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Results 1 - 25 of 99
1. Rachel Swearingen on Merrill Joan Gerber's Short Story Collections

Another in a series of posts from other authors on the work of Merrill Joan Gerber--an author you should seriously track down and read. Today we have Rachel Swearingen writing about two story collections that Gerber published 20 years apart from each other.

 

Gerber - Stop Here, My Friend - Final CoverOne of the pleasures of reading Merrill Joan Gerber’s short story collections, Stop Here, My Friend (1963) and Honeymoon (1983), is tracing the development of the writer and her recurring characters. Gerber is masterful in turning the reader into confidante. In Stop Here, My Friend, written when the author was still in her twenties, she writes about women of various ages in New York City, Arizona, and Florida—mothers and daughters in the snare of family duty. She has been compared to Bellow, Roth, and Updike, but Gerber’s characters are unlikely to ever abandon their obligations for other adventures, and this simple fact is at the crux of many of these stories. Instead, Gerber’s women grow older and take care of children, husbands, siblings, and aging parents, all the while silently storing their own hard-earned wisdoms and their families’ complicated histories.

These tensions persist in Honeymoon, though social mores and expectations have relaxed somewhat, and California replaces New York as a prominent setting. The submerged dramas rarely erupt, but in this later collection, they boil and grow more complex, and the language loosens and in places turns richly, if briefly, lyrical.

Gerber, now in her seventies, has written over Gerber - Honeymoon - Final Coverthirty books, sixteen of which have been released as eBooks by Dzanc Books as part of their rEprint Series. Her stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, Sewanee Review, Redbook, and Atlantic Monthly. She studied with William Stegner at Stanford and has a style reminiscent of Grace Paley, Ray Carver, and Ann Beattie.

In the title story of Stop Here, My Friend, Kate fixates on a mother and daughter sharing an intimate lunch in a Chinese restaurant, telling us “she had always supposed there were mothers and daughters like this pair.” Kate is thirty-one and living with her parents, injecting insulin in her mother’s thigh every night with “a silver syringe,” and coming home each evening to a “neat glass of tomato juice arranged on a saucer between two Ritz crackers.” She wants her own apartment, but her parents are entirely dependent on her. She resists in small ways, throwing out the sandwiches her mother makes her and instead spending her money in restaurants—and daring to view a closet-sized walkup that is for rent. In a moment of boldness, Kate decides to take the apartment, but a few sentences later she reaches into her purse and discovers the fortune cookie from her lunch, “and grimly, grimly, she cracked it open.” The fortune is never revealed, and the “grimly, grimly” makes it implicit that Kate will return to her parents.

This grimness marks most of these early stories. Kate, like other young women in the book, grew up changing out of school dresses into “dungarees,” taking piano lessons, and being expected to marry good, “barmitzvahed” boys. This is a middle-class, post WWII, pre-Steinem world, where references to the “colored maid” appear, where women wear gloves, and there are just two kinds of girls, “good” and “fast.”

My favorite stories features smart, adolescent girls that ferret out discrepancies in adult stories and performances. In “Miss Mosh,” Marilyn, who hates playing the piano, has to endure endless lessons taught by incompetent neighborhood teachers. Marilyn meets her match in Miss Moss, a charlatan of a teacher who wears “some sort of terrible-smelling pomade on her wiry red hair, so that now she looked like a well-groomed porcupine.”

When her teacher’s behaviors grow too strange and cruel, Marilyn revolts and locks herself in the bathroom where she opens her teacher’s hidden suitcase and discovers a pink nightgown. “The feather stuffing in the garment was not distributed equally. In the front, or bosom of the slip, were two large shapeless mounds of feathers sticking out, giving the empty piece of underclothing a strange, living air. In the back, over the hips, was the same kind of stuffed feather mound, making the slip thrust out as if it had a bustle.”

Misfit, most likely transgendered, Miss Mosh veers dangerously close to the stereotypical eccentric, unmarried piano teacher, but Gerber reveals her in all her vulnerability and humanity. This turn appears in many of the early stories, and more subtly in later pieces that deal realistically with such difficult subjects as mental illness and domestic violence.

One of Gerber’s gifts is her dialogue. In Honeymoon, especially, she captures rich rhythms, pathos and wit. Take Janet’s Aunt Gertie, for example, bemoaning Janet’s widowed mother’s refusal to re-engage with the world: “But when I told her the program is going to be a paramedic teaching the methods of how do you call it, cardio-heart-massage, which is such a valuable thing to know at our age, what did your mother say? … she said ‘What do I need it for? To do it to myself, alone, someday in my apartment, when I have my heart attack?’”

Gerber explores several unreliable narrators and incorporates vibrant, barbed argument between family members and even neighbors. In “Straight from the Deathbed,” we revisit Edna, Martha’s mother-in-law from Stop Here, My Friend. Edna’s late-husband has made her promise to apologize to Martha for their initial terrible treatment of her. Edna can’t bring herself to grant this dying wish, though she is fond of Martha now and grateful for the grandchildren. She would “give her eyes” to see her husband spoil the children’s appetite with candy, a habit that used to annoy her. Instead she argues with and badgers her son until he threatens to take the family and leave. The anger mounts to near cataclysm, everyone sits down to eat, and overcome with guilt and anxiety, Edna breaks out her husband’s gumdrops, warning the children not eat too many.

In both books, Gerber’s characters give generously and often reluctantly. They sneak gefilte fish into nursing homes for their mothers. They feed entire packages of hotdogs to barking, distressed dogs they earlier fantasized about poisoning. They hide instructions for their burials in their pianos, so as not to burden their daughters. They spill bits of tragic family legend, while hiding crucial information.

Gerber's structures are linear and deceptively simple, but this combined withholding and generosity creates an undertow. Strikingly, her characters rarely succumb to despair. They love fiercely and faithfully, even when the people they care for are failing or incapable of change. I read these books quickly, and weeks later the characters linger. It's entirely plausible that somewhere, in Brooklyn or Los Angeles perhaps, Martha, Janet, and all the rest are still trying like the rest of us to live the best they can.

