Monday, February 29, 2016

Indie Book Buzz: Casperian Books








It's a great day for some Indie Book Buzz here at TNBBC. 
It's back again and we're inviting members of the indie publishing houses to share some of the upcoming 2016 releases they are most excited about!






This week's pick is brought to you by Lily Richards
Editor and Designer at Casperian Books.








Single Stroke Seven -Lavinia Ludlow
March 1st release 


Single Stroke Seven appealed to me because while on the surface it’s an entertaining sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll yarn, at its heart is does have points to make about class and economic inequality, and the fact that “middle class” in the US really now means working class by First World standards, and that what differentiates the millennial “middle class” from a true working class are educational qualifications that no longer offer any economic advantage. 










Bio: A photographer by trade (but often accused of having an accountant’s soul by her husband), Lily Richards currently divides her time more or less equally between publishing books, running an artisanal food business, raising a trilingual brood, and consulting in the areas of supply chain management and strategic procurement. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lavinia Reviews: Kinda Sorta American Dream

Kinda Sorta American Dream by Steve Karas
4 Stars - Strongly recommended by Lavinia
Pages: 242
Publisher: Tailwinds Press
Released: December 2015



Reviewed by Lavinia Ludlow




Plainly stated, Kinda Sorta American Dream is social commentary on the everyday life and pursuits of the common American. Steve Karas reserves us front row seats in a theater streaming the intimate inner workings, thoughts, and desires of fast food chain managers, YouTube stars, Facebook stalkers, Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ in training, all striving to overcome the odds and to survive one day at a time. 

It’s easy to approach a collection titled Kinda Sorta American Dream with the assumption that every piece will be about Smalltown, USA middle-aged white guys complaining about their wives, jobs, and blue balls, and thinking about cheating on their wives, quitting their jobs, and sitting in front of the TV self-medicating with Doritos and a bottle of gas station whiskey. Quite the contrary, this collection contains an eclectic mix of protagonists and points of view that represent a diverse America, from the first generation Indian girl wishing she could communicate openly with her mother the way she believes all American girls talk with their mothers (HA! that was a laugh out loud moment) to the lonely thirty-something career woman trying to find happiness in online dating to the twelve-year-old girl who wants to see her Syrian pen pal freed from an environment of war and violence. The contrasting perspectives bring a broad spectrum of color to the collection, and paint a realistic picture of a real American society.  

Regardless of race, creed, or color, most protagonists find themselves in transitory periods, striving to alter their fates or to persevere over hopeless circumstances—think being the man of the house one day to unemployed the next, and your pride in shambles like the men in The Full Monty, minus the stripping and ’80s music, plus a Santa suit and Christmas songs blaring over the mall PA system.


For ten years running I was racking up World’s Best Dad T-shirts and mugs each Christmas. Now whose fault is it I can’t keep up the act? Whose fault is it I’m reduced to vying for the title of Super Santa?

Other subjects are more aimless, living the daily slog and hoping to find glimmers of happiness in bland dating encounters, in being someone’s side whack, or in other forms of mediocrity wherein they dupe themselves into believing that they’re kinda sorta satisfied in what they could get, even if low-hanging fruit, or even the fruit rotting at the base of the tree.

Karas has a simplistic writing style, and there’s nothing flashy or fancy about it, there are no hidden corners or agendas with twists. The result is a book without awkward transitions, or opportunity to venture into unnecessary sub-plots. By steering clear of clich├ęs and literary gristle, he tackles the art of fictional density in an original and brilliant manner. In a mere few sentences, he can convey a multifaceted conflict, or in a notable case, a single seven-word sentence: “Hello and goodbye all in one breath,” a man says as he and his wife welcome their stillborn baby into the world.

He opens his collection with a dynamite piece, Ain’t Like the Movies, where in a woman passive-aggressively outs her adult son from her house by getting a bunch of cats in which he’s severely allergic. In a mere few pages, Karas not only sets the scene, but we learn that this young man is not only a second priority to his mother’s boyfriend, but he’s a minimum wage drone on a sinking ship known as Blockbuster, has a high schooler for a boss and a father who makes his own son call him by first name. In straightforward fragments, Karas fully illustrates the protagonist’s striving and frustration. 


I’m driving around town looking for “Now Hiring” signs. I’m desperate. I’m willing to take a job anywhere at this point, to start saving, begin my life.

