Saturday, April 30, 2011

Life With A Somebody Else's Cancer

My mother was first diagnosed in 2008. Since then, she has developed multiple tumors in her lungs, brain, and spine. Sometimes, I suspect I'm not being told all the gory details. But then again, I ask myself, how much do I really want to know those gory details?

However, the point is this: you get so used to "Emergency phone calls." You get so used to dire outlooks and grim prognoses, that part of you begins to wonder. It's like the "cry wolf syndrome." You begin to think that it will get better -- because, after all, it always does. Only, quality life suffers. I can tell you, without a doubt, my mother is not the same vibrant woman she was in 2005.

Then, the rug gets pulled out.

My mother is currently in the hospital with bleeding in within her brain.

If you subscribe to a religion, pray for her.

If you are agnostic or an atheist, keep her in your thoughts.

EDIT TO ADD: It's a hemorrhaging tumor, and a relatively new one. She's stabilized, but still in ICU. Nobody knows the long term outlook yet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

City of Catepillar

Amazing what you have in your iTunes for a LONG time and not know it. Love the discordant "Post-[insert genre name]" instrumentation.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How To Buy Leisure Books While Respecting The Dorchester Boycott

Forgive the content mill-ish title. Anyhow. Major mass market paperback house Leisure Books/Dorchester Publications has been in a death spiral for some time now, owing money to both their authors and a number of creditors. Recently, they have engaged in a number of shenanigans, like selling ebooks they no longer hold the publishing rights to.

This goes beyond horror, including also mystery and romance mmpb writers. A lot of writers haven't seen a royalty check in eons, and Dorchester as a whole has been dragging their feet on legally returning all publishing rights back to their rightful owners. In short, Leisure Books / Dorchester publishing has become as reliable as a some of the more fly-by-night print on demand small presses (like the one operated by notorious psychotic crank from just outside ofChicago, who lives in his grandmother's basement, cannot string a coherent sentence together and has a record of stalking mid-list and successful horror novelists). Yes, Leisure Dorchester has gotten THAT bad -- possibly even much more toxic, since a fall from grace is involved. For further information on why Dorchester/Leisure needs to be actively boycotted, further information can be found on Brian Keene's blog, as well as the Boycott Dorchester FaceBook page.

However, there is one major loophole to the boycott that needs pointing out. There is a way to buy Leisure Books' novels and collections while keeping your hard earned money out of their hands. First, lets go through a few caveats, first. If you really, really, really have to buy that Tim Lebbon paperback, do yourself and the author a favor. Go to their blog and website and see what is in print, what is out of print, and what is slated for reissue. Brian Keene, for example, recently signed a contract with Deadite to bring most of his back catalog back as trade paperbacks and ebooks. So, most of his books can be bought with him earning a royalty off of the purchase (if not now, then eventually).

Some Dorchester authors, however, have not been as fortunate as Keene, in terms of obtaining a rights reversion. So, there may not be any reissues in the near or immediate future, both on paper and in e-ink. Plus, there may be older titles, say from Dennis Etchinson or Rick Hautala, that have been actively out print. These books can still be bought, if you must absolutely have them.

Go visit your local used bookstore. The used book business is fundamentally different than the local Barnes and Noble. These businesses buy books off of readers for very little, mark the price up slightly, and then pocket all the profit. True, there are no royalties that go to the author, but none of the revenue goes to publisher either. On the surface, that may sound exploitative, but it actually isn't. Used bookstores are usually not thriving business at the moment, and you will not see their owners driving Bentleys anytime soon. Besides, used bookstores offer an extremely valuable cultural service.

First, it saves books from being pulped or crammed into a landfill, offering a novel a second, third, fourth or fifth reading life. For this reason, used bookstores are cultural repositories. For example, in a particularly good used book store, a shopper can leave with Sarah Pinborough titles, the collected poems of Anne Sexton and a number of titles of the decline and fall of Rome -- while spending under $20 total. Traditional bookstore frequently purge and pulp their lingering inventory to make space whatever bullshit New York City marketing geniuses think will sell!, sell!, sell! (Usually with abysmal results, too). Typically, used book stores also sell items that are long out of print -- want to find Robert Bloch novels?--here's where you go.