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2. Anne Valente on Merrill Joan Gerber's Anna in Chains

Throughout June we'll be posting about the career of Merrill Joan Gerber. I've asked some writers to take a look at her work from the 60's through last year and will most likely write a post or three myself during the month.

Merrill Joan Gerber is exactly the type of author we had in mind when we created the Dzanc Books rEprint Series. One of our goals with the series is to bring back great works of literature in eBook format and find a new readership and discussion for these works and authors.   Merrill Joan Gerber's outstanding body of work deserves the attention that the eBook format will offer her.

Gerber has published over a dozen critically acclaimed books. She's frequently had her writing compared to greats such as Bellow and Roth. She's had stories selected for both the Best American Short Story series and the O.Henry Prize anthology series. She's had a novel win a Pushcart Editors' Book Award and had another receive the Ribalow Award from Hadassah Magazine for the "best English-language book on a Jewish theme." The L.A. Times listed her Anna in the Afterlife as a Best Novel of 2002. Cynthia Ozick has called Gerber "one of the masters."

Today, Anne Valente writes about Gerber's story collection, Anna in Chains.

Gerber - Anna in Chains - Final CoverAcross the eleven stories featured in Anna in Chains, Merrill Joan Gerber offers readers varying glimpses into elderly life and the world of a nursing home. A linked collection, Anna in Chains invites the reader into the perspective of cantankerous and spunky Anna Goldman, a former piano player and widow who progresses from the independence of her mid-70s into the decreased mobility and nursing-home confinement of her late-80s. What is truly remarkable about the collection is that it manages to make the reader feel confined along with Anna, and also ruminate on the lack of elderly protagonists in American fiction and what it means to grow old in our society.

Early in the collection, Anna is mobile: she still visits her two daughters and their children, she still complains about her Armenian neighbors, and she still notices with shock the bared midriffs and open sexuality of those around her in the changing world of Los Angeles, a world still turning away from the mass fear of AIDS in 1998 when the collection was originally published. As the collection progresses, the wide-open and liberal landscape of Los Angeles serves as a counterpoint to the realm of the nursing home. Anna falls; she loses the independence of her own home. She loses the ability to freely visit her family, to walk Santa Monica Boulevard, to notice the diversity of the city around her, to be part of the live-studio audience of The Phil Donahue Show with her sister. Her world instead becomes one of “Wheel of Fortune, Meals on Wheels, poker, little tiny portions of milk frozen in margarine containers to last the week.”

As Anna’s world narrows her mind expands, growing more and more active within the nursing home. She finds herself underestimated, assumed to be shell of her once-self. She also finds herself frustrated, confined not only by her surroundings but by her own body too, in decline while her mind remains active and alert. This disconnect is hauntingly expressed: “The skin of her face was an accordion of the days of her life, folded one upon the other. This was what was left of her. What counted was inside, invisible.” Anna recognizes her own dismissal by nurses, orderlies, and even by her own children. Gerber captures masterfully the ways in which the elderly are neglected and ignored, and how both the body and the hospital become cages for a woman who knows her own character as unbound by age. Anna resists her evolution into obscurity, a backward march of time: “She was becoming an infant without teeth, a baby who peed in bed, who couldn’t walk, who couldn’t turn over herself, a baby who was going backward into the sea of time till soon she’d sink under, her head disappearing, and be gone.”

Upon finishing Anna in Chains, the reader may view his or her surroundings in a new light. He or she may also reflect with surprise on how little the end of life features in American fiction. The nursing home is a rarely addressed reality of old age, a landscape most readers and writers would rather ignore. Merrill Joan Gerber evokes this landscape with pain and precision, and through Anna’s compelling voice. Anna in Chains is a brave collection, one not easily set aside when finished. Gerber pulls back the veil on what it means to age, and what it means to be immobile and at the mercy of being forgotten.

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3. National Short Story Month - Men Under Water by Ralph Lombreglia

Lombreglia - Men Under Water - Final CoverA fantastic collection, Ralph Lombreglia's debut. I first read the title story in BASS 1987 in a class. I enjoyed it enough to keep the name on my radar and purchased his full collection once I found it.

Much as I enjoyed the title story, I think I actually liked "Inn Essence" a little bit more--the story of a slightly crazed, perfectionist, dessert chef as well as the others that worked in the restaurant that he did had some intrigue, a lot of humor, great sentences, and reminded me a little of T.C. Boyle's "Sorry Fugu," only maybe a little bit better--which at that time was close to reading opinion sacrilege where I was concerned.

Other great include "Museum of Love," the story of a house turned museum as it showed off the development and breakdown of a love affair--with the dumped male residing in the museum; "Jazzers," a bit of a mid-life crisis story about guys that used to be in a band trying to re-live those glory days a bit (that's a poor description though--much more going on); and again the title story, good enough to be included in BASS that year.

Lombreglia is a great story writer--one that comes up with really cool ideas and then delivers by writing his butt off infusing the stories with humor, with great descriptions, wonderful characters, and again, the humor. It's not beat you over the head "I'm trying to make you laugh" humor, but that fantastically subtle humor that gets you to smile, to chuckle aloud a bit and realize you're in the hands of one that observes his fellow man very well.

Men Under Water is now available in eBook form as part of the Dzanc Books rEprint Series. You can find it here. Something I am thrilled to be able to say.

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4. Dzanc Books Receives Matching Donation

Last week Dzanc Books sent out an email and announced at their website that they had received an anonymous matching donation up to $6,000 for any donations received before December 31, 2012.

Any size donations are helpful--a dollar means two dollars, five means ten and so on.