Another story high in conflict and dense with content is Sculpting Sand. Karas balances the right amount of background, observations, emotional responses, and dialogue to narrate the story of a father whose twenty-something son is on the run from the law. This man finds himself snarled between his wife’s desire to discipline and his desire to help his son: 


I know there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. I understand that, but every father wants to see his son become a man.

My only qualm with short fiction is the limited real estate it allows writers to build. There are a few instances when a story lacked sufficient anecdote, although, never severe enough to create an unsatisfying experience, just enough to evoke an ever so slight yearn for more resolve, as if Karas had forgotten to flick off the light before leaving a room.

All in all, Kinda Sorta American Dream reveals much about the evident problems in our society, and injects harsh realities into delusions surrounding the traditional American Dream. We are an over-medicated, under-nourished, and self-mutilating nation whose social affairs have reached such a dismal state that most can no longer identify with fictional TV families like the Simpsons and the Bundys. Yes, we continue to laugh at these dysfunctional shows and believe them to be satire on the traditional American household, but no one’s divorced, splitting custody, spouse-beating, philandering, unemployed (by choice), and both families inhabit homes in suburbia on a single man’s salary. In reality, the majority of American homes are broken, we are at war abroad and on our own soil, with our economic recessions, our personal and professional demons, and most of all, ourselves.

But Karas’ collection doesn’t obliterate hope of a brighter future. His characters fight the good fight, even if their interpretation of the “good fight” may vary from one to the next. Through their experiences, we see that perhaps we can find meaning in our journey toward a destination only we can define, and we must continue to hope that the result is worth the sacrifices and suffering beyond our wildest (American) dreams.



Lavinia Ludlow is a musician and writer dividing time between San Francisco and London. Her debut novel, alt.punk (2011), explored the ragged edge of art, society, and sanity, viciously skewering the politics of rebellion. Her sophomore novel, Single Stroke Seven (2016), explores the lives of independent artists coming of age in perilous economic conditions. Both titles can be purchased through Casperian Books. Her short works have been published in Pear Noir!, Curbside Splendor Semi-Annual Journal, and Nailed Magazine, and her indie lit reviews have appeared in Small Press Reviews, The Rumpus, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy Magazine, and American Book Review.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Page 69: Tomorrow is a Long Time

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....





In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Tabitha Vohn's Tomorrow is a Long Time to the test!





The set up for page 69:

Page 69 is taking place during a time when Eileen is forced to make a decision about whether she's going to go through with this radical experiment, to see if she can have a relationship with Cal in the alternate world of his memory (think Matrix meets The Fringe), which is the only place they could enact this fantasy, given that he is eighty-some and she is in her twenties. She's also conflicted because she's in a nice, safe relationship with a guy she's known since childhood. So it's a choice between the sure thing or the man she believes that she was always meant to be with, despite the seeming impossibility of it all. Eileen is dragged to this honorary dinner for her best friend, who around page 70 or 71 (ha ha) recites a poem about Eileen's longtime love Cal, which then pushes her towards her decision.




What Tomorrow is a Long Time is about:

On the superficial level, Tomorrow is a Long Time is about the age-old fantasy of what if the celebrity you fantasized about actually felt a connection with you? Celebrity worship is such a powerful thing and--I think--feels so real to so many people because (with actors especially) performance art is all about these incredibly attractive individuals convincing us of these very realistic, vulnerable, intimate emotions and moments. We see artists exposed on a much more raw, personal level than we maybe even experience with friends, family, or lovers. So the connection that people feel to these artists (or their characters, more specifically) seems very real, even if it is all a fantasy. Eileen feels this way about Cal; she's convinced that he put his real self into his roles and, therefore, that the connection she feels to him is real, based on who he really is.  And she's right! And he feels the connection, too.
On a deeper level, this novel to me is a redemption story, which is the only story that I'm interested in telling. No matter how much pain and suffering I put my characters through, there's always the chance for redemption.



Does this page give readers an accurate sense of what the novel is about?

Man, there are so many other pages I would have chosen over pg. 69! It's not a pivotal moment, but it's a necessary one. Eileen needed a sign, and this scene gives her that final push towards Cal. If nothing else, pg. 69 is indicative of my writing style, so if you like what you read, there plenty of pages much more riveting but following the same style.





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PAGE 69
TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME


and beauty.”

Isabelle’s eyes began to tear and I hugged her again. “Oh, no, don’t cry. Happy times,” I said, trying to make my voice joking and light.

“Thanks, Lee. This is why I needed you here today. Thank you.”

“Any time.”

