Archive | November, 2007

Up is Down But So is Down by Brandon Stosuy

Up is Down But So is Down by Brandon StosuyBrandon Stosuy, a writer for Pitchfork the online music magazine and frequent contributor to The Believer, has compiled a mammoth and graphically rich retrospective of underground writing from New York’s downtown during the heyday of photocopiers, 1974 to 1992. The collection includes dozens of selections from writers such as Sharon Mesmer, Thurston Moore, David Byrne, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Lori Anderson, Spalding Grey, Kathy Acker, Lynn Tillman, and Dennis Cooper.

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Tawny Grammer on The Moss Gatherers

Matt Briggs - The Moss GatherersA set of impressions on my book of stories, The Moss Gatherers, at Tawny Grammer: Like ghosts, these characters and their homes exist in the present while defining themselves through the past, their promise and possibility behind them even as they live on. Like them, the American West is a region first defined by an idyllic future envisioned in a decades-old past, which might make the presence of ghosts — literal or figurative — both the most potent of fears and an inevitable consequence of living in the past and the present at once.

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About the Amazon Kindle and Dedicated Book Readers

The Future of Books is digital, this seems pretty clear now. The details have yet to be worked out. From Slashdot: “With a seven-page cover story on The Future of Reading, Newsweek confirms all those rumors of Amazon’s imminent introduction of an affordable ebook. Kindle, which is named to evoke the crackling ignition of knowledge, has the dimensions of a paperback, weighs 10.3 oz., and uses E Ink technology on a 6-inch screen powered by a battery that gets up to 30 hours from a 2-hour charge.”

I think dedicated ebook readers are a dead-end, but I also think ebooks are the clearly the future of books.

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Everyone I Know Orders Books From the Library

Libraries nationwide are grappling with a massive increase in the number of patron’s requests of media (including books, of course) held in their collections. An An article in the Seattle Times recently had several interesting facts:

  • The number of holds have tripled between 1998 and 2006.
    The Seattle Public Library is having a popularity problem. Thanks to its “Libraries for All” building expansion program and an unprecedented increase in use of the library’s online catalog, the number of holds — reservations — placed on books and other library materials has tripled, from about 1.01 million in 1998, when voters approved “Libraries for All,” to 3.35 million in 2006.
  • Users are using the catalog to find and place holds on books.
    Libraries nationwide, including the King County system, are grappling with the fact that a computer-savvy society has learned to tap into library collections online.

What is weird about this is that there has been a huge amount of hand-wringing lately about the decline of media as a result of the spread of digital media such as video games, YouTube, and the ease of producing over consuming media for digital media such as web communities, YouTube, did I mention YouTube? Studies throw about such sobering statics as twenty-five percent of adults have not read a book, any kind of book, in the last year.

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A Person Suit (A Story)

Genuflect faster. Whenever my boss speaks with me this is what I hear. I had hoped they had hired me for my mind, and I realized it was for the combination of obedience, authority, and bursts of obsequious toadying that I displayed during the interview. I suppose that does constitute my mind. It was late in the day when they interviewed me. At 4:30 p.m. the place was silent. It was the waterfront office of a regional shipping company with vast swaths of real estate holdings, shipping terminals, oil wells, old -time resource wealth. It displayed its old-style resource wealth in a massive office building full of richly appointed resources — marble floors, burnished oak desks, recessed lights, vast abstract expressionist paintings, and inexplicable bronze shapes that I suppose were supposed to represent sculpture. Work for me had become about becoming good at doing the work — and in the interview I forgot the other aspects of work, that a job was less about doing work and more about working for. They didn’t know what I did, but they knew what I was capable of: rapid genuflection. I found at Big 5 sporting supply some very thin soccer kneepads. In the morning before work, I sprinkled my knees with Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and carefully place the kneepads into place. I thought my knees would give out before my Old Navy trousers, but I can see that my trousers, surprising resilient, will last long enough that they will realize a suitable ROI. I will invest in some new trousers immediately after the thread wears down from my continual popping to the floor.
Hey Now
I envy your work arrangement although I imagine that the grass is, as they say, always a more suitable color from the point of view of someone looking from across the street at you standing on your own plot of grass. In turn I suspect you would envy my plot of patchy, weed choked grass. I marvel at the effort expended to keep lawns short in my neighborhood. They, however, have not perfected the art of removing weeds. My streets lack the bright green and white trucks named ChemGreen I see trolling in the well-to-do neighborhood with old shade trades, wrought iron fences, and patches of neatly edged grass that like massive flaps of green fur.