Truly, ANY amount helps--that five that turns into ten helps us get two to three review copies of our books our to reviewers; money goes  to our publishing, our promotion of literature, as well as our programs like the Dzanc Writer in Residence Program with a writer visiting/teaching the same class of children once per week in the schoolroom about the power of words--to write and read creatively.

 

www.dzancbooks.org/support/ is the place to visit and donate. ALL donations, no matter the amount, will see the wonderful person donating to Dzanc put into a drawing to potentially receive a copy of every title we published in the year 2012.

 

Thank you.

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5. Dzanc Books Poetry Collection Competition

Logo

Dzanc Books announces the Dzanc Poetry Collection Contest, an annual prize for a book of poetry.  The judge for the inaugural contest will be C. Dale Young. The contest is open to new and published poets, and we invite submissions of poetry in all modes and aesthetics. The Dzanc Poetry Collection Contest-winning manuscript will be published in high quality trade paperback and eBook versions. The winning author will receive a $500 advance and a standard Dzanc publishing agreement including support for readings and distribution via Consortium and our network of eBook distributors. Finalist and runner-up manuscripts may also be considered for publication.

 THE JUDGE

 C. Dale Young is the author of three collections of poetry: The Day Underneath the Day (Northwestern 2001); The Second Person and Torn (Four Way Books 2007, 2011).  His poems and stories have appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies, including several installments of The Best American Poetry series.  A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he practices medicine full-time, edits poetry for the New England Review, and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

 SPECIFICS

 The contest deadline is January 31, 2013.

  • The winner will be announced in the second quarter of 2013. All entrants will be notified of the winner by email before the announcement is made public.
  • Previously published excerpts or individual pieces are acceptable as part of your entry, but the manuscript as a whole must be unpublished.
  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but entries should be withdrawn immediately if accepted elsewhere.
  • Once submitted, manuscripts  may not be revised without a complete withdrawal and the payment of a new entry fee.
  • You may enter the contest as many times as you like, but each entry will require its own separate entry fee.
Relatives, close friends, and/or former students of C. Dale Young should not enter this contest, and will not be eligible to win in the case of their entry. If such a winner is selected, the manuscript will be disqualified at our discretion, and no refund of entry fees will be granted.

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6. Andy Plattner Receives Dzanc Books Mid-Career Novel Award

Per the Dzanc Books News blog:

 

ANDY PLATTNER WINS DZANC MID-CAREER NOVEL AWARD

August 14, 2012, Ann Arbor, MI—Dzanc Books is pleased to announce that Andy Plattner is the winner of our 2011 Mid-Career Novel Award.  Plattner’s manuscript, Offerings from a Rust  Belt  Jockey, was selected from more than 100 submissions.  This collection will be published in October 2013.

Steven Gillis, Publisher and Co-Founder at Dzanc Books, notes:  “Andy Plattner's Offerings From A Rust Belt Jockey is a dead on the money infectious novel.   The writing is hilarious and touching, the narrative, and each of Andy's fully realized characters, presents a perfectly pitched tale of love and ambition, honor and betrayal. The ability to be at once funny as hell and at the same time heartbreakingly accurate in the depiction of what it means to be human with all of our flaws and wants and needs is captured with a marksman's eye.  Dzanc is pleased and proud to have Andy Plattner as the winner of our Mid-Career Novel Award.”

“Dzanc is a smart, purposeful press,” Plattner said upon winning. “I know my manuscript will benefit from this collaboration.”

ABOUT ANDY PLATTNER

Andy Plattner’s first story collection, Winter Money, originally published in 1997, is set to be re-released in paperback from the University of Georgia Press at the start of 2013. (The collection won the Flannery O'Connor Award in 1997.) His second story collection, A Marriage of Convenience, was  published last year. He has stories in the current editions of The Southern Review and Fiction, have forthcoming work in The Sewanee Review and apt. Plattner lives in Atlanta with his wife, Diana.

FINALISTS

The short list of finalists consisted of novels from Margo Berdeshevsky, Maria Flook, Karen Osborn, Micah Perks, Russell Rowland, Chris Torockio, Mary Troy, and Edra Ziesk.

ABOUT THE MID-CAREER AWARD

While at times it seems the publishing industry is only interested in the next big thing, we at Dzanc recognize the value of experienced writers who have gone through the process of creating and publishing two or more books. Mid-career writers are the backbone of our industry yet often these writers are overlooked and have a harder time finding a publisher than first time writers. More details can be found at www.dzancbooks.org/submissions/

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7. Dzanc's Dog Days of Summer Sale

Read Them  While They're Hot!

2012-07-09 14.49.03The titles pictured here are the three most recent Dzanc titles: Josip Novakovich's essays: Shopping for a Better Country; Matt Dojny's novel, The Festival of Earthly Delights; Jennifer Spiegel's short story collection, The Freak Chronicles--and the next three titles with set dates for publishing: Josh Russel's novel, A True History of the Captivation, Transport to Strange Lands, & Deliverance of Hannah Guttentag; George Singleton's short story collection, Stray Decorum; and Luis Jaramillo's Dzanc Short Story Collection Contest winning collection, The Doctor's Wife.

Each of these is available if you're taking advantage of the Buy One Get One at an Equal of Lesser Value Free option of the sale.

The other option available is five titles for $25 (including eBooks and free shipping) or ten titles for $50 (also including eBooks and free shipping).

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8. Novella Month - Preparations for Search by Joseph McElroy

JuneNouvellaI'm always a little lost in the wilderness when it comes to just what exactly is a novella. Two years ago I had a few authors that had published novellas give me their definitions but I'm afraid they were mostly a little too smart for me. I know I don't simply believe it's a word or page count. I think there's something that differentiates a novella from a long short story, and from a short novel as well--I just don't know what exactly that is.

A long-winded introduction to say that I'm not fully sure that Joseph McElroy's Preparations for Search is a novella, but it feels like it to me. Originally this material was a portion of McElroy's novel, Women and Men, that was removed. He published it rather quietly in the journal Formations in 1984. Small Anchor Press then published it as a square-bound book with some slight revisions to the text that sold out rather quickly. It has recently been published in eBook form by Dzanc Books in their rEprint Series with an introduction by Mike Heppner.

