Archive | October, 2009

Stack of my book Shoot the Buffalo in Progress at the Publication Studio

Shoot the Buffalo Jank Edtion

Matt Briggs SHOOT THE BUFFALO, Jank Edition, coming to life. Available in our store starting October 31, Halloween!

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Fan Fiction in Opium9

Opium9

Can I ride with you?

I have a story in the current issue of Opium Magazine in a section edited by Shy Scanlon. He was looking for “lit fan fiction” My story appears along with Ryan Boudinot, Ben Greenman, B.K. Evenson, Sean Carman, Nick Bredie, E. Loic Leuschner, Blake Butler, Matthew Simmons, and Lindsay Mound. I wrote a fan fiction of Jim Crace, Being Dead, about two decomposing bodies on an English beach. It’s a love story. My first ever published love story, I think. You can read about the mag and purchase a copy online or at fine booksellers who carry Opium.

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Reading tonight from Birkensnake II in South Lake Union

Birkensnake abroad.

Birkensnake abroad.

I’m reading tonight with contributors to Birkensnake II. The reading is in Seattle at the Inner Chapters Bookstore in South Lake Union at 7:30 free of charge to the reading public, and presumably free to everyone else. The magazine is curiously to me heavy on the speculative side of speculative fiction. I’m kind of new to this genre and don’t’ really understand what it is, although it is clumped in with Science Fiction and Fantasy. But then writers as different as David Ohle (Motorman) or Alasdair Gray can be clumped into this genre.

I’m reading with Tina Connolly, Evelyn Hampton, and Caren Gussoff:

Tina Connolly wrote this as the first two sentences in Birkensnake I, the first issue: “This is the first stereoscope in the park. Seventy-two percent of unattended humans stop to view pictures in this stereoscope first.” You can read her entire story here.

magazine book blocks

text blocks printed via copy machine and finagling, time honored traditions of printers everywhere

Evelyn Hampton wrote this sentence among a collection she recently published, Not That Far: “It is good for the theater when you do not know you are in the theater. Same goes for the city. It is good for the city when you believe you are in a theater having a dream.” This seems sensible to me, and good advice. You can purchase your own copy of her book and read all of more of her sentences here.

Caren Gussoff wrote crazy, odd lit fiction in the time before Kelly Link was writing crazy, odd lit fiction. Maybe Kelly Link was already writing this stuff then, but I didn’t know it. But in Seattle in the mid-1990s there was sometimes Rebecca Brown, always Stacey Levine, and Caren Gussoff writing these types of stories. They said one thing and meant another thing and I could never figure, and I still can’t, figure out how these things were written. Caren Gussoff is reading tonight. She has a story a story about garbage collectors in the future when they are not allowed to the touch the trash. You can read her story here.
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Would I Lie? a reading and talk with Tim Elhajj at Seattle Book Fest

I’m going to be reading with Tim Elhajj on Sunday at 5 PM at Seattle Book Fest. Tim has recently begun publishing a series of very short nonfiction essays (at places such as Brevity and the New York Times) about his experiences as a homeless man, addict, and growing up in Pennsylvania with the name Elhajj. The short-short or flash fiction or whatever you want to call it seems to be the genre of choice online. I have mixed feelings about the vast majority of these pieces since they often either way cute, a bit pat, or revel in the well wrought sentence and are so intently focused on making language new they feel overworked and manic. When this comes to nonfiction it can be really painful, even if the thing I’m reading is only 500 words. Tim manages to be at once natural and usually presents a kind of complete thing in a very short space. I don’t feel manipulated or tricked or forced to admire his language. Instead often read his work and feel engaged. I hope you can come by Book Fest and listen to Tim read his stories and see what we have to say about telling very short nonfiction stories.

Here is the description of out reading/talk (after the break):

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a boy a cat by Justin Dobbs at A Boy, A Cat, a LifeBoat

Submit to the A Boy, A Cat, a LifeBoat

Submit to the A Boy, A Cat, A Lifeboat

Justin Dobbs has just published a new story, “a boy a cat,” on the blog, A Boy, A Cat, A Lifeboat. The blog is a series of short stories based on the public domain idea of a boy, a wild cat, and a boy stuck in a lifeboat. This ancient idea already been used in several novels including the modestly successful Max and the Cats by Moacyr Scliar.

A young, winning boy, he liked to curl up in front of the mayor’s fireplace with the black tiger who had wandered into the house after a tea party. — Justin Dobbs

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Re-issue of Shoot the Buffalo by Jank Edtions

Shoot the Buffalo from Jank.

