General blog posts

American Adoptees: An Interview with Matthew Salesses

Being adopted has never been remarkable to me, perhaps because that’s how I think of it: I was adopted, in the past tense. It’s a thing that happened—once, a long time ago, a singular completed event. Sometimes, I even joke and say that I’m “imported,” a thing that I and the person asking me about my “origin” can laugh about. It’s not until I’m talking with author Matthew Salesses one morning at Brazil Café that I find out that there’s another word for it: adoptee.

The Hundred-Year Flood Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477828373
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little a - September 1st, 2015

Brokering a Deal With Imagination: An Interview with Selah Saterstrom

If Selah Saterstrom were to retroactively bundle her three novels into a conceptual trilogy—a hybrid triumvirate comprised of THE PINK INSTITUTION (2004), THE MEAT AND SPIRIT PLAN (2007), and SLAB (2015)—I suspect her readers would have already intuited it. Despite her kinetic prose and the variousness of her forms, Saterstrom’s oeuvre is intelligent in its cohesion and destination.

Slab Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566893954
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - August 11th, 2015

Lawrence Lenhart holds an M.F.A. from The University of Arizona. His work appears or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction and nonfiction at Northern Arizona University and is a reviews editor and assistant fiction editor of DIAGRAM.

Good Relationships Are Boring: A Q&A with Lauren Holmes

“Slut” is a strong word. I have never written a more obvious statement in my life, but I need us to start on the same page here. It’s coarse and contradictory. To some, it’s an insult; to others, an attitude. To many, it’s a slur to be reclaimed, while still more insist it can be a term of endearment.

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Barbara the Slut and Other People Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633782
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - August 4th, 2015

Outrunning Illusion: A Q&A with Ruth Galm

There is something about the desert that has fascinated writers and philosophers for decades. The desert is a symbol that reveals the emptiness of all others. In its monotonous nothingness, its endless expanse, stripped of all the structures and definitions of humanity, the distracting baubles and vertiginous novelty of modern society, all that remains must be the truth. It must be the Real.

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Into the Valley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616955090
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Press - August 4th, 2015

No Single Mold: An Interview with Abayomi Animashaun

My experience as an Asian woman in America is being asked all the time, “Where are you from?” The most tiring it has ever been was during my high school career in the Midwest, where white people (always white people) would ask and then refuse my answer. I would say the name of my hometown (also in the Midwest) and be dismissed. They would say, “No, where are you from?” or, “Okay, so, where are your parents from?” Not that asking about my parents helped. They are also from Wisconsin, because they are white and I am adopted.

Pearls Before Swine, Chapter 2: Swine Harder

The elevator doors opened, and Mark and Keaton recoiled at what stood before them, instantly assuming their most intimidating kung-fu poses. Ignoring their shock, the trenchcoat- and fedora-wearing pig shuffled into the elevator, its hind quarters resounding in the silence.

“It’s not over,” the pig said in a voice unnervingly reminiscent of James Franco.

“I knew it!” Mark lowered his guard and motioned for the pig to continue.

The Red Notebook (New Directions Pearls) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811220972
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - July 16th, 2013

Mark: So, you’d never read Auster before. What was your impression? Did you enjoy it?

Keaton: I very much enjoyed it. I came away with the feeling that I would like him as a person. He seems very cool.

Mark: Doesn’t he? Cool, smart, cordial. I mean, the stories in this book are very conversational. And I feel like the theme running throughout them is chance, or coincidence.

Keaton: Coincidence for sure. But also memory and relationships—friendly and romantic. Those three things seem to factor into every piece in the book.

Mark: I’m glad you mentioned memory because one part I remember—it was striking—is when he tells the story about being a little boy and saving a girl’s life by pulling her away from a car. Auster thinks this might have been his finest hour, you know? And he sees her twenty years later and brings it up—but she has no memory of it.

Keaton: It’s a very good representation of how two different people experience the same event differently. And the story that’s just heartbreaking to me is when Auster meets Willie Mays but doesn’t have a pencil, so he can’t get an autograph. But I love that he ties this back to his origins as a writer, because he carries a pencil with him everywhere after that.