From this introduction:

In conversation with Joseph McElroy, I once described his short novel Preparations for Search in genre terms as "noir-core," in which the conventions of noir are flattened and compressed into dense, jet-black space, a gravitational singularity...There's a sense of noir in Preparations for Search as well, "noir" as defined by George Tuttle as a subcategory of hardboiled detective fiction in which "the protagonist is usually not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator"...One could say that McElroy, in both his novels and short fiction, invites us to become sleuths as we plunder, decode, hypothesize about and interrogate his information-rich narratives. But what makes Preparations for Search "noir-core" is McElroy's approach to tempo and tone. Here the prose is so tightly wound—the pace accelerated to two-hundred beats-per-minute—that what we're left with is the structural essence of noir Preparations for Search FINAL Coverwithout the flabby clichés.

An example of McElroy's writing, Preparations for Search begins:

     It was only money, but it was quite a lot of money and I told him I felt I couldn't let him have it. Enos said he could understand. I said what he did with the money was his business, but--eleven hundred dollars to pay a detective to track down someone Enos hadn't seen since he was two? He looked me in the eye and asked if it was true that what he did with the money was his business. "What money?" I said, and he laughed and said didn't I mean whose money?

And so it begins. That last line of what I've quoted of Heppner's introduction perfectly describes McElroy's work here. The pace of the book does accelerate with the lack of excess, or cliche, that one might

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9. Dzanc Books to Publish Robert Coover!

Dzanc Books just issued a Press Release--exciting news!                                                  

 

Dzanc Books to Publish Robert Coover

May 29, 2012 - Ann Arbor, MI—Dzanc Books is proud to announce that it will publish The Brunist Day of Wrath, the sequel to Robert Coover’s award-winning debut novel, The Origin of the Brunists, in September 2013. Dzanc Books will also publish an as yet untitled Coover short story collection in September 2014. The Dzanc rEprint Series will be publishing ten of Coover’s backlist titles to eBook form beginning in August 2012 and running on up through August 2013. Titles include the aforementioned award-winning The Origin of the Brunists; Pricksongs & Descants; The Public Burning; Spanking the Maid; Gerald's Party; A Night at the Movies, or You Must Remember  This; Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears; Pinocchio in Venice; John's Wife; and Ghost Town.

Robert Coover has published fourteen novels, three short story collections, and a collection of plays since The Origin of the Brunists received the The William Faulkner Foundation First Novel Award in 1966. At Brown University, where he has taught for over thirty years, he established the International Writers Project, a program that provides an annual fellowship and safe haven to endangered international writers who face harassment, imprisonment, and suppression of their work in their home countries.  In 1990-91, he launched the world's first hypertext fiction workshop, was one of the founders in 1999 of the Electronic Literature Organization, and in 2002 created CaveWriting, the first writing workshop in immersive virtual reality. Michiko Kakuntaini of The New York Times has said “Of all the postmodern writers, Robert Coover is probably the funniest and most malicious, mixing up broad social and political satire with vaudeville turns, lewd pratfalls, and clever word plays that make us rethink both the mechanics of the world and our relationship to it.” Coover has also received awards from the Lannan Foundation, American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Rea Lifetime Short Story Award.

Dzanc's Executive Director, Dan Wickett, said of the acquisition:  "We are thrilled to be able to bring out both new and past work from Robert Coover, a favorite author of ours here at Dzanc Books for many years. To be able to bring back many of his older works to a new readership is extremely exciting and to see him return to West Condon and the Brunists after all these years with a simply fantastic novel is something we’re very happy to be a part of."

This signing was made through Robert Coover’s agent, Georges Borchardt.

About Dzanc Books

Dzanc Books was created in 2006 to advance great writing and to impact communities nationally with our efforts to advance literary readership and our advocacy of creative writing workshops and readings. As a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, Dzanc Books not only publishes literary fiction, but works in partnership with literary journals to advance their readership at every level. Dzanc is also fully committed to developing educational programs in schools.

For more information on Dzanc Books and its mission, imprints, books, authors, awards, and programs, please visit www.dzancbooks.org.

* * *

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10. National Short Story Month - Trio of Dzanc!

SSM 2012 LogoThree story collections I cannot wait to see enter the world are a trio of collections that Dzanc Books is bringing out before the end of the year: Jennifer Spiegel's The Freak Chronciles (June), Luis Jaramillo's The Doctor's Wife (October), and George Singleton's Stray Decorum (November).

The Freak Chronicles Cover FINALThe short stories in this collection explore, both implicitly and explicitly, the notion of freakiness.  They worry over eccentricity, alienation, normalcy, and intimacy. What is it that makes one a freak, makes one want to embrace quirkiness, have the fortitude to cultivate oddity? Is there a fine line between abnormality and the extraordinary?  Jennifer Spiegel’s stories delve into these questions and others.

Winner of the Dzanc Short Story Contest, Luis Jaramillo's The Doctor's wifeDoctor's Wife pushes the limits of what a short story collection can be. In stylish, intimate, and devastating short flashes, Jaramillo chronicles the small domestic moments, tragic losses, and cultural upheavals faced by three generations of a family in the Pacific Northwest, creating a moving portrait of an Stray decorumAmerican family and the remarkable woman at its center.

Eleven stories, all previously published in journals like The Atlantic, Oxford American, and The Georgia Review, in which George Singleton brings small-town South Carolina alive. Using everyday situations like a dog needing its annual vaccination and buckets of humorous observations, Singleton pokes and prods his readers into realizing we're all simply restless for a pat on the head.

