Wed 18 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., 2013, Alan DeNiro, Amalia Gladhart, Angelica Gorodischer, Greer Gilman, Howard Waldrop, Peter Dickinson, Sofia Samatar, Susan Stinson | Leave a Comment | Posted by: Gavin
Sometimes I miss Badreads, the community reading site that AFAIK closed down earlier this year. I haven’t yet really migrated to LibraryThing (there’s that part ownership thing) or any of the others. I certainly liked seeing what other people were reading and keeping up with what I was reading.
Now, who knows what I read? I barely do. Although I really enjoyed the most recent issue of Pen America. Not just because they reprinted two stories from Three Messages and a Warning either. The whole thing was great, from the forum on teaching writing (Dorothy Allison, Paul La Farge . . . and Elissa Schappel’s heartbreaking piece) to the poetry by Ron Padgett (“Advice to Young Writers”) and two graphic narratives (comics!) by the fab David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu (translated by none other than Edward Gauvin!) and Brian Evenson and Zak Sally. Anyway, you want a good magazine? Go read it.
I joined Pen a couple of years ago (teenage me: so proud!) and now Kelly’s a member, too. Are you a writer or editor? Do you care about intellectual freedom? If you can swing it, sign up here!
Ok, so, Small Beer: What have we been up to this fine year almost done and gone?
2 issues of LCRW! A record! Well, for recent years. We are planning 2 more for 2014. Phew!
A banner year for Weightless, yay!
And the New York Times just gave a great review to one of our final books of the year, Howard Waldrop’s new collection. I always think our books are so good that they all should be on NPR, in the WaPo, the LA, NY, St. Petersburg, Seattle, and London Times, etc., etc., so sometimes I surprised when they aren’t. I know: different strokes for different folks and all that, although really I think since all our books are so good they should overcome any reader prejudices. (“Short stories! Pah!”) The real reason they’re not reviewed anywhere? All the papers and magazines find it hard to justify reviewing half a dozen or more books from the same publisher. Right? Right!
BTW: if you would like to order Small Beer books (we have many signed copies!) to arrive in time for the holidays, please select Priority Mail. We are shipping until 5 pm on Thursday December 19th this year.
Here’s a picture of all the books we published this year and below, a little bit more about each book.
CRY MURDER! IN A SMALL VOICE
What, another chapbook? That’s two in two years! The last one we did was in 2004 (Theodora Goss) and the next one should be 2014. Woo! This one is a dark, dense and intense serial killer story with Ben Jonson, detective and avenging angel.
“A jewel of a novella.”—Strange Horizons
The darkest book I expect we will ever publish! Bleak? Check. Monsters? Check? Fabulous, fabulous writing? Check!
“Matched to his original ideas and refreshing refurbishments of genre set pieces, Ballingrud’s writing makes North American Lake Monsters one of the best collections of short fiction for the year.
“The beauty of the work as a whole is that it offers no clear and easy answers; any generalization that might be supported by some stories is contradicted by others. It makes for an intellectually stimulating collection that pulls the reader in unexpected directions. The pieces don’t always come to a satisfactory resolution, but it is clear that this is a conscious choice. The lack of denouement, the uncertainty, is part of the fabric of the individual stories and of the collection as a whole. It is suggestive of a particular kind of world: one that is dark, weird, and just beyond our ability to impose order and understanding. These are not happy endings. They are sad and unsettling, but always beautifully written with skillful and insightful prose. It is a remarkable collection.”
Flying out the door in our town (Broadside Books alone has sold 140+ copies!) and now all over the country. Jonathan Edwards, we hardly knew ye. Until Susan brought you and your family and your town back to life.
“Ultimately, ‘Spider in a Tree’ is a lesson in what not to expect. Stinson eludes the clichés usually associated with religious extremism to peel away the humans underneath. We speak of a loving God, who asks us to embark upon a deadly war. We most easily see the sins in others that we are ourselves guilty of. Every ambition to perfect ourselves has a very human cost. As we reach for what we decide is the divine, we reveal our most fragile human frailties. Words cannot capture us; but we in all our human hubris, are quite inclined to capture words.”
—The Agony Column
A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA
We still have a few hardcovers of this left, unlike most other places. Some reviewers have really got this book including Jane Franklin in Rain Taxi who just gave it a huge excellent review. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, it’s fantastic. Sofia sure can write.
“Sofia Samatar’s debut fantasy A Stranger in Olondria is gloriously vivid and rich.”
—Adam Roberts, The Guardian, Best Science Fiction Books of 2013
“For its lyricism, its focus on language, and its concern with place, it belongs on the shelf with the works of Hope Mirrlees, Lord Dunsany, and M. John Harrison — but for its emotional range, it sits next to books by Ursula K. Le Guin or Joanna Russ.”—Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi
Angélica Gorodischer. Translated by Amalia Gladhart.
Our second Gorodischer—and we have high hopes of a third and maybe even a fourth! This one is a discursive, smart, self aware science fiction. Don’t miss!
“Perhaps the strangest thing about these tales is how easily one forgets the mechanics of their telling. Medrano’s audiences are at first reluctant to be taken in by yet another digressive, implausible monologue about sales and seductions in space. But soon enough, they are urging the teller to get on with it and reveal what happens next. The discerning reader will doubtless agree.”
—Review of Contemporary Fiction
HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: STORIES
We keep getting letters from Waldrop fans who are so pleased he has a new book out: and that after 40 years he’s in the New York Times! Spread the joy!
“What’s most rewarding in Mr. Waldrop’s best work is how he both shocks and entertains the reader. He likes to take the familiar — old films, fairy tales, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas — then give it an out-of-left-field twist. At least half the 10 tales in his new collection are prime eccentric Waldrop . . . as he mashes genres, kinks and knots timelines, alchemizing history into alternate history. In “The Wolf-man of Alcatraz,” the B prison movie rubs fur with the Wolf-man; “Kindermarchen” takes the tale of Hansel and Gretel and transforms it into a haunting fable of the Holocaust; and “The King of Where-I-Go” is a moving riff on time travel, the polio epidemic and sibling love.
“Among the most successful stories is “The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode In On),” an improbable confluence of vaudeville (two of the main characters perform in a horse suit) and the Arthurian Grail legend that manages to name-check Señor Wences, Thomas Pynchon, “King Kong” and more as Mr. Waldrop tells of the Ham Nag — “the best goddamned horse-suit act there ever was.” It’s certainly the best horse-suit-act story I’ve ever read.”
—New York Times
TYRANNIA AND OTHER RENDITIONS
Alan’s second collection marries absurdity to with politics and heart. Every writer is unique. Alan? Alan is like a superhero made up of the best parts of half a dozen of our favorite writers. Read these two excerpts to see why: “Tyrannia”, Walking Stick Fires [excerpt].
“Most of Tyrannia‘s rambunctious, immensely entertaining stories — seven of them science fiction — blend bizarre speculations with intermittent humor. When there isn’t humor, there’s weirdness — often extreme weirdness, funny in its own right. Fair warning: what I’m about to describe might not always make sense. That’s in the nature of this highly unconventional collection.”
—Will George, Bookslut
We added Reading Group Questions to the former and the latter includes an author interview carried out by none other than Sara Paretsky. These two sort of mysteries are filled with bon mots, memorable characters, and the strangeness of the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s. There is nothing as haunting as the last line of The Poison Oracle.
“Dickinson’s crime novels are simply like no other; sophisticated, erudite, unexpected, intricate, English and deeply, wonderfully peculiar.”
—Christopher Fowler, author of The Memory of Blood