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Guantanamo: A Novel by Dorothea Dieckmann

Guantanomo Dorothy Dieckman Soft Skull PressI wrote this review trying to follow what I thought was a new format for The Stranger‘s book section. Three months and no word, so here it is: In Dorothy Dieckman’s novel (translated by Tim Mohr and published by Richard Nash), Rashid, a German tourist of Indian decent, using a Lonely Planet Guide to look for an adventure in the postwar zone of Afghanistan, finds himself rounded up by American soldiers under murky circumstances. The normally lucid handles of nationality and religion dissolve as Rashid finds himself bagged, tagged an enemy, and carted to a small cage stowed in rows alongside other cages filled with men with similar varied and confusing stories. Everyone imprisoned has been reduced to an enemy combatant. In turn, the male and female American soldiers who watch over them are also reduced to the role of interrogator.

Like Beckett’s Malone, this novel spends pages dwelling on the mesmerizing physical minutiae of the protagonist. He is a bundle of frayed nerves trying to cling to consciousness in a situation where any sense of context has been removed by senseless forces. In Beckett, this might be an existential crises, in Guantanomo this is Dick Cheney’s war without end. Rashid watches sunlight. A gecko takes up residence behind a plywood panel. The gecko, too, is in prison, and the protagonist’s imprisonment makes just as much sense. Increasingly, national boundaries only make sense for the larger multi-national structures like the World Bank. For citizens of the world, whether they are workers being detained in the United States for lacking the applicable administrative paperwork or they are tourists traveling for dubious reasons in Afghanistan it makes as much sense to imprison these people as it does to lock up geckos, spiders, and moths. This excellent short novel directly confronts the confusion of citizenship and identity in the context of Globalism where terrorism, war, or even Lonely Planet Guide tourism are not constrained by national boundaries.

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Clackamas Community College Reading on Thursday

I’ll be reading at Clackamas Community College on Wednedsay this week. Here is the blurb and etc. from the CCC Blog: Novelist and short story writer Matt Briggs will read in Clackamas Community College’s Literary Arts Center (Rook 220) at 7 pm on November 7. The event is open and free to the public. 19600 Molalla Avenue; Oregon City, Oregon 97045

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Matt Briggs – Semantikon November 2007 Feature Posted

Matt Briggs SemantikonSemantikon.com has a feature of some of my current and upcoming work on their Web site for November. Semantikon is an arts community created and maintained by an international collective of artists, educators, and technology professionals. In addition to ongoing monthly content including visual artist, literary types, a library of 130+ public domain works (free so poor college students can afford to drink), it also has a television station called cell logic.

My work features an excerpt from a new novel, The Strong Man: Confessions of a Bacon Smuggler, to be published in the fall of 2008 by Final State Press. Semantikon also has excepts from The End is the Beginning, a collection of stories to be published by Final State this spring along with a re-issue in paper, ebook, and iphone format of my other books (The Remains of River Names, Misplaced Alice, The Moss Gatherers, and Shoot the Buffalo.) The books will be released in similar formats, with less typos, and other modest improvements. Semantikon also includes the full version of an essay I wrote a couple of months ago, “Pacific Highway South: Best American Strip City,” MP3s of my reading three short short stories, and a broadside.

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