Besides, used book stores are a dying breed, unfortunately. Ever since the economy entered a vortex of shit in 2008, a good number of them have been going out of business. If you factor in online shopping and the rise of ebook, it's made it a lot harder many to stay afloat. I'm only going by observation in my part of New Jersey on this, as I've noticed the numbers here dwindling every few years.

So, if you absolutely must have a Dorchester/Leisure paperback, buy them at used bookstores. After all, the authors won't be getting the money either way. (Which is why you need to buy their reissues, if they have them). However, your local used bookstore also needs both your support and your patronage. This is just another reason to shop at one.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mahmoud Darwish -- Who Am I Without Exile?

So, what is read even less than contemporary Asian poetry in traslation? Contemporary Arabic poetry in translation. With that in mind, the late, great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yang Lian & Miyazawa Kenji

every tree beats against you
like a poem's wounded tributary

The phenomenon called "I"
is a blue illumination

Both of these poets remind me of something sad and slightly depressing, when it comes to poetry. America is a country where the cultural value of poetry, collectively speaking, is very low. Foreign poetry in translation is valued even lower. If we follow the race to the bottom of the ignored arts, then Asian poetry in translation is even lower than that of contemporary Europeans.

This might sound erroneous to some. After all, a reader can visit Barnes and Noble and see a variety of haiku anthologies in translation. If a reader is lucky, they can find a New Directions volume of Li Po or Tu Fu. Plus, an apt student of prosody would point out how classical Asian verse fueled the great American modernists like Pound and Williams. Still, there is relatively little or no attention paid to Chinese or Japanese language poetry from Twentieth Century going forward.

Both Kenji and Lian are great reminders that Modernism/Post-Modernism were not just American and European phenomenons.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting To Know Torchwood

I've watched about four episodes of Torchwood's first season. The verdict: MEH +, which means... not impressed, but I plan to keep watching and give it more time. Essentially, some shows -- especially sci-fi -- are rarely great in their first season. There's still a project of sorting out characters and creating a greater mythology to tap into. The above referenced cyberwoman episode seemed to me as a desperate attempt to cross Dr. Who with Star Trek TNG's The Borg. Seemed a little stale in execution.

The Most Horrific Poem Ever Written

Paul Celan's "Todesfuge" as read by Galway Kinnell. Not my favored translation, but I would never tell Kinnell that ...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jeffrey Thomas -- Rat Kings

Theodor Adorno once famously wrote, "Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." It's an idea that has long moved beyond Adorno in many ways.

Still, to shift the idea from poetry to genre horror fiction for a moment, extrapolating the thought is quite interesting. After all, how does one write horror fiction about the Holocaust? After all, the writer doesn't really have to do anything to make the subject of organized genocide any more disturbing or frightening. It's real horror without the writer putting any effort into it. Plus, the subject matter can get really tasteless rather quickly. In the hands of lesser talented writers, the Holocaust becomes cheapened--even as a flagrant, and talentless way of pulling at the reader's heartstrings. After all, it cheapens the real and historical evil and relegates it to "monster of the week" status.

So, it's always good to see a writer handle the material effectively. At least, that's what I thought when I recently read the Jeffrey Thomas' story "Rat Kings" in his collection AAAIIIEEE!!! (Granted, while I do greatly respect Thomas' work (what I've read so far, at least), I have to be the first to admit: that book title leaves a lot to be desired).

"Rat Kings" is the sort of story where the central monster is meant as a metaphor. Also, its also the sort of story that doesn't settle on mildly being deceptively ambitious. This is, essentially, a story that takes place next to massive graves, once the Germans have lost the war and the British have forced concentration camp guards to deal with the left over bodies. So, in many ways, "Rat Kings" holds nothing back. And still, it accomplishes what it sets out to do while still keeping the focus on character voice, growth and dynamics.

