Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Indie Ink Runs Deep: John Smelcer

Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....

Today's ink story comes from John Smelcer. John is the author of over fifty books. His stories, poems, and essays appear in over 500 magazines. For almost a quarter of a century, he has been poetry editor at Rosebud.

Memento Mori: 
My Tattoo Celebrating Life, Death, and Remembrance

Twenty years ago, I had an idea to write a book about the day Jesus was crucified. Everyone knows the story. But this was different. I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of Simon or Cyrene, who the bible says was impressed by Roman soldiers to help carry the heavy cross through the narrow streets of Jerusalem up to Golgotha. Everyone recalls that some unfortunate spectator was ordered to help Jesus along Via Dolorosa, but almost no one ever talks about him, not even in sermons. Simon would have been whipped by the soldiers urging them forward and jeered at and spat upon by bystanders who wouldn’t have known that he was ordered to help at sword point. The flesh on Simon’s shoulder would have been laid bare by the raspy wooden beam as was Jesus’s shoulder (most people don’t think about that wound). Throughout the ordeal, Simon would have been covered in Jesus’s blood. Their blood may have even intermingled. There is no other story in the gospels of Jesus’s blood mixing with someone else’s blood. What would be the repercussions?

After two decades of off-and-on writing and research, including taking graduate courses in religion at Harvard University, The Gospel ofSimon, was just released and includes blurbs by folks like Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Saul Bellow, and even Coretta Scott King. There’s even an interview with W. P. Kinsella, who wrote the novel that was adapted into the Academy Award winning motion picture, Field of Dreams. Having lived with the persistent and profound vision for so many years, and feeling emptiness where it had once consumed me, I felt compelled to have some lasting symbol to remind me of what I had gone through. What says forever better than a tattoo?

That’s a grimace, not a smile.

Tattoo artist Chad Weigert of Why Not Tat2’s in Kirksville, Missouri working on John Smelcer’s shoulder. 

John Smelcer’s Simon and Jesus tat

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Melanie Reviews: Superman on the Roof

Superman on the Roof by Lex Williford
Pages: 40
Publisher: Rose Metal Press
Released: August 2016

Reviewed by Melanie Page

Superman on the Roof begins with an introduction by the 10th Rose Metal Press chapbook contest judge, Ira Sukrungruang. He contemplates and defines what a short story collection is: “The short story collection is a gathering of suffering. But the good short story collection expounds and often enlightens the reader to the very nature of suffering, and in that moment is a shared intimacy between writer and reader.” Unlike most introductions, Sukrungruang wisely avoids summarizing Williford’s chapbook and instead puts the reader in the right frame of mind.

Narrated by Travis, oldest sibling of four, Superman on the Roof is about the repetition of grief. Perhaps considered a long short story told in a collection of short short stories, most of the pieces begin with where the characters are in relation to the death of three-year-old Jesse. At first, he’s alive; it’s “the summer before he got sick...” and then the next piece starts “The morning after our kid brother Jesse died...” Travis tells the stories of his family months after Jesse died, the summer after Jesse died, the Christmas Eve after Jesse died. Though the cliché time heals all wounds is commonly expressed to the bereaved, Travis’s entire life circles around the death of his toddler-aged brother, never letting the reader out of his grip of grief.

It would be easy to hate nearly everyone in Superman on the Roof if it weren’t for one beautiful story about Jesse at age two before he got sick, and sister Maddie, age five, swimming in a plastic play pool. They take off their bathing suits and run around the yard naked, ending up in the street. While I was gripped with fear for what happens when children are in the street, their father swoops in and picks them up, blowing bubbles with his mouth on their stomachs and making them laugh. Their mother admonishes the father for essentially rewarding the small children for playing in the street, but it doesn’t matter: this moment is alive and happy.

Maddie attempts to recreate the scene after Jesse dies, but it’s not possible; instead, her father spanks her and yells at her. This was where the real grief started to crawl on me and not let go as the pieces explored the remaining children in a strict Catholic school, the downsize to a cheaper house, the consequential lack of money from so much time in the hospital, a future in therapy, a discovery years later of home videos of Jesse that no one remembers.

Though a mere 44 pages, Lex Williford establishes how grief both consumes and numbs us, how people refused to acknowledge pain both emotional and physical, and how we all try to keep our shit under control.