Isabelle sat me at her private table. Josh was there, and I was happy to see him on her arm. The sight of them together filled me with such happiness; they completed each other flawlessly. Secretly, I was relieved that Bear hadn’t been able to make it. After the shock of seeing Cal, and all that I had to consider, the last thing I wanted was the guilt of Bear’s hopeful eyes.

 Isabelle was glowing, despite her fear. Once the acclamations had begun over a warm introduction from her former advisor, I knew that she would feel the reception of those who had come to honor her and not their impending judgment or skepticism. With the meal, there was a hearty soup and fresh-baked bread, which would have been quite enough for me. The three of us chatted comfortably. Josh told us about his new job as a buyer for a local art gallery. He asked me about the pieces I planned to play in Austria. I told him how I was modeling them after the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, and using the Disney songs that were composed for them but putting a darker, more authentic sound to them, so that they fit with the Gothicism of the tales.

“Jack was insisting on my recording them into an album and then begin touring with them,” I said. “I told him that I think he’s jumping the gun.”

“No, I gotta tell ya, I think this is one of your coolest ideas yet,” said Josh.

“You think so?”

“It’s really exciting,” Isabelle said.

I smiled, embarrassed by their identically admiring faces. “Okay, well enough about me. This day is about Iz, after all. What poem will you be dazzling us with today?”

“Well, that’s sort of a surprise,” she said, tentatively placing her glass on the table. “It’s one you haven’t heard yet. I hope that you’ll like it.”

Isabelle was interrupted by the dean, who had made his way to the podium and was performing the obligatory fork against crystal gesture.

“Fellow distinguished members of the board, the Fine Arts Department, and the Committee for Literary Preservation: it is my privilege to welcome you all here today as we honor one of our own. A remarkable new voice has been discovered and cultivated in our midst. She has broken new ground during her graduate work, and I am now pleased to offer her a place among our published authors. I have asked Ms. Shales to share in a reading of her exciting work. Please join me in welcoming her, and congratulating her, to the first of many recognitions to come for her amazing talent. Ladies, gentlemen: Ms. Isabelle Shales.”

The room erupted into applause as Isabelle hesitated on wobbling legs before giving my and Josh’s hands one final squeeze and stepping up the podium.

She stood smiling, waiting for the applause to calm.

“Good afternoon. Thank you for having me,” she said. Her voice warbled slightly, and I bet that only Josh or I would have recognized just how hard it was for her to fight back the urge to run.

“I’m honored to have been asked to share my work with you today, albeit… 



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Tabitha is a pen name. Her creator is a certified bookworm, thanks to the countless fairy tales, Bible stories, and nursery rhymes she was read as a child, and the Gothic, Romantic, and Contemporary novels she enjoys today. She has earned a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Teaching, and currently teaches high school English.

On Writing, Tabitha says,"I strive to write the type of stories that I enjoy reading. Ones that question those blurred lines between love and lust, between good and evil. Ones that make us question human nature while simultaneously seeing the beauty in it as well." 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: Chimpanzee

Read 1/23/16 - 2/1/16
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended that you pay your friggen school loans off because holy shit the government is gonna get theirs...
Pages: 216
Publisher: Underland Press
Released: 2015





Holy fuck you guys, get those school loans paid off, pronto!

In a future dystopia, America enters The Second Great Depression and people are losing their jobs left and right. In an effort to maintain some form of control, as college grads begin to default on their school loans, the government starts forcefully removing their unpaid 'education', and the memories attached to that education, from their brains through a process called Repossession Therapy. A crazy underground movement emerges, one that Dr. Benjamin Cade finds himself pulled into, when he begins holding free classes in the middle of a local park, in a desperate attempt to pass on his knowledge before it's completely taken from him. 

It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind only you don't get to choose what's taken from you. And what's taken from you can be stored, stolen, and sold on the black market. It's a fucking horror show. I don't know about you, but if my husband or I lost our job and could only afford to pay some of our bills, I'd make damn sure we'd throw all of our money at the ones that would cause someone to come knocking on my door, tie me to a couch, and suck memories out of my brain. Cell phone bill? Suddenly not important anymore. Sell the shittin' things on Ebay. Cable bill? Nu-uh. Screw that. No more Walking Dead and X-Files. It's a sacrifice I am willing to make. Car loans? Welp, one of us is out of work so we don't need to drive anywhere anymore. They can repo the car. Take it. Have fun with it. Credit cards? Ok, come on over and take back the couch, the TV (since we won't be watching anything on it, haha) and whatever else we've charged. But no fucking way are you putting that memory-sucking freak cap on my head and messing  with my mind. Not having it!