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11. NOOK Daily Find - The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis

ConsequenceofSkatingCoverFINAL2Today Barnes & Noble's NOOK Daily Find selection is The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis (Black Lawrence Press, 2010), which can be purchased at the following link for the very low price of $3.50:
 
 
The Consequence of Skating was named the 2010 Silver Medalist for literary fiction in the IPPY Awards.

"The moments (in The Consequence of Skating)  are small and detailed and probably the best compliment that can be given Gillis is that, as we move through them with (the protagonist) Mick, we really get a sense for what it might feel like to be an actor who is suddenly scriptless, an obsessed boyfriend who finds himself without a partner, a broken man forced to put his life back together.  'Everything is recovery,'  Mick says.  'Think.  Act. Redo...  The cause and effect causes cause and effect, the link inexorable...  I take one step and then another, until I am across the floor and in my kitchen.  In my kitchen I turn on the machine for coffee.  Once I have turned on the coffee, I go and rinse my cup.'"--Dave Housley, American Book Review 
 
"Steven Gillis possesses that rarest of gifts, the voice that seems to flow effortlessly. This guy makes it look easy. Read the first three pages of The Consequence of Skating and if you're not hooked, go see a doctor."--Jonathan Evison, author of  All About Lulu and West of Here
 
"I enjoyed The Consequence Of Skating a great deal, it is a very human book... I am definitely planning of seeking out Steven Gillis' other books." -Simon Barrett, Blogger News Network 
 
As a thank you for purchasing The Consequence of Skating by Steven Gillis through today's B&N Nook Daily Find, you will also be eligible to receive any four Dzanc eBook titles for $15, a savings of over 50%.  You can choose your titles from any available in our regular catalog or our rEprint Series.  Simply forward your B&N receipt email to dan@dzancbooks.org  

All proceeds from the sales of Steven's book go direct to running Dzanc's charitable programs.

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12. Dzanc Books Receives NEA Grant!

Per their blog:

Dzanc Books receives NEA grant to support the publication, promotion and national distribution of books of fiction.

Grant part of NEA announcement of 863 grants and $22.543 million in funding nationwide

November 22, 2011--Ann Arbor, MI—The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced that the agency will award 863 grants to organizations and individual writers across the country. Dzanc Books is one of the grantees and will receive a grant to support the continuation of our publishing, promoting and nationally distributing books of fiction. The 863 grant awards total $22.543 million, encompass 15 artistic disciplines and fields, and support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Through the course of 2012, Dzanc Books will publish books by Josip Novakovich, Eugene Cross, Jac Jemc, Matt Dojny, Josh Russell, Henning Koch, Seán McGrady, and George Singleton, a combination of debut authors, mid-career authors, U.S. born, and foreign authors. These will be published in both print and eBook form.

“Art Works is the guiding principle at the NEA,” said agency Chairman Rocco Landesman. “And I’m pleased to see that principle represented through the 823 Art Works-funded projects included in this announcement. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”

“Dzanc believes with absolute conviction in the undiscovered talent of writers at work today,” said Steve Gillis, co-founder and publisher at Dzanc. “It is part of Dzanc's mission to uncover these great works that may otherwise slip through the cracks. Our editors focus on the quality of the work, not the amount of money the writing might earn. It is Dzanc's belief that great writing will find its audience if given a chance to be published.   We are determined to present deserving talent to a broader audience, and coupled with the charity work we do and programs we run nationally in the schools and communities, nothing excites us more than to publish and tour a talented voice. We appreciate the NEA’s belief and support of our work.” 

In March 2011, the NEA received 1,686 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $84 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 49 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support and the ongoing vitality of the not-for-profit arts community despite current financial challenges. Art Works grants are awarded based on the applications received by the NEA and how those applications are assessed by the review panels.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.

                                                      About Dzanc Books

Dzanc Books was created in 2006 to advance great writing and to impact communities nationally with our efforts to  advance literary readership and our advocacy of creative writing workshops and readings. 

As a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, Dzanc Books not only publishes literary fiction, but works in partnership with literary journals to advance their readership at every level. Dzanc is also fully committed to developing educational programs in schools.

For more information on Dzanc

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13. Dzanc Write-a-Thon - My Work

While it may seem from the onslaught of Quarterly posts the past half a day that I'm doing everything possible to avoid sitting and writing something for the Dzanc Write-a-Thon, that is not the case. I'm working on something. For a small taste (apologies in advance):

     (I'm running. There is nothing in front of me but kneehigh grass and daffodil flowers. To the left, a stream; the water is clear and cool. My mane whips in the wind over my sweatglistened neck. Free. Free.)

                                                                  * 

     Butch bends down and kissed his wife Jill--some of the egg he has just consumed rubs off onto her cheeck. He walks out the door onto the large wooden porch. Heading toward the barn, he plans to wake up Lester, his farmhand. Lester should be in the fields already--the lazy bastard always needs to be roused. The only reason Butch keeps him on is his size, his bulging biceps. The leather gloves Butch wears fit his fingers perfectly but are a little loose in the thumbs. The soft ground gives way underneath his trunklike legs.

While I am not hoping for accodales for the above two paragraphs (and yes, there is much more), I do hope that you'll consider sponsoring me, or one of the actual authors, in this year's write-a-thon. You can do so by clicking on that link above. Many thanks to those of you that already have done so.

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14. Dzanc Books to rEprint Entire Jonathan Baumbach Backlist

The following is the Press Release over at the Dzanc blog regarding the signing of the 15 titles in Jonathan Baumbach's backlist to their rEprint Series:

 

July 1, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI—Dzanc Books is proud to announce that it has acquired the eBook rights for Jonathan Baumbach’s entire backlist to be published within the Dzanc Books rEprint Series.  This includes his 14 books of fiction prior to Dreams of Molly, which Dzanc published earlier this year, and his nonfiction, The Landscape of Nightmare.  The full fiction list is: A Man to Conjure With; What Comes Next; Reruns; Chez Charlotte and Emily; My Father More of Less; The Life and Times of Major Fiction; The Return of Service; Separate Hours; Seven Wives; Babble; D-Tours; B, a novel; On The Way To My Father’s Funeral: New and Selected Stories; and You, or the Invention of Memory. These eBooks will be published, three at a time, every other month, beginning in October 2011. The final trio will be published in June 2012, at which time Dzanc Books will also publish a paperback version of You, or the Invention of Memory.