Melanie Page has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and is an adjunct instructor in Indiana. She is the creator of Grab the Lapels, a site that publishes book reviews and interviews of folks who identify as women at

Monday, September 19, 2016

Buried in Books - My New Precioussssess

Because I can't possibly read every single book that finds its way into my home IMMEDIATELY, though I fully intend to die trying, allow me to show off our most recently acquired precioussssess...

For Review

Chistopher DeWan
Atticus Books
September 2016

HOOPTY TIME MACHINES: fairy tales for grown ups is a collection of forty-five fantastical stories filled with peculiar journeys and wild awakenings, with fairytale heroines, introspective superheroes, and a whole menagerie of monsters—each one deeply human, and a little bit heartbreaking.

One of the "most anticipated small press books of 2016" (John Madera, Big Other).

*From Publisher/Author, love Atticus!

Melissa Yancy
Univ of Pittsburgh Press
October 2016

Winner of the 2016 Drue Heinz Literature Prize
Many of these richly layered stories juxtapose the miracles of modern medicine against the inescapable frustrations of everyday life: awkward first dates, the indignities of air travel, and overwhelming megastore cereal aisles. In “Go Forth,” an aging couple attends a kidney transplant reunion, where donors and recipients collide with unexpected results; in “Hounds,” a woman who runs a facial reconstruction program for veterans nurses her dying dog while recounting the ways she has used sex as both a weapon and a salve; and in “Consider This Case,” a lonely fetal surgeon caring for his aesthete father must reconsider sexuality and the lengths people will go to have children.
            Melissa Yancy’s personal experience in the milieus of hospitals, medicine, and family services infuse her narratives with a rare texture and gravity. Keenly observant, offering both sharp humor and humanity, these stories explore the ties that bind—both genetic and otherwise—and the fine line between the mundane and the maudlin. Whether the men or women that populate these pages are contending with illness, death, or parenthood, the real focus is on time and our inability to slow its progression, reminding us to revel in those moments we can control.

*From publicist, sounds interesting

David Trueba
Other Press
August 2016

Blitz is a romantic tragicomedy that recounts the exploits of Beto, a young architect who heads to Munich with his girlfriend to take part in a landscape-planning competition. In an instant, a text message Beto wasn't meant to receive shatters him, leaving him bewildered and heading nowhere. But unintentionally he falls into the arms of Helga, an older woman, in a cross-generational encounter that is the heart of the tale.
     With sensitivity and biting wit, Trueba crafts a story of errant souls and lost loves, humorously critiquing male narcissism, all the while showing us that in this modern age it is more important than ever to appreciate every moment and embrace intimacy when luck allows it, no matter from where.

*From Publisher

Darin Bradley
Underland Press
October 2016

Once the capital of a global empire, Aer is now only a global protectorate. One of the eight wonders of the ancient world, Aer is a cradle of civilization, preserved by international aid and foreign interest, primarily Worldview, an international media network. Worldview has wired Aer so thoroughly that subscribers around the world can interact with every facet of daily life in the ancient city. Pinhole lenses and mobile cameras and embedded microphones export the challenges, dramas, and simple joys of Aeri life to those whose donations keep it alive. Because, without them, the Aeri will die.

Aer has been quarried for millennia from the world's rarest stone deposit, and this prize, the Aeri birthright, is the centerpiece of Aer's ancient religion: the belief in God in the stone itself. In ages past, the inspired dialogs of the saints were the empire's greatest export, carrying the truth that God's presence morphs the faithful into their true form. But the stone, we now know, is radioactive. It always has been, and it has been twisting the Aeri across the generations, reforming their bodies into their final states.

The international community now keeps the Aeri alive with radiation abatement, food aid, health care, and the sundries of daily life. Aer is a shared cultural gem, a mitigating presence in an unstable region. It is a link to a past when God walked the Earth, and empires rose on the power of belief. But there is trouble in paradise. Belan and Vesse are in their twenties, as bored and idle as the others their age, struggling to find meaning in a world where they want for nothing. With their lives writ large for Worldview's never-sleeping eyes, the couple find themselves at the epicenter of a cultural awakening, and their efforts to navigate the truths of the new Aer have consequences for everyone.

Totem is the final installment in Darin Bradley's thematically linked "Dystopian Cluster." This is voyeuristic terrorism in a world where religion has gone viral and Big Brother works hand in hand with UNESCO.