Shoot the Buffalo from Jank.

My book, Shoot the Buffalo, will be available through Portland’s Publication Studio as a Jank Edition on November 12th, 2009. The studio has this to say about themselves:

Publication Studio began as a six-month experiment at the University of Oregon’s White Stag facility in Spring, 2009. A publishing project with musician and printer Phil Elverum, in April, 2009, gave the experiment legs and, in Summer, 2009, the remains of an Instabook III printing and binding machine gave it a body. Our storefront opened in Fall, 2009, thanks to the generous provision of space by the Ace Hotel. Publication Studio was founded and is run by Matthew Stadler and Patricia No. (For more information)

Shoot the Buffalo, was initially published in 2005 by Clear Cut Press and by the late 2006 the print run had sold out, and the book went out of print. Being out of print wasn’t too bad because people who were interested in the book could find used copies are stray new copies at booksellers such as Powell’s. So being out of print in 2006 wasn’t like being out of print in, say, 1980.

Earlier this year Kevin Sampsell asked me whether anyone was going to reissue Shoot the Buffalo, and at the time the prospects of this seemed grim. I had in fact had an agent who at one point who seemed enthusiastic about the possibilities of finding someone to reprint the book, and she found there wasn’t a single press.

In talking to Kevin Sampsell, I noted that a Portland press with a great reprint series gave up on reprints because booksellers don’t seem to think they sell. I’m sure this is based on hard evidence. I also said:

In fact, there have been a number of books that have come and gone that I feel an affinity with, but they are now out of print. For instance, After Nirvana by Lee Williams and Well by Matthew McIntosh are two books about the Pacific Northwest that are really great, but have just kind of slid away. So if someone is cracked enough to start a small press focusing on contemporary Pacific Northwest fiction, there is a line up to start with: After Nirvana and Well. It could be a book club or something.

Well, a venture has come along that will reprint Shoot the Buffalo and they may very well have the wherewithal and ingenuity to publish other out-of-print books as well and other assorted printed material that is perhaps unsuitable to the retail economy of print runs and physical shelves. On November 12, I will be reading in Seattle with Matthew Stadler, Bruce Benderson, and John Roderick. The occasional will be the release of new books, including Shoot the Buffalo and Benderson’s great novel about the moirés and manners of North Pacific America, Pacific Agony and their availability at the Sorrento Hotel lobby.

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Mini-Interview on Blogging with Matt Briggs (Illinois State University)

Reading, Writing, & Blogging

Reading, Writing, & Blogging

Steve Halle interviewed me as a writer who blogs as part of his creative writing course at Illinois State University. His syllabus says:

In addition to this, you will develop other valuable skills contemporary writers use to turn the habit of writing into a professional practice including generating new work, critical reading and written response, blogging/online presence, performing work on the page and aloud, submitting work for publication, and sharing critical responses to texts.

In response, I talk about how blogging and writing books and a book I am working on for Jank Editions, A Channel Manifesto.

I see blogging, the production of a steady stream of text, as an important part of my writing practice. It is however separate, or tangential to writing stories or books.

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Recent Reviews: Dawn Raffel, Julie Weston, and Gregory Hofmann

Cult of the Sentence

Cult of the Sentence

I recently reviewed Dawn Raffel’s excellent first collection of short stories from 1995, In the Year of Long Division, at Fictionaut. A while back BR Meyers wrote an essay in The Atlantic, “A Reader’s Manifesto,” which took contemporary writing to task for its focus on the cult of the sentence. He found some choice passages from some very well regarded writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Annie Proulx, and others. Although these quotes supported Meyer’s point, I never felt really satisfied that the focus on the sentence and syntax in prose is necessarily a bad thing. Raffel is a case in point. I think Dawn Raffel is a great example of  a writer who can write anything: a sentence, fragment, a word. Raffel has a new collection of stories, Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, coming out from Dzanc Books.

At Reading Local: Seattle I reviewed two books. The Good Times Are All Gone Now was a straight-forward history of an Idaho mining town. Julie Weston’s book is rich in interviews and particular observations of the working conditions in the mines and the lives of the miners, pimps, prostitutes, gamblers, and high school students during the hey-day of extracting ore in Kellogg, Idaho. The other book, no surrender, was a Lulu.com produced book by Seattle’s Gregory Hofmann that was a model of how to use Lulu’s frustrating 6 x 9 trade format.

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