Books I picked up at AWP, part II.

Continuing from Tuesday, here’s a post to round out my AWP book fair spoils. In no particular order…

I’ve been putting off picking up the latest novel by favorite writer Kevin Brockmeier simply because I want to give The Brief History of the Dead my full attention, and I’ve been too busy with required reading to give it its due. However, the gentleman selling it told me he brought Brockmeier’s books along simply because he enjoyed them so much, and he gave me a swell discount and offered to ship it free, plus let me sneak a peek at the proofed galleys of Brockmeier’s forthcoming novel, The View From the Seventh Layer. Keen-eyed readers will remember I’m a big fan of Brockmeier’s short fiction, though I have yet to dive into his longer work. Here’s hoping that once the semester settles down, I’ll get to settle in to one of his novels, and quite possibly the one I ordered last weekend.

Every once in a while, a writer comes across a book or story or concept they were born to write, only someone beat them to it. I can’t say I was born to write Comedy By the Numbers, but as soon as I heard about it, I knew it was the kind of book I wished I’d written first. This faux-handbook of funny is a satire on satire, and that in itself is worth the price of admission. Plus, while I can’t speak for co-author Gary Rudoren except to say I’m sure he’s nice, other-co-author Eric Hoffman was a Mr. Show writer, and that (combined with this book coming from McSweeney’s) is enough to get me excited. If it isn’t enough for you, check out the promo videos satirizing old elementary school film strips at

Arkansas by John Brandon is the most-expensive book I picked up last weekend, and I’m not too excited that the McSweeney’s guy told me I was getting an advanced copy. As far as I can tell now that I’m home, it’s at Amazon for $15, seven bucks less than I bought it for, and already available. Perhaps I can take comfort in the blurb on the back which proclaims it a perfect blend of Denis Johnson (Emergency, Jesus’ Son) and Elmore Leonard (Out of Sight, Jackie Brown, Get Shorty).

So speaking of McSweeney’s, um, this is rather embarrassing, but I picked up a McSweeney’s collection and I have no idea what it’s called, and since it’s being shipped to me, I don’t have a cover to show you, and since I have no idea what it’s called, I can’t look up the cover on the interweb. Um… It was about humor. Something like a “best of” McSweeney’s humor, I believe. Yes, yes that must be it. I’m sure it will be like literary cheese – sharp, tangy, and delicious.

Marginalia. No, not the Marginalia from Western State College of Colorado, who published a story by one of my professors, Diana Joseph, but the Marginalia from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Spluh. It appears to be more about the program and interviewing writers than about inserting creative writing content. At any rate, it has some content by Charlie Jensen, and I’ll take a look.

Richard Peabody is a guy who loves good story, and he’s been publishing quite a few in Gargoyle. I picked up an old issue at last year’s book fair with a great Nick Cave story right around the time the overlooked Nick Cave-penned, Guy Pierce-starring western The Proposition came out. This year, I picked up two back issues of Gargoyle on CD – issues #52 and #49 – as well as Kiss the Sky – Fiction and Poetry Starring Jimi Hendrix. I saw the collection and immediately thought of two sixteen-year-old guys I work with in youth group. In fact, last night I let them borrow the collection and they were excited to check it out. And who said you couldn’t get a teenage boy to read poetry? All it takes is the subject matter of a rock god, a bunch of writers willing to tackle the subject, and someone like Richard Peabody to bring it all together. I hope the guys enjoy the book, and I’m hopeful it will make the rounds.

Careful readers will realize the Poetry Foundation gave out the best buttons at the book fair, but they also gave out two free CD, The Play List and Poetry Everywhere. They’re a great resource for hearing brilliant poems read via podcast; I haven’t reviewed the CDs yet, but I hope they’re full of something good.

Ah, Tinhouse. I met editor Rob Spillman at AWP last year when he was on a panel about small-but-popular literary journals and he gave me a subscription for $20, which is a nice price, indeed, for four issues full of established and new writers, plus a free issue (#29 The Graphics Issue) at the table. This year, the folks running the table were kind enough to let me re-subscribe for $20 and take another free issue, so I took #30, which my subscription skipped. If you don’t know Tin House, you need to get on board. It’s extremely difficult to get in, but that’s probably part of what makes it such a solid publication – they’re only putting the best in there. They do theme issues and feature gorgeous cover art, and what’s inside is a pure delight. Get on the Tin House train; it’s only $20.

And that’s that. I picked up some submission information for this publication and business cards for that publication, but made a promise to myself that once the mini-suitcase I’d packed away just for books was full, my book-buying was over. At any rate, I have a lot of reading ahead of me.


[tags]AWP, AWP book fair, Richard Peabody, Gargoyle, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss the Sky, Poetry Foundation, Marginalia, Diana Joseph, Arkansas, McSweeney’s, Comedy by the Numbers, Rob Spillman, Tin House, Tinhouse, John Brandon, Kevin Brockmeier, Brief History of the Dead, too many books[/tags]

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