The Great 2014 Indie Press Preview

This feature began as an idea sparked by the seemingly endless “most anticipated” and “best-of” lists swarming the publishing industry. Sure, these lists are popular and helpful, but since they tend to focus on mainstream books there’s little benefit for small publishers. Why wasn’t there a comprehensive gathering of what the indie community has to offer? Well, I posed that very same question to the indie press community and the reply, it was incredible. Over 70 publishers contacted me in excitement, delighted to reveal their publication schedules. If that weren’t enough, dozens of indie press acolytes were happy to talk about the upcoming books they are most looking forward to reading. I’ve scoured a dizzying array of indie press publication schedules and correspondence to compose the “The Great 2014 Indie Press Preview,” a compendium of some of the most exciting titles of this year and curated by more than a dozen indie press authorities — a companion piece, “The Great 2014 Indie Press Cheat Sheet,” is a comprehensive list of what indie press has to offer this will be published here soon.

I want to pause for a moment to further emphasize the size and caliber of the offering. It’s incredible — it really is — to see such an enthusiastic response. I believe this is another example of why this may very well be the “golden age” of the Indies. We are seeing a community becoming more and more dedicated to these renegade publishing brands. For me, the excitement was always there — the realization that the community was healthy and thriving — but it took something like this to put things into perspective. This is for all you book-lovers with bloodshot eyes, spending long hours in front of the computer in hopes of making a connection. It’s for all the literary citizens making sure to foster community around the act of writing, reading, and spreading the word. You all know who you are.

I’m proud to be one of you.

Michael J Seidlinger is the author of a number of novels including The Laughter of Strangers, My Pet Serial Killer and The Sky Conducting. He serves as Electric Literature‘s Book Reviews Editor as well as Publisher-in-Chief of Civil Coping Mechanisms, an indie press specializing in unclassifiable/innovative fiction and poetry.

Gina Abelkop

Foreigner’s Folly: A Tale of Attempted Project by Jiyoon Lee (Coconut Books)

Coconut Books is on fire this year–as you’ll see, I’m a big fan. Lee is one of my favorite contemporary poets, this knowing cemented when I saw her perform in Chicago two years ago. She passed out candy to the audience, wore a colorful costume and wig, and her poems braid sly, smart questions about belonging, identity and gender into quick, funny lines that keep you seriously tuned in. This will be her first full-length, I believe, after two stellar chapbooks, and can’t come soon enough.

Wetland

Or Replica by Paige Taggart (Brooklyn Arts Press)

Paige Taggart has been writing poems that turn on their heels in such exciting ways for a long time now. Her Greying Ghost and Horseless Press chapbooks made me antsy for a full-length and this year we get not one but two from Taggart! Her poems offer surreal, feral imagery with their feet on the ground, making them doorways to rooms that never disappoints.

Wetlands by Bruxa Lucas de Lima (Action Books)

De Lima’s Ghostlines (Radioactive Moat) is a totally brilliant, totally necessary tome on mourning and trauma. I’ve been waiting for a full-length from him and can’t wait to immerse myself in this, no doubt packed with de Lima’s totally realized creations made of absolutely electric story-telling and buzzing, uncomfortable images that find little crevices in your body and stay there.

YOU DA ONE by Jennifer Tamayo (Coconut Books)

I don’t know if this book’s title is referencing the Rihanna song of the same name, but I sure hope so. I just read Tamayo’s Red Missed Aches Read Missed Aches Red Mistakes Read Mistakes (Switchback Books), shamefully late to the party, and fell madly in love with it from the first page. Like the aforementioned Rihanna song, Tamayo is a playful, rhythmic and wild writer, making games out of words and pinning her images and thoughts wide open.

Gina Abelkop is the author of Darling Beastlettes (Apostrophe Books, 2012) and founder/editor of Birds of Lace Press. She dances to Bow Wow Wow, swims in rivers, and hugs dogs.

Leah Angstman

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Above All Men by Eric Shonkwiler (MG Press)

I will resist the urge to litter this blurb with exclamation points and heart icons, but I am calling this book right now for every Best Book of 2014 award. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a novel, but after reading an early ARC of Above All Men, I can’t wait to hold the final copy in my hands. It’s a near-future, post-collapse story of a war veteran with PTSD struggling to keep his family together when oil runs out, communication stops, violence and drugs escalate, and Mother Nature fights back in epic Steinbeckian fashion. When a murder occurs that runs close to the heart, the lead protagonist flips his switch to revenge mode and brings out intense anger, discomfort, awe, and satisfaction in you that you never even knew you possessed. It’s not a comfortable read, but it’s a necessary one: a book that breathes new life into the reader. Conjure up that discomfort you had when you read The Road and you get an idea of the feeling of Above All Men. Shonkwiler strips the writing to the barest bones, but humming underneath each line is subtle poetry that will seed in you quietly, and his unique voice — a bastard love child of McCarthy, Hemingway, and Faulkner, mixed with entirely distinctive, rare skill of Shonkwiler’s own — will hurl you into a different world, right from page one. A world you’ll have a hard time coming back from.

All Movies Love the Moon: Prose Poems on Silent Film by Gregory Robinson (Rose Metal Press)

I have been ready for this book since I first saw the book trailer, wherein the description from Rose Metal Press reads: “Anyone who watches silent movies will notice how often crashes occur — trains, cars, and people constantly collide, and drama or comedy ensues. Gregory Robinson’s All Movies Love the Moon is also a collision, a theater where prose, poetry, images, and history meet in an orchestrated accident. The result is a film textbook gone awry, a collection of linked prose poems and images tracing silent cinema’s relationship with words — the bygone age of title cards.” How could you not be entranced with that? I stumbled upon the book after recently watching the movie Hugo and becoming obsessed with finding scraps of Méliès and inspiration stemming from him. Robinson’s words captured my obsession perfectly, all the emptiness and shallowness of history, all the richness and eternal mythology of the legends we create through time, all the pain in the eyes of a silent film star’s headshot, all the joy in the fleeting moment of one satisfied audience. Couple Robinson’s rich prose poems with the fact that everything Rose Metal Press creates looks like it just fell from heaven on a velvet pillow, and you’ve got yourself a book that will look and feel as perfect as it reads.

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My Next Bad Decision by Nathan Graziano (Artistically Declined Press)

Nathan Graziano’s writing is gritty and ugly, but beneath stories of drugs and imperfect marriages, is well-crafted language far more poetic than one might first suppose from his subject matter. I own six books by Graziano, and I know for certain that I will get this one, as well, because Graziano’s attention to detail and his intriguing, flawed, humbled anti-heroes are just perfect every time. He puts a lot of himself in his writing, strewing little autobiographical bits throughout his works of otherwise fiction, and you can tell that he’s actually met a good deal of his characters, even if the names have changed. It’s this attention to detail that has made Graziano such a staple of the independent press for decades. I’m more excited about this book than usual, because it’s a collected book of poetry, and I haven’t seen Graziano hovering around the poetry scene for a while now. Refreshing to see him come back to his roots here. My first introduction to Graziano was through his poetry many moons ago — his straight-forward, no-holds-barred, blunt poetic words that can circle around crassness, while still retaining sensitivity; not too many people can achieve that. Graziano will leave you craving a shitty beer, a good ol’ fashioned make-out session, some drunken Red Sox home runs, and a therapist, but it’ll be a damn good grand slam without the infamous New England Puritanical hangover.

Leah Angstman is a transplanted Midwesterner, unsure of what feels like home anymore. She writes historical fiction, poetry, and plays; has had 20 chapbooks published; and has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations. Recently, she won the 2013 Nantucket Directory Poetry Contest and took honorable mentions in the 2013 Bevel Summers Prize for Short Fiction (Washington & Lee University), the 2013 Baltimore Science Fiction Society Poetry Contest, and the 2013 West Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Suisun Valley Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Tupelo Quarterly, Winter Tangerine Review, and Shenandoah. She can be found at http://leahangstman.com.

David S. Atkinson

The ABCs of Dinkology 2 by AE Stueve (EAB Publishing)

I’m a fan of using a graphic/text mixed form to do serious stories so I definitely wanted to see the first volume of The ABCs of Dinkology. However, I didn’t realize when I went for it that it was just a first volume. I’ve been waiting anxiously to find out what’s going to happen next. I need to know.

A Different Bed Every Time by Jac Jemc (Dzanc Books)

Three words: My Only Wife. If you’ve read My Only Wife like I have, you know why I’m eagerly anticipating A Different Bed Every Time. If you haven’t read My Only Wife yet, you need to. Then you’ll be wanting to see A Different Bed Every Time as much as I do.

Hagridden by Sam Snoek-Brown (Columbus Press)

Two women attempt to live in the bayou of Louisiana as the Civil War rages in the rest of the country outside. I’ve seen so many books about people wrapped up in the war itself, I’m curious to see how Snoek-Brown develops characters who are affected by the war but are still removed from it to some degree. Given the magnitude of emotion Snoek-Brown called up in Box Cutters, this one promises big.

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Noir: A Love Story by Edward J Rathke (CCM)

A novel that can be read in any order, a ton of different narrators all speaking about a couple of people who they don’t really know. I’ve just got to see how Rathke pulls this off. Ash Cinema suggests he’d going to be able to and I’ve got to see how.

