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Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Jen for getting a free copy of Epiphany Magazine.

This week, we are giving away a copy of Joshua Mohr’s Termite Parade. Termite Parade is the follow-up to Joshua Mohr’s San Francisco Chronicle bestselling first novel—and one of O, The Oprah Magazine’s ’10 Terrific Reads of 2009′—Some Things That Meant the World to Me. Termite Parade tells the story of Mired, the self-described “bastard daughter of a menage a trois between Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Sylvia Plath, and Eeyore.” Mired catalogs her “museum of emotional failures,” the latest entry to which is her boyfriend Derek, an auto mechanic (whose body may or may not be infested with termites), who loses his cool carrying her up the stairs to their apartment. As Derek’s termites wreak havoc on his nervous system, Mired pieces together the puzzle, each character revealing aspects of their savage natures, culminating in a climax of pure animal chaos. Along the way, there’s a moustached softball team of misanthropes, Mired’s Mt. Rushmore of Male Failures, and armed robberies videotaped for vicarious thrills.

This week’s Free Book Friday is sponsored by Two Dollar Radio.

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It all began with a psych evaluation, one that would figure out what was wrong with me and what was right. Turns out, my IQ is bordering genius level with regards to the right brain and borderline normal with regards to the left brain. About half of that of my right brain. Among other things, I was diagnosed with a learning disorder that has no name. Essentially, the doctor explained, I cannot sequence properly.

He learned this by placing six cards with various scenarios drawn on them. Man frying eggs, man in bed, man putting coat on, man walking out door, etc. When asked to put the cards in order, I did and explained how it worked. The doctor looked baffled. Eyes bulging in a way that expressed intense disbelief, he barked, “How the hell did you make it through life? I mean you’ve just been accepted to VASSAR! How the hell did you do that?” Throwing his hands upwards, as if to alert the Man Upstairs what a freak I was, he half chuckled and choked on his own dramatic facial expression before quickly refocusing on the very specialized testing process (one that oddly resembled a culmination of pre-school’s greatest hits: playing with blocks, tossing colored rings, drawing pictures of my mommy and daddy, etc.)

I thought the ordering of the cards made sense. Sometimes I have eggs before bed. Was that a crime? My learning disorder was so “severe” that I should have been handicapped at a young age. I’m guessing my freakishly smart right brain helped the left side along with training wheels and though my essays were sometimes a mess logically speaking, I made A’s and found myself enrolled in gifted programs and classes.

The first time I heard about David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, I was spending some time with a ridiculously smart friend of mine. He was teaching undergraduates at the age of 17. Having skipped middle school completely, he enrolled in college at the tender age of 14. We sat in a white room scattered with mid-century furniture and he threw the 1,000+-page behemoth at the wall, leaving a proper dent. “I give up!” he said. “I’ve stopped and started this thing six times and I just don’t understand it.” And that was that.

Recently, while perusing the always wonderful tabled selections at The Strand, I lifted the hefty volume in my arms, opened it, and while I semi-discreetly sniffed the pages, I decided that I too, must try to read Infinite Jest. Hailed as an absolute masterpiece due to its impeccably tight writing (not ONE wasted word), length and composition (the rules of narrative definitely do not apply) by a former Claremont College professor and nationally ranked tennis player who hanged himself in 2008, the book needed to be read. I’m the kid who plowed through the works of William Shakespeare at age 11 and had to read Gone With the Wind because it was roughly 1,000 pages. So, natch, it had to be done. Reading Infinite Jest has become my February and (also maybe early March) proposition.

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More: Books

Spam Poetry

JK Evanczuk / Monday, February 7, 2011 View Comments

This site gets a lot of spam, but thanks to spam-catchers and fancy coding I don’t understand, very little of it slips through to the comments section. Most gets caught in our spam filter, and usually I give whatever’s in there a cursory glance before deleting.

But the other day, for whatever reason, I looked at the spam with a fresh eye. If you ignore the hyperlinked sex-related keywords, some of it sounds like it could be poetry. Really, really awful poetry, mind you, but we all know I’m a fan of the bad stuff anyway.

Here are a few of my favorite spam poems (sexy links removed):

She was in the frame emma watson
teetering on her highheels.
The bedstand, would not see.
She was emma watson pics abusive, writhing naked in the street he was in, reaching out.
I was the most wonderful person on the wall.

Sam asked. I couldnt say it was getting their knees licking
Of my daughters youthful body

Youre thinking of their ideas in her hips erotic stories
jerk and squirm.
Take it was growing.
I almost made celebrity stories you something
to stop it anymore. Jason shook his friends
during.
She favored jeans and sheryl all the suggestion mild bondage stories
Ben, like when you so.

More:

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More: Poetry

Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Angela Kowalski Katterhagen for getting a free copy of Widow: Stories by Michelle Latiolais.