*From Publisher  / Read and loved Chimpanzee 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Matt Fogarty's Guide to Books & 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, Matt Fogarty is all about the drinks, drinks, and MOAR drinks! Check out how he pairs one up with each section of his collection:

Books and Booze: Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely by Matthew Fogarty

Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely is a collection of 34 stories and a novella. Each story is inspired in some way by characters that have become almost legendary in American culture, like Bigfoot or Andre the Giant or the good soldier. I'm sure I could find a cocktail inspired by each story, but that would be dangerous. And yet, one cocktail to represent the full collection doesn't seem like enough. I love cocktails. Often, a good drink is what gets me into a story and through. It's also how I celebrated completing the book. So, I've come up with a cocktail for each of the five sections of the book. I hope you enjoy.

Under: The Detroit

2 oz Woodward Barrel-Aged Gin
1 oz Faygo Rock and Rye
½ oz Tart Cherry Liqueur
5-6 dashes Angostura bitters
Pinch of Morton Salt

Instructions: Combine in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled glass—a coupe glass, maybe, or a martini glass, or really any cold glass will do.

It took a while to write this book. It took a while to admit I'm a Michigan writer and even longer to admit there's something worth writing about in the suburbs and, particularly, in my boring coming-of-age in the suburbs of Detroit. I'm still not quite comfortable calling myself a Detroit writer, even though the city and the history and the people inform every sentence, every word, of everything I write. Detroit informs me as a person in the world in all kinds of ways I can recognize and probably even more profound ways I'm not smart enough to deduce. It's a complex city with complex suburbs and a difficult past and an uncertain future. Not unlike this book, I can only hope. And not unlike this drink.

Over: The Bigfoot

1½ oz High West Campfire Whiskey
1½ oz Cold Brew Coffee
½ oz Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
½ oz Maple Syrup
Flamed Rosemary
Pebble Ice

Instructions: Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Pour into a glass filled with pebble ice (fun fact that changed my life: you can buy pebble ice for $1.50 a bag at the Sonic drive-thru!). Light a sprig of rosemary with the nearest fire. Let the oils in the rosemary flash and smoke. Let the flame disappear. Spear it into the drink and watch yourself, lest the drink carry you away, the only evidence of your disappearance a trail of muddy prints.

One of the more fun stories in the collection is a retelling of Gogol's "The Overcoat" featuring Bigfoot as a temp at a law firm. This story is a nod both to some of the Russian writers I love, like Gogol, and also to my inglorious past as a lawyer in a large Washington, DC law firm. These are characters I know well, all disassembled and mixed and remixed and reassembled. But it's also a story about two people pressed together in the chaos of work with such force that they get to thinking they ought to be one. That thinking is only reinforced by the taboo of it, of two coworkers dating. And that taboo is released, the thrill of it gone, when everyone finds out. We lead such guarded lives thinking we have things to keep secret. When really, we're all holding onto things, keeping them from others, for no good reason—like our secrets, our failures, our passions, our joys, our hope. Some days it feels like we're all so lonely here together. And it doesn't need to be that way.

Between: Zombie (in your head)

1½ oz Appleton Estate Special Gold Rum
½ oz Bushmills 10-Year Irish Whiskey
½ oz Bacardi 151 Rum
¼ oz Flor de Cana Silver Rum
¾ oz Pineapple Juice
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Cranberry Juice
½ oz Falernum
½ oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Instructions: I’ve stated the ingredients here in ounces. Consider your day—how large of a horde you’ve had to run from—and adjust amounts accordingly. Add the ingredients (except the bitters) to a shaker and shake heartily. Strain into a tiki mug filled with crushed ice. Top with a few dashes of peychaud’s bitters for that nice blood red finish and garnish with extravagance and joviality using whatever’s on hand (pineapple, tiny umbrella, brains, etc.) Drink cautiously.

The center of the book is a novella. It's a zombie novella, a fairy tale of sorts, set in small part in Muncie, Indiana (because, what better place to have taken over by zombies) and in big part in Detroit. One pivotal moment involves a clash between protestors and the national guard. It took a good while to write until I found the right inspiration—the events of Bloody Sunday and, more specifically, Paul Greengrass' treatment of that day in the movie Bloody Sunday. This drink is a nod to that source, as well as to my family heritage, via the Cranberries, whose song "Zombie (in your head)" was—who knew?—is a protest song about Bloody Sunday.