The Sea-God’s Herb by John Domini (Dzanc Books)

This is a non-fiction collection of John’s essays and reviews. I know John’s fiction well (I’ve read all his fiction books) and I know the kind of interesting and entertaining insights he can bring to the examination of literature and art in general by attending and AWP presentation of his. I’m excited to see more or this on a more detailed level, enabling me to expand my understanding of works I already know and love. Of course, I won’t have to stew in my anticipation as long as the rest of you for this one: I’ve already got a review galley.

David S. Atkinson is the author of Bones Buried in the Dirt and the forthcoming The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (EAB Publishing, spring 2014). His writing appears in “Bartleby Snopes,” “Grey Sparrow Journal,” “Interrobang?! Magazine,” “Atticus Review,” and others. His writing website is http://davidsatkinsonwriting.com/ and he spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.

Beach Sloth

Horse Girl by Thais Benoit (Plain Wrap Press)

Thais Benoit writes in close proximity to her subjects. With such closeness comes such familiarity. Her ability to capture the beautiful in the mundane is exquisite. Ever since she came out with her chapbook with NAP, things have been getting progressively better. Anyone who can get their hands on this ought to get their hands on this.

Polymath by Mike Bushnell (Scrambler Books)

Mike Bushnell is a tornado of a person. Everything around him gets sucked into his vortex. What comes out are some of the single best lines I have encountered. The energy he possesses with live readings translates extremely well into the written word. Polymath has been a long time a coming but thank goodness it is finally here.

S/N/D by Soren Melville (CCM)

S/N/D is excellent. Never before have I encountered a book that felt like such calm ripples on the water’s surface. This book helps me relax. Like the quiet music I love, reading this gives me a newfound love of my surroundings. Anyone who feels anxious or overwhelmed ought to simply read this and breathe for the first time in a long time. That’s what I did.

TheYoloPages2

The YOLO Pages (Boost House)

Steve Roggenbuck has created a new different writing world. Positivity is what he professes from the top of his lungs. Ever since he began touring he has slowly been incorporating these ideas into new forms. The YOLO Pages is the first collection Steve Roggenbuck has put together of equally like-minded individuals. Writing gets a tortured, troubled name, which is true in some, but not cases. What the YOLO Pages aims to do is celebrate life, to show that writing can express a deep-felt joy with the world.

Beach Sloth blogs hard.

David Blumenshine

Don Dreams and I Dream by Leah Umansky (Kattywompus Press)

Simply, I have never encountered writing by Umansky that I did not carry inside of me long after the read. I am glad she is getting a lot of new material out recently. I’m really really looking forward to this.

Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon (Action Books)

Kim Hyesoon is a god. All the Garbage of the World Unite! is one of the most important books of poetry the last decade (at least) has been produced for American readers. Don Mee Choi, a fantastic writer on her own terms, translates with adept grace which must be some kind of labor considering the language shifts from gutter ball fairy tale to abortion clinic “gas masked” talk. As fantastic as that could sound, Hyesoon is academic in the bravest sense of the word, and consistently devours her topics absolutely with obscure reference, slang, and courtroom cadence. She understands the necessity of unnecessary, and vice versa: What is greatest is she understands timing for both, and strikes acute targets obliterate.

David Blumenshine is co-founder & editor in chief of Similar:Peaks::, whose writing has or will be appearing in H_NGM_N, Octopus, Deluge, Smoking Glue Gun, HTMLgiant, Passages North, Paper Darts, 5/Quarterly, & elsewhere. living in Peoria, IL with his partner Rachel Burns, he has enfatuations with Kafka, Kanye, Larry David, & Fence Magazine. illum/inati 4 life.

Tobias Carroll

Faces in the Crowd: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press)

Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd is like nothing I’ve read in a while: a writer begins writing about her obsession with a decades-gone poet, and gradually present and past and, well, further past begin to converge. I’d call it dreamlike metafiction, but that sounds overly formal. This is anything but; its musings on obsession and ambition are haunting, and its sense of place is fantastic.

InsideMadeleineBomer

Inside Madeleine: Stories by Paula Bomer (Soho Press)

Paula Bomer’s previous collection, Baby and Other Stories, hit the same bleakly comic sweet spot as some of Sam Lipsyte’s best work; her novel Nine Months deconstructed a Brooklyn marriage and squandered artistic ambition. Bomer’s skill at getting inside the heads of unpredictable characters never fails to impress, and this new collection looks to offer more windows into complex lives.

Let Go and Go On and On by Tim Kinsella (Curbside Splendor)

What surprised me most about The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense, Tim Kinsella’s first novel, was its restraint. As a singer and lyricist, Kinsella thrives on the unhinged and abstract; in prose, he’s restrained, seeking out the human connections between his characters. His second novel is based on the tragically short life of actress Laurie Bird (Two-Lane Blacktop, Annie Hall).

Tobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. His fiction and criticism has recently appeared in The Collagist, Joyland, The Collapsar, Necessary Fiction, Underwater New York, The Paris Review Daily, Tin House, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter at @TobiasCarroll and online at www.thescowl.org.

Justin Carter

A Sunny Place with Adequate Water by Mary Biddinger (Black Lawrence Press)

Mary Biddinger’s third full length comes out in May from Black Lawrence. Biddinger’s work takes the reader between extremes — from the church to the bar, and then back into the liminal space between them. Her poems observe and reminisce. They show readers a world informed by nostalgia and booze, by sexuality and small towns. If this book is anything like Biddinger’s last book, O Holy Insurgency, the reader is in for a wild ride.

By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente (Dzanc Books)

ASunnyPlaceWithAdequateWater

Anne Valente’s short stories often get clinical and precise, focusing on the lives of individuals in need of something — whether it be a golden bead that gives immortality or a way to record everything about a life. Valente’s stories present real people in often weird situations. Her work explores the often unexplored worlds of doctors and would-be astronauts, of girls who like woodworking and diseases that don’t actually exist. I don’t know which of these stories will be collected in this book, but I know that the reader will be in for a wild and enjoyable ride.

Sylph by Abigail Cloud (Pleiades)

Bias alert: I’m excited about this book because Cloud is the editor of the Mid-American Review, the literary journal that I work with. Cloud’s work tackles the idea of femininity. In her poems, we see dancers and demons and birds existing together. In Lost Wedding Ring Demon, Cloud writes: “You remember the miracle of gold letters / a clip of rings. Some day you will need butter/ to slim that finger to undress it before your heart / is opened.” The speakers in this book do what the speaker in the poem does: “bottle [their] faith into one small object.”

Justin Carter is an MFA candidate at BGSU & co-editor of Banango Street. His poems and stories appear or are forthcoming in Booth, The Collagist, Hobart, Ninth Letter, Shabby Doll House, & Whiskey Island. He also edits reviews & is planning out the future podcast for Mid-American Review. Find him online at http://justinrcarter.tumblr.com.

Shane Cartledge

The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr (Lazy Fascist Press)

Oh man, Motherfucking Sharks was a beautiful read. Something that could easily have been a shitty Sharknado knock-off. But it didn’t succumb to the ridiculous expectations of the trashy parody. It was smart, really well written, with a great story paying homage to the Western genre. It also happened to have the ridiculous concept of flying sharks in the desert. Not funny, just terrifying. I’d be willing to check out more of Brian’s work after reading Motherfucking Sharks. My thoughts on The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World is that it holds a lot of promise for a narrative that could, in the wrong hands, be very average. However, I don’t doubt that Brian has the smarts and the skills to carve out a story that lives up to the title and exceeds it.

LongLostDogofItKazepis

Long Lost Dog Of It by Michael Kazepis (Broken River Books)

I met this guy at BizarroCon 2012 and my impression of him was that he’s a smart guy who’s well read. His short story ‘Time in the Shadow of the Thing Too Big to See’ from the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction Issue 9 reinforced that. This is his debut. The description is fascinating. It’s coming out through Broken River Books. J. David Osborne is another guy who seems to know his shit, and who has worked with some pretty impressive talent himself, so it’s hard to ignore the stuff he’s putting out through Broken River. Also, the cover design (by Matthew Revert) is pretty stunning.

Paper Champion by Shane Jones (CCM)

Light Boxes is a fantastic book. The books I love so much, sometimes I give my copy to a friend I think will love it as much as I do, and then I get another copy. I did that with Light Boxes because what Shane Jones wrote was a masterpiece. Now there’s a forthcoming title from Shane Jones and it’s being published through CCM? I don’t know what Paper Champion is about, but I can’t wait to wrap my fingers around it.

To Those Whose Lives We’ve Ruined by Matthew Revert (Lazy Fascist Press)

I’ve read a couple of Matthew’s short stories from A Million Versions of Right. I think “the Great Headphone Wank” is probably the most memorable short story I’ve read. To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sold on any of Matthew’s books before Basal Ganglia. They were certainly books I wanted to check out, and I knew the writing would be great quality, but to me they didn’t bring with them a sense of urgency that grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you and yells “holy shit, read me now!!!” Basal Ganglia felt to me like a career-defining turning point for Matthew. His designs have been consistently impressive, but this was the first time his fiction demanded my attention. I don’t think he can repeat the impossibly magical sensation of Basal Ganglia right off the bat, but I won’t make the mistake of letting it slide. I’m willing to bet that it won’t be as exhilarating as Basal Ganglia, but that it will still be very, very good.

Shane (S.T. Cartledge) is a bizarro author and avid collector and reader of books. His first book, House Hunter, was published in 2012 as part of Eraserhead Press’ New Bizarro Author Series. In 2013 he graduated Curtin University with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing (first class honours). In 2014 he is looking forward to reading many great books and hopefully writing a few of his own. 2015 is a distant dream like the shore of some far-away purple planet populated only by talking rocks and mutant plant-monsters.

