25
Sep
2013

‘Z’s Trinity’ featured in Cabildo Quarterly No. 4 | Wing & Fly

My “Z’s Trinity” short story, part of my recent Triumph of the Ape collection, is also featured in the latest issue of the Belchertown, Mass.-based Cabildo Quarterly. Click through the image above to read the broadsheet online and/or download.

Another story featured in my Triumph of the Ape collection of shorts, available for order via this page, is out there for your reading pleasure in the Michael Fournier edited/collected broadsheet Cabildo Quarterly, inspired in part, Fournier has graciously said, by T2H. The story stems from two of several brushes with death by firearm over my time in Chicago, round about year 2004, I’d guess, the great and wonderful Susannah Felts having gotten me into treading air on a rotating rubber surface fitted to a machine at the Logan Square YMCA, the experience of sweating heavily on said machine and an anonymous male walking casually into the workout room to declare/interrogate: “Is anybody in here a doctor?” Turns out a couple hotheads got into on the basketball court in the Y and one left out the back door, came back with a pistol to settle the score successfully.

A couple days or weeks or less later, Susannah and I got stranded at the Hollywood Grill at Ashland and North Ave. early early early one morning on the way home from a bachelorette party night for her former sister-in-law for which I was to have served as the ride-home chauffeur. Over 3 a.m. plates of whatever beautifully greasy slop was served up that night, our waitress happened to ask if we’d parked in their then-brand-new mini-parking garage along Ashland.

We had.

Bad news: “You won’t be able to get your car for a while,” she said. “It’s a crime scene.”

Someone had been shot.

Then, well, the return round 9 a.m. to pick up the car, ensuing paranoid anticipation of strike three, a drunk psycho who lived across the alley behind our apartment, angry heads backlit in windows across Walton St. in front of it, release through writing, as it were. You can read it in Cabildo online or download the issue pdf here. Or: Write me and I’ll send you a copy: todd [at] the2ndhand.com.

Likewise goes for new Triumph postcards I cooked up recently, compliant with postal regulations (yes, you can mail them) and wonderfully printed via Modern Postcard. As Jerome Ludwig said recently of postcards, surely not the first such person: “the original text message.” If you’re up for handing around small stacks in your town, let me know and I’ll mail you a cache. There’s a brief excerpt from “The Stupidist Manifesto” on the the front side, more or less blank on the back. Looking pretty good, eh?:

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09
Jan
2012

THURS. LIVE IN NASHVILLE AT DINO’s; plus: A book that belonged on everybody’s best-of list | Wing & Fly

Join me at the smallest, oldest, dirtiest and yet definitely most kick-ass bar in East Nashville this Thursday for the 3rd edition of the Poetry Sucks reading series. Organized by fellow East Nashvillian Chet Weise, this edition of the series will feature a host of characters from the neighborhood.  I’ll be reading some new stuff (if only I can get through that sermon in the finale) and, more importantly, also featured will be all the fine folks noted on the flyer pictured here. Click through it for more from the artist, Rachel Briggs. Of particular note for connections to T2H is past Pitchfork Battalion teamer John Minichillo, whose novel The Snow Whale from Atticus we saw on some of those indies’ best-of lists for the year just past.

I just finished a novel by a more longtime and frequent T2Her, Floridian (former Flint, Michigander) Paul A. Toth, that I’ve been just floored by, given by the general lack of ink it’s gotten, far as I can tell (though I do see where USA Today of all places named it one of the best indies of 2011). The book, Airplane Novel, is a joyous read, the best of the 9/11 books — experimental in all the good ways (metafictional w/o being goofy, polyphonic via a quixotic omniscience to the narration but with a strong singular narrative consciousness in the end). And, ultimately, its humanity is its most important part.

It’s not an exactly simple task Toth has pulled off, given that the book is told from the point of view of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, a building — and one that, it is acknowledged quite early on by the narrator itself (or “himself,” given that the South Tower prefers to call itself “Cary Grant,” and the North Tower “Gary Cooper”), no longer exists in any physical sense, but of course. But even in death, the tower filters the consciousnesses that made its history, those of the humans — “spider monkeys,” from its perspective — having populated its floors, having operated the Radio Row shops uprooted by the its construction, having created the information that soars through its fiberoptics and still flits in jagged form through its own post-mortem version of consciousness (which Toth expertly re-creates in the end of the book, after the “big event,” the “you know what”…).

I won’t go farther into specifics here, but I’ll say that I think I can definitely recommend it as one of the three or four best books of 2011 (with particular segments of DFW’s The Pale King as well as Mickey Hess’ great Nostalgia Echo — more about that one later, as we’re publishing an excerpt in the next minisheet). In any case, I can’t recommend a book any more highly. Go pick up a copy — available in print and as an eBook (the Kindle edition is available for just $2.99).

Toth also had a fair amount of work in a special section of All Hands On, our 10th anniversary book out in the fall. You can order it here.

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30
Oct
2011

All Hands On goes northeast Nov. 17-19

It’s All Hands On touring time yet again, this one to join contributors in Philadelphia, NYC, and Northampton, Mass., for three consecutive nights of readings by contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, our 10th anniversary anthology, among others. Here are the details:

Philadelphia, Thursday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m. (click flyer image at right for a pdf)
@BrickBat Books
, 709 South 4th Street
(215) 592-1207
w/ THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills, longtime contributors Peter Richter and (our FAQ editor and Rider University prof) Mickey Hess, as well as Ryan Eckes.

Brooklyn, Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
@Book Thug Nation
, 100 North 3rd Street
info@bookthugnation.com
w/ T2H editor Todd Dills, longtime contributors Tobias Carroll, Philip Brunetti and Mickey Hess as well as Gabe Durham and Matt Cahan.

Northampton, Mass., Saturday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.
@MEF Community Room, 60 Masonic St., lower level (next to Woodstar Cafe)
w/ T2H editor Todd Dills, All Hands On contributors Matt Cahan and Ben Stein, Gabe Durham and Ted Powers. Music by Gale Thompson.

(For pdfs of flyers for New York and Northampton events, click here and here, respectively.)

PERFORMER DETAILS
PHILIP BRUNETTI lives and writes in Brooklyn.

Nashville-based MATT CAHAN’s novel “Straight Commission” is excerpted in All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10.

TOBIAS CARROLL is an editor of Vol. 1. His fiction has appeared in THE2NDHANDMetazen, Word Riot, 3:AM, Storychord, and elsewhere; he makes his home online at www.thescowl.org.

TODD DILLS is editor of THE2NDHAND and author of the novel Sons of the Rapture (Featherproof, 2006).

GABE DURHAM lives in Northampton, MA. He writes fiction and nonfiction, teaches literature, makes up test questions, and edits Dark Sky Magazine. His first book, a novel called Fun Camp, is forthcoming in 2013 from Mud Luscious Press.

Philadelphia-based RYAN ECKES’ recent Old News chapbook was published by Furniture Press. Find more from him here.

MICKEY HESS is an Associate Professor of English at Rider University, where he teaches arc welding, mig welding, and creative nonfiction. Recent from Hess in T2H. The Novelist and the Rapper forthcoming in 2012. Find him here.

Poet TED POWERS’ recent work has appeared in Strange Machine, Noo Journal, and GlitterPony, among others. He’s also an editor with Dark Sky Magazine.

New Jersey-based writer PETER RICHTER’s poetry and prose have been featured in Monkey Bicycle, THE2NDHAND, decomP and others. He likes wearing flannel, a recent development. He’s a cofounder of the Broadset crew.

BEN STEIN teaches English Language Arts at the Springfield Renaissance School. He lives in Amherst with his wife Julie and their cat. His “Important Things to Remember” short is featured in All Hands On.

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16
Jan
2011

Final 10-anniv. book push with Feb. events in Chicago, Nashville

With a month left in THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter.com campaign to fund the printing of our mammoth 10th anniversary anthology, I’m starting what may amount to the final big push to reach the goal. It’s most definitely in sight. As of today, we’re just more than $250 shy of it. Contributors, T2H partisans and others who’ve helped spread the word about the project, a big shout to you. Your efforts have clearly born fruit. Now would be the time to start shooting out those reminders to those who may have been distracted by the holidays or just, well, distracted… I know I was, to one degree or another, but still managed to, just prior to said holiday, get the second in our All Hands On special-edition broadsheets out. If you missed Chicago writer and lit scene force Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards” minisheet (here pictured, front side), read it here or download the minisheet directly by clicking on the image. Part of Sasaki’s “Letters of Interest” series, which might well be the “Lazlo letters” of the internet age — marketing its target, manipulation through on-the-spot digital, textual interaction its method — the piece is also featured in the 10th anniversary collection, after debuting to a crowd at the East Nashville Portland Brew back in September last year.