Andersen Prunty -- My Fake War

Andersen Prunty's My Fake War reads like an absurdist's response to the George W. Bush decade. It's a story about Saul Dressing, a fat and middle aged public library employee who is drafted into the United States of Everything's army. He is sent to a small unheard of country to provoke, and then declare, war. Only, when he gets there, Saul meets a lizard man named Bob. Eventually, Saul returns home on a flying robot that farts out flames -- only to find that his draft officer has taken up living in his house.

Essentially, this ebook starts out goofy and remains goofy all the way through. One can easily get a sense Prunty has a philosophical and political underpinning at work, especially with how the ebook ends. Still, as fun as this book is, it doesn't have some of the resonance of Prunty's other work.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


So, I went to my cousin Stephen's wedding today. In a sign of getting older (3 and1/2 years from 40), Stephen is my last cousin to get married. In short... likely the last relative of my mine to tying the knot.

Nothing big to report, other than it was fun, I ate too much, and limited myself to only three Heinekens. Oh, and I had to dance ... against my will! I have no rhythm, and my slow dancing skills have not progressed beyond junior high. It was also good to see my mother out of her house with a smile on her face -- even if in a wheelchair.

Nathaniel Lambert -- The Horribles

When it comes to genre fiction, writers often walk a line of explaining too much or too little about a monster's or villain's back story. Unfortunately, this usually comes at the price of the story's focal point: the lead character. Thankfully, Nathaniel Lambert skips this problem completely.

The Horribles from Grindhouse Press tells the story of Sheldon, an agoraphobic recluse. At an early age, he witnessed the brutal murders of his parents at the hands of strange bikers. As a adult, he is eventually forced to face those bikers again ... only, they're not exactly human. The story is a personal arc, of sorts, focused more on how Sheldon must change once he's forced out of his house by circumstance. Some readers may feel unsatisfied with how the mythology of the monsters is largely unexplored, but then again, this is Sheldon's story, not the bikers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Long Day...

Financially, this week has been a disaster. Not a lot of work. Lots of threatening phone calls from bill collectors.

Spent most of the day at my mother's helping take care of her. Besides a bit of wheezing when she sleeps, you can hardly tell she was rushed to the hospital a few days ago. Still, with a long term diagnosis like hers ... it's not saying much.

Her previous cancer medications gave her blood clots in the legs. And now, she can't walk. So, a good bit of my time there is spenting lifting from the sofa into her wheel chair, or lifting from the wheel chair to, or to, or to.... it's exhausting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Horror Poetry: Why The Hell Would You Want to Write That Shit???

While at Walmart, I started writing many things that I just never finished, due to be tired all the time and then being distracted by my mom's ongoing health situation. At one point, I was seriously thinking of writing a book about the use of the macabre in poetry -- a how-to writing book. I'm not sure if I'll ever get back to it. However, here are the first couple of pages....

Simply because you want to—that should be a good enough reason by itself. Poetry allows a certain level of creative freedom fiction cannot afford. A poem does not have to live and die by narrative rules, and you do not need to follow the rhetorical strategies found within an essay. Of course, you can employ both, but a successful poem can create its own system and rules, so long as one iron clad commandment is met: it has to work, successfully, on the page, and claiming that it needs to be read out loud is a cop-out, just like hiding behind “but it’s how I feel” is the mark of an amatuer. This is why good poetry can run from ancient alliterative narrative, like in Beowulf to Shakespeare’s rhyming pentameter and more post-modernist work, like what one would find in Charles Olson’s body of work. No one system of prosody is superior to another, especially if you take the different shapes and forms as different types of tools to be used. No self-respecting carpenter would ever suggest that every job can be completed with only a hammer. This is why no serious student of poetry should ever dismiss fragmentation over rhyme, or language abstraction in favor of metrical lines. Sure, some poets, like Marilynn Hacker have spent a career writing formal verse, while more experimental poets like Ron Silliman have spent their time pushing the boundries of language. This is not an argument against specializing in a certain type of poetry. Just like a carpenter would never do every job with a hammer, a very skilled cabinet maker wouldn’t take issue with somebody who spends most of their time working with a lathe. Craft is craft. And a craftsman can recognize solid workmanship, even if it is outside their day-to-day relationship with their own favored set of tools. In short, the vague sense of “what is poetry” can open a whole new universe of writing possibilities.