Above: Andre the Giant

2 oz Crown Royal
½ oz lemon juice
5 oz champagne

Instructions: Shake the Crown, lemon, and simple syrup together with ice. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Repeat. And then repeat again. And again. And again and again until you're 7'4", 520 lbs, unpinnable, and kind-hearted.

This is a different take on a French 75, replacing gin or cognac with Andre's favored Crown Royal. It's what he'd drink before matches and it plays a bit part in the story "Finishing Moves." The story jumps back and forth in time before, during, and after the famous Wrestlemania III match in the Pontiac Silverdome in which Andre allows himself to be body-slammed by Hulk Hogan. It's an epic moment, the slam, representing the passing of a torch—of the mantle of the hero, the fan favorite—from Andre to Hulk. It's the moment at which Andre, alive at age 40 despite his doctor's prognosis, outlives his usefulness. They no longer need him to be the gentle giant. All that's left for Andre is to play the heel or to head home.

Away: Outline of the Moon

1 ½ oz Port
½ oz Amaro de Angostura
1 oz Raisin-Infused Dark Rum
1 ice sphere made from orange juice and zest

Instructions: Because going to the moon requires preparation and patience, something so big and so far and so perilous to reach, you can just head off cocksure and heedless. So a day or two (or a week or a couple of weeks) in advance, pour an amount of rum into a mason jar filled with raisins. Let it steep until infused. You’ll have a delightful dark rum and a pile of reanimated raisins ready for a second life. Or, I suppose, if you’re pressed for time, you could muddle the raisins into the rum or throw the raisins and the rum and any caution you might have held into a pot and let the rum simmer for a while and then cool. Build the drink in a glass, stir until cold, enjoy at night and outdoors.

The closing story in the book is an alternate history of sorts, a reimagining of the first moonshot set in the early 1900s and greatly influenced by Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics and a painting by the alt musician (and Jim Jarmusch company player) John Lurie. In this story, the first astronauts are sent by slingshot into space to the moon, which turns out to be less than they'd hoped. Life afterward, too, is less than satisfying, as the two men yearn for unsolved mysteries.

Acknowledgments: The Last Word

¾ oz Two James Gin
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Green Chartreuse
¾ oz Maraschino Liqueur

Instructions: Give it a good shake and strain it into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry or a lemon peel or a toothpick. This may be the easiest and best of all these drinks and yet also the most complex in terms of how the ingredients come together—citrusy, sweet, strong, herbal, and, overall, very well balanced. Notwithstanding its name, it’s not the end of anything, but rather the beginning. You’ll want more than one.

This cocktail has a history. It was invented in the 1910s or 1920s in Detroit by a vaudeville monologist named Frank Fogarty (no relation that I know of) (fun(?) fact: he was nicknamed the “Dublin Minstrel”). The story goes that Frank was a regular at the Detroit Athletic Club while in town for a run at the Shrine Theater. One day, he was in the mood to experiment, and thus, the Last Word was born. In ensuing years, the drink was mostly forgotten until a bartender at Seattle’s Zig Zag Café rediscovered it and put it on the menu.

I found the Last Word at a bar called The Passenger in Washington, DC while out with some of the friends named in the Acknowledgments section of the book. This was before I was really a writer. I was practicing law, hating it, wishing for something more, wishing I’d gather the courage to commit myself to writing and write the stories I wanted to write. It wasn’t the drink as much as the friends—who’d already witnessed all my different types of sadness and hoping—who encouraged me to do it, to figure out a way to set everything else aside and write. And as I flip through this book I know it wasn’t just those friends that night, but so many people I’ve been so lucky to have met, who’ve pushed me forward, put up with my shenanigans, given me support, and had confidence in me when I had none in myself. This Last Word is for them.


Born and raised in the square-mile suburbs of Detroit, Matthew Fogarty currently lives and writes in Columbia, where he is co-editor of Yemassee. He also edits Cartagena, a literary journal. Matthew is an alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Wesleyan Writers Conference. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as PANKPassages North,Midwestern Gothic, Fourteen Hills, Smokelong Quarterly, andMoon City Review.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Book Review: Reel

Read 9/5/16 - 9/11/16
3 Stars - Recommended to fans of slow moving, hibrow fiction
Pages: 157
Publisher: Rare Bird Lit
Releasing: October



- lose one's balance and stagger or lurch violently.