This is science fiction grounded in reality. This is  fright fiction because it's not-so-far-fetched. This is the kind of book we'll look back on in 20 years and say "how the hell did Darin predict this?".  It's scary because it could happen. It's scary because Darin could be writing about himself. It's scary because it's something I could see our government doing when push comes to shove.

And how strangely timely, because have you seen the news? A man was just recently arrested for failure to appear in court for a school loan that went unpaid for nearly 30 years! 

This future, it's coming. And it ain't looking too promising, ya'll.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Review: Tables Without Chairs #1


Read 2/1/16
4 Stars - Strongly recommended, it's fun stuff! Serious readers need to get over themselves and get into it
Pages: 164
Publisher: House of Vlad
Released: 2015





Brian Alan Ellis and Bud Smith are a bit like beer and hot wings. You can, and do, enjoy them individually. Yet, when paired together, they are crazy complimentary and before you know it, you are wondering how you ever went through life having one without the other. 

Brian's the jokester, drawing you in with his sharp wit and sarcastic comebacks, while Bud charms and disarms you by finding humor and hope in the most mundane things. 

Reading Tables Without Chairs is like walking in on a conversation between two guy besties. You know the kind, where they are speaking their own language and laughing at their own jokes and stories, and at first you're like "are you kidding me right now, they are so full of themselves, they sure do like to hear themselves talk", yet the longer you sit there listening, the funnier their jokes and stories become. And then you realize that they are actually quite hilarious and you're all "dude, I want to be besties with you too", because they have been through the coolest, most fucked up shit ever and you think that if you hang with them, well, then some pretty cool and fucked up shit will start happening to you, because you'll totally be orbiting their awesomeness and isn't that how it works? Hang with the cool kids and cool stuff will start happening to you? 

A fun and fantastic mashup by two of the hardest working and handsome fellas in the small press solar system. 

Get them on your radar.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Carol Guess's Would You Rather

Bored with the same old fashioned author interviews you see all around the blogosphere? Well, TNBBC's newest series is a fun, new, literary spin on the ole Would You Rather game. Get to know the authors we love to read in ways no other interviewer has. I've asked them to pick sides against the same 20 odd bookish scenarios. And just to spice it up a bit, each author gets to ask their own Would You Rather question to the author who appears after them....


Carol Guess's 
Would You Rather




Would you rather start every sentence in your book with ‘And’ or end every sentence with ‘but’?
I’d rather start every sentence with “But” and end every sentence with “and.”

Would you rather write in an isolated cabin that was infested with spiders or in a noisy coffee shop with bad musak?
Noisy coffee shop. Because coffee.

Would you rather think in a language you could understand but write in one you couldn’t read, or think in a language you couldn’t understand but write in one you could read?
Um, wow. That’s so complicated I feel like you write in a language I can’t understand or read. Maybe the first one? How could I think in a language I don’t understand? Maybe I do, and that’s why people look at me funny.

Would you rather write the best book of your career and never publish it or publish a bunch of books that leave you feeling unsatisfied?
I’d rather write something excellent and put it away, yeah. That one.

Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
I kinda have the voice narrating my every move already. But oh god, no, not my thoughts on a Twitter feed!

Would you rather your books be bound and covered with human skin or made out of tissue paper?
Yuck. Tissue please. Next question!

Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?

 That’s already happened. The second one, I mean. The very first reading I ever gave was for my novel Seeing Dell. I drove from Bloomington, Indiana to Chicago. Not one person showed up. But the bookstore owner was amazing. She sat me down and told me to buck up. Gave me some tips for promoting my work, but mostly just said, “Get used to it.” I had a crush on her for years.

Would you rather your book incite the world’s largest riot or be used as tinder in everyone’s fireplace?
This makes me too deeply depressed to answer.

Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
Pens and paper. Easy one!

Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?

How about every word etched in frosting on cookies that I get to eat for the rest of my life?

Would you rather meet your favorite author and have them turn out to be a total jerkwad or hate a book written by an author you are really close to?
Um, both of these things have already happened. My biggest fear is that someone will feel this way about me.

Would you rather your book have an awesome title with a really ugly cover or an awesome cover with a really bad title?
Since I invent the titles but not the covers, this is rough. Of course I don’t want to write a bad title for my own book. But some of my books have ugly covers, and that breaks my heart. I feel divorced from those books, unfortunately.

Would you rather write beautiful prose with no point or write the perfect story badly?
Ohhhhhh I’m so on the Stein side of this question. Of course beautiful prose with no point. Of course.