That freedom, however, comes at a very high price. You will not make money. If you want to make a living writing, try writing novels or non-fiction books. Zombies and how-to essays sell. Poetry does not. In fact, writing poetry will likely cost you money. Pay-to-enter book contests are common, and a lot of journals still do not take email submissions. You will not be compensated very well for your work, and in many cases, you will only be paid in contributor copies. So, enter into this proposition carefully, with your eyes open. Most of all, you should know one other truth: while most of society does not take contemporary poetry seriously, poetry labeled as “horror” or “speculative” will be taken even less seriously. Pursuing a career as a poet is to actively consign yourself to obscurity. So, the question comes again: why the hell would you want to write this shit?

Simply because you want to—that should be a good enough reason by itself. Plus, there is no rule disqualifying poets from writing fiction, or essayists from dabbling in playwriting. When it comes down to it, writing is writing. Craft is craft. Yet, before wading into poetry for the first time, there are a few myths you should get out of your head.

1. Poetry is about emotion, and I have feelings!

Um. No. Journaling has positive therapeutic value. If you are writing for a personal sense of catharsis, good for you. However, keep it to yourself. Decorum changes quickly, once you seek to place that work in front of a reader. Writing a poem complaining of a broken heart may elicit a pat on the head from a loved one, but a potential editor or reader really doesn’t care how you came to terms with your mother’s cancer, or how you got over being dumped in your freshman year in college. Editors and readers don’t care about you; they care about the words on the page. If the quality of writing is not there, then they will stop reading halfway through. If you are writing because you are in need of therapy, then seek a therapist, not a poetry editor. This is not to say “confessional” poetry is all bad. Many poets have successfully written about their personal lives, but their facility and creativity with language keeps their work from being purely navel-gazing drivel.

2. Post-Modernists Have Killed Poetry.

Crock of shit. Pure and simple. People who make this claim usually do not widely read poetry. Metrical poetry is alive and well, and it is still being written and published. There is a theory that politics swings like a pendulum, back and forth, left to right. The history of poetry has done the same. The ascendency of free verse was met with profound skepticism. Then, it became the prevailing norm. During the Reagan years, the formalists pushed back, hard. Then, other poets pushed back against the formalists. Then, a journal like Fence comes along, claiming to try and straddle the line between the two. Yes, there are l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e and oilipo poets out there, doing crazy things with the English language. At the same time, formal and metrical poets are still doing their thing to. Both are not going away anytime soon.

3. Academics Have Killed Poetry

Also a crock of shit. However, there is something important to keep in mind, here. If you are going to spend most of your time writing poems, and not hammering out the zombie or vampire novel mass market paperback houses want to consider, then you will have to find a day job. Many poets are also English teachers, both in high school and in college.

Because poetry doesn’t sell as well as zombie or vampire fiction currently does, there are not a lot of major presses into publishing it. In fact, beyond some of the large New York City poetry publishers like Graywolf, Ecco, or Pengiun, a bulk of poetry is published by college and university presses. The reason is quite simply one of finances. University presses are often run by faculty and poorly paid graduate students. The university itself often helps with funding. It helps minimize the loss poetry can accrue.

Also, most importantly, see point #2. English teachers and college professors are not pointy-headed avant gardists; they are also not conservative minded formalists either. College English departments are filled with a vast array of different types of poets and teachers. Visit an English Department sometime, and you will say a vast array of political and aesthetic disagreements taking place.

4. There is No Such Thing as “Horror” or “Speculative” Poetry

“Genre” sometimes is just a word that describes content or subject matter. It doesn’t describe the over all aesthetic, shape, or form of the writing itself. Dracula, House of Leaves, and The Shining are all considered horror novels, but they are all profoundly different in how they are written. Yusef Komunyaakaa, Langston Hughes, and Reginald Shepard are/were a considered “African-American poets,” but none of those writers are alike either. Go through every genre label you will find on book flaps, from Feminist Poetry onwards, and you will find the same thing.