Speaking of Portland Brew, two events will cap the fund-raising campaign. Here in Nashville, a crew of All Hands On-contributing writers spanning THE2NDHAND’s 11-year journey from Chicago to Birmingham, Nashville, and Louisville, with faces new and old, gathers 11 years to the Saturday, Feb. 12, we hosted our first release party on the fourth floor of 1278 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The reading will be in large part collaboratively focused, with Birmingham’s Nadria Tucker and Nashville’s Matt Cahan presenting work from the book and C.T. Ballentine, myself, Susannah Felts and Henry Ronan-Daniel performing under the Pitchfork Battalion moniker.

Martin Cadieux, too, the wood-block printmaker I’ve written about here, will table with certain of his prints, including examples of the envelopes he did for us to house collections of past broadsheets.

And if you’re in Chicago, Feb. 1 is the date of our next Nerves of Steel event — this one features the hip-hop of the Tomorrow Kings, Nerves of Steel alumnus Mairead Case, presenting a graphic novel, and All Hands On contributor Marc Baez, among others.

Here’s our Kickstarter link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

And for media folks among you, I’ve updated our press release to reflect the upcoming events associated, at http://the2ndhand.com/T2HKICKSTARTERRELEASE.doc. Full text is below. Again, big thanks for helping spread the word, likewise to those who’ve contributed.

Nashville and Chicago-based THE2NDHAND passes halfway mark in pledge campaign for ‘All Hands On’ 10th-anniversary anthology; ending campaign events in Chicago, Nashville Feb. 1 and 12

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, 2000-11, a Reader will be published in 2011 to celebrate and lay down the best of the broadsheet and online magazine’s 10+ years of publishing writing by the budding insurgents of the American lit landscape and other more established writers. THE2NDHAND reached the halfway point in a 90-day fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter.com a week after its launch on November 18 to raise $2,000 to cover printing costs.

By pledging $14 or more, readers can preorder a copy of the 300-plus-page book, which collects work all told from 40 writers, 3 illustrators, four editors, and a couple janitors. Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader for the campaign, or http://the2ndhand.com/books.html.

True to form, the book begins with a section of new, as-yet unpublished work representing the full range of the magazine’s long local presence in Chicago (with new work by Chicagoans Patrick Somerville, Michael Zapata and Fred Sasaki), Birmingham, Ala. (Nadria Tucker) and Nashville, Tenn. (Matt Cahan), as well as its far-flung influence in the world of new literary writing the nation over. Contributors to the front, new-work section of the book represent regions from New England to the West Coast, and the large majority of the collection is devoted to special sections highlighting short fiction by the magazine’s best repeat contributors, from Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps), first published in THE2NDHAND in its third issue in its first year, 2000, to more recent contributors like Chicagoan Heather Palmer, whose novella “Charlie’s Train” was serialized at THE2NDHAND.com as its 11th year began in February of 2010.

On Feb. 1, Chicago writer and All Hands On special-section contributor Marc Baez will perform as part of THE2NDHAND’s SoYou Think You Have Nerves of Steel? literary/variety performance series, hosted THE2NDHAND coeditor Jacob Knabb and All Hands On contributing writer Kate Duva, and in Nashville, THE2NDHAND founding editor Todd Dills and coeditor C.T. Ballentine (of Louisville, Ky.) gather with contributors Nadria Tucker (of Birmingham), Cahan, Susannah Felts and others for a reading on the exactly anniversary of THE2NDHAND’s first-issue Chicago release party in 2000, Feb. 12. See below for full reading details.

(Zapata’s “White Twilight,” a speculative fictional take of sorts on the first U.S. census to come back with those checking “white” in the race/ethnicity box in a solid minority, is the featured story in THE2NDHAND’s broadsheet No. 35, out now as a sneak peek into the book; also recently released was an installment — broadsheet No. 35.1 — of THE2NDHAND’s mini-broadsheet series featuring Fred Sasaki’s “Pressure Billiards,” part of his “Letters of Interest” series, a sort of Lazlo letters for the Internet age. )

Other pledge rewards include, in addition to a copy of the book, THE2NDHAND’s signature bergamot-infused bar by Alabama soap maker The Left Hand (thelefthand.net), several books by contributors and editors (from All Hands On cover designer and past contributor Zach Dodson and contributor Patrick Somerville to THE2NDHAND’s founding editor, Todd Dills) and, among others, packets of 10 and 15 broadsheets spanning the 10-year history of THE2NDHAND packaged in custom-designed and -printed envelopes by Nashville-based wood-block fine-arts printmaker Martin Cadieux. At the highest pledge level, $150, a limited number full boxed sets in packaging likewise printed by Cadieux are available.

For more about THE2NDHAND, visit THE2NDHAND.com and peruse past broadsheets and online-magazine archives. THE2NDHAND’s editor will be sharing previews, likewise, of some of the artwork to be included in All Hands On – Chicago artist Rob Funderburk, formerly THE2NDHAND’s principle designer, is at work on illustrative portraits of special-section writers included, for instance. Some in-process photos of Cadieux’ wood-block-printed envelopes are already available in this blog post from early November by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills. A fact sheet of sorts about the book, its contributors and the history of the broadsheet and online magazine follows. For interviews with any of the writers listed, please contact THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills.

EVENTS (http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html):

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.
@ Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago
SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL?

Featuring:
*Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor, Chicago experimental writer Marc Baez
*Mairead Case
w/ a graphic novel slideshow
*hip-hop by the Tomorrow Kings (http://empworldwide.com/tomorrowkings)

Also: A special public service announce from Seth Dodson and Kellen Alexander

*House band: Good evening (http://goodeveningmusic.com)

*Hosted by Monsieur Harold Ray (the janitorial-services-type, still-West Virginian v. of T2H coeditor Jacob Knabb) and T2H regular Kate Duva

Saturday, Feb. 12, 7 p.m.
@ Portland Brew, 1921 Eastland Ave., Nashville, Tenn.
THE2NDHAND AFTER 10: A NASHVILLE READING

Four days before the end of its Kickstarter.com campaign to raise $2,000 to print its 10th-anniversary anthology, All Hands On, THE2NDHAND’s editors and contributors gather at this event to present new writing and work to be published in the book, with performances by:

*T2H shapeshifting collaborative writing crew of the Pitchfork Battalion

*T2H Louisville, Ky.-based coeditor C.T. Ballentine (whose “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella is featured in its entirety in the All Hands On book)

*Birmingham-based Nadria Tucker, a frequent T2H contributor, with a special section in the book

*Nashville’s own Matt Cahan, whose “Coyote Business,” a short exploring the cultural connections between Mexico and the United States excerpted from his “Straight Commission” novel in progress, via the tale of a group of would-be Mexican migrants and a U.S. chemical salesman

*Susannah Felts, Nashville-based author of the novel This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record, Watkins College of Art & Design writing professor and regular contributor to Humanties Tennessee’s Chapter 16 literary website

*Nashville-based Henry Ronan-Daniel

Nashville-based wood-block printmaker Martin Cadieux will be on-hand showcasing his print work for THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter campaign, among other work.

FACTS:

THE2NDHAND KICKSTARTER campaign main page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

VIDEO: A photographic tour through 10 years of THE2NDHAND’s broadsheets, with audio selections from editor C.T. Ballentine’s introduction to All Hands On and more is available via THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter fund drive page or www.youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

IMAGES:

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/allhandscovercolor.JPG
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/THE2NDHAND_35.pdf
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/thumbnail.JPG

Some other things that are known:

75: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked or are currently working in the mag’s co-HQ of Chicago.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in West Virginia.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in past co-HQ of Birmingham, Ala., and current co-HQ of Nashville, Tenn.

50: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in Louisville, Ky.

42: Number of total THE2NDHAND broadsheets, including numbered half-issues 6.5, 13.5 and 16.5 and our recent 8.5-by-11-inch mini-sheets for primarily digital distribution, begun with No. 33.1 in January 2010.

