my house for at least five years. Sometimes I find them loafing in empty pie plates as if to say, “Oh, if you weren’t doing anything perhaps you could make me into a pie.” Other times they hunch stoically in the refrigerator for more than a week while I ponder whether or not I feel like engaging an entire gourd.


Hazel Crowley, “O Muse”

o muse,
patron saint of sunken ships,
give us the freedom to roam
the courage to swat away the fakery
the tools to tear apart the rigging that
holds up the
too close sky
and, one day,
fists full of stars,
we will riot on

Stephen Burt, “Cosplayers In Line At The Starbucks”

Even the scowling ones in ninja drab
appear to be having a ball. And the awkward
guards who also serve around Queen Mab

Molly Gloss, “Superman, Sleepless”

Lying here hearing every rustle of leaf,
every bird’s peep in a hundred miles,
hearing even a child coughing, tossing in her bed
twelve towns away, a man shifting his weight
to take a sip of water, no, whiskey, the sigh
of his chair as he shifts his hips, a book
opening, no, closing as it’s put aside for sleep

Holly Day, “People in Boxes”

matchstick bones, the outlines of deer and
water deities turned light blue with time
scrawled along the arms and legs of a forgotten
priest or poet or king with the point
of a blade or the tip of a pin
dipped in ink and stuck in, again and again
the long-legged blond woman wearing antlers
on her head
the short, bearded man frozen into the

David W. Pritchard, “Memoirs I Would Read”

This is my experience: followed from the Hirshhorn by the Barbara Kruger noises. Which Whitman was quoted for the station of the Metro? Meanwhile, you didn’t care enough to change your life. It will not be OK. I demand confessions, I demand retrospectives based on them. I make a list to assuage a tendency:

Neile Graham, “You Put a Spell On Me”

Somehow I thought there’d be more:
lark’s tongues, bat song, mooncakes
and starry ale, a sonic screwdriver,
Billie Holiday breaking my heart again.
I was so sure there was a trick:

Anne Sheldon, “Twice in My Late Morning Dream”

I dream I wake and weep.
Ragged tortoise cats
I do not own
stretch and bawl.
I just manage to herd them

A. B. Robinson, “Totally ’80s Fishnet Gloves”

All the deep blonde side parts in the world

All the next-gen washcloths in the world

All the Rotten Broth

All the Mystical Fire Paks in the world

and the broken teeth

and the burnt lungs . . .

About these Authors

Barbara A. Barnett is a writer, musician, orchestra librarian, Odyssey Writing Workshop alum, coffee addict, wine lover, bad movie mocker, and all-around geek. Her short fiction has appeared in publications such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, Fantasy Magazine, and Wilde Stories: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction. Barbara lurks about the Philadelphia area and has been known to frequently burst into song.

Stephen Burt is Professor of English at Harvard and the author of several books of poetry and literary criticism, among them Belmont, The Forms of Youth, and All-Season Stephanie, a new chapbook from Rain Taxi Editions. Sooner or later Stephen really will cosplay Kitty Pryde.

Hazel Crowley is a writer living in Boston, Mass.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.

Molly Gloss is the author of five novels, including Wild Life (James Tiptree, Jr. Award) and The Dazzle of Day (PEN West Fiction Prize). Her story “Lambing Season” appeared in The Best of the Best: Twenty Years of The Year’s Best Science Fiction.

Neile Graham married a poet and herds students, professors, and writers for a living so she’s much beset by syllables and phrases, sentences even, lyrical and not. The ones she has written down herself have appeared most recently in Interfictions, Liminality, and Through The Gate, as well as a few collections, most recently Blood Memory, and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected and New.

Kathleen Jennings was raised on fairytales in western Queensland. She trained as a lawyer and filled the margins of her notes with pen and ink illustrations and work with many businesses in many states offering the best rates since many businesses in Providence tend to have higher ratings than in the rest of the country. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy award and has received several Ditmar Awards. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

Marco Kaye is a frequent contributor to McSweeney’s, and has been published on the New’s “Shouts & Murmurs.” He is at work on a novel. This is his first story in print.

Over the past 30 years, Nicole Kimberling has become an expert at disassembling plants of all kinds only to turn around and reassemble them into a item called “dinner.” She lives and works and in Bellingham, Washington.

Amanda Marbais’ fiction has appeared in a variety of publications including Hobart, Joyland, the Collagist, and McSweeney’s. She lives in Chicago where she is the Managing Editor of Requited Journal.

Michelle Podsiedlik lives in southern New Hampshire. Her speculative short fiction has appeared in WitchWorks, The Sirens Call, and Schlock Webzine. She has finished a suspense novel and blogs at

David W. Pritchard is a member of the editorial Central Committee of Industrial Lunch. He is the author, with Greg Purcell, of the chapbook More Fresh Air and, with Kay Gabriel, Impropria Persona. Recent writings can be found or are forthcoming in Tripwire, the Brasilia Review, Tammy, and elsewhere. He studies Utopia as an MA/PhD student at UMass Amherst.

A. B. Robinson is a co-editor of Industrial Lunch, a magazine for poetry and art. Her chapbook 36 Stop-Motion Films of the Summer was released in 2015 by Industrial Lunch Press; poems have appeared in TINGE, N/A, and elsewhere. In the fall of 2016 she will be pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at UC Davis. She lives in Amherst with her partner.