Jason Cook

Because by Joseph Riippi (CCM)

What is this book about? I don’t know. Why am I looking forward to it? I don’t know. Sometimes you’ve got to leap into a book headfirst knowing nothing about anything to do with it. The mystery drew me into this one. What is Because? What does it mean? I don’t know! Tell me! If Michael J. Seidlinger’s work as publisher-in-chief of CCM is relative to the quality of work of his writing and design (the cover of this book is pretty rad), then surely the authors he gets behind are worth a read. I’ve got my fingers crossed for this one, going in blind.

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Forest of Fortune by Jim Ruland (Tyrus Books)

Forest of Fortune promises excitement not for any particular thing Jim Ruland has done, but for who he is. His debut collection, Big Lonesome, numerous articles, and of course his reading series are all testament to a wildly inventive imagination, quick wit, and wry sense of humor. Ruland’s debut novel looks to be a classic tale of hijinks and the horror of life on the other side of hard. I can’t wait to read this.

Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours by Luke Goebel (FC2)

Some writers write, and some others climb buttes in the desert in the middle of the night and howl at the space where the moon should be. Luke Goebel is that kind of writer. His debut collection, Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours, shivers with a primal energy, a raw urgency crashing through every word. There is a lush beauty in the way Goebel tries desperately to find words for the inexpressible, trying again and again.

O, Democracy! By Kathleen Rooney (Fifth Star Press)

Kathleen Rooney is an accomplished and intelligent poet. O Democracy! is a sprawling and ambitious work, but also just a smart idea: the story of the re-election of the other senator from Illinois during the 2008 presidential race. Rooney weaves crackling, natural dialog, razor-edged insights into American politics, and elegant prose into a surprising narrative that attempts to re-insert passion into an unremarkable life behind the scenes behind the podium.

Jason Cook is founding editor of Ampersand Books. He thinks you look great in those pants.

Tyler Crumrine

Work Ethic by Tim Paggi (Ink Press Productions)

Tim Paggi’s poems invite you to crack his candy coating and chew long and hard on the gummy center. Natural and artificial flavors mix with citric acidic as his monologues seep deeper and deeper into your bloodstream. Hold on too tightly and their colors will stain your hands. Good luck washing them off.

Tyler Crumrine is a Pittsburgh-based dramaturg and the editor of Plays Inverse Press. He tweets small press monologue recommendations every Monday @PlaysInverse. Magic and mystery are part of his history, along with the secret of gummiberry juice.

Mark Cugini

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American Barricade by Danniel Schoonebeek (YesYes Books)

I’ve seen Danniel read from this book two times now — once in a noisy backyard in Brooklyn, and once in a quiet living room in Baltimore. Both times, Danniel lit shit on fire. These poems are masculine and they’re grotesque, but they’re also often sentimental and earnest and reflective of the poet’s complicated “self.” Danniel is a loud reader; I am a quiet one (in the privacy of my own home, at least). I can’t wait to be alone with his yelling.

Invisible Reveille by Carina Finn (Coconut Books)

A lot of people like Girls. I don’t like Girls, but I’d really be into it if Carina Finn were the one writing it. Many women try to write about boys and privilege and womanhood, but Carina does it with a raw, unnerving aggression that makes me feel both incredibly close to her and incredibly distant from her. Fuck, I can’t wait for this book.

More No Good by Alexis Pope (Coconut Books)

I’ve seen Alexis Pope’s poems all over the place, but when her chapbook from H_NGM_N came out in December, I was all oh jeez, oh boy. When I found out that there were more of these No Goodies, I just lost it — Alexis’s poems are tender and heartfelt and surprising, like warm cookies and big blankets and bigger hugs. Alexis is around you and in you and she wants to comfort you.

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Research: A Novel for Performance by Joseph Riippi (CCM)

This book is something, because it’s not just a book — it’s also a play. I saw a script reading of the play in 2011 and I was just blown away: it’s set in an interrogation room, and by the time it was over, I felt as if everything I knew about myself was a lie. If Lish had edited a manuscript that Eugene Martin flat-out hijacked from Paul Zindel, it’d be titled Research. I’m excited about both of Joe’s CCM books, but this one feels like my cousin.

Wolf Doctors by Russ Woods (Artifice Books)

Russ Woods absolutely murdered 2013 — it felt like he was everywhere. And he should be everywhere, because his poems are these crazy, somehow happy pastoral protest chants, if that could even be a thing. It’s like Russ is in the middle of this long, open-mouthed makeout session with the world, but in Wolf Doctor you’re starting to wonder if he’s ever going to close his eyes.

Mark Cugini is the author of I’m Just Happy To Be Here (Ink Press, 2014). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Melville House, Hobart, Sink Review, Barrelhouse, NOÖ, Everday Genius, and other publications. He’s a founding editor of Big Lucks, a regular contributor to HTMLGiant, and the curator of the Three Tents Reading Series in Washington, DC.

Joanie DiMartino

I'llBeRightHereShin

I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-sook Shin (Other Press)

Kyung-sook Shin’s novel, I’ll Be Right There, is her seventh book, and the second of her body of work to be translated into English. I love world literature, and was pleased to discover this Korean author through her first book in English, Please Look After Mom. Shin’s perspective on relationships is nuanced; she doesn’t shy away from what is complex, complicated or painful in everyday human connections. I suspect Jung Yoon, the protagonist in I’ll Be Right There, will share with readers her own passage through grief and tragedy, as she shares memories of traumatic events sparked by a distressing call from an ex-boyfriend. Yet along with human struggles there is also vibrancy and richness in the lives of her characters, and an understanding of love and solitude that is universal. I read Kyung-sook Shin to discover through literature what the reality of life is like in South Korea, but I find as well that I discover the truths that live in all of us.

Like Oysters Observing the Sun by Brenda Sieczkowski (Black Lawrence Press)

Brenda Sieczkowski’s first full-length collection, Like Oysters Observing the Sun, will no doubt offer readers the same hard, honest view of life offered in her previous collection, with lovely imagery to soften the truths spoken within these pages. I enjoy Sieczkowski’s work with language and form, and am excited to discover her new collection. If books can be judged by their covers, than here we can expect no less than the exquisite surreal, meshing with life’s greater themes within these pages!

Joanie DiMartino is the author of two books of poetry, Licking the Spoon and Strange Girls. Along with traditional journals and anthologies, her work has appeared in many different collaborative projects with artists, most recently Poetry of the Wild. She is currently at work on a collection of poems about the 19th-century whaling industry. DiMartino also directs the Hidden Treasures Poetry Series at the Courtyard Gallery in downtown Mystic, CT.

Kate Durbin

Two Memoirs by Amanda Montei (Jaded Ibis Productions)

Montei’s mirrored memoir of a daughter and her mother not only looks like it will play with ideas of authorship and memory in groundbreaking ways, but her book also has all the sauce that every good coming of age story needs. Set in the shadows of Hollywood, there is a failed stint on The Real World, drug use, Barbara Streisand’s assistant, eugenics obsessed ancestors like Aaron Burr and Jonathan Edwards, bad sex, and a comatose ex-boyfriend. What more could a reader want?

Kate Durbin is a Los Angeles-based writer and artist. She is author of The Ravenous Audience (Akashic Books, 2009), E! Entertainment (Wonder, forthcoming), and co-author of Abra, forthcoming as an iPad app and artist book with the help of a grant from Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Abra will also be published as a trade paperback by 1913 Press. Kate is founding editor of Gaga Stigmata, and her tumblr project, Women as Objects, archives the teen girl tumblr aesthetic. Her projects have been featured by Poets and Writers, Salon.com, Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Spex, NPR, Hyperallergic,com, poets.org, Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion, Yale’s The American Scholar, The Rumpus, Vice, Rhizome, and others. She is the winner of an &Now Innovative Writing Award.

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Natalie Eilbert

Mala by Monica McClure (Poor Claudia)

If poetic fame comes from a frighteningly comprehensive grasp of Western philosophy, culture, haut couture, 21st-century feminism, and Tumblr, then indeed Monica McClure is our “It” gurl. And of course this is true. Sashaying bling-strong out of the golden rays of Mood Swing (Snacks Press, 2013), she comes to bring us her forthcoming chapbook, Mala (Poor Claudia). This one will be further tied to McClure’s intellectualizing of race and heritage, gender and hypocrisy, girlhood and pop songs. With poems taking their titles from Mexican slang like “petocha” and “chiflada,” we get a stereoscopic look at identity, sex/gossip/scandal, and men in this autohistoria-teoria, all with the benefit of McClure’s incredibly relentless voice as our guide.

Red Poems by Vanessa Jimenez Gabb (Similar Peaks)

Vanessa Jimenez Gabb possesses everything around her when she sets out to write poems. Her bright thinking, too, gets embroiled in the mix of her various rooms, whether she is considering Platonic certainties or just how hood she can get watching television in her apartment. It’s this sort of negotiation of high and low properties that makes her forthcoming book from Similar:Peaks, Red Poems, so exciting. Here, she is the space of her city, but also the space and the anti-space of her Latino roots. Gabb’s work is at once hilarious and insightful — she invites us to cram ourselves inside her mind and her worlds, worlds in which there are dope skies and paid vacations and Jean-Luc Picard and even a wild heart or two.