Today, THE2NDHAND is:

Editors Todd Dills (Nashville, Tenn.), C.T. Ballentine (Louisville, Ky.), Jacob Knabb (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

Janitors: Rufus Beady, Harold Ray (all over and everywhere)

And many writers

When it began with a launch party Saturday Feb. 12, at 1278 N. Milwaukee, Floor 4, in Chicago, it was:

Editor Todd Dills (Chicago)

Design men Jeremy Bacharach and (now children’s book illustrator) Matt Cordell (matthewcordell.com)

And fewer writers

Between 2002 and 2004, it was:

Editors Todd Dills and Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man Evan Sult (later of band Bound Stems, of Chicago)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2005 and 2007, it was:

Editors Todd Dills, Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago) and C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)

Design man (Chicago artist) Rob Funderburk (robfunderburk.com)

Propaganda minister Eric Graf

And more writers

Between 2006 and 2009, it was:

Editors Todd Dills (Birmingham, Ala.), C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)

FAQ editor Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)

And more and more writers

Of those writers:

Contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10
It’s been a long run for THE2NDHAND, the little magazine — not even a magazine in any traditional sense, but rather a broadsheet, perhaps the last periodical on earth to be launched without a prefabbed website to bolster its offset-printed pages (though ‘twas to follow shortly, publishing flash and serial fiction weekly from late 2000 on). We mean: THE2NDHAND is a page. A big one – 11-by-17-inch block of black text peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings, distributed in storefronts first in Chicago, then in an ever-growing list of cities around the U.S…. “New writing,” simply, has been its focus since 2000, when THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills founded the broadsheet working from a crackerbox hole of an apartment in Logan Square, Chicago — small-format has been its watchword physically, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts.

True to form, All Hands On’s front section features new work by Michael Zapata, Nadria Tucker, Jamie Iredell, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Fred Sasaki, Amanda Yskamp, Ben Stein (Amherst, Mass.) and Matt Cahan, as well as a collaborative short by Susannah Felts & Todd Dills and a mini-epic poem (“Chicago”) by Doug Milam.

**Cover design by Featherproof Books’ (and T2H contributor) Zach Dodson
**Illustrations for the lead section by comix artist/cermacist Andrew Davis
**Author illustrations by Chicago artist and T2H occasionaljanitor-in-residence
Rob Funderburk
**Special sections with multiple short stories by Marc Baez, coeditor C.T. Ballentine (including the entirety of his “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella; Ballentine also penned, with copious editorial footnoting by Todd Dills, the book’s introduction), Philip Brunetti, Al Burian (the Burn Collector zine and associated books), Tobias Carroll (“The Scowl” blogger), Spencer Dew (Songs of Insurgency), Kate Duva (cohost of our Chicago “So you think you have nerves of steel?” reading series), David Gianatasio (Mind Games), Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory), Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out), Doug Milam (Still the Confusion), Anne Elizabeth Moore (Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) with comic adaptation by Josh Bayer, Greggory Moore, Kevin O’Cuinn, Heather Palmer, Michael Peck, the Pitchfork Battalion (a collaborative crew with roving membership, including many of those already listed, plus, featured in the book, Sean Carswell, Jim Murphy, Emerson Dameron, John Minichillo, Motke Dapp, and Dominique Holmes), Lauren Pretnar, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Jill Summers, Paul A. Toth (Finale), and Nadria Tucker.

I-65 U.S. Interstate Highway within 40 miles of which 57 percent of all AHO contributors live.

30: Percentage of AHO contributors who live in Chicago.

ABOUT Special section authors in AHO:

Chicago writer Marc Baez’s work first appeared in THE2NDHAND in its second year, with a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart. Part 1 of his most recent, tricornered contribution, published in 2009, is featured here, among others. Baez teaches writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. Baez’s work was also featured in THE2NDHAND’s 2004 All Hands On: A THE2NDHAND Reader, 2000-2004 anthology.

C.T. Ballentine has been an editor with THE2NDHAND since 2007 and a contributor since 2005. Also a sound engineer in various music halls and opera houses, he lives, writes and loves between Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Huntsville, Ala.

Philip Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been contributing to THE2NDHAND since the fall of 2008.

Al Burian wrote the first issue of the Burn Collector zine in the mid-1990s and continues to write it — and much else besides — today. He’s behind a book of the same name collecting previous installments of the zine and Natural Disaster, collecting later work. When not touring with his work, he lives in Berlin, occasionally Chicago and elsewhere.

Tobias Carroll lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y. His work as a book and music critic has been published widely, and his fiction has appeared semi-regularly in THE2NDHAND (since 2007) and other mags. Find more at his indie-culture blog, The Scowl (yourbestguess.com/thescowl).

Spencer Dew, based in Chicago, authored the 2008 “Songs of Insurgency” collection, out from Vagabond Press, and his shorts have appeared in great frequency in many online and print journals, including THE2NDHAND. In 2010 Another New Calligraphy is publishing his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book. Visit spencerdew.com for links to pieces of his prolific online lit presence.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city, where she writes and serves as cohost in THE2NDHAND’s ongoing So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series, first Tuesday of the month at Hungry Brain on Belmont. Other of her work can be found in Fugue and Opium, on Vocalo Radio and at kateduva.blogspot.com.

David Gianatasio is the author of two collections of short stories, most recently 2008’s Mind Games (Word Riot). He’s published prolifically online for years. He lives in Boston, Mass.

Mickey Hess is a professor of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. His work for THE2NDHAND has included serving as progenitor and editor of our FAQ section, and his stories and essays have been published in journals and magazines ranging from Punk Planet and McSweeney’s to more scholarly affairs. He is the author of the memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory and the editor of Greenwood Press’ two-volume Icons of Hip-hop, among other literary and scholarly works.

Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor Joe Meno is the author of several books, including most recently the novel The Great Perhaps (2009), as well as short story collections Demons in the Spring (Akashic) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Northwestern University Press) and the novels The Boy Detective Fails and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, where he lives and writes.

Jonathan Messinger is Time Out Chicago’s books editor and the driving editorial force behind the Chicago-based concerns Featherproof Books and the Dollar Store reading series. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, came out in 2007.

Doug Milam lives and writes in Bellingham, Wash. He is the author of a chapbook of shorts, Still the Confusion, and has been published in a variety of other literary magazines. Visit him at milam.blogsite.org/wordpress.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007), and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People (Soft Skull, 2004). Moore served as associate editor of the now-defunct Punk Planet magazine and was the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. Today, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she’s not traveling the globe speaking on freedom of speech issues.

Greggory Moore is a lifelong southern California resident, freelance journalist and fiction writer and poet.

Kevin O’Cuinn lives in Frankfurt am Main but is originally from Dublin; he coedits fiction for Word Riot.

Heather Palmer lives in Chicago. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines. In 2010 THE2NDHAND serialized her novella, “Charlie’s Train,” at THE2NDHAND.com, parts of which are excerpted in AHO.

Michael Peck, after a time in Philadelphia and with roots deep upstate New York, lives and writes in Missoula, Mont. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Rittenhouse Revue, 34th Parallel and others.

The Pitchfork Battalion is THE2NDHAND’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan or to any collaborative artistic group, really. Typically, we collaborate on a theme, or do individual riffs on a phrase in prose – sometimes poetry, as the case of Jim Murphy’s addition to the 2009 “Extraordinary Rendition” is evidence. In AHO are some of our best. For the lot of them, written at the initial instigation of our FAQ editor and continuing contributor Mickey Hess, from 2005 to the present, visit http://the2ndhand.com/archive/archivepitchfork.html.

Lauren Pretnar lives and writes in Chicago.

Patrick Somerville is the author of a novel, The Cradle, and the Trouble collection of stories (patricksomerville.com). In 2010, his genre-busting The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was released by Featherproof Books. He lives and writes in Chicago.

Jill Summers’ audio fiction has been heard via Chicago Public Radio and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including THE2NDHAND, where she is a continuing contributor.

Paul A. Toth is the author of a triptych of novels — Fizz, Fishnet and Finale — and lives today in Sarasota, Fla., after years in Flint, Mich. Visit www.netpt.tv; Toth also works in multimedia, poetry and nonfiction.

Nadria Tucker hails from Atmore in South Alabama, though she lives and writes in Birmingham.

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26
Dec
2010

Holmes, Gianatasio, Baez — words for now

Big thanks to all the folks who’ve contributed to the fund drive for THE2NDHAND’s 10th-anniversary anthology, being conducted via Kickstarter.com here. A third of the way through, we’re more than two-thirds funded at this point, well on track to reach the goal — keep getting the word out there as you can. (Past THE2NDHAND.com contributor Ben Tanzer, proprietor of This Blog Will Change Your Life, take note, posted about ‘All Hands On’ a week or so ago, among other notes around the web — thanks, Ben!)