Horror is only a word describing subject matter. The claim that there is no such thing as “horror poetry” is asinine at best, as it turns to blind eye to literary history. Christopher Marlowe wrote “Dr. Faustus” in verse. Shakespeare wrote “Titus Andronicus,” a play full of rape, dismemberment, and cannibalism, in verse as well. I have yet to find one happy, non-tragic, non-mortified poem about the halochaust, disease, or any the darker aspects of humanity. Death is often the subject of poetry as much as love is.

Sure, you will not see a lot of good poems about zombies or vampires, but in terms of pop culture, those are relatively recent imaginative constructions. It’s largely untapped territory for metaphor. Give it time, and it will come. Many who argue against the mere thought of “horror” poetry argue also that there is a lot of really crappy poetry floating around the internet. This is nothing new.

Theodore Sturgeon once noted that “"Ninety percent of everything is crap." Science fiction, itself as an intellectual institution, should not held accountable for the countless trees slaughtered in the name of silly robots or swaggering starship captains. Shitty writing exists, and it will continue to exist as long as human beings pick up pens or furiously pound on keyboards. But, you cannot hold imaginative territory and metaphoric possibilities accountable for the sins of talentless writers. “Horror” will exist as long as human beings feel dread, fear death, have incomprehensible nightmares, and commit terrible crimes against each other. The Old Testament and other works of scripture were first set down thousands of years ago. Utopia has never come, and it likely never will. Unstanding humanity also requires understanding inhumanity.

Writing “horror” is another way of engaging in life. So what if there is a lot of crap out there? I would wager writers like Harlan Ellison or Phillip K. Dick or Kurt Vonnegut never stopped, looked at all the poorly written space opera, and said, “You know what? Not today, there’s too much garbage being published as science fiction. So, I’m going to write about sexually repressed teens at a boarding school. That will earn me respect.” So, it all comes back to one mantra.

Why horror? Why write poetry? Simply because you want to— that should be a good enough reason by itself.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


In all my time in Europe, I regret never seeing this band live....

Andersen Prunty - Zerostrata

If you read, lets say, Bradley Sands, Carlton Mellick III, Gina Ranalli, Cameron Peirce and Anderson Prunty all at the same time, you will likely notice that there is no one way to write or define bizarro fiction. Resently, however, I realized that Prunty tends to be one my favorites of the Bizarro crowd. I think that, once a reader peels back the multiple levels of absurdity to Prunty's writing, he's working from some level of emotion or real actual humanity. In a strange way, Prunty's characters seem more human at a basic level than parody pastiche.

At least, that's how I felt after reading Zerostrata. It's a story about a guy named Hansel Nothing, who returns home after a long while. It's often referred to, throughout the story, that he previously was in hell. His mother is constantly popping pills with a cat attached to her head. His absentee father is a wannabe super hero, and his brother hardly leaves the basement. In the back of the yard, there's a tree house called "Zerostrata" -- and it comes with all the nostalgia that a childhood relic would bring with it. Along the way, Hansel meets Gretel Something (who runs through the neighborhood naked) and well, life begins to take on a new meaning. In its own special way, Zerostrata is a coming of age story. As stated earlier, once you peel back the silliness, Hansel is grappling with adulthood and what it means to be an adult. And, honestly, there's nothing bizarre about that.

Never Stops Being Alarming

... And my mother is back in the hospital again.

EDIT TO ADD: My father drove her up to Sloane last night because of coughing up blood. Now she's back home with a medication change.

EDIT TO ADD: Largely thought to be a ruptured capillary in her lungs, due to coughing. It was either that, or an infection hiding under one of her tumors. Doctors are juggling her medication...again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wayne Hixon -- Vampires in Devil Town

In a world where slutty vampires, paranormal romance, and Harlequin Nocturne (tm), have taken taken ownership of a lot of classic horror tropes, it's good to read Wayne Hixon and Vampires in Devil Town from Grindhouse Press. This novel returns some edginess to the concept of "vampire," and reinvents the term in an extremely fresh way.