Would you rather write only embarrassingly truthful essays or write nothing at all?
Nothing!

Would you rather your book become an instant best seller that burns out quickly and is forgotten forever or be met with mediocre criticism but continue to sell well after you’re gone?
Door #2, but really, door #3.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carol Guess is the author of fifteen books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Tinderbox Lawn. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. Her most recent book, With Animal, was co-written with Kelly Magee and published by Black Lawrence Press in 2015. She teaches in the MFA program at Western Washington University. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lindsey Reviews: Ophelia: A Botanist's Guide

from publisher's website
Ophelia: A Botanist's Guide by Emily Alta Hockaday
Illustrated by Sam Hockaday
Pages: 24
Publisher: Zoo Cake Press
Released: 2015



Dog Eared Review by Lindsey Lewis Smithson 




At turns an academic and emotional collection, Emily Hockaday’s chapbook Ophelia: A Botanist's Guide is fascinating. The collection is told from the point of view of Ophelia, from Hamlet, as she is taken for granted and abused by nearly every one, and it highlights the many plants mentioned throughout the play. There is a lot of depth within, adding the scientific names for the mentioned plants, along with their historical uses, in addition to a clear and nuanced knowledge of Hamlet (the play and the character). 

Nicely, the collection can stand on its own well enough without relying too much on the play, which had been my initial fear when I approached the work. None of the characters are named in the poems, save on the cover and the dedication lines, so the narrative could apply to many women who feel unappreciated and disabused in their lives. When taken as such, another powerful level is added —that is how you know a collection has staying power, when it can be read and appreciated in many levels. Obviously connecting the poems with the play, as the poet intended, is the way it probably should first be read, but there is something timeless in the way that the same emotions can translate into many other situations. 

To accompany each poem there is an artistic depiction of each plant along with it’s scientific name. The art is a nice touch that isn’t seen often enough in poetry. If you keep in mind that this is a botanist guide, done by Ophelia, the inclusion of the art work helps to make the world created by the poems more real. It is as if Ophelia herself is detailing her thoughts, feelings, and histories about the plants while intellectually analyzing them and the roles they have played in her life. The combination of the two will leave readers a little smarter, and a little more emotional, than when they started.

You don’t have to be a botanist, or a Shakespearean scholar, to see the craft and beauty in these poems. I personally would love to see more lovely poems along this line, maybe pulling similar inspiration from other plays, since 12 poems and illustrations over 24 pages just couldn't satisfy me enough. Hockaday’s chapbook does add so much depth to the short life of Ophelia and helps widen both readers perception of the play, along with the use of plants in literature.


Dog Eared Pages:
2, 4, 6, 14, 20, 24


Lindsey Lewis Smithson is the Editor of Straight Forward Poetry. Some of her poetry has appeared on The Nervous BreakdownThis Zine Will Change Your LifeThe Cossack Review, and Every Writer’s Resource: Everyday Poems.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: California

Read 2/2/16 - 2/9/16
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended for lovers of the 'oh my god this could be our own apocalypse' fiction.
Pages: 393
Publisher: Little, Brown
Released: 2014





I've had this one on the Kindle for a long while - I downloaded after I had attended a panel where Edan read from it - and finally got around to cracking it open.

California is set in a dystopian world that breathed itself into existence slowly, where the government has begun collapsing, a near-invisible disintegration that was quickened under the additional pressures of serious illnesses and devastating storms that had hit the US over an unspecified period of time.

The novel starts out as a quiet survival story - married couple Frida and Cal have attempted to make a go of it on their own, after fleeing the dangers of the dying city to make a home for themselves in the relative seclusion of a ill constructed shed in the middle of LA's wilderness. Though they are frustratingly naive and prone to arguments (hell, who wouldn't be when you're each other's only company), they were also fortuitously well-prepared for the slow fade of civilization. Cal's green thumb and  his experiences at Plank as a college student come in extremely handy as they resort to hunting and foraging in the forest for sustenance.

When Frida realizes she is pregnant, the fear of "how do we have this child alone" pushes the young couple out of their little fantasy world in search of a nearby community. After a day and a half of travel, they timidly approach a labyrinthine series of large man-made spikes and are greeted by a man who escorts them into The Land. What initially appears to be a peaceful and pleasant settlement (c'mon, we all know better, right?!) turns out to be a society with some pretty dark secrets and a disturbing set of rules.