Today, a couple contributors to THE2NDHAND featured in special sections in the book whose work continues to be some of the most at once challenging and comically adept of all T2H’s writers’ to date.

Today we’ve got up as a little Christmas gift to those not worn out by present-getting the first part in Kingston, Jamaica, writer Dominique Holmes‘ “The Girls Talk to Her Like It’s Nothing,” a fantastic story of a world in post-calamity mode, after a flood. Holmes appears in the Pitchfork Battalion special section in the collection in collaboration with myself and T2H coeditor C.T. Ballentine.

David Gianatasio, Boston-based author of a couple collections of shorts, most recently Mind Games (Word Riot 2008), penned “The World Ends Every Day,” a perfect example of the playful intertextuality of much of Gianatasio’s work. We published it in our online mag just last week. It begins:

The onramp swoops overhead like some giant abstract sculpture. We made a film about the last man on earth, and this long-closed stretch of overgrown highway and its immediate environs provided the perfect set. If this were an apocalyptic novel, by J.G. Ballard perhaps, the central traffic island would be cluttered with rusted household appliances, mangled cars, shriveled-up condoms and empty cigarette packs…

The piece proceeds as part film script, part commentary on the script and the film’s making by the method actor telling the story. His ultimate apocalypse (an experienced unveiling, by definition, when the curtain is drawn back to reveal the heart of the truth), in story, is more affecting than the film, to be sure. Read it here.

The second, Chicago scribe Marc Baez, remains perhaps the most wildly experimental of all THE2NDHAND’s regular writers, and thus to my mind one of the most dynamically appealing. Baez’s triptych of stories — well, a poem (“Elegy”), a piece of disjointed poetic prose (“Bloodlines”), and an hilarious exchange between a mother and son (“The Similes”) — featured two weeks back at THE2NDHAND.com is a quick blast emblematic of the author’s range. From “The Similes: Episode 1 — Eat Your Greenbeans”:

Mother: You better eat your green beans unless you wanna look like an old scratch instead of something the lord made.

Son: But they taste like skin.

Mother: Don’t you dare talk to me like I’m some whitefaced doll sewn in an Alpine meadow that you can just hang out with on the moon because nobody on earth likes you.

Son: Lots of people like me. I’m like euphoria for British rockabilly addicts.

Mother: Actually, you’re like an American rapper sucking the milk out of a fainting goat.

Son: You’re like a person who just sits on a chair and paints meat.

Mother: You’re like a local Nebraska television cameraman eating a macaroni salad on break.

Son: You’re like a middle-aged guy from Arizona who just opened the door of his Honda Civic.

Baez I’ve known since the year 2001, when we published the first of his pieces in our then newly minted online mag. Twas a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart.

Highlights from his later work include “Report From Dr. Fugue,” published in our 10th broadsheet, the story of the title Doc’s reanimation of the corpse of Henry Miller and the ensuing havoc wreaked on Chicago bystanders. Read it here: http://the2ndhand.com/print10/story1.html.

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23
Nov
2010

Shya Scanlon's 'Forecast'; THE2NDHAND's 10th anniversary anthology

Kudos to Shya Scanlon. His debut novel, available now via Flatmancrooked, marks the release of something long in the making that I’m happy to say we could be a part of via THE2NDHAND.com. Last summer, we published a small piece of the book in Chapter 8 here, one in 42 separate online pieces published in 42 separate online mags and blogs Scanlon proved marked logistical prowess by roping together in an uninterrupted chain of publishing.

He recent wrote all of us to announce publication of the ultimate results in a single volume, calling it “something I hadn’t, at the start, foreseen,” but I cry wolf to that. Anyone with that much pull on the imaginations of that many editors could well be forgiven for expecting as much, if not more. Get over to Flatmancrooked and order a copy.

And hey, in case you’ve missed the news making the rounds on the social networks and at our site, we’re live both with a new special edition broadsheet (with an absolutely kick-ass short by Chicago’s Michael Zapata) with a Kickstarter.com campaign to raise funds for printing and related expenses for our All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10 collection next year. You can preorder the book for $14, and there are other associated rewards at various pledge levels, including broadsheet packets and some full sets with block-printed covers by Cadieux (see previous post), bizarre “buy a header” schemes (think of it as a sort of satirical/whimsical take on vanity publishing, or textual/print tagging).

We’re doing well thus far, but still have plenty of ground to cover. Check out the vid below, and following find a link to a press release we’re updating with facts/figures as they are remembered/recorded.

A QUESTION: When did you first encounter THE2NDHAND. Tell me at todd@the2ndhand.com. Can’t remember? Hey, we like to read fiction, of course. -TD

Grab the press release, with links to images, video, etc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezx5SYSMZc0]

From the release:

Nashville and Chicago-based THE2NDHAND launches pledge campaign for ‘All Hands On’ 10th-anniversary anthology / “Nerves of Steel” event Dec. 7.

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND after 10, 2000-11, a Reader will be published in 2011 to celebrate and lay down the best of the broadsheet and online magazine’s 10+ years of publishing writing by the budding insurgents of the American lit landscape and other more established writers. THE2NDHAND launched a 90-day fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter.com November 18 to raise the money needed to cover printing costs, and will host a kickoff party as part of its regular So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series event Dec. 7 at Chicago’s Hungry Brain.

By pledging $14 or more, readers can preorder a copy of the 300-plus-page book, which collects work all told from 40 writers, 3 illustrators, four editors, and a couple janitors. Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader for the campaign, and http://the2ndhand.com/events/events.html for details on the event.

True to form, the book begins with a section of new, as-yet unpublished work representing the full range of the magazine’s long local presence in Chicago (with new work by Chicagoans Patrick Somerville and Michael Zapata), Birmingham, Ala. (Nadria Tucker) and Nashville, Tenn. (Matt Cahan), as well as its far-flung influence in the world of new literary writing the nation over. Contributors to the front, new-work section of the book represent regions from New England to the West Coast, and the large majority of the collection is devoted to special sections highlighting short fiction by the magazine’s best repeat contributors, from Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps), first published in THE2NDHAND in its third issue in its first year, 2000, to more recent contributors like Chicagoan Heather Palmer, whose novella “Charlie’s Train” was serialized at THE2NDHAND.com as its 11th year began in February of 2010.

(Zapata’s “White Twilight,” a speculative fictional take of sorts on the first U.S. census to come back with those checking “white” in the race/ethnicity box in a solid minority, is the featured story in THE2NDHAND’s broadsheet No. 35, out now as a sneak peek into the book.)

Other pledge rewards include, in addition to a copy of the book, THE2NDHAND’s signature bergamot-infused bar by Alabama soap maker The Left Hand (thelefthand.net), several books by contributors and editors (from All Hands On cover designer and past contributor Zach Dodson and contributor Patrick Somerville to THE2NDHAND’s founding editor, Todd Dills) and, among others, packets of 10 and 15 broadsheets spanning the 10-year history of THE2NDHAND packaged in custom-designed and -printed envelopes by Nashville-based wood-block fine-arts printmaker Martin Cadieux. At the highest pledge level, $150, a limited number full boxed sets in packaging likewise printed by Cadieux are available.

For more about THE2NDHAND, visit THE2NDHAND.com and peruse past broadsheets and online-magazine archives. THE2NDHAND’s editor will be sharing previews, likewise, of some of the artwork to be included in All Hands On – Chicago artist Rob Funderburk, formerly THE2NDHAND’s principle designer, is at work on illustrative portraits of special-section writers included, for instance. Some in-process photos of Cadieux’ wood-block-printed envelopes are already available in this blog post from early November by THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills. A fact sheet of sorts about the book, its contributors and the history of the broadsheet and online magazine follows. For interviews with any of the writers listed, please contact THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills.

FACTS:

THE2NDHAND KICKSTARTER campaign main page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the2ndhand/all-hands-on-the2ndhand-after-10-a-reader.

VIDEO: A photographic tour through 10 years of THE2NDHAND’s broadsheets, with audio selections from editor C.T. Ballentine’s introduction to All Hands On and more is available via THE2NDHAND’s Kickstarter fund drive page or www.youtube.com/the2ndhandutube.

