Books I picked up at AWP, part I.

I came home with nearly fifteen pounds of new novels, CDs, poetry collections, journals, magazines, and textbooks at AWP last weekend. Today, in no particular order, I list half of the publications I picked up. Expect the second half of the list on Thursday…

The Chattahoochee Review sold back issues at dirt-bottom prices (I received three issues for a buck). Each issue has a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as both established and new writers. I like reading small press journals because it tells me what sort of stories are being accepted for submissions. Of course, I still write what I want to write, but knowing what’s getting published is helpful, too.

At the same table as the Chattahoochee Review was New South. They say never choose a book by its cover, but I’m a sucker for great cover art, and the cover to their latest issue caught my eye. The publication from Georgia State University publishes poetry, prose, and visual art, and that’s a combination I can get behind. Formerly the “GSU Review,” I picked up the premiere issue of New South – Volume 1, Number 1.

The gentleman at Action Books was kind enough to point me to Melville Press to pick up Bed and Eeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin, his first collection of short stories and novel, respectively. You can read about my chance meeting with Lin from my reflections on AWP post on Sunday evening.

This short story collection from Akashic Books was too cool to pass up. Twin Cities writers place stories of crime and classic noir-style in the Minnesota metro area, and I’m a sucker for anything set in Minnesota. Akashic has a whole line of geographic-centric noir, from classics like Los Angeles to new places like Baltimore and even international cities like Dublin.

Ordinary Women by Sue Carter, the nonfiction tale of the first all-female Arctic sled dog team, was a pick for the fiancée, who enjoys stories of nonfiction, female empowerment, and the cold. Well, that may be my wishful thinking stretching it a bit, but she does really like Ice Bound, anyway, so I thought this may be a good pick for her.

Remember my issue with judging books by their covers? I judge books by their titles, too. So of course, a title with “improv” caught my eye, and the title poem of Improvising Rivers by Minnesota-native poet David Jauss is amazing. The speaker tells of how when they try to center themselves, they conjure up rivers and let their imagination improvise its twist and turns. I found out from one of my poetry professors, Dick Terrill, that Jauss is a jazz musician (which fits improv nicely) and co-wrote a book with Philip Dacey called Strong Measures, an anthology showing how poets take old forms and “jazz” them up into something new. Unfortunately, Strong Measures is too expensive to use in a classroom, but Improvising Rivers cost me a fiver and it was money well-spent.

Speaking of teaching books in the classroom, I picked up a review copy of They Say, I Say by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein over at the Norton booth. This pocket-sized how-to-write-for-academia text is supposedly the new rage in teaching English Composition, so I’d best give it a look in case I want to switch things up the next time I teach a section of Composition.

Norton also gave me a review copy of New Sudden Fiction edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. I’m a fan of Thomas’s previous editorial effort, Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories, and taught out of it last fall in a section of Introduction to Creative Writing. The stories are longer and there appears to be no overlap, though part of what made Flash Fiction successful last semester was how short the reading assignments were; I really think students enjoyed that.

Crosscurrents is an art, poetry, and prose collection from Washington Community College and Technical College Humanities Association seeking to get the two-year college writer’s voice heard. A free issue was at the two-year college caucus booth and I’m eager to give this one a look.

I also snagged a copy of the latest issue of Passages North from Northern Michigan University. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear they’ve updated their website since mid-2007 (hopefully someone isn’t spending their GA time browsing the internet instead of contributing to it), so I don’t have a cover to post. However, the issue I picked up has two pieces of short fiction by one of my former MFA classmates, Ben Drevlow.

That’s around half of the publications I picked up last weekend. Again, expect the other half of the list up on Thursday.


[tags]AWP, awp book fair, akashic, action books, tao lin, chattahoochee review, new south, twin cities noir, david jauss, ordinary women, crosscurrents, passages north, they say / i say, sudden fiction, flash fiction, melville[/tags]

2 thoughts on “Books I picked up at AWP, part I.”

Leave a Comment