Edan has done something wonderful within a somewhat "been there, read that" genre. As a fan of post-apocalyptic and dystopian literature, I've experienced just about every end-of-the-world scenario. From meteors to zombies to plagues,.. and while there is nothing wrong with that, I have a deep appreciation for the slow, unobtrusive way in which Edan ushered in hers. How scary to imagine growing up in a world where, little by little, we are pushed back towards the dark ages. Internet and electricity are spotty at best, colleges teach its students to farm, people trade gold for the silliest trinkets.

Through California, Edan addresses our biggest fears as she offers its characters the opportunity to rebuild society, and right past wrongs. Will they continue down the dark path that brought about their own undoings or move humanity forward in new and unexpected ways?

For the record, had my husband and I been characters in this book, fleeing the same dying city, we'd be dead within a week of exposure to the elements, dehydration, and us stupidly gorging out on poisonous berries or some ridiculously dumb infection by hangnail. We're just not cut out for the end of the world as we know it.

Do you think it's too late to influence my kids into becoming crunchy granolas? This novel makes me fear for their future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Danger Slater's Guide to Books and Booze


Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Back by popular demand, Books & Booze, originally a mini-series of sorts here on TNBBC challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 




Today, Danger Slater whips up some totally killer drinks to celebrate his newest release I Will Rot Without You. Drink wisely, and by drink, I mean flush them down the toilet or sink when no one is looking. Hehehe






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Greetings, my fellow alcoholics. Here is the ultimate drinking guide for my new novel I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU. These are cocktails based off of drinks that can be found in the book. A quick glance at the recipes below and you may be asking yourself: wait a second, what sorta sick fuck would advocate drinking Windex and industrial runoff? Well, the thing about that is I’M EXACTLY THE SORTA SICK FUCK WHO WOULD ADVOCATE THAT! 

You see, the main character in I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU is named Ernie Cotard, and he’s got a lot of problems. Not only is he dealing with a recent breakup, but the cockroaches that live in his apartment walls and the intelligent mold growing in his bathroom sink are conspiring against him. They’ve poisoned him. And his body is literally falling apart. In itself, this wouldn’t have bothered Ernie so much, but he just met a new girl named Dee who lives down the hall and with her, he thinks he might be able to finally move on with his life. That is, unless his current infestation, Dee’s (literally) overly-attached boyfriend, or Ernie’s quickly and disgustingly rotting body don’t stop him first.

I suggest you pick up a copy of the book, pour yourself one of my delicious cocktails, and slowly disappear into the endless and immutable void. 

The Resurrector

Ingredients:

3 parts absinthe
1 part Windex®
Splash of grenadine
A couple of drops of arsenic
Severed cockroach wings

Mix the absinthe and Windex® together in a highball glass. Windex®-brand window cleaner is recommended for taste, but in a pinch any generic window cleaner will do. Squirt in a couple of drops of arsenic. The more potent the arsenic, the better. Add a splash grenadine for flavor. But don’t add too much grenadine though. The drink is supposed to be bitter. Bitter like the resentment you feel towards your ex for leaving you. Bitter like your undying and morbid love. Toss in a few cockroach wings and serve over ice.


The Very Very Bloody Mary

1.5 oz. vodka
8 oz. human blood, preferably your own
1 tsp. horseradish
2 stalks of celery
1/2 tsp. mold spores scraped from under your bathroom sink
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 dashes of Tabasco hot sauce

Cut the celery, including the leaves, and puree. Weep quietly to yourself. Process until finely minced. In a salted glass, combine the human blood, horseradish, mold spores, and Tabasco. Weep some more.  Combine the celery puree with the human blood mix. Add vodka. Start laughing manically while continuing to weep. Stir with a celery stalk while the cockroaches that are infesting your disgusting apartment watch in silent judgment. Scream out: “Fuck you, you disgusting little vermin! You stay away from me, you hear?” Weep again.


Tissuewater Sweet

4 oz. industrial runoff
4 oz. natural spring water
1 tbsp. artificial sweetener
1 tissue
Twist of lime

Combine equal parts fresh spring water with the industrial runoff from whatever chemical plant is located closest to your house. Add in artificial sweetener. DO NOT use real sugar. Add the tissue and let sit until the paper dissolves and makes the drink look sludgey. By this point, the concoction should’ve take on a glowing blueish hue. This is normal. It means it’s working. Add a twist of lime. Or don’t. Who cares? Drink it and when you close your eyes you will see the true face of god.


The Filthy City

1 tall glass of slightly chilled bleach

Dirty. Dirty. Everything is dirty. Must clean everything. Inside and out. I must purify myself. I must purify the world. I can’t go on like this. I must end this. I must shed this skin, this horrible rotting skin I’m trapped in. I will show you how. I will make you love me.