Mark: Yes, he writes, “If nothing else, the years have taught me this: if there’s a pencil in your pocket, there’s a good chance that one day you’ll feel tempted to start using it.”

Keaton: But I mean, yeah, he’s a totally likable writer. This book is just a delightful collection of quirky, oddball, slice-of-life fiction—profound in many ways, yet subtle. It’s very conversational, very matter-of-fact. No frills.

Mark: It makes you feel like the world is actually kind of a magical place, you know?

Keaton: So much so that I caught myself going back to whether the stories were true or not. The coincidences that it brings up—some of them, whether it’s a friend all of a sudden finding his estranged father right before his death and starting a relationship, or the spooky coincidence of the letter that somebody else with Auster’s name wrote and everything— I find myself wondering how much of that is actually true, because there are such amazing coincidences.

Mark: Yeah, like could that much happen to one person?

Keaton: I also found myself being kinda jealous of Auster. [Laughs] He has such an interesting life.

Mark: Yeah. [Laughs]

Keaton: Sometimes the coincidences aren’t necessarily real; they maybe happen in his head. Like with the dime story, when his ex-wife [Lydia Davis] throws him a dime for some reason, and he drops it and loses it. And then later, at Shea Stadium—all the way across the city—he sees another dime on the sidewalk, and he’s convinced it’s the same dime.

Mark: So in a way, it’s almost like he’s projecting something meaningful onto nothing.

Keaton: Yeah, so I guess—I don’t know, it’s more subjective.

Mark: That’s a good point.

Keaton: Well, we gotta give a shout out to where we are: Demeris, a local barbeque institution here in Houston.

Mark: I have a pulled pork sandwich...

Keaton: ...and my two meats, ribs and ham, are delicious.

Mark: Excellent.

Keaton: What are we gonna read next time?

Mark: I say Javier Marías’ BAD NATURE, OR WITH ELVIS IN MEXICO. It’s fun, it’s weird. You know, Mexico, Elvis, 1970s.

Keaton: And you’re going to Mexico City, so it’ll be a nice way to get you pumped for your trip.

Mark: Exactly! Okay. See you next time!

Writers of the World: On Sergio Pitol and the Art of Translation

Most of us take translation for granted. When we’re assigned CRIME AND PUNISHMENT or THE METAMORPHOSIS or LES MISÉRABLES in high school, we aren’t thinking about the act of translation. It’s written in English, and that’s good enough. And the teacher isn’t thinking about translation either. Teaching Dostoyevsky is hard enough; to try and discuss the importance of translation—never mind the minutiae—is another course (or career) entirely.

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The Art of Flight Cover Image
By Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translator), Enrique Vila-Matas (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781941920060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - March 17th, 2015

The Journey Cover Image
By Sergio Pitol, George Henson (Translator), Alvaro Enrigue (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781941920183
Availability: Backordered
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - August 18th, 2015

Breaking In a Horse: An Interview with Benjamin Johncock

Any time I pick up a book about NASA, I flip through, trying to find the name of the place where I live: Clear Lake. See, NASA has never much interested me, but Clear Lake—the master-planned community southeast of Houston that houses the space program (and, less importantly, me)—does. I want to learn about the place, and learn other people’s impressions of it. Sure enough, flipping through THE LAST PILOT before I have read a word of it, I find, deep in the novel, what I’m looking for: “Clear Lake was not a lake. Or clear.

The Last Pilot Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250066640
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Picador USA - July 7th, 2015

All Possible Subsets: An Interview with Jesse Ball

by Lawrence Lenhart

A CURE FOR SUICIDE is primarily a work of speculative fiction: the Claimant has his memory erased, moves into a clinical village, and is reeducated by a watchful woman, the Examiner. Despite its Shyamalanian conceit, though, Jesse Ball’s novel proceeds in a way that comes to resemble a mystery, a philosophical treatise, and a romance all at once.

A Cure for Suicide Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101870129
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Pantheon Books - July 21st, 2015