This week, we are giving away a copy of Epiphany Magazine’s Fall/Winter 2010-2011 issue, Persistent Labyrinths: Analogue Antidotes to the Digital Morass, vital new writings that, disparate as they are, all bring readers to engrossing and unexpected places in the mazes life perennially holds in store.  We’ve tracked down some of the best work out there, and assembled it in a mix that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding readers.  The new Epiphany includes a richly comic story by Dale Peck (“Not Even Camping Is Like Camping Anymore”) that luminously desentimentalizes children and teenagers and is sure to arouse very fruitful controversy about the nature of fiction itself; an excerpt from Lisa Dierbeck’s hip new novel, The Autobiography of Jenny X, that strips the façade off the private life of a powerful senator’s son; two further chapters from Keep This Fortune, silver-spoon adoptee A.B. Meyer’s witty and moving memoir of reuniting with her birth mother; and much more, including débuts by promising and original new writers you won’t find anywhere else.

This week’s Free Book Friday is sponsored by Epiphany Magazine.

Creating Human Characters, Part 2 of 5: Speech

I took a creative writing course last semester, and one of my assignments was to take a small notebook and lounge around random spots on campus where lots of people congregate: the arts quad, the café, hallways after class lets out, and so on. I was asked to be a listener, to listen to all the conversation going on around me and to jot down some of it. It seemed like a weird request at first, but overhearing a few conversations and seeing how they looked on paper surprisingly taught me a lot about dialogue and what realistic dialogue sounds like.

I have been keeping track of daily dialogue since that experience, mostly in my mind. Thinking about the way different people talk in different situations, what their style of talking reveals about themselves, their character, their education and background, their emotional state or their intended emotional state. Now I am trying to apply those real world examples to my fictional ones, so that they are as realistic and human as possible. Below are some examples of things I’ve picked up along the way, examples which you shouldn’t necessarily follow by the book, but rather keep in mind when you are constructing dialogue. READ MORE »

With so many different styles of writing in the world, it’s completely possible that two people can call themselves writers and not even be in the same ballpark. There are poets, essayists, journalists, novelists and bloggers, not to mention reporters, short-story writers, reviewers, and playwrights.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; I personally love writing fiction, although it’s sometimes difficult for me to create it. My sister is excellent at writing blurbs. Another friend of mine is great at spoken word poems. I consider myself to be good at a few things, but blurbs and spoken word poetry aren’t part of them.

But it’s the new year, and we’re all about challenges! So, I want to know what your literary kryptonite is.

What writing style makes you curl up with fear and cry?

Your challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to come up with something in that style and post it below. I’m going to come up with something too.  Winner gets my love, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are awesome enough to break through everything you ever thought about yourself.  Right on!

Photo courtesy of HubPages.com.

JK Evanczuk / Friday, January 28, 2011 View Comments

The new e-chapbook Supercomputer, containing “four stories of goodness” from Jordan Castro, is now out via Deckfight Press. Get it for free in PDF or ePub format (donations are accepted).

More: Briefs / Free!

Welcome to this week’s Free Book Friday, wherein we give you the best titles in indie publishing for the low low price of nothing. Congrats to last week’s winner Sara Crow for getting a free copy of Missed Her by Ivan E. Coyote.

This week, we are giving away a copy of Widow: Stories by Michelle Latiolais. The stories of Widow conjure the nuances of inner sensations and conflicting desire as if hitting the notes of a song, deftly played across human memory. Like the memoirs of Joan Didion and Joyce Carol Oates, these meditations were largely written after the tragic death of Latiolais’ husband, and they bravely explore the physiology of grief through a masterful interweaving of tender insight and unflinching detail—reminding us that the inner life is best understood through the medium of storytelling. Whether writing from a widow’s perspective, a girlfriend’s, an aunt’s, a wife’s, or a student’s, Latiolais exquisitely distills the anguish, longing, humor, and strange grace that accompanies life’s most transformative chapters.

This week’s Free Book Friday is sponsored by Bellevue Literary Press (BLP).

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Is art based on real events wrecking storytelling? My answer: no.

The Guardian’s William Skidelsky claims that fiction based on real-life events are “meagre offerings that cannot escape the confines of their reality-bound aspirations.” The two purposes of storytelling, those which have endured since the art was born, are 1) to entertain and 2) to reveal some truth about the human condition. But I fail to see how fact-based fiction doesn’t satisfy both those points.

Obviously, not all fact-based fiction is the same, and I’d tend to agree that a film or book or what-have-you that essentially recreates a real-life experience scene-for-scene, taking very few creative liberties in the process, could hardly be considered art. But a work of fiction that takes a real event and seeks to tease out motifs, metaphors, and hidden meanings? That works to elevate fact? Sounds like proper storytelling to me.

What do you think?

More: Books

We now have a Tumblr blog acting as a virtual multimedia slush pile. Use it to post stories, videos, comics, text, etc, that you either created yourself or found online. We’ll post 99% of submissions on the Tumblr blog, and the best stuff we’ll republish here, with full credits. You can submit here.

More: Briefs / Lit Drift

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