IMAGES:

All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10, 2000-2011, a Reader, cover image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/allhandsoncovercolor.JPG
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 pdf:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/THE2NDHAND_35.pdf
THE2NDHAND Broadsheet No. 35 front side image:
http://the2ndhand.com/print35/thumbnail.JPG

NERVES of STEEL DETAILS:
SO YOU THINK YOU HAVE NERVES OF STEEL?
8 p.m., Tues., Dec. 7, Hungry Brain, 2319 W. Belmont, Chicago

THE2NDHAND announces to Chi-town, city of its birth in 2000, the T2H Kickstarter.com campaign toward publication of its 10th-anniversary book, All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10… and of course much more, with performances by:
**THE2NDHAND No. 35 (just released) writer Michael Zapata
**the team of Matt Bell (Wolf Parts, among others) and Michael Czyzniejewski (Elephants in Our Bedroom)
**and Natalie Edwards, Mary Hamilton (of Quickie’s reading series) and Lindsay Hunter (Daddy’s) in a collaboration that will melt faces like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when they open the ark…

ALSO:
**Puppetry by Brandon Will
**music by Nerves of Steel house band Good Evening
**and a PSA by T2H regular Spencer Dew (touring a little with his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book out from Another New Calligraphy)

Some other things that are known:
75:
Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked or are currently working in the mag’s co-HQ of Chicago.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in West Virginia.

25: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in past co-HQ of Birmingham, Ala., and current co-HQ of Nashville, Tenn.

50: Percentage of THE2NDHAND’s current editors who have once lived/worked in Louisville, Ky.

42: Number of total THE2NDHAND broadsheets, including numbered half-issues 6.5, 13.5 and 16.5 and our recent 8.5-by-11-inch mini-sheets for primarily digital distribution, begun with No. 33.1 in January 2010.

Today, THE2NDHAND is:
Editors
Todd Dills (Nashville, Tenn.), C.T. Ballentine (Louisville, Ky.), Jacob Knabb (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)
Janitors:
Rufus Beady, Harold Ray (all over and everywhere)
And many writers

When it began with a launch party Saturday Feb. 12, at 1278 N. Milwaukee, Floor 4, in Chicago, it was:
Editor
Todd Dills (Chicago)
Design men
Jeremy Bacharach and (now children’s book illustrator) Matt Cordell (matthewcordell.com)
And fewer writers

Between 2002 and 2004, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills and Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)
Design man
Evan Sult (later of band Bound Stems, of Chicago)
Propaganda minister
Eric Graf
And more writers

Between 2005 and 2007, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills, Jeb Gleason-Allured (Chicago) and C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Louisville, Ky.)
Design man
(Chicago artist) Rob Funderburk (robfunderburk.com)
Propaganda minister
Eric Graf
And more writers

Between 2006 and 2009, it was:
Editors
Todd Dills (Birmingham, Ala.), C.T. Ballentine (Chicago)
FAQ editor
Mickey Hess (Philadelphia)
And more and more writers

Of those writers:

Contributors to All Hands On: THE2NDHAND After 10
It’s been a long run for THE2NDHAND, the little magazine — not even a magazine in any traditional sense, but rather a broadsheet, perhaps the last periodical on earth to be launched without a prefabbed website to bolster its offset-printed pages (though ‘twas to follow shortly, publishing flash and serial fiction weekly from late 2000 on). We mean: THE2NDHAND is a page. A big one – 11-by-17-inch block of black text peppered variously with photo-illustrations, comics, line drawings, distributed in storefronts first in Chicago, then in an ever-growing list of cities around the U.S…. “New writing,” simply, has been its focus since 2000, when THE2NDHAND editor Todd Dills founded the broadsheet working from a crackerbox hole of an apartment in Logan Square, Chicago — small-format has been its watchword physically, but a loud mouth and a big heart its most important parts.

True to form, All Hands On’s front section features new work by Michael Zapata, Nadria Tucker, Jamie Iredell, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Fred Sasaki, Amanda Yskamp, Ben Stein (Amherst, Mass.) and Matt Cahan, as well as a collaborative short by Susannah Felts & Todd Dills and a mini-epic poem (“Chicago”) by Doug Milam.

**Cover design by Featherproof Books’ (and T2H contributor) Zach Dodson
**Illustrations for the lead section by comix artist/cermacist Andrew Davis
**Author illustrations by Chicago artist and T2H occasionaljanitor-in-residence
Rob Funderburk
**Special sections with multiple short stories by Marc Baez, coeditor C.T. Ballentine (including the entirety of his “Friedrich Nietzsche Waits for a Date” novella; Ballentine also penned, with copious editorial footnoting by Todd Dills, the book’s introduction), Philip Brunetti, Al Burian (the Burn Collector zine and associated books), Tobias Carroll (“The Scowl” blogger), Spencer Dew (Songs of Insurgency), Kate Duva (cohost of our Chicago “So you think you have nerves of steel?” reading series), David Gianatasio (Mind Games), Mickey Hess (Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory), Joe Meno (The Great Perhaps, Hairstyles of the Damned), Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out), Doug Milam (Still the Confusion), Anne Elizabeth Moore (Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity) with comic adaptation by Josh Bayer, Greggory Moore, Kevin O’Cuinn, Heather Palmer, Michael Peck, the Pitchfork Battalion (a collaborative crew with roving membership, including many of those already listed, plus, featured in the book, Sean Carswell, Jim Murphy, Emerson Dameron, John Minichillo, Motke Dapp, and Dominique Holmes), Lauren Pretnar, Patrick Somerville (The Cradle), Jill Summers, Paul A. Toth (Finale), and Nadria Tucker.

I-65 U.S. Interstate Highway within 40 miles of which 57 percent of all AHO contributors live.

30: Percentage of AHO contributors who live in Chicago.

ABOUT Special section authors in AHO:
Chicago writer Marc Baez’s work first appeared in THE2NDHAND in its second year, with a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart. Part 1 of his most recent, tricornered contribution, published in 2009, is featured here, among others. Baez teaches writing at the University of Illinois Chicago. Baez’s work was also featured in THE2NDHAND’s 2004 All Hands On: A THE2NDHAND Reader, 2000-2004 anthology.

C.T. Ballentine has been an editor with THE2NDHAND since 2007 and a contributor since 2005. Also a sound engineer in various music halls and opera houses, he lives, writes and loves between Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Huntsville, Ala.

Philip Brunetti lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has been contributing to THE2NDHAND since the fall of 2008.

Al Burian wrote the first issue of the Burn Collector zine in the 1990s and continues to write it — and much else besides — today. He’s behind a book of the same name collecting previous installments of the zine and Natural Disaster, collecting later work. When not touring with his work, he lives in Berlin, occasionally Chicago and elsewhere.

Tobias Carroll lives and writes in Brooklyn, N.Y. His work as a book and music critic has been published widely, and his fiction has appeared semi-regularly in THE2NDHAND (since 2007) and other mags. Find more at his indie-culture blog, The Scowl (yourbestguess.com/thescowl).

Spencer Dew, based in Chicago, authored the 2008 “Songs of Insurgency” collection, out from Vagabond Press, and his shorts have appeared in great frequency in many online and print journals, including THE2NDHAND. In 2010 Another New Calligraphy is publishing his Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres book. Visit spencerdew.com for links to pieces of his prolific online lit presence.

Kate Duva grew up in Chicago in a bar; she still lives in the city, where she writes and serves as cohost in THE2NDHAND’s ongoing So You Think You Have Nerves of Steel? reading series, first Tuesday of the month at Hungry Brain on Belmont. Other of her work can be found in Fugue and Opium, on Vocalo Radio and at kateduva.blogspot.com.

David Gianatasio is the author of two collections of short stories, most recently 2008’s Mind Games (Word Riot). He’s published prolifically online for years. He lives in Boston, Mass.

Mickey Hess is a professor of English at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. His work for THE2NDHAND has included serving as progenitor and editor of our FAQ section, and his stories and essays have been published in journals and magazines ranging from Punk Planet and McSweeney’s to more scholarly affairs. He is the author of the memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory and the editor of Greenwood Press’ two-volume Icons of Hip-hop, among other literary and scholarly works.

Longtime THE2NDHAND contributor Joe Meno is the author of several books, including most recently the novel The Great Perhaps (2009), as well as short story collections Demons in the Spring (Akashic) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Northwestern University Press) and the novels The Boy Detective Fails and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is on the faculty of Columbia College in Chicago, where he lives and writes.