Natalie Eilbert’s work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Guernica, West Branch, Sixth Finch, Spinning Jenny, STOKED, HTMLGiant, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Conversation with the Stone Wife, is forthcoming from Bloof Books this year. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, where she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.

Brian Alan Ellis

Addicts & Basements by Robert Vaughan (CCM)

The excerpts of lively, eccentric, and compact vignettes found in this collection left me wanting more — like an addict in a basement.

AddictsResized

The Collected Works of Noah Cicero Vol. 2 by Noah Cicero (Lazy Fascist Press)

Noah Cicero slimes you with the grit of living. In Collected Works Volume 1, he showcased strippers, mental patients, neurotics, addicts, prostitutes, child abusers, dishwashers, fetishists — the lonely, the maddened, the indifferent — and he did it with both judgment and compassion. Mostly compassion. Cicero pulls no punches, and he hits often, and Volume 2 promises the kind of bruises you can be proud of.

Eat, Knucklehead by Craig Griffin (Publishing Genius Press)

A literary cookbook comprised of letters from a Dad to a son who can’t cook and only eats fast food and microwave dinners? I love fast food and never had a father, so this should be good.

Brian Alan Ellis is the author of The Mustache He’s Always Wanted but Could Never Grow and 33 Fragments of Sick-Sad Living. His fiction has appeared in such publications as Skive, The Single Hound, Zygote in My Coffee, Monkeybicycle, DOGZPLOT, Conte, FLARE: The Flagler Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, flashquake, Spittoon, Spry, Emerge, Thieves Jargon, NAP, and Atticus Review, among others, and was also adapted and performed by the “Stories on Stage” theatre program in Denver, Colorado. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and works at a barbecue slop house.

Ben Fama

My Apologies Accepted by Bunny Rogers (CCM)

Bunny Rogers’ poetry may be expanded from the thesis that states “entertainment depends on violence and my pain is at the heart of your violence.” Bunny Rogers takes on this violence of representation in her melancholy performance of expression by someone who probably does not want to be near you. Rogers’s pins a ribbon on her texts, which, like her art, seems to say, “I’ll play the doll, a girl, a novelty, a female artist, performing just for you, but you will pay.” Bunny Rogers’s My Apologies Accepted is forthcoming from Civil Coping Mechanisms in September of his year. For now, listen to this reading and then spend a few hours on her site, Cunny Poem.

Shadow Lanka by Brandon Brown (Big Lucks)

Summer, wouldn’t that be nice? I consider Flowering Mall to be a touchpoint of feeling for our time (of the political, the personal, the attempts to proceed in the arts). Lush, legendary, you have to read it. I work a boring office job, wrapped in the asexual language of administrative communications. When I think of Brandon Brown’s writing, I think of summer, when the luxury of time affords clarity of mind. I get summer Fridays off… I imagine this tradition is from a pre-internet feet-up-on-the-desk era of employment, where after a long, boozy lunch on Friday you escape sweaty New York July toward cool, watery landscapes upstate. This longing feeling I’ve now worked up in myself is the same feeling I get waiting for Shadow Lanka to come out. And PS: Brandon is an editor for Krupskaya, along with Stephanie Young.

@snarkus666 by Marcus McDonald (Similar Peaks)

Marcus McDonald’s wry, slant tone will finally be collected IRL in this debut chapbook. Poems such “#yolo” and “this is what feels good” show us what to do when we’ve finally accepted that we’ll only live once. I recently heard Marcus read from this manuscript, and trend topics include Ariana Reines being read to Nikki Giovanni, notifications, sex, camp, glory holes…I may be misremembering, or maybe I am just thinking of the @snarkus666 “feeling.”

Ben Fama is the author of Fantasy (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), Mall Witch (Wonder, 2012), and the chapbook Cool Memories (Spork Books, 2013). He lives in New York City.

Molly Gaudry

KLEIN

How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales: Stories by Kate Bernheimer (Coffee House Press)

A long time ago, in a city far, far away, I found and read my very first Kate Bernheimer book. To this day, I believe she can do no wrong. I’ll read anything she writes, and I’ll undoubtedly learn more about myself and my own writing than from 100 other books. Truth is, I hope every young writer is lucky enough to discover a particular writer who speaks to her more than any other, a writer whose words reach out through the pages and touch her heart, the way Kate Bernheimer has done for me.

I’m Just Happy To Be Here by Mark Cugini (Ink Press Productions)

I’m just happy to be here, too, so I can read this book! Even if I do suspect it might break my heart. Let it! Because my further suspicion is that it will probably then pick up the pieces and put them back together, so perfectly that you’ll never see the cracks.

Thanks and Sorry and Good Luck by Lee Klein (Barrelhouse Books)

At one time, receiving a rejection letter from Lee Klein was a rite of passage into indie lit. A person wore her rejection letter like a badge of honor. And, of course, shame. Oh the shame! The wonderful, hilarious, agonizing shame of receiving an Eyeshot rejection, and then perhaps seeing it posted online for anyone to see. Blunderers, beware! And young writers everywhere, take note: there are important lessons here; read them, then heed them.

Molly Gaudry is the author of We Take Me Apart, which was named 2nd finalist for the 2011 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil. In 2014, Ampersand Books will release Desire: A Haunting, the sequel to We Take Me Apart. Molly teaches at the Yale Writers’ Conference, and she is the creative director at The Lit Pub.

Liberty Hardy

KarateChopNors

Karate Chop: Stories by Dorthe Nors and Martin Aitken (Graywolf Press)

Based on the amount of love for this book I have already seen on the internet, I’m betting this will be the big indie press short story collection to read in 2014.

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (New Directions)

Muriel Spark is a goddess and I cannot recommend her enough. This is one of her best, about a group of elderly friends who all receive an ominous phone call, reminding them they’re going to die. Spark is a must for fans of Paula Fox, Jane Bowles and Barbara Comyns.

The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell (Melville House)

I have already read this book and can safely say it is definitely — wait for it — weird. And awesome. It has The Devil and Warlocks and sandwiches! It also already has my vote for best cover of 2014.

Liberty Hardy is a bookseller at RiverRun Bookstore and a contributing editor for Book Riot. Reading is her favorite thing to do, and yes, she has cats.

Gabino Iglesias

40 Likely to Die Before 40: An Introduction to Alt Lit edited by Cameron Pierce and Michael J Seidlinger (CCM)

Civil Coping Mechanisms is bringing us 40 Likely to Die Before 40: An Introduction to Alt Lit, edited by Cameron Pierce and Michael J Seidlinger. This is the first Alt Lit anthology ever. Scott McClanahan blew me away with Crapalachia and Hill William, and he’s in the anthology. Some other names on that table of contents include Noah Cicero, Heiko Julien, Gabby Bess, Sam Pink, and Ana Carrete. Plus, the editors both run presses that have never disappointed me. What I’m saying is this: this is going to be fucking gold.

Crystal Eaters by Shane Jones (Two Dollar Radio)

I keep expecting to read magical realism gems, and Crystal Eaters promises to deliver something akin to that. The fact that it’s coming from Two Dollar Radio is also a very good sign. Yeah, I’m eager to know what Remy’s up to.

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The First One You Expect By Adam Cesare (Broken River Books)

Cesare has been one of my favorite horror authors for a while. With The First One You Expect, we’re talking about his crime debut. I’ve been waiting for this for a while. It’ll be here soon. If you know his work, you’re excited for this. If you don’t, then you should trust me on this one and be excited anyway.

Repo Shark By Cody Goodfellow (Broken River Books)

Have you read Goodfellow? It’s like cracking your skull open and pouring cocaine, LSD, a dictionary on fire, and a stack of cookies into the hole. Yeah, you bet I’m looking forward to doing more of that.

Witch Piss by Sam Pink (Lazy Fascist Press)

With every new release, Pink’s writing somehow becomes simultaneously funnier and more poignant. His writing is like an electric shock to the brain and I always crave more.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth (Eraserhead Press). His work has appeared in The New York Times, Verbicide, The Rumpus, HTMLGiant, The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, Z Magazine, Out of the Gutter, Word Riot, and other print and online venues.

Ashley Inguanta

If I Would Leave Myself Behind by Lauren Becker (Curbside Splendor)

I read the title story of this book in the Atticus Review last year. I remember being warmed by the way the narrator longed for something steady as she looked for bats under an Austin bridge. I love the way Lauren Becker’s writing grounds readers with honesty.

Not For Nothing by Stephen Graham Jones (Dzanc Books)

Stephen Graham Jones’s work has influenced me deeply over the years, and I am looking forward to reading this new novel. The protagonist is starting over with nothing — and the building, the risks involved here, the journey — I can’t wait to see how this story evolves. That is my favorite thing about Jones’s work — the way the characters evolve, the way time works.

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We Take Me Apart by Molly Gaudry (Ampersand Books)

This book has brought great comfort to me over the years, and I am looking forward to its re-release. We Take Me Apart has changed the way I experience loss and transition. There is one page I keep going back to: The narrator loses her mother and lover, and she is faced with herself, simply. I love the way Molly Gaudry has a way of opening and grounding readers with her writing.

Ashley Inguanta is a writer/photographer who is driven by landscape, place. Her first collection, The Way Home, is out with Dancing Girl Press (and has been re-published for Kindle with The Writing Disorder), and she has translated the collection into a live performance, too, with dancing and music. This year, her poem “San Andreas Fault,” which appears in The Ampersand Review, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her new collection of poetry and photographs, For The Woman Alone, is forthcoming with Ampersand Books in Spring 2014. Ashley is also the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly. She is currently working on a new collection of poems titled In Another Time, I Would Have Taken my Lover to Sicily.