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Danger Slater is the world's most flammable writer! He uses a lot of exclamation points when he writes! He is the author of 3.5 books including I WILL ROT WITHOUT YOU available through Fungasm Press. He's an East Coast kid living in Portland, OR where he continues to drive like he's still in New Jersey.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Giveaway: Fallen Land

Since July 2010, TNBBC has been bringing authors and readers together every month to get behind the book! This unique experience wouldn't be possible without the generous donations of the authors and publishers involved.





It's the beginning of a new month and you know what that means.
It's time to bring you March's Author/Reader discussion book!


We will be reading and discussing Fallen Land 
with Taylor Brown


St. Martin's Press has graciously given us 10 copies to give away!
(sorry folks, this one's limited to US Residents only)
Your choice of either 

(a) Hardcover 
or
 (b) Audio Download




What it's about: 

Fallen Land is Taylor Brown's debut novel set in the final year of the Civil War, as a young couple on horseback flees a dangerous band of marauders who seek a bounty reward. 

Callum, a seasoned horse thief at fifteen years old, came to America from his native Ireland as an orphan. Ava, her father and brother lost to the war, hides in her crumbling home until Callum determines to rescue her from the bands of hungry soldiers pillaging the land, leaving destruction in their wake. Ava and Callum have only each other in the world and their remarkable horse, Reiver, who carries them through the destruction that is the South. Pursued relentlessly by a murderous slave hunter, tracking dogs, and ruthless ex-partisan rangers, the couple race through a beautiful but ruined land, surviving on food they glean from abandoned farms and the occasional kindness of strangers. In the end, as they intersect with the scorching destruction of Sherman's March, the couple seek a safe haven where they can make a home and begin to rebuild their lives. 

Dramatic and thrillingly written with an uncanny eye for glimpses of beauty in a ravaged landscape, Fallen Land is a love story at its core, and an unusually assured first novel by award-winning young author Taylor Brown.



This giveaway will run through February 12th . 
Winners will be announced here and via email on February13th.





Here's how to enter:

1 - Leave a comment here or in the giveaway thread over at TNBBC on goodreads, and let us know your preferred formant - Hardcover or Audio Download. You must be a resident of the US in order to qualify for this one. 


2 - State that you agree to participate in the group read book discussion that will run from March 21st through the 27th. Taylor has agreed to participate in the discussion and will be available to answer any questions you may have for him. 


 3 - Your comment must have a way to contact you (email is preferred).




ONLY COMMENT ONCE. MULTIPLE COMMENTS DO NOT GAIN YOU ADDITIONAL CHANCES TO WIN.

 *If you are chosen as a winner, by accepting the copy you are agreeing to read the book and join the group discussion at TNBBC on Goodreads (the thread for the discussion will be emailed to you before the discussion begins). 



GOOD LUCK!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Book Review: Waste

Read 1/21/16 to 1/23/16
3 Stars - Recommended to readers who don't mind a slow start and time spent on secondary characters
Pages: 256
Publisher: Dzanc
Releases: March 2016



In his debut novel Waste, Andrew F Sullivan drags us down the dark and desolate streets of Larkhill, Ontario, where we meet Jamie, who was once a high school bully, and Moses, a half-hearted skinhead - two angsty dudes who live shit lives in a shit town working shit jobs. Moses hitches a ride home with Jamie one night and the two of them end up hitting, and killing, a lion on a back road. Rather than report the freak incident, they drag the body into the snow-covered ditch and take off into the night. What they don't know is that some men are looking for that lion, large men with long beards who carry power drills as torture devices, who take orders from a man who will stop at nothing to punish Jamie and Moses for what they've done.

After a pretty powerful opening, Sullivan seems content to back things up and takes his time introducing us to secondary characters. But stick with it. While it may appear unconnected at first, your patience will pay off after the groundwork's been laid out and you start following the trails of bread crumbs, each of which ultimately lead back to one of our original two bad boys, Jamie and Moses. From there, the book quickly becomes a page-turner  as everything begins to converge.

This is a bleak book, you guys. Larkhill is home to a bunch of down-and-outers, extended-stay motelers, and drug king pins. Nothing good will come of these wasted lives and the entire town is about to go through some serious pain and suffering, all on account of Jamie and Moses and that goddamn gored-up lion.Yet something tells me they were damned from the get-go. Happy endings seem to have no place here.