Jonathan Messinger is Time Out Chicago’s books editor and the driving editorial force behind the Chicago-based concerns Featherproof Books and the Dollar Store reading series. A prolific short-story writer in his own right, his first collection, Hiding Out, came out in 2007.

Doug Milam lives and writes in Bellingham, Wash. He is the author of a chapbook of shorts, Still the Confusion, and has been published in a variety of other literary magazines. Visit him at milam.blogsite.org/wordpress.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the author of Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007), and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People (Soft Skull, 2004). Moore served as associate editor of the now-defunct Punk Planet magazine and was the founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. Today, she teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago when she’s not traveling the globe speaking on freedom of speech issues.

Greggory Moore is a lifelong southern California resident, freelance journalist and fiction writer and poet.

Kevin O’Cuinn lives in Frankfurt am Main but is originally from Dublin; he coedits fiction for Word Riot.

Heather Palmer lives in Chicago. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines. In 2010 THE2NDHAND serialized her novella, “Charlie’s Train,” at THE2NDHAND.com, parts of which are excerpted in AHO.

Michael Peck, after a time in Philadelphia and with roots deep upstate New York, lives and writes in Missoula, Mont. His fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Rittenhouse Revue, 34th Parallel and others.

The Pitchfork Battalion is THE2NDHAND’s answer to the Wu Tang Clan or to any collaborative artistic group, really. Typically, we collaborate on a theme, or do individual riffs on a phrase in prose – sometimes poetry, as the case of Jim Murphy’s addition to the 2009 “Extraordinary Rendition” is evidence. In AHO are some of our best. For the lot of them, written at the initial instigation of our FAQ editor and continuing contributor Mickey Hess, from 2005 to the present, visit http://the2ndhand.com/archive/archivepitchfork.html.

Lauren Pretnar lives and writes in Chicago.

Patrick Somerville is the author of a novel, The Cradle, and the Trouble collection of stories (patricksomerville.com). In 2010, his genre-busting The Universe in Miniature in Miniature was released by Featherproof Books. He lives and writes in Chicago.

Jill Summers’ audio fiction has been heard via Chicago Public Radio and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including THE2NDHAND, where she is a continuing contributor.

Paul A. Toth is the author of a triptych of novels — Fizz, Fishnet and Finale — and lives today in Sarasota, Fla., after years in Flint, Mich. Visit www.netpt.tv; Toth also works in multimedia, poetry and nonfiction.

Nadria Tucker hails from Atmore in South Alabama, though she lives and writes in Birmingham.


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10
Apr
2009

'The Slide' home: an interview with Kyle Beachy

beachySince Chicago writer Kyle Beachy’s first novel came out in January, I’ve had the opportunity to publish his work both online and in the latest edition of THE2NDHAND, and I read with him at a dual release party (with Amelia Gray’s AM/PM, about which more later) in Chicago in February. I picked up a copy of his book, The Slide, and on the strength in my mind of his past work in THE2NDHAND, I looked forward to reading it but, frankly, wasn’t prepared for the great power of the narrative within its covers.

It tells the story of Potter Mays, just out of college in California and at the tail end of a failing relationship (his prime interest is off backpacking in Europe w/ a friend). Mays establishes a base of operations back in his parents’ place, takes a job as a delivery driver of bottled water, and sets off on a roundabout tour of his home city. Along the way, he toys with parenting/returning to childhood, talks with the ghost of his brother in their childhood attic. He finds himself taking with several grains of salt the “professional” advice of his well-to-do friend Stuart Hurst, his de facto life coach at this stage in game (who drives for much of the book a Volkswagen Beetle emblazoned with the insignia of the St. Louis Tan Company, affectionately/derisively referred to by Potter as “the ad”). Turning the standard coming of age piece over and over and over again, the book offers much more muscular stuff as Potter’s life unravels — or entertwines itself with increasing levels of desperation — against the backdrop of his father’s St. Louis Hooray! program of urban revitalization. Beachy’s treatment of all, and particularly of this program, begins with a sort of mildly satirical feel, but by the end of the novel the stakes for Potter Mays and all parties on the edges of his life are high; the denouement sees him at the birth of something fascinating, new. I talked with Beachy in late March/early April about these and other issues. That Q&A follows.

TD: You grew up in St. Louis. Where exactly and what’s the character of the neighborhood?

Kyle Beachy: My childhood neighborhood was called Godwin Lane, a curving, looping street full of large but not ostentatious homes. We had a trampoline and a swimming pool out back and a front yard large enough for me and my best friend (who lived up the street) to play a two-man variation of baseball (ghost runners) with one of those tiny novelty bats from giveaway night at the ballpark, a tennis ball, and the back wheel of a kick-stood BMX bike for the strike zone. This was in the City of Ladue in St. Louis County, which if you Wiki it right now you learn, “has one of the highest median incomes for any city in the United States.” There was money about, and certainly my family wasn’t immune to it.

How closely does Potter Mays’ experience of St. Louis hew to your own? I’ve heard reports from current residents that the feel of the place, at least, in the book is quite spot-on.

In terms of socio-economic issues, Potter’s experiences and expectations run parallel to my own at that age. There is a lot going on in St. Louis — it is a big sprawling diverse city full of pockets of culture and divergent walks of life. For most of my own life, though, my version of the city was bubbled into a small circumference running from my school to the mall to the Steak N Shake. The bubble was white and upper-middle class. It was Jeeps and BMWs. In the book, the water delivery job effectively sends Potter on a sort of self-guided tour of his own hometown. And there’s a certain alienation here, realizing that this place you thought you knew is in fact much bigger and more interesting. For me, returning to St. Louis after time away allowed for a shift in my view of the city, and this new perspective served as one of the primary seeds for this story. Because it’s perspective that defines adulthood, I think. To see people and places and institutions in a new way. To open them up and peer inside, or pick them up and rotate in your hands.

“Returning to St. Louis after time away.” You live in Chicago now — what time away are you making reference to there, and what did you see differently coming back that showed up in the book? The Cardinals fairing better in the National League, perhaps?

Writing this book took a damn long time. So the time away I refer to was college and the following year, when I lived in Colorado. I moved back in 2002 before coming to Chicago in 2003. And the emergence of Albert Pujols and the title runs were nice, but I suppose what I saw differently was the city through the eyes of a young, still stupid adult. Living alone, working my restaurant job, making mistakes of all sorts while trying to focus on this new thing, the writing. So creating my own home gave me a better angle to reflect on the reality of living with one’s parents. Having an apartment made me realize the scale and mystery of a childhood home. These sorts of things. Plus I was driving everywhere at all hours. Exploring.

That 2002-03 time period in St. Louis: was the “writing thing” germinating seeds even then of what would become The Slide? (And speaking of which, how many different slides are in this book? I think I marked four or five specific references as the end of the book approached: I guess what I’m really wondering in that regard is where the title came from, or how it came about — chosen after one draft or several drafts, or known and worked into the text all along?)

It was this novel even back then, same main character and same basic narrative thrust, though in drastically different clothing. There have been short things in the meantime, other little projects, but I’ve worked primarily on this book for nearly seven years. The problem was this: I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I learned by failing, and there was a lot, lot, lot of failure along the way. And also a lot of titles. I wanted to call the book “Yellow, Not Yellow,” and then “The Opposite of Blind,” and there were others. But what I like about “The Slide” is that the slides were in there; I never wrote to my title. It was an 11th-hour decision.

What exactly happened during said 11th hour — did it come to you in a flash reading through a certain passage? Did your editor at Dial notice the sliding motif, perhaps? Friend suggest it?

It was kind of a train wreck for me. My editor, a hell of a smart young man whose opinions I value immensely, didn’t love the titles I was tossing around. Neither did my agent, whose opinion I likewise respect. But they were very calm and confident that something would emerge. I wanted to avoid irony, avoid claims to hugeness and importance, avoid allusions to other works of art, all these things to avoid. I would be in the car and call my agent say, “how about this?” And she’d say no. And I’d agree. I wanted something small that would open up as you got deeper into the book. Then the pressure was building and I was getting anxious, until one afternoon I took my dog for a walk and it was there and it was simple and I called my friend Margaret to share because Margaret’s a genius of a very wonderful sort. And she liked it, and there it was.

“The Slide” as an overarching metaphor in the book holds within it that sense of learning by failure — a descent into a wizened perspective via stumbles and bumbles. The life of Potter Mays as allegory for Kyle Beachy’s artistic process in creating said life?