Guy Intoci

A Life in Men by Gina Frangello (Algonquin)

If this book is anywhere near as good as Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press) — which somehow managed to be horrifying and humorous and everything you could ask for in one book — then this will easily be one of the best books of 2014.

The New Black: A Neo- Noir Anthology edited by Richard Thomas (Curbside Splendor)

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It’s one hell of a bold statement for a brand new imprint called Dark House to compile a neo-noir collection and call it The New Black, to say the very least. So if you’re going to do so, you’d better bring it. Sure enough, the table of contents is an absolute murders’ row of genre-bending authors, including the likes of Craig Clevenger, Craig Davidson, Craig Wallwork, and even a few guys and gals who aren’t named Craig at all.

Praying Drunk by Kyle Minor (Sarabande Books)

In fact, one of the authors not named Craig in Dark House’s first release is Kyle Minor, who also has his own book of short stories due out in 2014. And if you haven’t heard about this one yet, then you’ve been living under a rock. I was lucky enough to grab an advanced copy of Praying Drunk some months back and it’s damn near impossible to put down. So why am I including it on my list of most-anticipated 2014 releases? Because this book lives up to every bit of hype it’s received so far and I’m the kind of guy who likes to say, “I told you so.” That’s why.

Guy Intoci, A former editor at MacAdam/Cage Publishing and former editor-in-chief of MP Publishing, he is currently the senior editor at Dzanc Books. For more information, please visit dzancbooks.org, or email him atguy@dzancbooks.org.

Jamie Iredell

The Annotated Mixtape by Joshua Harmon (Dzanc Books)

Years ago I saw Joshua Harmon read from this book in Atlanta, and I knew it was going to be something. Lyric nonfiction — almost prose poetry — that is also music criticism. Harmon has already put out the amazing novel Quinnehtukqut, and the poetry collections Scape and Le Spleen de Poughkeepsie, and this venture into yet another genre will only add to his stellar repertoire.

E! Entertainment by Kate Durbin (Wonder)

I’ve been a fan of Kate Durbin’s for a while now, but mostly for her performance pieces. But man, those pieces. She is at the head of what seems to be a new wave of feminism, one that’s desperately needed in this time of conservative patriarchal backlash. She puts on the sweet/disturbing/psycho/diva face and makes us all feel our depravity. I can’t wait for this book.

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Made to Break by D Foy (Two Dollar Radio)

All I know about this book is what I’ve read from the copy provided by Two Dollar Radio, but any book set in my old stomping grounds of Lake Tahoe and that features a wintry survival situation wrought with violence has got my attention.

Jamie Iredell’s most recent book is I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac. He lives in Atlanta.

Simon Jacobs

Fat Man and Little Boy by Mike Meginnis (Black Balloon Publishing)

It’s about fucking time. Mike Meginnis is responsible for some of the most involved and elaborate and interesting projects I’ve encountered on the internet (see Angband at The Collagist; Exits Are, etc), bound up with soulful, wrenching writing. No one writes longing and violent ache like he does. This all means that his first novel — a re-telling of the two atomic bombs dropped over Japan at the end of WWII, embodied as two brothers — is going to be absolutely devastating. I am going to read this book and probably cry on the subway.

None of Us Know Any Stories by Emma Sovich (Dancing Girl Press)

Between Emma Sovich and Katy Gunn (the other Tuscaloosian on my list), we have two masters of writing texture and the body. This chapbook, populated by characters from Peter Pan, will be intricate, unsettling, physical stuff, worth all of our most fastidious attention. (For proof, we don’t need to look much further than Emma’s piece about these two statues talking to each other, or, cunningly, “Kathy Acker and the Cuttlefish.”) Watch out.

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Simon Jacobs is the author of SATURN, a collection of David Bowie stories, out soon from Spork Press. He may be found at simonajacobs.blogspot.com.

Brian Ted Jones

My Struggle: Book Three by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Archipelago)

Uncanny, hypnotic, and, at times, almost superhumanly beautiful, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ruthless investigation of himself and his life is a testament to the power of art and memory to find meaning in the face of the exhausting march of time. My Struggle: Book Three continues this journey; we’re lucky to have it.

The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide: Stories by Schuler Benson (Alternating Current)

Schuler Benson has a playwright’s ear for dialogue, a poet’s eye for scene, and a comic’s sense for when the sane is actually crazy, the crazy actually sane. The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide announces Benson’s place in the tradition of Wells Tower, Barry Hannah, and Mark Twain: here comes another great documentarian of the agonized and hilarious souls who inhabit Rural America.

Brian Ted Jones was born in 1984 and raised in southeastern Oklahoma. He lives with his wife, Jenne, and their sons Oscar and GuyJack. His short novel, The Waterbed Salesman, will be published in 2014 by BULL Men’s Fiction.

Gene Kwak

Beside Myself by Ashley Farmer (Tiny Hardcore Press)

Ashley writes sentences that are unexpected. Let’s not get out of hand. You’ve seen sentences. You know how they work, how they unfurl, how they bend back. But on occasion you come across a sentence that’s so inevitable yet unexpected that you feel like the start of it was a burl in the brain of some cloud-walking, lightning bolt-holding god eons and epochs before man or woman ever set solid foot on this earth. I said not to get out of hand, but let’s be honest, it’s an occasion worth getting worked up over. Because whether e-mail, tax form, or open letter, most sentences are going to go from point A to point B in as pedestrian a way as possible. When you come across a sentence that jukes-and-steps when you’re expecting it to come straight-ahead, and does so in a way that’s equally as full of power and light as it is surprise, well shit, what could be better? Winning lotto ticket? Take it. Hometown team cinching the division rivalry? I can wait. A sentence is a vehicle that can do so much: alter the plasticity of the brain, encourage empathy, shift the goalposts of big picture thinking.

WhoCanMakeIt

Who Can Make It by Mike Young (Big Lucks)

No secret Mike Young is a pal of mine. It’s also no secret anytime Mike tells me he’s working on poems I’m probably thumbs-downing his efforts whether he can see me or not. Not because I dislike Mike’s poetry, but because I’d much rather he work on fiction. He’s easily one of the best storytellers since Aesop gave up the robe. But, if I’m being honest, his voice in the poetics is closer to the real Mike Young, the word wizard, finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-pulse guy who finds the tenderness and humanity in a story about friends and family participating in a Coca-Cola toast to celebrate a man who died in a tragic workplace accident. Young once admitted to me that sometimes his voice in the fiction can sway a little too mean, a little too wise-acre. It’s easy to don the hard-shell, the fuck you suit. The bad-man mustache. It takes a whole other kind of bravery to expose the soft parts underneath.

Gene Kwak is from Omaha, Nebraska.

TJ Lyons

The Inevitable June by Bob Schofield (the NewerYork)

This morning I’m stuffed in my bathtub excited for Bob Schofield’s, Inevitable June, because he is the future of American Surrealism. I feel like I’m being born again here as a new kind of bathwater from an old sea where Bob’s sea monsters are separating the ocean into a manageable meal. Pretend you’re not a stomach. Bob’s brain formed when the moon first crashed into earth. Bob’s body was born in a forest fire. It’s inevitable that he’ll bury his front teeth in our cheeks. TheNewerYork knew what they were doing when they got pregnant with this book. Show us the ultrasound already. Pretend you’re a uterus.

TJ Lyons is a dude over anything else. His stuff is in UP Literature, Plain Wrap’s Quarter 02, Word Riot, and will appear in more places soon. He is Poetry Editor for Arroyo Literary Review. He’s trying real hard to unlearn everything he’s ever known to make room for nothing else.

Jessi Malatesta

VenusonMars

Venus on Mars by Jan Millsapps (Jaded Ibis Productions)

As an ardent lover of all things “sci-fi,” I am excited to get my hands on Jan Millsapps’s Venus on Mars. Venus Dawson is on the verge of the scientific discovery of the millennium: proof of life on Mars. The book’s description gives a tantalizing look at an exasperated woman making her way through the “boys’ club” of professional astronomy. Guided by the journal of her equally scientific-minded Great Aunt Lulu, Venus must navigate through the male dominated fields of science without losing sight of the Red Planet and everything she’s worked for. She’ll blaze a trail to the stars, aided by advice from the amazing women who came before her. Venus on Mars promises to be an electric tale that will fulfill all your geeky, feminist needs.

Jessi Malatesta is a writer and poet who currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a very busy post-grad with a shiny new Masters degree and a part-time position as a project editor for Jaded Ibis Press. She also works 50 hour weeks at an IT call center where she teaches people how to turn their televisions on and off. When she’s not busy scribbling down stories, Jessi enjoys making art for strangers, reading old science fiction novels, and listening to video game rock operas.

Laura Marie Marciano

Fat Daises by Carrie Murphy (Big Lucks)

I do believe the reader, in 2014, still seeks to be both intellectually and emotively engaged, to find that a poem can be accessible and cerebral at the same time, allowing everyone in on the laugh, on the small strained heart muscle that can only come from a perfectly crafted line of poetry. Carrie Murphy is that kind of poet. With lines like “I believe in a time/when sun is what the fat girls do/ & the sweat of bellies on the long grass/ is all the slick we’ll need/to get through the next week” we find an incredible mind asking us to look at the dirt and beauty of our lives and how they mix so carefully together. I am excited to read Murphy’s newest book, Fat Daises due out from Big Lucks this year and to come across more of her smart language and careful emotion.