Jonathan, co-founder of The Fiction Collective in 1973 (it was reinvented as FC2 in 1988), the first fiction writers cooperative in America, has seen his work widely praised.   His short stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, O.Henry Prize, and The Best of Tri-Quarterly.  The New York Times Book Review referred to him in 2004 as “. . . an underappreciated writer. He employs a masterfully dispassionate, fiercely intelligent narrative voice whose seeming objectivity is always a faltering front for secret passion and despair."

“Jonathan Baumbach is one of the true paterfamilias of independent-minded writers.”  Steve Gillis said. “He’s been a staple in the literary scene for over 40 years.”

“Reading through his backlist has been a fantastic experience,” said Dan Wickett. “It will be great to see the current generation of readers getting access to these incredible works.”

This acquisition was done through Jonathan's agent, Andrew Blauner of the Blauner Books Literary Agency.

                                  About the Dzanc Books rEprint Series

 The Dzanc Books rEprint Series is dedicated to publishing great works of REprint series logo.jpg contemporary literature that have recently gone out of print, as well as titles where the author holds the eBook rights and is looking for a new publishing partner for the electronic version of their book. Starting in Summer 2011, these works will begin being made available to the reading public in the form of eBooks compatible with all currently available eBook platforms, distributed both directly from Dzanc and through most eBook resellers.

This series originates out of a belief that many of these titles did not have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential audiences in the time of their original publication, and that a second chance for achieving a wider readership is long overdue. By bringing them back into print in widely-available electronic formats, Dzanc hopes to restart the critical conversations around these books, and to get them into the hands of

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15. Two Great Writers--Two Great Men

Gillisauthor Mid-afternoon yesterday, the fine folks at the Independent Publisher Book Awards announced something that I was more than happy to tell you months, or even at least a couple of years ago--Steven Gillis and Hesh Kestin can write their asses off.  Kestin's novel, The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats, tied for their gold medal as best novel in the category of literary fiction; Gillis' novel, The Consequence of Skating, tied for their silver medal in that same category.

The fine folks at the IPPYs would also tell you they've known this fact about these Front Cover
two writers longer than simply yesterday as Gillis has also won the bronze medal for literary fiction in 2004 (Walter Falls), and 2006 (The Weight of Nothing), and for the short story collection category in 2007 (Giraffes), and undoubtedly would have won the gold with what should have been his breakthrough novel, Temporary People: a fable in 2008 had his dumbass publisher and partner remembered to enter it into the competition.  And Hesh Kestin? They awarded his debut fiction, Based On a True Story, a tie for the bronze in 2009 for the short story competition.

While both may beg to differ, neither has ever been the pretty young thing, at least not of the publishing industry--both were beyond their 30s when their first books came out, and neither was brushing out lush locks in their author photos. They weren't writing about hot topics that might guarantee five, six, or (are there really such things?) seven figure advances. They were however writing books that matter, books that should absolutely be on your shelves.

ShoeshineCatsCoverFINAL What the fine folks behind the Independent Publisher Book Awards probably don't know (I have to say probably as they might and I simply don't know it) is that Steven and Hesh go well beyond great writers--they are both great men. Both felt the call early to write and while both indeed wrote while they were younger, they also set that writing on the back burner, even if only slightly (ie, burning that candle hard at both ends), while earning livings so that they could provide for their families. It turns out they were both excellent at something besides the writing of fiction--Gillis as an attorney and Kestin as a journalist. Based on the dealings I've had with each of their families, I can also state they have done, and are doing helluva jobs as fathers, and family men, as well.

Neither was trained as a writer beyond the old fashioned method of reading thousands of incredible books and writing and revising and throwing away and writing and revising and

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16. Dzanc Books to rEprint Stephen Graham Jones

Per the Dzanc Books Blog and PR:

As part of Dzanc Books rEprint Series, Dzanc is pleased to announce the signing Sgj of Stephen Graham Jones to a three book deal.  Dzanc will be publishing in eBook format three of Jones' most innovative novels.  The first two works fit the name of the series perfectly:  All the Beautiful Sinners, and The Long Trial of Nolan Dugatti as both titles are available in print form and this will mark their debut as eBooks (All the Beautiful Sinners will be slightly different in its eBook form as Stephen has revised portions of the text.) The third title, Seven Spanish Angles, is a new venture for this series as it has never been published before and makes its debut under Dzanc's eBook publishing arm.

"I've been meaning to re-rig All the Beautiful Sinners for some time now, am excited to get this chance,” Jones said. “And, Seven Spanish Angels: it's been real to me for so many years, now. Now maybe it'll be real for everybody else as well."

Jones’ work has been called “mesmerizing” and “masterful” by Booklist, and Texas Monthly describes him as “an unapologetic pop-culture savant.”  Jones holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

 “Stephen Graham Jones is an amazing writer,” Dan Wickett said. “We at Dzanc are very excited to bring out these three novels in eBook form and to give his fans a chance to finally read Seven Spanish Angels.”

Jones is represented by Kate Garrick of DeFiore and Company, Author Services, LLC

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17. Dzanc Books Launches eBook rEprint series

Per the PR posted over at the Dzanc Blog:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                                          

Dzanc Books to Launch eBook rEprint Series

 

April 11, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI— Dzanc Books is excited to announce our new electronic rEprint Series. In conjunction with our traditional publishing of new works in both print and electronic form, Dzanc is now set to publish great works of literary fiction that have recently gone out of print.  These works will be offered back to the reading public in the form of eBook titles available on all eReaders, including Kindle, Nook, Sony, Cybook, Jetbook and all others. As with all of our eBooks, the author royalty rate on the titles in our rEprint series is 50%.