Back in 1993, a fairly large group of friends and I spent the afternoon moshing and floating over the crowd at an STP, Flaming Lips, and Butthole Surfers concert. There were so many of us that we needed to ride in multiple vehicles to get there. Some of the people I knew well, some I recognized from brief introductions, and a few people I hadn't met yet. So I piled in the back of a pickup truck with a handful of the kids I was closest to. I don't really remember ever meeting with up the rest of the group during the concert, but apparently, unbeknownst to me at the time, my future husband was buried in there somewhere. He was one of the ones I hadn't yet been introduced to. To be so close to someone, to spend the day at an event together, and never quite cross paths is kind of weird when you think about it. Was he one of the hands holding me up over the crowd? Did he vacate the port-a-potty I had used moments before I entered it? What would have happened if I had gotten into the car he was in instead of tucking myself under the blankets in the back of the pickup that day? 

It wasn't until we started dating in 1994, shortly after 'officially' meeting for the first time during an orientation at a new job, that we discovered we hung out in the same groups. Like, some of my best friends were friends with his best friends. And not only were we both at the STP concert together, but Lollapalooza that same year AND a handful of house parties. How had we never met until now? How could we have orbited each other so closely and been oblivious to one another? Hello. Mind. Blown.

This all comes rushing back to me when I start reading Reel and realize the two main characters are in a similarly fucked up, but almost completely opposite, situation when we first meet them. Here, two strangers are sort of swimming against the tides of their own lives when they momentarily collide at a punk show.  Timon, fresh from vomiting in the bathroom after exorcising some demons in the mosh pit, bumps into Marianne, who is not at all impressed by his jerky behavior front and center during the gig and tells him so. After a seriously awkward encounter, they walk away from one another. This should be the end of the story. Yet, as we continue to follow them from that point on, we begin to discover just how deeply that brief meeting has nudged their lives off center. Whether they notice or not, they have begun to fall under the influence of one another.

Strange coincidences start popping up shortly after the show. The first - Marianne discovers a mural on a roadside coffee shack in which one of the people painted in it shares an uncanny resemblance to Timon. It disturbs her so much that she goes on a mission to identify the artist and attempts to get into touch with her. Though she never manages to speak with the painter directly, Marianne later learns that her two BFF's are preparing to open an art gallery that is being funded by, wouldn't you know it, the mural artist. Small world, you guys.

Meanwhile, Timon takes on a job at his father's prompting, working with a guy named Carligne who claims that he comes highly recommended by a mutual friend of theirs, Timon's ex-girlfriend, who is also, wait for it, the artist of the mural Marianne stumbled across. Even  weirder? Marianne comes THIS CLOSE to working on a website project with Carligne until he backs out last minute. Even smaller world, right? 

It's kind of like playing that game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". At one point, I thought, man, how many different ways can we connect two complete strangers to one another? But if you stop and think about it, this kind of circular, orbiting influence is present in each one of our lives. We're most likely just too close to it to realize it. As I read the book, I found myself wondering how what I do might impact, or influence, people I will never ever meet. I mean shit, how many people might come into our lives for the briefest of moments but continue to live on through peripheral connections we may never be aware of? Our reach is so much greater than we give ourselves credit for, you know?

Then it hit me - the title of the novel is ridiculously fitting. The universe seems to be set upon pushing Timon and Marianne together while they appear to be making decisions that continuously drive themselves further apart. But they have no friggen clue. It's not intentional, it's just that they both wish to be somewhere else, doing something other than what they are doing, and are somewhat unwilling to take the leap to completely change their situation, and so they continue to orbit the same atmosphere and are constantly influenced by one another without even realizing it.  Which really, to bring it back to my original point, is the flipped version of my situation, in which my future husband and I orbited each other initially and were ultimately nudged together in a right-place-at-the-right-time sort of way. 

Will Marianne and Timon get another opportunity to "meet" each other? Will the stars align for them in the same way they seemed to align for me and my husband? Or will they continue to stumble and lurch in opposite directions, drifting further away from one another, like a pair of planets knocked off their orbit, feeling less and less of each other's pull until there are simply no connections left...?