If you push on the metaphor enough then yes, my own education as a writer fits into this model. But then things veer toward the circular realm of Paul Auster or John Barth, and if that sort of thing was in fact happening it was going on at a level that I didn’t dare acknowledge. I’d have been paralyzed. Instead, I think of the final slide in the book, when Potter remembers the lessons he learned about the mechanics of swinging a baseball bat. Simplifying his motion, steadying his hands, letting muscle memory take over. This is writing, to me. Simplicity and trust are key to my artistic process.

You were in grad school for some of this period, if I’m not mistaken, yes? Was the book also your grad thesis, then?

I turned in the first 100 pages as my thesis in 2005, then I took the entire draft as it stood at that point with me to Bread Loaf [writers’ conference] and tried to push it onto agents and editors. They very politely and unanimously declined. At that point it was a third-person narrative and included a five-legged cow. Breaks my heart that the cow didn’t make the print version. Little guy never stood a chance.

And since you mention Barth and Auster (I loved Leviathan, among his work I’ve read) — any particular models you may have consciously borrowed from in terms of structure? I realize influences often come out of a writer simply by virtue of his/her experience and a kind of rightness of feeling, though at times when reading your book, particularly as the tension ratchets up toward the end, the doom conjured was reminiscent of some of the great stuff in the American first-person tradition, for certain.

I owe many profound and varied debts to Don DeLillo. I read White Noise right after I finished college then went immediately back to read it again. His sense of rhythm, language, dialogue, and the way he handles Jack Gladney’s breakdown toward the novel’s end … all of these were in my head as I wrote. Early on, I wanted to do everything I could to carve some little hole for myself inside of a triangle of Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, and Haruki Murakami. These were my guides as I was beginning.

The various creeping tensions between individuals and ideas in the book are reminiscent of DeLillo to a degree as well, I think. One in particular, that between individual loneliness (exemplified by our hero Potter Mays) and the return of people and money, essentially, to the crowded urban landscape envisioned by his father, Richard, lies at the center of my thoughts about one of the book’s primary achievements, which is that it very passionately takes on a defining trope of your (and my) generation, the slow return of the white middle class to the centers of American culture — the cities. Though of course not without its definite class-politics considerations, the book does this so well, I think, by transcending the “gentrification” politics of that trope toward something larger and more elemental to human life. Nobody I know of has done this quite so well. I was curious as to how much you thought about that tension and broad trope in that context as you were building the book or how much Potter’s situation may have simply brought it from the background. What’s the real-life corrollary to the St. Louis Hooray! program Potter’s father heads up?

That’s very kind of you to say, Todd. And I agree that re-urbanization has become as much a trope as suburbia. My personal approach was to treat the city itself as a particular kind of unit, which for a place like St. Louis is easy enough. In 1876, the City of St. Louis seceded from the County because the City wanted tax revenue to stay urban. Today, that pattern has reversed, and the County sort of holds the City hostage, since the majority of the region’s wealth lives well outside the city limits. So there’s a simmering tension there that I wanted to connect to the other prevailing unit in the book, which is the family. And, as you point out, it’s these tensions between individuals and their varied connections to larger groups that serve as the primary source of much contemporary drama. So for me to write about downtown St. Louis was to come at this larger issue of units, groups, systems, and networks while staying true to the broader theme of homecoming and its many iterations. As far as SLH! goes, I interned one summer for a group called St. Louis 2004, which wanted the centennial of the 1904 World’s Fair to serve as a goal for citywide revitalization. Though it might have taken longer than people wanted, it’s worked. And this fact, this success, is kind of an amazing thing to consider. That change on this scale is in fact possible.

This kind of change is evident in so many American cities, and on a megascale in the place you call home now, eh? I scarcely recognize, for instance, the South Loop when I take the Orange line into town from Midway, and I’ve only been gone for a couple years. Other than distance and time allowing for perspective on your hometown, which we’ve talked about, how did living in Chicago contribute to this book and your work generally?

Well there’s winter, for one. There’s just no better excuse to get work done than the marathon shitfest of weather here. More broadly, if I’m going to spend three or four hours alone, staring at my computer, I need to be able to open my door and step outside and confront things happening. I need noise and conflict and colors and the smells of human beings. The city itself, churning. And Chicago is just so obviously full of people doing interesting things: journals and readings and theater productions and hybrid art and music shows and so on. So part of living and making art in Chicago is keeping up with everyone around you, which for me provides a kind of gentle, steady murmur of competition.

How are you paying the rent these days, and what’s next for you on the writing front? Potter Mays seems a perfect character to revisit from time to time a la Richard Russo.

I teach part-time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and pick up various freelance writing assignments. There are essays I’m sort of always writing, and I’ve got some work finished on a second novel, but at this point I can’t say much more than skateboarding, fear and bones. And I like connections between books, though Potter Mays himself might not be the best contact point. I will say I like the idea of telling multiple stories within the same world that share common…things? Ideas? Automobiles, perhaps?

Your version of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County for the new century, built over years and places and automobiles and stories?

I think I’d focus on a different definition of world, here, linked by central ideas and images more than location. I’d like to linger in this world for a bit before moving out of it into someplace drastically different.

So “the ad” won’t necessarily make a reappearance in the next book, but the individual’s sense of herself against the backdrop of her community might?

That’s closer, yes. The ad is in there as a piece of period evidence from the book’s year, 2001, and for highlighting Stuart Hurst’s particular mixture of characteristics along with certain ironies of Potter’s world. Whether readers treat it this way or not, I see the ad as having a definite task in the narrative. The same goes for the delivery van, and the other white vans in the novel. Maybe as an example for what I’m thinking, see the work Bolano gets out of the black Peregrinos in 2666, how they overlap the book’s sections and provide a kind of unity for the world he’s created.

It still gives me a little chill just to read a mention of a black Peregrino, I do say! Harmony of ongoing symbolic structures sounds like what you’re talking about a bit. In any case, looking forward to more. What have you thought about Bolano’s work as it’s become available in English? For me, reading him over the past few years has eventuated several of those sort of wonderful kick-in-the-pants moments, when a book really drives me onward with my own work.

I own two copies of 2666, the hardback and the three volume paperback set. I did this so I can save the hardback for posterity and go back into the paperbacks with a pen. Basically tear the text apart. It’s amazing. Such a massive beautiful project. And also the only Bolano I’ve read thus far, mainly because it’s difficult to escape — there’s just so much there and it’s all provocative, it all drives. I go back and read a page, a paragraph, sometimes just a sentence, then have to close the book and find my laptop. Is it all like this, his writing? Or would you call it his crowning achievement? People I speak to are split between “read it all” or “read 2666 and you get it all.”

I’d probably fall into the “read it all” camp — he’s versatile enough that you get different things from different books, and the comprehensive approach is my favorite for writers I really love. My least favorite of his, perhaps, is Nazi Literature in the Americas, but it’s got a lot to recommend it, too. (The Savage Detectives might be a personal favorite, though the reasoning there has less to do with quality of the work than with the fireworks of writerly exuberance held in every sentence.) Anyhow, any other work of recent vintage that’s had particular effects on you as well?

[Denis Johnson’s] Tree of Smoke blew me away. He’s had so much success on the small scale, sentences that wind around your head then punch you in the ear, but up until now his longer stuff hasn’t really panned out. Richard Price’s Lush Life taught me major lessons in plotting and pacing and straight up narrative forcefulness. Patrick Somerville‘s The Cradle is just damn lovely, as is Light Boxes by Shane Jones. I’m currently reading a paper-clipped collection by my friend Odie Lindsay, stories of the south and loneliness and turtles. I’m so impressed by my friends. Everything Chris Bower writes or says. Oh! And Dave Snyder has written what’s hands-down my favorite poem of all time and I read it at least once every few days.

Got a copy of Tree of Smoke here I’ve been meaning to dig. Maybe now’s the time. My final question has to do with your recent St. Louis readings: how was it for you being home and delivering the work? Any sense of completion, fracture, both at once?

The St. Louis events have made me happy as hell. Doing the first reading to a crowd inside Left Bank Books, a store I grew up with, had the effect of closing some nature of very pleasant personal loop. I’ve read on four or five occasions since the release. I sat and sweated in the very shiny local Fox News studio. I’ve seen former neighbors and classmates and my old baseball coach, people to whom I’ll remain grateful until I die. And it’s all completion. That’s the prevailing feeling: that I’ve curved the pole into a circle and glued it shut; or of that last pie slice of steel dropped into the gap at the very top of the Gateway Arch, how they had to pry the two curved legs apart to fit it in, men in hardhats on cranes, unsure if the thing would stand. And then they all backed away carefully, wiping their hands on their thighs, thinking, “There. Done.”