The first batch of Dzanc rEprint titles will appear in the next two months and include:  Pinckney Benedict’s short story collection, Town Smokes; Noy Holland’s short story collection, The Spectacle of the Body; Brian Kiteley’s novel, Still Life With Insects; Patricia Lear’s short story collection, Stardust, 7-Eleven, Route 57, A&W, and So Forth; two of David Lynn’s books; a trio of Michael Martone’s short story collections; and Michael Hickins’ short story collection, The Actual Adventures of Michael Missing.  We are currently in discussions regarding hundreds of other fantastic titles that we will be announcing in the near future.

Continuing with our commitment to publish great works of new literary fiction in both traditional print and electronic form, Dzanc is proud to add this new rEprint series to our roster.  The titles that are published under our rEprint arm will also be available through our eBook Club, which distributes a different eBook title on the first of every month at an incredibly low rate to members.  When joining the Dzanc eBook Club, members also receive 5 new books free.  Dzanc’s eBooks are designed in house, and as noted, work on all formats, ensuring that they look exactly the way they are supposed to on all reading machines.

Dzanc’s eBook titles are available both at our website, and distributed by Constellation, the digital management arm of Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, LLC, which makes them available through all standard retail outlets, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

 

About Dzanc Books

Dzanc Books was created in 2006 to advance great writing and to impact communities nationally with our efforts to advance literary readership and our advocacy of creative writing workshops and readings.  As a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization, Dzanc Books not only publishes literary fiction, but works in partnership with literary journals to advance their readership at every level. Dzanc is also fully committed to developing educational programs in schools.

For more information on Dzanc Books and its mission, imprints, books, authors, awards, and programs, please visit www.dzancbooks.org.

* * *

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18. Kathy Wickett Memorial Dzanc Writer-in-Residence Program

At their blog, Dzanc Books announced today that they have established the Kathy Wickett Memorial Dzanc Writer-in-Residence Program.  This is a pretty big deal for me here at the EWN as it means that my mother's name will be remembered in conjunction with a program I'm very proud of--it's a great combination.

Thanks to the great folks at Community Foundation of SE Michigan and specifically to my Aunt Jean, and Uncle John Wickett for coming up with the idea to donate to Dzanc in my mother's name and ask us to set up something special with it.  This donation will allow Dzanc Books to continue running their writer-in-residence program at the Mack Open School in Ann Arbor for years and with the formation of this particular program, Dzanc has also set it up so that targeted donations to this specific program can continued to be made in Kathy Wickett's name. 

I've written here before about the influence my mother had on me, especially in regard to reading and sharing my love of books with others.  I couldn't be much happier than to be able to announce this today, on what would have been her birthday.

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19. Why the Best of the Web is Important

The Best American Series has a spiffy website up today that has separate pages for each of the anthologies under that moniker.  Each title has a details page which has two tabs, one that lists the pieces that will be fully included within the book, and the other listing the notable works, those that were considered, but not quite the favorites of the Guest Editor.

The series' most popular (I at least have heard this is the case, though have no sales figures to back this up) title, Best American Short Stories, was Guest Edited by Richard Russo this year.   If I understand the process, that is, if it's the same as when Shannon Ravennel was the Series Editor, than Mr. Russo was presented with 120 short stories.  He read them, selected his favorite 20, and boom, an anthology is ready to go with 20 short stories and 100 notable stories.  I know that some Guest Editors come to the table with a story or two in mind, I believe I've read that both Michael Chabon and Stephen King brought some to the anthology that may not have been in that original 120.

A look through the 20 stories selected for inclusion this year finds that 12 whole journals are represented.  Some shockers too:  The New Yorker has two stories, and The Atlantic has a trio.  Tin House is the big winner with four of their publishings being reproduced within the anthology.  McSweeney's is another repeat offender with a trio as well.  Continue looking through the names in the notables and you'll see each of these names appear again, along with a long list of journals--I didn't count, there is a great deal of repetition this year though, I'd venture to guess it's less than 100 total journals represented.

Narrative has a trio of notable stories.  This makes them the King of the Online Journals as not one other online journal has published a story worthy of cracking the Top 120 this year according to the folks behind this anthology.  Nothing from Guernica.  Nothing from failbetter.  No mentions of Storyglossia, or storySouth, or Joyland, or any of the 900 plus online journals you can find listed in the index of Best of the Web 2010.

Some visiting here will not have heard of BotW 2010.  Maybe you haven't heard of the journals noted above, or many online journals.  Here are two links to stories snagged from the BotW 2010 Table of Contents.  Give them a peek and then you two can question how awesome things must be these days if there were 120 better stories published last year.  Christine Schutt published "The Girl Needs to Be Kissed" in Blackbird and Stephen Graham Jones' "Modern Love" was captured by Everyday Genius.

The Best American Mysteries Stories major inclusions do not list the original source, so I have no idea how well they scan the online journal scene, but looking at their notables list (seemingly much lower than 100 stories), the only online only journal I could find listed was Thuglit, with two notable works.

None of the Best American Essays looked like they were from online journals either (though there were definitely some notable essays from online only journals).

This is not meant to be a slam on anybody that will find their name on any of the lists mentioned above (or in the Best Comics, Best Non-Required, Best Travel, Sports, Music, Poems, etc.), not at all.  Their work has gone through astringent process an

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20. Fiction Writers Review Loves the Best of the Web 2010

FictionwritersreviewIf you're not visiting Fiction Writers Review on a regular basis, you're missing out on a great website, and journal.  Wonderful book reviews, great essays, books of the week, giveaways, and more. 