Note: I got it for $0.99 on Kindle.

Karen Koehler -- Ouroboros

Ourboros is a tight novella that has its foot in Asian folklore in one moment, and American hitman-noir at the other. A mysterious hitman named "O" remains at the center. He's cruelly effective, partly because he's a host to a dragon-god. Of course, as noir typically goes, "O" takes on a job that turns out a little more than what it seems. However, while that aspect of the plot construction has been done before, it's a staple of the genre. Koehler excels at making it her own, which makes Ouroboros quite a unique read.

Friday, April 8, 2011


My brother has all of the artistic ability in my family, which makes me jealous. I wish I could draw. However, I have been trying to teach myself how to design book covers. Because of SEO and content mills, finding a good tutorial online is a little hard. (Sometimes, it's like finding good articles about writing: a lot of "you can do it!" fuzzy-wuzzy feel-good bullshit, but nothing telling you the actual nuts and bolts).

So, I have been relying on my training as in poetry to guide me. That may sound like fuzzy-wuzzy feel-good bullshit, but there's an actual point there. People who have extensive training in how to write contemporary prose are fo
cused more on writing sentences and paragraphs. People who have extensive training with poetry tend to think in terms of constructing resonant, striking and original concrete imagery. Two things often used in writing poetry are juxtapostion and parataxis. Simply, putting two images together and letting each other resonate off of each other. This is often seen in the "real" prosody and construction of haiku and other asian forms. So, with that in mind... here was a crack at a chapbook cover that will likely not be used. The idea was something that could go through a photocopier and be used for a side stapled pamphlet.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How To Spend A Day Not Working

Woke early. Went to my mother's. (I'm not going to get into how stressful that can be). Had no internet connection (which is okay ... as I'm there to care for my mom, not to ignore in the name of earning money). Set up my computer in the living room as my wife made lentil soup. Tried to start writing a new novella about mysterious severed body parts showing up the Jersey shore. Couldn't concentrate, because, after all, I'm not there to write, per se. Called it quits and watched this with my mom and wife (it's actualy good!):

Will I ever stop abusing parenthetical marks? (No!)

Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You

Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You is brilliant satire. Bradley Sands takes aim at the artificial construct of "masculinity" as perpetuated by the entertainment industry and does not relent. This novella is a rare piece of absurdity that remains funny on every page and in every paragraph.

Prime Directive for 2.99

A poem this long has to be broad and deep, and Prime Directive is both, examining fatherhood and son-hood and their avatars-creation and destruction-in many ways, but most powerfully through the astigmatic and revelatory American lens of Star Trek. It’s also a page-turner, a rare virtue in poetry.” - Joe Haldeman, author of The Forever War

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cohabitating and Marriage, Belgian Style

For research purposes, in terms of a story I'm writing, and access for later:

Belgian laws for romantic cohabitation. Same sex couplehood is legalized.

2 By Mina Loy

Mina Loy was of the same period as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. The years have not been kind to her, as she is largely forgotten and is only a footnote now in poetic modernism. Still, she deserves a place by both Pound and Williams, as well as T.S. Eliot, as one the greatest American poets of the early twentieth century.

Minor SEO Writing: Depression Quotes

Sometimes, SEO writing is awfully banal to write. Other times, it's an interesting challenge. Here is an example of what filling an order can sometimes look like. The order was simple. The word "Depression Quotes" had to be used four times... once as the title and three times in paragraphs. For whatever, reason, this couldn't be used -- the submission system bounced it back, and in some writing interfaces, resubmitting will trip their plagiarism automated-bot (since it already has a record of it word for word in the system). No biggie. Not the greatest bit of writing, I confess, but I was only out of ten minutes worth of wasted time writing it.