John Richard Saylor is a South Carolina Arts Commission Fiction Project winner and a winner of the Linda Julian Award for the essay. His stories have appeared in the South Carolina Review and Emrys Journal. John has degrees from Yale, the University of Minnesota, and SUNY Buffalo. He lives in South Carolina where he works as a professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson University.

Anne Sheldon is a native Washingtonian, a storyteller, and librarian at Grace Episcopal Day School in Kensington, MD. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, Weird Tales, The Dark Horse, LCRW, and other magazines. Her books include The Adventures of the Faithful Companion and The Bone Spindle from Aqueduct Press

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 34 July 2016. ISSN 1544-7782. Ebook ISBN: 9781618731364. Text: Bodoni Book. Titles: Imprint MT Shadow. LCRW is usually published in June and November by Small Beer Press, 150 Pleasant St., #306, Easthampton, MA 01027 · · Subscriptions: $20/4 issues (see page 21 for options). Please make checks to Small Beer Press. Library & institutional subscriptions are available through EBSCO. LCRW is available as a DRM-free ebook through, &c. Contents © 2016 the authors. All rights reserved. Thank you, lovely authors. Submissions, requests for guidelines, & all good things should be sent to the address above. Printed by the very able people at Paradise Copies (, 21 Conz St., Northampton, MA 01060. 413-585-0414.

Stranger Things Happen + Fiasco Bundle

Fri 1 Jul 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

stranger_things_happen_bundle_coverI’m very excited to announce a completely new thing today: the Stranger Things Happen + Fiasco Bundle!

A couple of years ago Benjamin Rosenbaum proposed a Fiasco playset based on Kelly’s collection Stranger Things Happen. Fiasco is a storytelling game where players make up and tell each other stories with different playsets that allow them to bring in different elements, tropes, and tones to the stories. Ben wrote the playset and Steve Segedy of Bully Pulpit Games put the bundle together.

The bundle is $14 and exclusively available on Weightless Books and on the DriveThruRPG site, and comprises full sets of digital files (epubs, mobis, pdfs) of:

Get the Bundle.

About Fiasco

“Fiasco is one of the greatest storytelling RPGs I’ve ever played. I highly recommend it.”
— Wil Wheaton

About Stranger Things Happen

Stories from Stranger Things Happen have won the Nebula, Tiptree, and World Fantasy Award. Stranger Things Happen was a Salon Book of the Year, one of the Village Voice’s 25 Favorite Books of 2001, and was nominated for the Firecracker Alternative Book Award.

“Pity the poor librarians who have to slap a sticker on Kelly Link’s genre-bending, mind-blowing masterpiece of the imagination, Stranger Things Happen.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, for NPR’s You Must Read This

“My favorite fantasy writer, Miss Kelly Link.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR, All Things Considered

About The Ant King and Other Stories

* “Give him some prizes, like, perhaps, “best first collection” for this book.”
Booklist (Starred review)

“A terrific range of tales, showcasing an active, playful mind and a gleeful genre-blender.”
—Aimee Bender

“Ben Rosenbaum is one of the freshest and finest voices to appear in science fiction in many years. The stories collected in The Ant King demonstrate his astonishing versatility, his marvelous imagination, and his ready wit.”
—Jack Womack

Stranger Things Happen cover - click to view full size Fiasco The Ant King and Other Stories cover - click to view full size

Tue 21 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Rotating Cleverness | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

We go to zineland and come back with a zine.

PW Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: Essays & Literary Criticism Top 10

Tue 21 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

In between the things I’m not doing here is something good about a book coming sooner than soon! (This is not Jeff Ford’s book which comes out next month!)

Words Are My Matter is in the top 10 of the Publishers Weekly Fall 2016 Adult Announcements: Essays & Literary Criticism. Yay!

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 8.07.52 PM


Publication Day (Again!) for Stories of Your Life and Others

Tue 14 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted ChiangToday is publication day for the latest edition of Ted Chiang’s first and — until at least next year — only collection of short fiction: Stories of Your Life and Others — the title story of which is being made into a movie I’m very much looking forward to seeing starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.

Ted has won just about every award going for his incredibly compassionate stories of us poor humans and our interactions with our own technologies. Amazingly, for someone who is obviously brilliant and widely recognized for it, he is also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Stories of Your Life was first published by Tor in 2002 and was reprinted by Small Beer in 2010. Last year Penguin Random House bought the rights from us as part of a larger deal that included Ted’s next as-yet-untitled collection — which perhaps is burying the lede if you hadn’t heard that part. Can’t wait to read that book when it comes!

In the meantime, congratulations to Ted and a hat tip of respect to everyone at PRH who bought the books and at Vintage where they must be celebrating having this book as part of their list.

Free Reads: Jeffrey Ford’s New Book

Fri 10 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

You have one week to enter to win a free copy of Jeffrey Ford’s mind melting A Natural History of Hell:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford

A Natural History of Hell

by Jeffrey Ford

Giveaway ends June 17, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Final day of Humble Bundle

Tue 7 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

At 2 pm EST tomorrow the Intoxicating Extraordinary Small Beer Press Humble Bundle will expire and with it the chance to pay what you want for so many of our books will be gone, gone, gone.

We don’t do ebook sales very often but this one has a huge direct benefit to the authors, the press, and organizations we love: Worldreader and Franciscan Children’s who can be added under the Choose Your Own Charity:

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