Michael Rudin recently reviewed Best of the Web 2010 over there and did an incredible job - statistically analyzing the content, comparing it to Best of the Web 2009, looking at specific works within the anthology, and using some wonderful graphics as well.  To say that we at Dzanc Books were pleased with the review would be an understatement.  And we understand that later today, the Best of the Web 2010 will be named as their Book of the Week and highlighted over there as well.

One way to be sure to keep up to date with what's new over there is to join their Facebook page.

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21. The Story of Dzanc Books

Many thanks to Jeremiah Chamberlin (see much more of his work at Fiction Writers Review), and Poets & Writers, as JC spent a good 4-6 hours talking to Steven Gillis and myself Steve_and_Dan awhile back and put together a really nice article on the forming of Dzanc Books, how it all works and what our big goals are.  If you have any interest in the early days of either the EWN or Dzanc Books, or what exactly makes the amazing Steven Gillis tick, it's well worth your time to read.

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22. New Book Trailer from Luca Dipierro

And it happens to be a Dzanc title:  Robert Lopez's short story collection due out next month, Asunder.  Art and animation's from Luca, music from Sin Ropas, and the great words are from Lopez and Asunder.

 

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23. Dzanc Books Independent Bookstore Program - Burke's Books

From November 15 through December 14, 2010, Burke's Books of Memphis, TN is the Burkessign2 Dzanc Books Independent Bookstore of the Month.  This gets Dzanc back on track with this program after a month off to take a look at what worked well September 15 through October 14 at Riverrun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH, and tweak a couple of things as well.

Burke's has an incredible history--it's 135 years old for one thing--read much more here

There are two main aspects to the program:

1)  Dzanc Books will continue the donating of a title from our catalog, or one of our imprints.  The patron of Burke's Books will inform us of the library to which the donation will be made.  Dzanc Books has created fliers that have a simple form to fill out and send to us with the receipt, showing that the book was purchased during the correct dates, and was for a book of literary fiction from Burke's Books.  The books do NOT need to have been published by Dzanc or our imprints.

Storefront 2)  Burke's Books, along with promoting the donation of books, will also promote the Dzanc Creative Writing Sessions, our extremely inexpensive and successful writer mentoring program.  For every order to the DCWS placed by a writer that notes on their order that they were sent our way by  Burke's, Dzanc will donate $5 to the Memphis Literary Council, a non-profit based near the bookstore.  Dzanc Books will make this donation in Burke's Books name in one sum at the end of the month.

Throughout the future of the Dzanc Independent Bookstore Program it is our goal to promote shopping at independent bookstores, develop better relationships with the stores we'll be working with, promote literary fiction, help writers via our DCWS program, and to donate both books to libraries, as well as money to worthwhile non-profits local to the bookstores we are working with.  Dzanc Books strongly believes that every single one of these aspects is vital.  Interested bookstores should email Dzanc Books at info@dzancbooks.org.

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24. 2011 Holiday Shopping Guide - Dzanc Books

Gifts photo An annual (at least 3 or 4 years now) tradition--offering literary related holiday gift suggestions, and hopefully pulling many other literary types into the fray and getting their suggestions as well.

Okay, a little self serving here, but no worries, there will be at least one of these per day on up through December 24 from me, and hopefully many guest posts as well during that time.

The first EWN 2011 Holiday Shopping Guide suggestion is going to be that you visit the Dzanc Books website and see that they have a Holiday Sale going on with a few special deals:

Order any trio of Dzanc titles at the low cost of $30 and we will ship them for free. 

Order any five Dzanc titles at the low cost of $40, and also receive free shipping. We will also be happy to split this order, and send the books to two separate addresses to make gift giving easier. In either case, if you'd like the books gift wrapped inside the postage packaging, we will be happy to take care of that for you. Just let us know if the send to address is one different than your own.

Buy a gift eBook Club membership, and we'll also send you a print book for free! Give a friend 17 books over the course of the next 12 months (5 immediately and one per month) for $50 now, and later be billed just $5 per month for the last six months June through November 2011. For more information about the Dzanc eBook Club and our first month's selection--as well as the five eBooks your friend will receive as soon as you sign him or her up--click here.

 

* the photo of gifts has been pulled from an old AARP newsletter that didn't appear to have been copyrighted--as it will be being used throughout the month, I thought I should at least give that much credit to it.

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25. EWN Favorite, George Singleton, to be Published by Dzanc Books

From the Dzanc Books website:

March 7, 2011 - Ann Arbor, MI—Dzanc Books is proud to announce that it will publish a collection of stories by George Singleton in fall 2013, entitled Stray Decorum.  George Singleton has previously published four collections of stories (These People Are Us, the Half-Mammals of Dixie, Why Dogs Chase Cars, Drowning in Gruel), two novels (Novel, Work Shirts for Madmen), and a book on writing advice (Pep Talks, Warnings, and Screeds).  His work has also appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, among them The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, Zoetrope, Oxford American, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, Epoch, Virginia Quarterly Review, Best American Food Writing and ten editions of New Stories from the South.

George, currently a teacher of creative writing at the South Caroline Governor’s Snake arm and Dooley School for the Arts and Humanities, has seen his work widely acclaimed.  Recently he has seen work about his writing in Still in Print: The Southern Novel Today.  Additionally, William Giraldi published “A Holy Impropriety: The Stories of George Singleton” in the Georgia Review’s Winter 2010 issue.  George recently won the Hillsdale Award for Fiction from The Fellowship of Southern Writers.  He lives in South Carolina and has done so since the age of seven minus a quick jaunt to graduate school. George is represented by Christina Ward of the Ward & Balkin Agency.

“Having really enjoyed George’s previous titles,” Dan Wickett said, “we are thrilled at the opportunity to bring his latest collection of stories to the reading public.  The addition of Stray Decorum to what we felt was an already strong 2013 catalogue, and to add somebody of George’s stature to Dzanc’s growing roster of extremely talented authors, is really exciting.  His writing is one-of-a-kind and this collection will only continue to elevate his reputation as one of the funniest writers around.”

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