Laura Marie Marciano is a poet and media artist. She teaches writing at Fairfield University and lives in Brooklyn. Find her wonder here: lauramariemarciano.tumblr.com

Monica McClure

Conversation with the Stone Wife by Natalie Eilbert (Bloof Books)

Among the post-apocalyptic rubble, you can still hear the quivering orgasm of human inquisition in Natalie Eilbert’s first book, Conversations With the Stone Wife, to be released by Bloof Books this year. Eilbert unburies the Venus of Willendorf, a figure whom civilization’s increasingly greedy demands have been pinned on- in one form or another-for centuries, and dares to ask her about wifery, motherhood, muse-life, and fertility. Quite understandably, the Venus has other things on her mind, which Eilbert voices horrifically, sensually, and with a historian’s antecedent yet prophetic look over the shoulder. The world this chapbook creates is one posterior enough to systemic collapse to admit that it’s ruined itself. Still, somehow, the people expect an oracle with a velvet voice. Instead, they get the vengefully coarse whisper of the primeval returned to say, “I told you so.” Still, the stone wife is not all doom and gloom. She’s going to have her way with you through Eilbert’s lush verbs and forceful repetition, and you’re going to love it.

Monica McClure is the author of the chapbooks, Mood Swing, from Snacks Press and Mala, forthcoming from Poor Claudia. Her poems

ElegantlyNakedFowler

have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The Los Angeles Review, The Lit Review, Lambda Literary Review’s Spotlight Series, The Awl, Spork Press, Similar: Peaks:: and elsewhere. She curates Atlas, a collaboration series of visual artists and poets, and lives in New York City.

Tony Messenger

A Curse On Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi (Other Press)

Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi was the prestigious French Prix Goncourt Award in 2008 for his wonderful The Patience Stone — a novel that he apparently purposely wrote in his non-mother tongue of French as he found writing in Persian could cause “involuntary self-censorship”. In A Curse on Dostoevsky Rahimi turns his attention to Crime and Punishment and juxtaposes literature against the Muslim world in Kabul, the themes of civil war, chaos, sin, guilt and redemption for Afghani women again being the theme. “Crime without punishment?”

Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness by Heather Fowler (Queen’s Ferry Press)

Heather Fowler was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in 2012 for her short fiction collection People With Holes (Pink Narcissus Press). Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness is a collected stories anthology and a collaboration with Pablo Vision who has illustrated the book. A feminist dystopian collection was how Fowler’s 2013 This Time, While We’re Awake (Aqueous Books) collection was described, Angela Readman in The Short Review depicting Fowler’s style in her debut collection Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books) as: “Fresh, vivid, her prose is fluid. It flows like a river. Never static. The work moves characters and perceptions. The heart is revealed and swept away. A single can story can be strange, beautiful, moving, dark, then funny.”

Harlequin’s Millions by Bohumil Hrabal (Archipelago)

Just outside of town, the little town where my time stood still, is a small castle, and in that castle is now an old folks’ home… Czechoslovakian writer Bohumil Hrabal died back in 1997 but his works are still being translated into English. Mysteriously Hrabal died after falling from a 5th floor window of a Prague hospital whilst apparently attempting to feed pigeons. His complete works were published by Prazska imaginace over the 1990’s and now Archipelago Books are bringing another of his works to a wider audience by publishing Harlequin’s Millions. His well known Closely Observed Trains and I Served the King of England are being made into movies by Jiri Menzel. This latest translation brings to a conclusion the biography of his mother and set in a castle that has been transformed into an elderly home.

The Iceland by Sakutaro Hagiwara (New Directions)

Hagiwara is yet another “father of modern poetry in Japan,” I’m sure I’ve come across quite a few forefathers in this field. His dark existentialist poetry is available in various formats (in print, on line, in collections etc.) and New Directions are bringing another collection together in May this year. A poet in his own right and PEN Translation Prize winner Hiroaki Sato (1982 for his work with Burton Watson on From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthonlogy of Japanese Poetry) will translate and bring another collection to English reading eyes

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in May this year.

There Is Nothing Else to See Here by Chelsea Clammer (The Lit Pub)

In September last year the Lit Pub announced the three winners of their 2nd Annual Prose Contest, the three manuscripts being published by the Lit Pub. Chelsea Clammer’s work There is Nothing Else To See Here was the 2nd finalist and it will be released this year. Self described as her first collection of Lyric essays Chelsea describes herself as a “Writer. Editor. Waitress,” like all good independent workers in this field. Various reviews of Chelsea’s other work describe her brash work looking at the female psyche as “deep and revolving,” “very — dirty,” “lyrical and poetic,” and “mesmerizing.”

Tony Messenger, @messy_tony on twitter, is an avid blogger of independent fiction. Currently he’s working with an indigenous Women’s Council in the Central Australian desert so has heaps of reading time as there’s no Internet on “the lands”. Works in translation and emerging writers are Tony’s forte, to read his views go tomessybooker.blogspot.com & if you buy anything through his affiliations he donates ALL of his commission to charity.

Joe Milazzo

Deep Ellum by Brandon Hobson (Calamari Press)

My anticipation for this novel is two-fold. 1) Hobson is one of those rare prose stylists who is able to make something both memorable and graceful out of a rather millennial taciturnity, i.e. not knowing quite how to say one’s way either into or out of the “overwhelmingness” of feeling. 2) The novel is set in Dallas, a huge and sprawling and secretly weird city with very little literary presence. (Dallas also happens to be my home.) We are definitely in need of more serious novels that are set in overlooked places: lived-in if of questionable livability, relatively unmapped, situated at the crossroads of the real and imaginary, the crowded and the vacant, heartlessness and mercy.

The History of Ideas, 1973–2012 by Brian Blanchfield (Spork Press)

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I’m not sure why Brian Blanchfield’s poetry is not more widely known, marked as it is by alluring language, high erudition, a sly sense of the comic, and a strong and genuinely exploratory concern for the ethical. I most look forward to how Blanchfield will turn his considerable gifts towards the problems that arise from our (broadly, human beings’; narrowly, readers’ and writers’) efforts to close the distances that span the embodied and the abstract.

Joe Milazzo is the author of the chapbook The Terraces (Das Arquibancadas) (Little Red Leaves Textile Series, 2012) and the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Productions). His writings have appeared inThe Collagist, Drunken Boat, H_NGM_N and Black Clock (among others), and are forthcoming in Horse Less Review, Tarpaulin Sky, Whiskey Island and elsewhere. Along with Janice Lee and Eric Lindley, he edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing]. He is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, and his virtual location is http://www.slowstudies.net/jmilazzo.

David Connerley Nahm

Echo Lake by Letitia Trent (Curbside Splendor)

On the cover, a pair of arms rise from behind a fallen tree on a desolate shore. Inside, a woman inherits a house from her murdered aunt and hears her dead mother’s voice in a dream and all manner of dark histories are revealed. Gothic horror written by a poet is just kind of book I get excited about reading.

The Expedition to the Baobab Tree by Wilma Stockenström (Archipelago)

The story of a woman in total isolation, the lone survivor of a failed expedition, living among animals in the shelter of a baobab tree, remembering her life as it lead to this. From an excerpt published in Guernica: “Like a baby laid on its stomach, curling its spine as it tries to curl upright, so the hammerhead shark had struggled.”

Fullblooded Arabian by Osama Alomar (New Directions)

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Part of New Directions’s Poetry Pamphlet series, Fullblooded Arabian contains strange little tales which remind me of both Lydia Davis (who wrote the introduction) and the poetry of Stephen Crane. They work in the way good poetry should — just a few moments to read, but then with you the rest of the day. A selection of them can be read here.

With My Dog Eyes: A Novel by Hilda Hilst and Adam Morris (Melville House)

An examination of a mathematician’s mental unraveling in in glittering shards of poetic prose. Sentences fall apart with a gorgeous clatter and, like all great books, it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. From an excerpt published in BOMB Magazine: “The most learned cadaver that I ever saw, a beautiful thing, man, all darkened with letters.”

David Connerley Nahm is an attorney and college professor who lives in the mountains of Virginia. After fifteen years of work, his first novel, Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky, will be published in August by Two Dollar Radio.

Eric Nelson

That’s When the Knives Come Down by Dolan Morgan (Aformentioned Publications)

If any book could compare to a twelve-ring circus with its author in the roles of ringleader, barker and headlining clown it would surely be Dolan Morgan’s That’s When the Knives Come Down, a story collection that uses the absurd to show us what truly makes us human. While some authors pose questions to the reader through thinly veiled narrators, Morgan’s work burrows into the reader’s psyche only to linger long after the last page asking not only “What else is behind this?” but “What else is behind you?” The unparalleled voice of this debut is surely one that will be copied, but not replicated by future writers.

That'sWhentheKnivesComeDown

Eric Nelson is a fiction writer and critic living in Queens and the author of The Walt Whitman House and The Silk City Series. His e.p. of recorded stories “They Make a Wasteland, They Call It Pastiche” is forthcoming from Diabetic Koala in late spring of 2013. Twitter: @waityourarobot

Rhys Nixon

You Can Make Anything Sad by Spencer Madsen (Publishing Genius Press)

Madsen’s poetry has always been, to me, staggeringly honest. His writing helps clarify our complicated and subjective world into one of simple truths. His poetry is both heartbreaking and heart mending. Madsen’s work is important. This book will be important.

