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Author Archive: "Kevin Sampsell"

Kevin Sampsell: What I’m Giving

In this special series, we asked writers we admire to share a book they're giving to their friends and family this holiday season. Check back daily to see the books your favorite authors are gifting.

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If you know someone who likes to laugh and enjoys learning a few things at the same time, this layman's guide to the Christian Bible is a stellar gift choice.

Mr. Russell's sharp, funny retellings of bible stories alongside Mr. Wheeler's sly New Yorker-ish cartoons will help anyone see the Bible in a new, irreverent way — without all that old-style language to confuse you. Plus, the production on this book evokes the look of a classic Bible: stitched-in red ribbon bookmark, silver-edged pages, etc.


Divorcer

A breathtaking suite of sentence-driven stories that are as refreshingly funny as they are emotionally eviscerating. Linked by themes of broken relationships and mistrustful lovers, Lutz's newest stories are full of descriptions and observations so bitter and dark that they're hilariously charred.


Jason Breedlove: The Powells.com Interview

About a year ago, a rather large and imposing man named Jason Breedlove came in to the store to see if we would carry his self-published book. He explained to me that it was a collection of writings he had done while in prison. I admit that I was skeptical of the book's quality at first. For starters I didn't like the title, MYcellF: Prisoner of the Pen. But after reading through parts of the book, I could tell that Breedlove was an engaging, honest, and promising writer.

A couple of months ago he brought in a new book, a more focused memoir named after his prison number, 1065131. It's the kind of book that's hard to put down once you start. It's a clear, almost nostalgic, chronicle of Breedlove's three different stays at an Iowa Correctional Facility from 1998 to 2008 as well as an intriguing look at prison life and its often misunderstood culture. Breedlove often displays a sharp sense of humor and intelligence that makes the book a surprising pleasure to read. After he was released from his third prison sentence," Breedlove left his home state and now lives in ...


Small Press Conversation: Mike Young and Jamie Iredell

In my opinion, it would be pretty hard to find two other authors coming out of the small-press world right now who are more exciting than Mike Young and Jamie Iredell.

Mike Young is only 24 years old, but his writing seems wrapped around a wisdom that goes beyond his years. Not only is he wise, but he's gut-busting funny, as well. He's released two books recently: the poetry collection We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius) and a story collection Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press).

Jamie Iredell is a 34-year-old Southern gentleman by way of California. His previous book, Prose. Poems. A Novel. (Orange Alert) was a blistering semi-autobiographical blaze of stories. His new release, The Book of Freaks (Future Tense Books), takes a very funny and strange turn. It's like a dazzling and puzzling showcase of a wonky historian's skewed view of humanity, done in alphabetized order, or your favorite weird college professor going off on misinformed tangents on everything from action movies to Russians.

Right before they joined forces to tour the West Coast earlier this month, they had a conversation about their books, Ambrose Bierce, cooking, and ...


Ghost Machine

This was one of those books that seemed like it came at just the right time in my life. I loved its muted sadness and the occasionally surreal descriptions of that sadness, and I loved the weird way the poems sample from each other throughout the book. It's like a book eating its own tail.


Small Press Conversation: Matt Bell and Steven Gillis

There's a little place in the middle of the country called Ann Arbor, Michigan. It has steadily produced some of the most exciting literary voices for several years. From big names (Charles Baxter) to rising stars (Davy Rothbart, Elizabeth Ellen), the little college town has a knack for producing strong, enduring books.

Two of the most interesting writers that have emerged from there in recent years are Matt Bell and Steven Gillis.

Matt Bell is the author of the new fiction collection, How They Were Found. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories and Best American Fantasy. He is also the editor of The Collagist, series editor of Best of the Web, and a senior editor at Dzanc Books. He can be found online here.

Steven Gillis is the author of Walter Falls, The Weight of Nothing, Giraffes, Temporary ...


Small Press Conversation: Gina Frangello and Davis Schneiderman


Gina Frangello reads from her new book, Slut Lullabies, at Powell's on Hawthorne this Thursday, July 29, with Zoe Zolbrod (Currency). In our newest installment of Small Press Conversations, Frangello, a writer, teacher, publisher, and editor, speaks with Davis Schneiderman, author of the novel Drain. This conversation happened before Gina and Davis's event in Iowa at "Live from Prairie Lights" on July 22, 2010.

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Gina Frangello: Given that so-called experimental writing has characterized certain major literary movements at least since the modernists, how would you define experimentalism a century later? And why, if writers have been experimenting with form, some finding great acclaim for that in the modern and postmodern eras, going on to be regarded as canonical writers, is formally innovative or avant-garde writing still regarded as a "fringe" part of literary culture? What characterizes the type of experimental writing that is primarily the arena of indie presses?

Davis Schneiderman: Yes, oh yes, it seems that in 1922, a year that some have called a high point for modernism, with a capital M, we could still find a big difference between a writer type such as Thomas Mann with his mountain magic and the surrealists with their automatic writings magnetic fields broken trestles of nightmare trains chugging to Auschwitz not so many years off-then when a dada-collage a screaming poem word a poem life like that of Jacques Rigaut who announced his own suicide and then in 1929 made good on his words oh yes oh yes oh yes.

Oh, no.

Today, it's all modern or postmodern experimentalism.


Lean on Pete

From Willy Vlautin, one of the most natural storytellers ever to come out of the Northwest, comes a heartbreaking adventure starring 15-year-old Charley Thompson. It's like Tom Sawyer, but with more drunks, death, and weird strangers. Another engrossing triumph from this underappreciated author.


Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

The long-awaited debut collection by Wells Tower does not disappoint. Full of masterful tales, brilliant humor, and soul-shattering pathos, Tower's work should place him at the forefront of American storytellers.


The Ask

The Ask takes an unassuming (and seemingly unfunny) premise about a dude who wrangles large financial donations for a school and turns it into an outright laugh riot. Not only is this just as funny as his amazing Home Land, but it also showcases Lipsyte's amped-up ability to deliver killer sentence after killer sentence. This might turn out to be my favorite book of 2010. Yeah, I'm already saying it.


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