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24
Mar
2009

Al Burian, Cassie Sneider in Birmingham March 25

Or, yes, tomorrow, as the case may be. Birmingham 2NDHANDers will remember Burian and Sneider from our November book fair at Greencup, or from their respective work in the mag, including Burian’s excellent “Zangara” story, featured in issue 19, about the 1930s assassin of former Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, and Sneider’s “Mole” story featured online.  They’ll be appearing with punk poet Bucky Sinister; I read with him in San Francisco in 2006 on my book tour, and let’s just say the man delivers his work with a verve akin to the joy any young boy might feel running through a chandelier shop and breaking many things. Tortured, I know. Sorry.

Come out to Greencup (105 Richard Arrington South) tomorrow for the reading, which is followed by several quite excellent bands, including Japanther. Stay for them if at all possible. Please.

If you’re elsewhere, watch for the three coming up the east coast in the coming days. Al sent along this itinerary — check local listings for times:

**TUESDAY, March 24- Wayward Council, 807 W. University Ave, Gainesville, FL
**WEDNESDAY, March 25- Greencup Books, 105 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd, Birmingham, AL (with JAPANTHER)
**THURSDAY, March 26-Downtown Books & News, 67 N. Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC
**FRIDAY, March 27- The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd, Charlotte, NC
**SATURDAY, March 28- Internationalist Books, Chapel Hill, NC
**MONDAY, March 30- Remedy, 5121 Butler St, Pittsburgh (Lawrenceville) PA
**TUESDAY, March 31- Wooden Shoe Books, 505 S. 5th St, Philadelphia PA
**WEDNESDAY, April 1- Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St, New York, NY
**FRIDAY, April 3- Providence, RI
**SATURDAY, April 4- Book Revue, Huntington NY

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23
Mar
2009

Leaving before the music

Alec Niedenthal, Greencup Books, 03202009
Alec Niedenthal, Greencup Books, 03202009

It ended with long discussion of the reasons folks tend to depart the scene of a reading when there’s a band upcoming, in this case the wonderful Balthrop, Alabama, a Brooklyn band featuring 12 (or more) members whose freak-folk leanings had at least one of the readers (indeed the only one remaining) marveling at the unlikely beauty of the goings-on at the local bookshop, which is to say nothing of the reading, a large success as well, driven into the night by newish THE2NDHAND contributor Alec Niedenthal (pictured, above), who delivered three shorts that rivaled the best stuff we’ve heard lately from the experimentalist crowd. The pseudonymous Atlanta writer ‘Peepshow Girl’, having had a root canal, offered her “Diary of a Phone Sex Operator” story to the Left Hand’s Erin ‘Soapy’ Jones (pictured, below), whose delivery was spot-on and polished, and longtime THE2NDHAND broadsheet contributor Nadria Tucker read a brand-new Dos Passos(think Manhattan Transfer)-esque piece following several characters around South Side Birmingham, Ala. . . Susannah Felts and I read a collaborative “Facebook Fiction,” a romance of errors told between two mistaken lovers’ status updates and back-and-forth wall posts.

In the end (and keep in mind this comes from an ape with long experience in attempting to combine live lit and music, to some [however exceedingly little] success), we figured there were four reasons folks leave readings before the band starts, no matter quite how good they (the folks or the band) are.

  • They’re over 30 and hence fidgety for alcohol.
  • … over 30 and just fidgety with responsibilities to children or significant others or otherwise family not in the immediate vicinity.
  • they’re at a reading for a reason, things can be drawn into their characters considering the simple fact. They’re interested in books and writing, largely,  but music, small-ly

But perhaps the host of the reading (ahem…) wasn’t up-front enough in his insistence that the band was coming up next, couldn’t you stick around a while, please. In fact, that was probably the single biggest factor virtually no one stuck around, after No. 3 above. 

To Balthrop, Alabama: we are sorry even we had to leave in the middle of your first song, for reasons Nos. 1 & 2 above, mostly.  Please forgive us. Until next time.

Erin Jones of soap maker the Left Hand (thelefthand.net); Jones is also publisher of the zine Sinister Compendium

Erin Jones, aka Soapy of the Left Hand and Sinister Compendium, at Greencup last week

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01
Jan
2009

Best of 2008: Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx

The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx
By Arthur Nersesian
Akashic Books 2008
Hardcover, $22.95

Of the many books I read in 2008, there were virtually none (excepting Roberto Bolano’s 2666, which I wrote about here and here) so well-crafted and page-turningly brilliant as The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx, by New York writer Arthur Nersesian. It’s the second in Nersesian’s Five Books of Moses series, a set of novels taking as their model the Odyssey epic. They’re set against the backdrop of a counterfactual history, in which late 1970s/early 1980s New York City is a dirty-bomb fallout zone and a manufactured urban center in the Nevada desert called Rescue City (or New York, Nevada) serves as both refugee camp and internment zone for political dissidents. While the end of the first book, The Swing Voter of Staten Island, saw the epic hero Uli — an amnesiac lost in Rescue City who becomes something of pawn in the New York, Nevada, political back-and-forth, a phenomenon peculiar to any contemporary megalopolis but holding a particularly high degree of violence here in the desert — on his way down a sandy drain from the politically neutral Staten Island territory to purported freedom, the resumption of Uli’s move toward recall in the beginning of the second book rings forth with the force of the great 1980s graphic novel Watchmen, whose own counterfactual history was equally political, if less concerned with alternate realities so much as a highly inventive and original explosion of comic-book conventions (I read this book for the first time this year, and, according to the rented copy of Dark Knight I watched recently, it will be a movie very very soon: be advised to read the book first, surely). Both books are crystalline expressions of the prevailing paranoia of the past 30 and more years — in spite of the hope so many, including myself, feel with the political ascendancy of Barack Obama. The more recent damage done by the Bush years to the American psyche (not to mention the American economy, worldwide rep and outlook for peace) won’t be instantly undone, of course. New lit might be expected to increasingly interrogate the cultural and psychological byproducts. And the attraction of counterfactual dystopian “historical dramas” like Nersesian’s series, and, of course, Watchmen, rests not only in occasionally merciless satirical negativity, but in the ultimate humanity of men and women coping with unintended consequences.

As Sacrificial Circumcision begins, Uli’s rush to freedom has been snagged in a net over the drain. As the drug he was given to keep him alive in transit wears off, he struggles his way into an underground trap beneath the Nevada desert, populated by other castoffs from Rescue City. The upper section of the bunker is referred to as the MKultra, after the confidential chemical mind-control experiment program of the CIA in the 1960s. But Uli, making his way into the MKultra and proceeding to lead certain of its denizens in an attempt to escape, only commandeers half of this novel’s action; the other half is the fictionalized story of Paul Moses, older and decidedly less historically significant (in the real world) brother of Robert Moses, the public-works czar ultimately responsible for the landscape of modern-day NYC. Moses’ story comes to us as a series of visions breaking up Uli’s slow manipulation of the underground trap. It appears to him as if in visions broadcast into his brain, short yet vivid bursts of recall Nersesian effortlessly — in most cases — transitions to.

The character of Moses’ presence in the novel is initially as perplexing to us as his seeming memory is to Uli. But Nersesian slowly chips away at the confusion, rendering both characters equally real and crafting a plot that rivals any great thriller’s. Their connection, too, not to give away anything too important, comes slowly, crystallizing when, as with the very fact of Uli’s amnesia, one of Moses’ own brother’s highway projects splits the protagonist’s Bronx neighborhood in two, displacing him for life.

Finally, the parallel stories of men reaping the rewards of unintended consequences converge in an ending to Moses’ story (chronologically parallel, incidentally, with the Weather Underground’s 1970 accidental explosion of a Greenwich Village townhouse) that provides us the reality behind New York’s decimation at the heart of Nersesian’s series and provides Uli a relief from some of his amnesia. He and Moses are connected by more than just recovered memory, after all, and Uli’s role in the post-apocalyptic world Nersesian is creating becomes much clearer.

If Nersesian keeps the book-a-year schedule he’s been on with the first two, expect the third in the fall of 2009. You can bet it’ll be equally dynamic.

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