Rhys Nixon is a writer who lives in Australia. He has been published in electric cereal, Gesture magazine, and posts occasionally on his blog, rhysrhys.tumblr.com.

A.J. Ortega

Is The Room by Rosetta Ballew-Jennings (Jaded Ibis Press)

Traversing the poems inside Rosetta Ballew-Jennings’ Is the room is reminiscent of journeying through a quiet home, a recently abandoned abode. This poetry collection is Ballew-Jennings’ first, and, much like those first steps you take inside an unfamiliar dwelling, you can see that the book is composed of pieces and parts of the familiar. Perhaps the familiarity comes from the timelessness of the poems, which feel ancient or plucked out of time. The form of the poetry is deliberate and calculated, creating a careful space between lines and words — reverberations within the walls of the book. It is amidst these reverberations that Ballew-Jennings invites you into her space: a floral chair against dilapidated walls and just past waving acquaintances.

A.J. Ortega is a Texas writer and motorcyclist. He is the associate editor of the Latino literary magazine Huizache.

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Jason Pettus

The Old Neighborhood by Bill Hillmann (Curbside Splendor)

Bill is a treasured secret of the Chicago literary community: A prolific writer, golden glove champion, former convict and drug dealer, and one of the founders of Criminal Class Press, yet little known outside of our city simply because of a lack of full-length books. That’s all set to change with this grittily beautiful, highly anticipated debut novel, which tackles such issues as white flight, the effect of violence on families, and the vicious cycle of gang activity. With a high-profile national tour this summer, co-headlining with Irvine Welsh, expect this to be a big breakout hit for the excellent Curbside Splendor, much like their surprise bestseller from last year, Samantha Irby’s Meaty.

Jason Pettus is the owner of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (cclapcenter.com).

Cameron Pierce

The Collected Interviews of Scott McClanahan Volume 1 and 2 (Holler Presents)

If you’ve seen Scott McClanahan perform live, then you know he’s a raw force of pure heart and nervous energy. Each of his books is my favorite book, and when he takes the stage in his white Sears suit, you know magic is about to happen. The Collected Interviews provides more insight into the man and the myth named Scott McClanahan.

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Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria (CCM)

2014 is primed to be a killer year for fiction, but among the mountains of books coming out, Black Cloud is the debut collection that has me most excited. Juliet Escoria’s stories feel like some sort of two-headed new gothic/alt lit creature that grew up on too many drugs in the southern California sun. They’re the sort of stories you carry around with you everywhere you go, in part because they’re so relatable and familiar, but also because they pave the way for something strange, new, and wonderful.

The Translations by Andrea Kneeland (Plain Wrap Press)

Andrea Kneeland writes some of the most awesome, delightfully surreal stories. Pair her work with the minimalist, small-scale books of Plain Wrap Press (The Translations, for example, is 36 pages and pocket-sized), and it’s a must-buy for me.

Cameron Pierce is the head editor of Lazy Fascist Press, author of a handful of books, and editor of three anthologies, most recently In Heaven, Everything Is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch.

Andrea Quinlan

The Book of Mutter by Kate Zambreno (Counterpath Press)

This book is Kate Zambreno’s anti-memoir. In her words “a narrative that ties together the history of the women in my family with threads throughout about the outsider artist Henry Darger, Marilyn Monroe, Frances Farmer, the actress and director Barbara Loden, Joan of Arc, Mary Todd Lincoln (and other “First Ladies”).” I love the subjects she writes about and how powerful, dangerous and thrilling her writing is and how it makes me feel about writing and life in general.

Andrea Quinlan is a writer based in New Zealand. She is the author of the chapbooks We Speak Girl (Dancing Girl Press, 2012) and The Mysteries of Laura (Birds of Lace, 2013). She has recently had poetry published in HAG, Wicked Alice and Finery.

Edward J. Rathke

The Fish and the Not Fish by Peter Markus (Dzanc Books)

I first encountered Peter Markus’ work while living in Korea, and I was immediately blown away. He has such a peculiar way of writing but after a few sentences it really sticks in you and starts turning the way you think and read. It’s like a prayer or a dream, and you’re stepping into this world that looks like ours but feels like nowhere you’ve ever been. He writes surreal fairytales that are both gorgeous and compelling. He’s a one of a kind voice and I’m always ready for whatever he has next.

Green Lights by Kyle Muntz (CCM)

Since getting to know Kyle over the last year and a half, I’ve been waiting for him to publish more books. From everything I know about him and from all the conversations we’ve shared, I know he’s stacked with brilliant books and stories just waiting to enter the world. His writing’s always strange in all the right ways, surprising in beauty, and thick with interesting ideas. Green Lights is sure to be surreal and chaotic and sublime, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

BlackGumGodlessHeathen

Incarnations By Chris Deal (Broken River Books)

I’ve known Chris Deal for several years and he’s one of the silent voices on the indie lit scene who writes ceaselessly and publishes way more stories than you’re probably aware of. He’s diverse and chaotic and horrifying and oddly beautiful. This is his first full length collection, and I’m crazy excited to see what’s collected here. Too, Broken River Books has been putting out some aggressively awesome books since opening a few months ago, and even if I didn’t know what Deal was capable of, I’d still be opening my wallet.

Edward J Rathke wrote Ash Cinema [KUBOA Press, 2012], Twilight of the Wolves [Perfect Edge Books, 2014], and Noir: A Love Story [Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014]. He edits at The Lit Pub and Monkeybicycle. More of his words can be found at edwardjrathke.com.

Matthew Revert

American Monster by J.S. Breukelaar (Lazy Fascist Press)

I have been following Breukelaar’s work for a number of years now, patiently waiting for the world to notice her immense talent. Her collection, ‘Ink’ flew below the radar, providing further evidence that life is rarely fair. American Monster is her debut novel. I can think of few debuts I have anticipated more. Breukelaar’s take on the gothic oddity permeating America’s outer reaches is singular to say the least.

Black Gum Godless Heathen By J David Osborne (Broken River Books)

Osborne is a beast. Low Down Death Right Easy was a definite highlight of 2013 for me. It cast its gaze toward those residing in societies fringes and did something so few writers seem capable of doing — empathized with them. Down and outers are not fodder for Osborne. They are at the heart of the human experience and LDDRE honored this fact. Black Gum Godless Heathen is his follow up. Enough said.

Matthew Revert is the author of Basal Ganglia (Lazy Fascist Press), How to Avoid Sex (Copeland Valley/Dark Coast Press), The Tumours Made Me Interesting (LegumeMan Books) and A Million Versions of Right (LegumeMan Books). Revert has had work published in Le Zaporogue, The Best Bizarro Fiction of the Decade, In Heaven Everything Is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch, The New Flesh, The Bizarro Starter Kit (Purple) and Gone Lawn Journal among others. In addition to his writing, Revert has gained recognition for his design work for various highly-regarded presses and record labels.

Quincy Rhoads

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Before You Were Born by Daniel Beauregard (421 Atlanta)

Amy McDaniel and Adam Robinson are designing some of the sleekest chapbooks that I’ve seen over at 421 Atlanta. Their chapbooks have a professional polish that I seldom see in the zine world, and the cover price is modest to boot. Daniel Beauregard’s chapbook, Before You Were Born is the press’s second book. Its poems are erudite and fun, melancholy but with a reverence for the quiet frustrations of life.

Letters to Lil Wayne by Lauren Ireland (Magic Helicopter Press)

I’m particularly jazzed about Lauren Ireland’s Letters to Lil Wayne (or is it Dear Lil’ Wayne? I’m unsure) because I love Mr. Carter’s music. In fact, one of my first published fictions was about Weezy. He’s such a strange and fascinating public figure, that he really invites literary investigation, and that’s exactly what Ireland is doing in her new book. Letters to Lil Wayne is a collection of letters that Lauren Ireland mailed to Weezy F Baby while he was locked away in Riker’s, and they range from the sincere to the absolutely surreal.

New Oldest Land by Guy Benjamin Brookshire (421 Atlanta)

I first came across Guy Benjamin Brookshire’s work in Everyday Genius. Brookshire makes these stunning and horrifying collages by taking the painted illustrations from 50’s ad copy and recontextualizing and juxtaposing them with one another. His chapbook, The Universe War, flips the script on contemporary graphic narratives and New Oldest Land, a collection of his collages and writings, promises more of the same stunning visuals and chilling prose.

Quincy Rhoads lives in middle Tennessee with his wife and their son. His writing has appeared in HTMLGIANT, Metazen, and Everyday Genius. He teaches English composition.

Jim Ruland

Across My Big Brass Bed by Gary Amdahl (Artistically Declined Press)

Gary Amdahl is a storyteller’s storyteller. His work crackles with smart dialog, deep irreverence and a voice that’s unmistakably his own. I first heard about this book nearly five years ago after reading I Am Death, a book of novellas with an excellent mob story. Across My Big Brass Bed has an audacious premise: a memoir of sex that attempts to keep pace with the author’s brain. Giddy-up.

