If you are looking for a unique voice, then you’ve found it. Jac Jemc has a poet’s heart, and she brings that POV to her longer fiction. My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) is a haunting, touching and ultimately unsettling novel. I loved it. For the full review, head over to The Nervous Breakdown. Also, Dzanc Books is one of the best independent publishers out there. I’ve linked this book to Amazon, but you can also purchase directly from Dzanc. Be sure to check out some of their other titles, and their imprints, Starcherone, Other Voices, and Black Lawrence Press (where I’ll be editing an anthology out in 2014).
I can’t remember the last time I read such a compelling work of fiction. I’ve been a long time fan of Matt Bell, but Cataclysm Baby (Mudluscious Press) may be some of his best work to date. Maybe it’s the fact that these stories were scattered far and wide across the literary landscape, and now that they are all contained in this one collection, they are larger than the sum of its parts. All I can say is that these depictions of life in the post-apocalypse are dark, touching, and haunting. Do yourself a favor and pick this up today. Read the full review at The Nervous Breakdown for all of the details.
In addition, Matt is one of the nicest guys out there in the literary world, doing great work at Dzanc Books, one of my favorite independent presses, one of the best, as well as running The Collagist. So, some extra reasons to support his writing.
I remember the first time I heard Amelia read, at Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas release party here in Chicago. It was the first time I’d met her, or Blake, or Zach Dodson, Sam Pink, lots of people. She read one of my favorite stories of hers, ever, “Go For It and Raise Hell.” And that was when I became a fan. I ended up reading with her and Blake, Lindsay Hunter and Aaron Burch the following night, if memory serves me correctly. Lots of talent, really set the bar pretty high. I think Amelia read her snippets of threats that next night, that or another Quickies! a year or so later, but either way, those threats really stayed with me—upsetting, but funny, dark and yet with a hint of love at the center. Much of that applies to THREATS. Head on over for the full review. It’s a great book.
My review of Jessica Anya Blau’s hilarious, touching and heartbreaking novel, Drinking Closer to Home, is now live at The Nervous Breakdown. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. It starts off with a ton of characters, and I kept thinking, oh man, this is going to be too soft, to sweet and nice, I hope it doesn’t turn into (dare I say it) CHICK LIT. Well, it’s far from that. This is a loving portrait of family, with all of its warts and dirty laundry. You know the old cliche, I laughed, I cried? True. The stories are so vivid, so real, that you feel like you are hearing a friend recount her childhood misadventures. And Jessica isn’t afraid to get dirty, cussing up a storm and giving us all of the cum-stained details. But in the end, it’s really the love that shines through, the way that we keep our family close, even when they screw up, and love them in spite of their mistakes. I really loved this book. Head over to TNB for all of the details.
My review of You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know (Riverhead Books), the touching, courageous, heartbreaking memoir by Heather Sellers, is now live at The Nervous Breakdown. It’s the story of a woman who has face blindness. She can’t remember anyone’s face. Heather came down to Murray State where I’m getting my MFA to speak, and she was so funny, a great teacher, smart, beautiful, just a really giving person. I had no idea she had all of this going on. Really endearing, her story. Head on over for the full review and excerpts.