It is a testament to Smith-Steven’s writing that the book’s efforts to dig into identity and masculinity are never bogged down by self-seriousness. In fact, The Australian’s strongest aspect is its levity. This is a funny and “quippy” short novel, its humor gentle but always present. Smith-Stevens’s sentences are full of sharp ironic barbs, but one never gets the feeling that she is mocking her characters. She simply points out various absurdities in worldview and the requisite criticism that comes with those views, while allowing her characters the leeway to believe what they want to believe, even if, in the case of the Australian, that is simply “to pretend to have faith” in himself. [more]
I am completely wowed by this news! Also: moved, startled, grateful, and so many other things. Tremendous thanks to Roxane Gay for including me in this vital, timely, but also--tragically--timeless anthology. I hope all who can will read it. Also, every single one of us contributors read our essays for the audiobook, and Roxane Gay reads her introduction--so that's well worth checking out, in addition to the paperback.
**Trigger Warning: Not That Bad contains graphic and deeply affecting depictions and discussion of rape, molestation, harassment, and other forms of sexual abuse and assault.
All hail the independent press, and the incredible voices they put out into the world. The world of independent literature is booming as small presses get the chance to flower. There are so many great independent presses out there, some owned by authors (such as Danielle Dutton’s Dorothy) and others by editors with an eye for excellency (like those over at New York Tyrant). Here, five amazing books recently published by indie presses that we can’t to get our hands on. [more]
There were 1,170 submissions. 56 were short-listed, 180 long-listed. The prize is affiliated with Fish Publishing, an independent publishing company based in the West of Ireland. [more]
"Here lies a list of literature (& other bits & bobs) that features the body and/or the way it fails us." [more]
"We believe in artists and their essential role in our society. Each year, we award up to fifty $50,000 unrestricted fellowships to the most compelling artists working and living in the United States, in all disciplines, at every stage of their career." [more]
“What are the best Fiction books of 2017?” We aggregated 51 year-end lists and ranked the 571 unique titles by how many times they appeared in an attempt to answer that very question! [more]
Well, Ethan Hawke said in an interview: "The most romantic thing I have ever done is have sexual intercourse with a woman. It doesn’t get any better than that. You talk about candlelight? Being really connected to another person is about as good as it gets." I gave him a hot tip on Twitter dot com. [more]
"Along with 'Show, don’t tell,' which is super confusing and often instills in writers the idea that clarity and directness are to be avoided at all costs, 'Write what you know' is a tragic bit of instruction. I want to travel outside of myself when writing—to bridge my way to characters who may seem distant or opaque or foreign, and whose circumstances could not differ more from mine. Why not write into curiosity and the unknown?" [more]
David Gutowski writes:
2017 was another great year for the novel.
These are the 11 novels I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path this year (my personal metric for "favorite").
I am astonished and honored to be published along with so many writers I deeply admire. Here is a full list of contributors and their essays:
In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.”
Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.
*Pre-order hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook, or audio CD here (publication date May 1st, 2018).
After I graduated from a college two hours north of New York City, where I’d grown up, I felt exceedingly lucky to have a job lined up in Los Angeles. I’d never been there.
My friend Molly and I drove across the country with my dog Phil in the backseat. I’ve got this great snapshot of my passenger-side rearview mirror reflecting Phil’s head stuck out the window, ears flapping, and the Hollywood sign straight ahead of us... [more]
Essay "I Used to Be a Writer--Then I Got Sick," originally published in Literary Hub, including on Joseph Dante's Recommended Reading #7--along with work by Ocean Vuong, Richard Siken, Joanna Valente, Melissa Goodrich, and others. [more]
"I was a writer because I made art from my imaginings and from my past. I sought through language to understand circumstances and lives and bodies that seemed remote and fascinating and necessary to me. Through writing I left myself, immersing instead in characters or memories. When I wrote, I was never aware that I had a body. As a writer, your body is something that you can forget..." [more]
Engaging, discuss-worthy, fiction from a variety of genres--perfect for your next book club read! [more]
"The Australian is an astute, often satirical look at self-actualization and what it means to be a man, partner, father and son. Smith-Stevens writes in a marvelously voyeuristic style.... The nameless man, both hero and no-hoper, is a poignant and pointed reflection of the imperfections that vex us all." [more]
The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens proves that the picaresque will never die, not as long as there are characters like her titular, never-named fellow. It’s a bit like reading a loose biography of Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, if Jemaine were Australian instead of from New Zealand and an aimless git instead of a musician git, but the tone is the same: Droll, quick, and occasionally cruel... [more]
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.
Emma Smith-Stevens' brilliant novel The Australian is one of the funniest (and smartest) debuts I have read in years.
In her own words, here is Emma Smith-Stevens' Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Australian... [more]
The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens comes out today! It’s a hilarious debut novel about a smiling, suntanned, backpack-wearing Australian (you know the type) and his search for meaning. We asked the author one question.
Fiction Advocate: Emma! How are you celebrating the publication of The Australian? [more]
"On the streets of Melbourne, the Australian parades around dressed as Superman, paying his way through university by posing for photos, conscious of the bulge of his cock..." [more]
"In her mesmerizing debut, Smith-Stevens reveals the inner life of a man who describes himself as “the patron saint of trying.” The first view of the titular character (who is never given a proper name) is in his Australian homeland, where he’s a young adult parading around as Superman—living in the skin of a superhero, lapping up tourist attention." [more]
A comprehensive look at what’s in store for small presses in 2017: compiled by Michael Seidlinger. [more]
"Emma Smith-Stevens’s debut novel The Australian (Dzanc) is a sui generis mutation of the coming of age story, bearing us through topographies at once recognizable and remote, physical and mental, with a compass set in “defamiliarize” mode. I was fortunate enough to read an earlier draft, but am eagerly anticipating it in its final incarnation."
“‘Some Cool Heaven’ is a linear narrative: an account of a mother taking her son to the fair for the last time. She’s dying, probably cancer. It’s one of those types of stories that we get again and again, but the difference is that Emma Smith-Stevens’ attention to detail is moving and so intelligent. This story has something to say, and it says it perfectly–in each and every line.” -Christopher Allen