Depression Quotes

Misery loves company—the phrase has been used so much, it has become a cliché. However, it does not change it from being both true. In times of depression, people seek comfort in knowing they are not alone. Yet, a sympathetic friend or clinical therapist may not always be available. This is when some people turn to literature and find depression quotes. After all, a good piece of fiction or poetry allows a person to feel empathy towards the writer. As a result, this often helps with their personal struggles.

Over the course of centuries, many writers have grappled with depression. For this reason, knowing where to look may prove difficult to the uninitiated. Still, there is one genre of literature that may prove useful. In twentieth century American poetry, there was a group of writers called “The Confessionalists.” These writers include Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, John Berryman and W.D. Snodgrass. Each of these poets grappled with their emotions in unique ways, and they often built up their own personal mythologies.

An interested reader will find depression quotes throughout much of their work. As a result, these writers helped change the course of American poetry. Before them, most verse centered on elevated themes, and these made the resulting literature inaccessible to the common reader. Confessionalism brought poetry to a level many readers could emotionally relate to. Now, decades after their deaths, many poets now write like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.

Reading will never cure clinical depression by itself. However, coping with it requires dealing with it outside clinical therapy. Developing a list of depression quotes can help with troubling emotion on a day-to-day basis. To this end, confessional poetry can help

Brian Keene's Fade To Null

Typically, some stories use circular structures for one of three purposes: 1) to show absolute futility, 2) to demonstrate some sort of unified, cohesive, but non-linear dream logic, or 3) a mixture of points 1 & 2.

Brian Keene's Fade To Null (in Unhappy Endings) employs point #3. It also taps into a tradition often seen in short fiction. It reads like a nightmare narrative, in that it displays a variety of surrealistic images -- for insance, a squirming eyeball-on-a-tentacle that makes noise without having an actual orifice. Yet, short stories that rely only on jarring imagery are usually not well crafted. Keene, after all, has a point. The center of the story has Alzheimer's patient and is elderly. The surreal imagery is a product of a brain that isn't functioning, and the circular nature of the story makes it horrific.

And the circular nature only works due to use of subtlety. Quiet often, it a narrator came out and said, "And every other day was the same thing," it would be heavy handed. The structure of the story is more of a cinematic loop, where the ending words are often cues that signal something very similar to the beginning.

Edit To Add: Holy shit, I was just cruising around amazon and saw Unhappy Endings listed for sale with a price tag $289.23. I still can't wrap my head and genre small press collectors.

Nook vs. Kindle: Page Turning

My first ereader was a Sony, but I quickly wanted something more, partially because I wanted access to ebooks only available through Amazon/Kindle. So, I recently obtained a 5 inch tablet phone with Android's operating system. I downloaded both the Nook and the Kindle tablets and set to reading.

Here is one petty gripe while comparing the two reading experiences. The Kindle For Android app shifts blocks of text to the left or right with a finger tap. Nook For Android gives the reader a little animation of a page -- as a sheaf of paper -- turning. I find this aspect of the Nook's app mildly annoying. After all, I read ebooks because I want cheap access to written content, not because I want to "feel good!" about reading. If I wanted the comfort of seeing a real page being turned, I would go to my bookshelf and pluck out a volume of a real book -- one with pages made from tree pulp.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Prime Directive by Bryan Dietrich

Bryan Dietrich is unique in the great expanse of the American poetry, as his work straddles a line seemingly no other poet has be able to walk. He revels in genre culture as a man who truly loves it, but he can also see through the eyes of an academic. As the result, he plays with genre tropes with a greater eye towards contemporary culture. Yet, he is also a skilled poet with an eye towards language. Simply put, he is the best poet science fiction, fantasy or horror has to offer. It is for this reason that I am extremely proud and happy I could help bring out his book length poem, Prime Directive. Sure, I may think it's awesome, but you don't have to take my word for it. Here's the legendary Joe Haldeman:
A poem this long has to be broad and deep, and Prime Directive is both, examining fatherhood and son-hood and their avatars-creation and destruction-in many ways, but most powerfully through the astigmatic and revelatory American lens of Star Trek. It’s also a page-turner, a rare virtue in poetry.” - Joe Haldeman, author of The Forever War