Since the 1999 debut of his first novel, The Fuck-Up (MTV books), a tragicomedy set against the seedy backdrop of the early 80s East Village, Arthur Nersesian has acquired a devoted following of readers who hearken to his underworld of sexual danger and urban claustrophobia. Nersesians subsequent five novelsall of them first-person narratives from the point of view of actors, writers, artists and other misfits surviving the hostile but inspiring environment of a darker, recently bygone New York Citycombine tightly-woven plotlines with a certain sense of the mythic as his characters struggle with sex, work, love and mortality.
Christopher Felvers assemblage of images and text for Beat evokes the ephemeral sense of a photo-album or personal scrapbook. The typewritten dedicatory page of Howl appears alongside the invitation letter Allen Ginsberg wrote in 1955 to the mythic 6 Poets at 6 Gallery event.
Both Ugly Duckling Presse and Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs call special attention to the craft of bookmaking: their publications prominently feature handmade pieces and place a strong emphasis on visual elements. These presses provide just two examples of the large body of unique work being produced by an increasingly populous independent publishing community.
Katherine Arnoldi’s new book of stories, All Things Are Labor, is roughly, very roughly, sliced in half, with the first part made up of stylized, experimental pieces/stories, which contain the same type of material that the second half treats in a plainer, more realistic vein. The stories in both halves of the work feature protagonists who are either girls being raised by single moms or are single mothers themselves. They are usually lapsed or practicing Mennonites and live either in the Midwest or on the Lower East Side.
In The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W.G. Sebald, interviews and critical essays expose the tactile reality of a writer who so often dealt with intangible emotions.
Ned Noogie Krapczack is a classic Knipfel charactera shlubby film junkie who lives in Jersey City with his irascible mother and a cat named Dillinger. For years Noogie restocked ATM machines in and around New York City for PiggyBank Inc. without ever thinking twice about the cash he drove around and handled like so many peanuts.
We are a nation of secrets. We come from far away places, fleeing our past. We come from faraway states in the nation, and faraway states of being. But it is fundamental to the American experience that, every day, just waking up in the same place as always, we can begin anew. It is not always easy, it is not always successful, but it is there: the promise of rebirth.
Malcolm Macphersons new novel, Hocus Potus, a brave and successful attempt at absurd realism. Labeled the Catch 22 of the Iraq War by Melville House, the novel resembles more of a Dr. Strangelove, blending fantasy with the stark apocalyptic reality of a nation at war at home and abroad.
A good poet can walk a mile in the vernacular of another person and refine their essence. Allan Kaplan has walked many miles and often speaks in the voice of a character. But no matter who is speaking—the “hired man…the pensioned bargeman of the Moselle…the scholar of China”—they all sound like one thing—a good poet!