(On a total side note, I'm nodding at that cover like whoa because it's pretty fucking phenomenal. It vibes like old school science fiction which can throw the reader for a loop because the writing is actually kind of hibrow hoity toity and it's not sci-fi at all unless you count all the orbity-influentialness of it sci-fi, but who the hell cares with a cover like that? Right?)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Indie Book Buzz: Tilted Axis Press

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 Simon Collinson, 
Digital Producer at Tilted Axis Press

One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun
Release date: 3 October

​What it's about: An oblique, hard-edged novel tinged with offbeat fantasy, One Hundred Shadows is set in a slum electronics market in central Seoul – an area earmarked for demolition in a city better known for its shiny skyscrapers and slick pop videos. Here, the awkward, tentative relationship between Eungyo and Mujae, who both dropped out of formal education to work as repair-shop assistants, is made yet more uncertain by their economic circumstances, while their matter-of-fact discussion of a strange recent development – the shadows of the slum’s inhabitants have started to ‘rise’ – leaves the reader to make up their own mind as to the nature of this shape-shifting tale.

Why you should read it: One Hundred Shadows is the first novel to appear in English from Hwang Jungeun, the writer Han Kang – winner of this year's Man Booker International Prize – has named as her favourite. It's a wonderful mish-mash of genres: at once speculative fiction, hard-edged social critique, a sweet love story, and poetic impressionism, brilliantly translated by Jung Yewon. Early reviewers are comparing it to 'the best of Haruki Murakami', so if any of the above appeals, you should definitely take a look.


Simon Collinson is the Digital Producer at Tilted Axis Press. He is an Australian editor, web developer, and ebook producer currently working at Canelo​, a digital publisher based in London​. He tweets at @Simon_Collinson.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Buried in Books - My New Precioussssess

Because I can't possibly read every single book that finds its way into my home IMMEDIATELY, though I fully intend to die trying, allow me to show off our most recently acquired precioussssess...

For Review

Chad Reynolds
Greying Ghost

Chad Reynolds writes with such fluidity, with such an ecstatic sense of time and space that upon reading Drummer, as was the case with its predecessor City of Tomorrow, one cannot help but imagine Robert Walser at a Buddy Rich concert that is taking place in the seediest slum on the moon. This is a collection of poems so musical in nature that it belongs on a turntable. John Bonham on Moby Dick. Ginger Baker on Toad. Chad Reynolds on Drummer. 

*Publisher solicited / Never say no to Greying Ghost!

Nate Pritts
Greying Ghost

“I will always keep a copy of Sky Poems in my backpack for those days when I’m on a particularly long train ride or the park by my house is empty and I can just sit alone and absorb each fleeting moment of newness that drips off of each poem. Sky Poems evokes a feeling of being on the run even though you’re not a fugitive. The clouds could simply open up and pour airplanes, the dead, or our mail. You could simply look up and have this book fall into your hands. Sky Poems is that phenomenal.” (from publishers website)

*Publisher solicited / Never say no to Greying Ghost!

Judson Hamilton
Greying Ghost

"Don't reckon this as Darger-inspired literature or Dahl-hued imaginings. This is Judson Hamilton's No Rainbow, a uniquely intrepid tale about a group of youngsters who seek to expand themselves in a world that is slowly shrinking 'one word, one creature, one color at a time.'"

*Publisher solicited / Never say no to Greying Ghost!

Tilted Axis Press

An oblique, hard-edged novel tinged with offbeat fantasy, One Hundred Shadows is set in a slum electronics market in central Seoul – an area earmarked for demolition in a city better known for its shiny skyscrapers and slick pop videos. Here, the awkward, tentative relationship between Eungyo and Mujae, who both dropped out of formal education to work as repair-shop assistants, is made yet more uncertain by their economic circumstances, while their matter-of-fact discussion of a strange recent development – the shadows of the slum’s inhabitants have started to ‘rise’ – leaves the reader to make up their own mind as to the nature of this shape-shifting tale. Hwang’s spare prose is illuminated by arresting images, quirky dialogue and moments of great lyricism, crafting a deeply affecting novel of perfectly calibrated emotional restraint. Known for her interest in social minorities, Hwang eschews the dreary realism usually employed for such issues, without her social criticism being any less keen. As well as an important contribution to contemporary working-class literature, One Hundred Shadows depicts the little-known underside of a society which can be viciously superficial, complicating the shiny, ultra-modern face which South Korea presents to the world. 

*Unsolicted / From Publisher