Tag Archives | Stories

Review of Pissing in the Snow at Fictionaught

nothing terrible in that

My latest review for “Rediscovered Reading” at Fictionaught’s Blog has been posted.

Pissing in the Snow by Vance Randolph was originally published by the University of Illinois Press in 1976, and reissued as a rack-sized mass-market paperback by Bard in 1977. In the late seventies, it was a best seller. The edition I have has a roller-rink-style ring of concentric circles around the title on a yellow background. It shows sparsely forested slopes with tracks in the snow. You can buy a copy from Amazon for a penny. (full review)

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Final State Press has just released my new collection of stories

Final State Press has just released my new book, The End is the Beginning, a collection of stories I’ve been writing since 1998. This is the first book I’ve published with Final State, but they plan on releasing a novel next year, The Double E, and hopefully more books after that. I wrote many of the stories for reading series and events around the Pacific Northwest, including the Brontesaurus, a day long celebration of the Brontes at Richard Hugo House, a writing resource center in Seattle, back when Rebecca Brown was the Writer in Residence there. Although it was, one of the first I wrote in this collection; it wasn’t published until last year in The Clackamas Literary Review. Most of the stories are about the end of the world, death destruction, and other light subjects. I wrote one story, called “Caffeinism” after I suffered a serious reaction to an overdose of caffeine. I wrote another about the day I was activated for the first Gulf War. And another is about the end of reading. Stories have been in mags such as Seattle Magazine, First Intensity, The Raven Chronicles, and The Wandering Hermit Review, and Web sites such as The Mississippi Review (Web), Smokelong, Slouch, Semantikon, and The Steel City Review.

You can purchase the book at Amazon, Powells, or Lulu.com (where you can get it either as paper or PDF). If you are interested in reviewing the book, email me at matt(dot)briggs(at)gmail.com.

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Gringos and Other Stories by Michael Rumaker

Gringos and Other Stories by Michael RumakerThe dialogue in Michael Rumaker’s first collection of stories, Gringos and Other Stories, published in 1966 by Grove Press hasn’t aged well. It hasn’t aged well not because it isn’t well written or doesn’t carry the story forward but I think it hasn’t aged well because dialogue doesn’t age well unless it is stylized in the way Raymond Chandler’s dialogue is hard-boiled or Hemingway’s dialogue is kind of burnished and unreal and probably seemed unreal from the moment people first picked up a new copy of The Sun Also Rises. In “Exit 3” a beyond-drunk Marine says, “Don’t ‘buddy; me. I ain’t no goddamned solider. I’ll show you who the hell I am.” The dialogue reads the way things read in the “Wild One,” deliberately rough, and because it is deliberate, kind of false. And so the dialogue has aged like fake leather seats or plastic.

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Trivial Pursuit

REVIEW — For Judith Slater Old Scratch lies in the trivial. Slater has written a volume of carefully crafted short stories with a cutting humor about seemingly trivial moments in characters lives that gradually expose the fragility of their hopes and the fleetingness of their satisfaction in live. Not to say that these are nihilistic stories, although in their simple flat sentences and carefully modulated first person voices the subject matter of couples and therapists and waitresses this books does hearken back to the eighties and that nasty word minimalism. Slater’s book does remind me a lot of Anne Beattie. Slater’s characters emerge as complex, contradictory portraits, in spite of the sometimes too good to be true situations. In “The Bride’s Lover” the bride hires an ex-boyfriend to photograph her wedding. In “Glass House,” a businessman has an affair with a visiting artist at his daughter’s school. His agoraphobic wife will not leave the glass house until an Oregon storm bursts the transparent walls.

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