Dylan D. Debelis’s poetry and vignette collection The Garage? Just Torch It. was published earlier this week from Vine Leaves Press. A semi-finalist in the Vine Leaves Annual Vignette Collection Award (submissions currently open until February 28), this collection is, according to the Vine Leaves website, a “rally cry for the healing power of wonder and the disarming catharsis of grief.” Debelis “balances themes of belonging, love, politics, illness, family and forgiveness with stunning imagery and an intense playfulness.” Paperback and e-book copies are available at the publisher’s website.
Published by BkMk earlier in the month was Bonnie Bolling’s The Red Hijab. The poetry collection won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry, selected by H.L. Hix in 2015, and is written from the perspective of an American poet living in the Middle East. In his foreword to the collection, Hix says it “does not pretend divine perspective, and does not purport to have an answer to the conflicts reported in the news. It does, though, adopt an alternative form of attention and offer an alternative kind of account.” This results in a “more complex portrait than the news presents.” Stop by the publisher’s website to learn more about The Red Hijab.
With November practically over, let’s take a timeout to look back at award-winning small press and university press books published in the past few months.
In September, Rules for Lying by Anne Corbitt was published by the Southeast Missouri State University Press. Winner of the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel, Rules for Lying follows characters through a police investigation that makes them question their memories, allegiances, and actions, all while hiding secrets of their own. Check out the publisher’s website for more information.
Earlier in November, The Ashland Poetry Press released Life As It by Daneen Wardrop. The collection was selected by David St. John as the winner of the 2015 Snyder Memorial Prize Contest. The collection of prose poems (Wardrop’s third collection) features themes of music, family life, spirituality, and more. Check out the publisher’s website for multiple ways to order copies.
Also out this November is The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham, winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction. The stories explore the psyches of characters, most displaced and disturbed, under extreme duress. Judge Chris Offutt called the collection “a carefully rendered examination of memory, loss, and sadness.” University of North Texas Press’s website has a preview of Buckingham’s collection and ways to order.
Check out these three award-winning books and show your support to small and university presses.
At the beginning of the month, Washington Writers’ Publishing House published the winner of the 2016 Fiction Prize: Strivers and Other Stories by Robert J. Williams.
From the publisher:
Set between the 1920s and the present day, Strivers and Other Stories explores a range of African-American and Southern voices reflecting characters striving towards their versions of the American dream. In 13 stories, we meet teachers and doctors, train porters and factory workers, soldiers and musicians; mothers, fathers, children and spouses; mentors and mentees. With a mix of humor and heart, satire and sentiment, this collection captures their everyday struggles for better lives and their hopes for promising futures.
Learn more at the publisher’s website.
The fall season seems to be flying by, so let’s hit pause to look back at the award-winning books published in the past few months.
Back in September, Truman State University Press published Daughter, Daedalus by Alison D. Moncrief Bromage, winner of the 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize Winner. Jennifer Clement, contest judge, calls the collection “both original and very often masterful,” with an “elevated High Church intention [ . . . ] that T. S. Eliot would have recognized.” Copies are available digitally and in print at the press’s website.
Also published in September was the winner of Southeast Missouri State University Press’s Nilsen Prize for a First Novel: Rules for Lying by Anne Corbitt. Rules for Lying is a timely novel that explores the accusations and characters involved in an alleged rape, and how the families and the town they live in react, incriminate, and take sides. More information is available at the publisher’s website.
Moving on to October, Allegra Hyde’s Of This New World, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, was released. Judge Bennet Simms calls it “an ambitious and memorable debut.” In twelve stories, Hyde writes with a mix of lyricism humor, and masterful detail. Check out the University of Iowa Press website for more information.
And finally, Josh Rathkamp won the 2016 Georgetown Review Press Poetry Manuscript Contest with his collection A Storm to Close the Door. Terrance Hayes calls the collection stunning with poems that “are often quick-witted and charming, but they never shy away from their meditations and quotidian American blues.” SPD has A Storm to Close the Door available for purchase.
This past October, Noemi Press released the winner of the 2015 Noemi Press Poetry Award: Bone Confetti by Muriel Leung. Leung's first poetry collection, Bone Confetti reveals "there are two types of survivors at the end of the world.” Ash confetti “floats between funeral and parade, wedding and hell. When all that is left is the terrible residue of memory, lovers and ghosts try their best to make do [ . . . ] in an attempt to fashion a new sense of humanity.” Check out the Noemi Press website for more information and copies.