IfIDon'tBreatheWenderoth

If I Don’t Breathe How Do I Sleep by Joe Wenderoth (Wave Books)

Joe Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy taught me the difference between a gimmick and a restraint. A gimmick limits the scope of what a literary work can be, a constraint enlarges it. Letters to Wendy, composed on comment cards at Wendy’s restaurants, is more than a prose hybrid, it’s a way of looking at the world that’s fresh, startling and dangerous. If I Don’t Breathe How Do I Sleep is Wenderoth’s fifth collection of poems, and I’m looking forward to having my brainbox knocked around by his caustic wit and confrontational humor.

Jim Ruland is a veteran of the Navy, the author of the short story collection Big Lonesome and host of the irreverent reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its tenth year. Giving the Finger, co-written with Scott Campbell Jr. of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, will be published in April 2014 and his debut novel, Forest of Fortune, will be published in August 2014. He lives and works in Southern California with his wife, Nuvia Crisol Guerra.

Kevin Snow

Lift from the memory, not the legs: Collected Poems 2007–2013 by Leah Angstman (Alternating Current)

The poems of Leah Angstman are about history, and how we remember history, and that emotion — which doesn’t have a word or phrase that can describe it in any language — of bottomless curiosity toward the past mixed with frustration about the limitations of what we can learn about history. If you’re someone who has ever thought about even their family genealogy, you’ll find something relatable in Lift from the memory, not from the legs. Even if you’re not, you’ll probably learn something, beautifully expressed.

Kevin Snow writes and directs multimedia projects that combine text, illustrations, games, and music. Most of his work deals with how people communicate about trauma. His latest project is The Domovoi, a short piece of interactive fiction that features artwork from Patrick Bonaduce. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his cat Grendel.

Ashley Strosnider

Yankee Broadcast Network by Martin Ott and John F Buckley (Brooklyn Arts Press)

Ott & Buckley’s recent collaboration, Poets’ Guide to America (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012), was much-praised for its humor and attention to biting detail. With Yankee Broadcast Network, they’ve teamed up again with a focus shifted slightly from the highs and lows of US geography to the vagaries of its television culture. The two are published widely, both independently and in collaboration, and their unique team-effort is a back-and-forth volleying of lines that brings out the strengths in each voice, blended seamlessly together. The effect of their process is a wide-lens look at culture that necessarily transcends an individual perspective by merit of its genesis-in-partnership, offering a critique more affecting for its surprising perpendicular intersections and resonant moments of unnerving consensus.

Ashley Strosnider holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina. She serves as fiction editor atPithead Chapel and as an assistant editor at Drunken Boat. Her work appears in Fifth Wednesday,Nashville Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly, among others, and her reviews appear in Publishers Weekly and The Review Review. She currently lives in Charleston, SC, where she recently learned to peel her own shrimp.

Anne Valente

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A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor (Melville House)

Having read Rachel Cantor’s work in a number of journals, including One Story, Redivider and Kenyon Review, and having loved Melville House’s previous releases (such as Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan), I’m very excited for the release of Cantor’s novel, A Highly Unlikely Scenario. Centering on a pizza chain employee’s adventures in the near future, A Highly Unlikely Scenario will surely dazzle with imagination, humor and wonder.

Together, Apart by Ben Hoffman (Origami Zoo Press)

Winner of Origami Zoo Press’s 2012 Chapbook Contest and chosen by Matt Bell, Ben Hoffman’s Together, Apart is sure to be a stunning chapbook of fiction. I’ve long been a fan of Origami Zoo Press: they’ve published fantastic chapbooks by B.J. Hollars, Brian Oliu, Laura Van Den Berg, Chad Simpson and Kate Bernheimer. I’ve read recent work of Ben Hoffman’s in Passages North, Tin House and Monkeybicycle, and I’m eagerly anticipating a full chapbook of his fiction.

Anne Valente’s first short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, releases from Dzanc Books in October. She is also the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics (Origami Zoo Press, 2013), and her fiction appears in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review and The Journal.

Mike Young

Backfire by Emily Toder (Coconut Books)

Excited about this because I love Emily Toder’s poems, and all you other fretting five hour sleepers out there will love them too. Now I will cheat and describe her poems as I have described them elsewhere: “Patient lectures on how to fix the lasagna you’re bringing to a friend’s dinner party so it doesn’t look like you already ate half of it, weeping, by yourself.” Emily Toder’s poems do this thing where they walk a tightrope of plainspoken candor while wearing a headdress made of artificial feathers the colors and shapes of the geometry in 1980s New Wave videos. Toder’s poems will explain the world better than the world does, which is to say more frankly re: pain.

TheConstitutionFoley

The Constitution by Brian Foley (Black Ocean)

Probably this book will have so few words you can read it in an hour. In a gnashy shiver hour. In an hour sculpted like a tiny hacksaw made of ice and melting in the gap where you got your wisdom tooth out. In an hour slow as crag erosion on a foggy Atlantic cape. An hour as small as the twin spears of light out in front of your busted-ass car guiding you home in the murk. Read it in hour, read it like an oar, roll it into an our.

How to Catch a Coyote by Christy Crutchfield (Publishing Genius Press)

Though I read and heard bits from a much older version of this book, I am still really excited, because I know it’s only gotten better since then. What was then? Then was an unflinching and unsentimental raking of fatherhood and family. Tender, legitimately hold-your-hands-over-your-eyes-peeking-through-two-fingers deadpan scary. If you read any of Crutchfield’s work, you can spot some things: an eerie calm like a dry wind that leaves the leaves arranged a little too perfectly, dialogue that can snap a pinecone but you get the feeling could snap a lot more. I think this book will be scary like a FOR SALE sign on top of another FOR SALE sign. Like a tire swing one day, half a rope the next.

I Don’t Know Do You by Roberto Montes (Ampersand Books)

I’ve got an ARC of this sitting in my inbox, and I haven’t finished reading it yet, which means I’m still allowed to be excited. This book is good at the bad jokes and aww-my-hearty-farty-warty-hearty and exclamation marks all rampant in indie boy poetry (myself included, myself implicated, don’t I know it, geez), but the difference is that this book has black teeth. What I get from what I’ve read so far is an I as skinny as an actual I, standing on a rock in a tempest, like Ilya Kaminsky playing Prospero, hair all different colors and crazy in the wind, shouting to compete with the thunder. Except it’s not a rock, it’s the central table in a truckstop cafeteria, it’s not Prospero but it’s a sexy white studded emo belt, and it’s not shouting to compete with the thunder so much as it’s screeching “My theory is the universe was born by God trying to get a slow clap started. My rosary is the fear a roach must feel as it plays dead on your kitchen floor. I do it too, I’m not ashamed. Fall in love with the stomping boot that ends the game. I’m the patron saint of failure. Every day is my day.” Screeching is a good thing, BTW. If this is the new confessional, screech me up.

IDontKnowMontes

More Wreck More Wreck by Tyler Gobble (Coconut Books)

I got to read this early, and this is what I said: “Hey dude, finally got around to reading this! It’s really fun and great. So invested in the world and all its mud and freakouts. So much concrete curiosity and unfettered gung-ho. One of the only books of poems I can think of that would feel right at home standing on the running board of a four-wheeler with a bunch of those things you poke in the ends of corn cobs all sticking sharp-end first out of its mouth.”

Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer by Abraham Smith (Action Books)

Abe Smith is the spur that always strikes mercury. In a glaze-eyed landscape of smirk poems that hustle to press F11 to turn the heart mode back on when the poetry gods check in at the office, Abe Smith is outside in every weather. Who knew any given syllable could be a burr-adorned honeypot? You should find Abe and watch him live, but if you can’t, watch a video and get your imagination in working order. This will be a book to read in a hydraulics souped lawn chair.

Valparaiso, Round the Horn by Madeline ffitch (Publishing Genius Press)

Reading Madeline ffitch is like reading what you hoped and imagined computer games would be like when you first discovered computer games. Expansive, endlessly imaginative, so rich with internal logic that logic itself is spun into an aesthetic triumph. One time I saw a play Madeline co-wrote where everybody in the audience helped raise an air balloon. Another time I read an early manuscript of Valparaiso, Round the Horn, and it featured: construction workers swimming at a YMCA, dolphin sex, wagon wheels on the bar walls, songs that have your name in them, sentences like “And each morning, I woke like a cabbage, folded way down in the pickle jar, a rat of bone and hair, wetted down” followed up with sentences like “Never like a person someone would want to stay longer in bed with, never like a person someone else would decide to ignore the alarm for.” There’s a play called Go the Chateau that takes place in a car and prominently features a mail courier. There are nougaty chunks of all that story stuff that dumb-dumbs think is passe: people with well-rendered mustaches, places with well-rendered naugahyde, dialogue that crinkles like a cat’s back. If you haven’t seen the amazing plays of The Missoula Oblongata, you might not know who Madeline ffitch is, but if you own a shirt that’s 3D in any way (sequins one of many possible answers), you’ll love this book.

You'reGoingtoMissMeWhen

You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored by Justin Marks (Barrelhouse Books)

Justin Marks’s first book, A Million in Prizes, was like a beautifully sad ATM that escaped into the forest and filled its display screen with a careful accounting of everything it couldn’t touch. His second book promises to be even smarter, sadder, and better, reflecting on adulthood and parenthood in the big city, I’m guessing, in a way that harbors no gee-whiz illusions about the sparkles of poetry, only a hard-won map of poetry’s veins.

Mike Young is the author of Look! Look! Feathers (stories), We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (poems), Who Can Make It (poems), and the forthcoming Sprezzatura (poems). He edits NOÖ Journal, runs Magic Helicopter Press, and writes for HTMLGIANT. He lives in Northampton, MA.

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