The book doesn't release for another month and yet it's making all kinds of waves, already appearing on some Most Anticipated lists. Will it make yours?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Drew Reviews: The Naked Eye

The Naked Eye by Yoko Tawada
Translator: 
3 Stars - it's hard not to be curious about what will happen next
Pages: 256
Publisher: New Directions
Released: 2009



Reviewed by Drew Broussard




The Short Version: On a state-sponsored trip to East Germany, a young Vietnamese woman is kidnapped and taken to the other side of the Wall. So begins a strange journey that will take her to Paris and through various iterations of life, as well as see her develop an obsession with the films of Catherine Deneuve. But the films may have more of an impact on real life than first meets the eye...

The Review: What is it about our favorite performers that make us want to dive into their lives - not necessarily their real lives (although those as well, more often than not) but the many lives they live throughout their careers? That's what really interests us about stars, I think: their ability to live different lives that all come back to the same starting point. 


Thoughts of the performers I love most were on my mind while reading this novel, Tawada's ode to Catherine Deneuve and also to ideas of film and film-structure. In many ways, the novel operates on a somewhat-more-rational version of David Lynch's "dream logic": things happen and they aren't necessarily spurred one from the next but rather simply a series of occurrences all featuring the same cast of characters (or at least the same main character). How else to explain the resonances between our narrator (although she adopts a handful of false ones, she never tells us her real name) and the characters Deneuve plays? Tawada encourages this in the reader, even going so far as to name the chapter titles after some of Deneuve's films, often ones that our narrator watches during the chapter and often ones that echo our narrator's plot. It can't be a coincidence that, when The Hunger is mentioned, our narrator ends up making money by participating in medical studies, many of which require them to draw blood... right? Or are we simply drawing conclusions in the same way that you might think "yeah, I'm just like the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes" for reasons that are, in fact, not at all real?

There is a note at the beginning of this slim volume that explains the translation: this version is based entirely on the German manuscript. However, Tawada (who is bilingual) worked simultaneously in German and Japanese and, in fact, ended up with two separate manuscripts of the novel. Not only is this obviously a fascinating experiment (and it would be thrilling to see the ways in which the two translations into English might diverge) but it actually informs the storytelling, too. Our narrator is often at a literal loss for words because of language barriers (German, French, English, and Japanese are all, at some point, languages she is unable to fluently communicate in) but also the literal instability of shifting space and understanding. Having just started listening to SerialBox's The Witch Who Came in From the Cold before picking this up, I was keenly thinking about the Cold War and the two sides of the Iron Curtain... and there's something interesting to the way our narrator, unable to actually keep up with the news, is somewhat stuck in time even as the world moves forward. I am curious, from a structural point of view, which came first - the idea for the novel's overall arc or the changing language of composition.  I don't know that it would change my experience of the novel at all but I'm just deeply fascinated.

It's funny, though - the book, even as I write about it, slips away to some extent. I'm more interested in seeking out the films of Ms. Deneuve (I realize that I've never seen a single one, except perhaps in passing or when I didn't realize - but I don't consciously know even The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) than I am of thinking about this story all that much more. There's something oddly episodic about the novel, fitting again into the idea of it having elements of dream logic, and the way each chunk of the novel sits slightly removed from the others and I struggled to stay fully engrossed throughout the reading process. I worry, sometimes, that this is often (although certainly not always) the case when I read translated novels: something about translation, especially into English, can deliver a detached tone to the proceedings, something cool and removed. This, I believe, is a failure of the English language more than it is the fault of any translator - but I wonder if this book has more heat to it read in either of the original vernacular. I don't suppose I'll ever know.

Rating: 3 out of 5. An interesting introduction to the bilingual Tawada, whose body of work (at least that so far translated into English for New Directions) seems to all deal with a certain amount of flickering identity and strange liminal states. The episodic plot never allows us to really care for our narrator but at the same time, I think it's hard not to be curious about what will happen next. Yet interspersed with storytelling are sometimes whole recitations of plot of Catherine Deneuve films, except seen through the lens of someone who can't necessarily understand the entirety of the film because of barriers both linguistic and more broadly cultural. It's a strange little book, unlike anything else I've maybe ever read - but while I wouldn't say no to more Tawada, I'm not sure I'm rushing out to get another of her books. This one feels, in ways both good and bad, a little too much like a very long waking-dream.



Drew Broussard reads, a lot. When not doing that, he's writing stories or playing music or acting or producing or coming up with other ways to make trouble.  He also has a day job at The Public Theater in New York City.