Looking ahead to December, the 2015 Winner of the Noemi Press Fiction Award will be released. Uncountry: a mythology by Yanara Friedland. The novel is “a collection of narratives that aim to expand creative pathways into historical space, particularly histories of migration and displacement.” Divided into four sections, each section explores “The gaps bweteen ‘remembered’ official history and the more unreliable spaces of private memory and unspoken unofficial history.” Copies of Uncountry are available for pre-order at the Noemi Press website.
[Quotes from SPD website]
Pint-Size Publications, publisher of literary magazine Sport Literate, introduces their very first nonfiction, single-author book: A Proficiency in Billiards: Reflections from a Well-Traveled Life by Lance Mason. Mason first came to the editors’ attention with his essay “In the Lair of the Red Dragon,” published in an issue of Sport Literate earlier in the year.
A Proficiency in Billiards, Mason’s first essay collection, takes readers from his home base in South California where he stood “eyewitness to pool hustlers and drag racers in the 1960s” to travels throughout the world, including New Zealand, Ireland, Greece, and Yugoslavia, just to name a few. Readers are invited along Mason’s travels, all from the comfort of their homes.
Keep an eye on Pint-Size Publications to see what they’ll have on tap next, and head to their website to order copies of A Proficiency in Billiards.
Author Cass R. Sunstein introduces his 2016 book, The World According to Star Wars (HarperCollins) humbly enough:
I’m going to be covering some diverse topics here, including the nature of human attachment, whether timing is everything, how to rank the seven Star Wars movies, why Martin Luther King Jr. was a conservative, how boys need their mothers, the workings of the creative imagination, the fall of Communism, the Arab Spring, changing understandings of human rights, whether The Force Awakens was a triumph or a disappointment, the limits of human attention, and whether Star Wars really is better than Star Trek.
With the exception of that last point, which I still find open to debate, one of the joys of this book is that Mr. Sunstein accomplishes the tasks he sets out in a quick reading, well-documented short book that combines playful romps of unabashed Star Wars fandom with high level reviews of politics, psychology, sociology, behavioral economics, and film critique. The book is engaging for nerfherders and Jedi Knights, alike.
[Guest post by Chris Curtis. Chris teaches psychology at Delta College: www.delta.edu/clcurtis.]
“I wanted to remember the absences that online life had replaced with constant content, constant connection. I’ve remembered what it is to be free in the world, free from the obliterating demands of five hundred ‘contacts.’”Author Michael Harris shares this journal entry near the end of an “Analog August” (a self-enforced month without a smartphone and other internet devices) in his 2014 book, The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection (The Penguin Group). Mr. Harris examines the loss of absence from the perspective of the digital immigrant generation—those of an age to recall life both before and after the ubiquitous online world. Do you remember what it was like to cast an empty gaze out the window of the car on a long family trip? To vaguely wonder what the couple down the street was discussing as you waited for your bus? Do you remember being alone with your thoughts and just . . . being? Mr. Harris takes a digital immigrant journey of exploration through our technology-infused society and technology-induced angst, culminating in his own attempt to recapture absence.
Since 2013, Noemi Press and Letras Latinas (the literary imitative at the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame) have been co-publishing under the Akrilica Series to showcase innovative Latino writing.
You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior by Carolina Ebeid joins the ranks of the Akrilica Series, published in September 2016. Ebeid’s first book, You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior has been called “a book of listening and responding and listening again” (Shane McCrae) that uses “[t]he voice of a mother, of lover, of friend” (Julie Carr).
With October here, it’s time to announce a couple of the award-winning books slated for publication this month.Winner of the 2016 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, Of This New World by Allegra Hyde, hit the shelves earlier this month. The collection starts at the Garden of Eden and ends on a Mars colony, each story wrestling with “conflicts of idealism and practicality, communal ambition and individual kink,” and asking the fundamental human question: “Is paradise really so impossible?” Of This New World is Hyde’s first collection, and it’s now available at the University of Iowa Press website (now currently on sale for the frugal reader!).
Love Give Us One Death: Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days by Jeff P. Jones is the winner of the 2015 George Garrett Fiction Prize. Final Judge Tracy Daugherty says the book of the two famous outlaws shows “larger dimensions: the spiritual shadows and compulsive needs from which our nation springs and through which it has found its many forms of speech.” This is Jones’s first book, and copies are available from the Texas A&M University Press website.