Tag Archives: Jamie Iredell

Shelf Talker Shelf Talker Shelf Talker…

What the heck is a Shelf Talker you ask?

It’s one of those pieces of cardstock paper you see on a bookstore’s shelf that tells you when an employee really loves a book and wants to draw attention to it. I think the best bookstores are the ones full of passionate readers always willing to share their literary discoveries while also cultivating a sense of community. You can learn a lot about a bookstore’s collective personality by scanning what they choose to give shelf talkers to. I have been to a couple of bookstores where there are NO shelf talkers at all and it always jars me a little, like the store is saying: “You’re on your own here. We are not excited about anything and we have no opinions.”

Oof. What a downer.

Bookstores: Show us your shelf talkers!!

Last year, at work, we introduced a whole line of new shelf talker designs to freshen up the look of the store. That’s cool and everything, but (like a bibliophile hoarder) I am a little sad about throwing away some of my old stand-bys. I love making shelf talkers for my small press section. I think it has really helped a lot of readers discover new talent through the past fourteen years I’ve been in charge of it.

So before I tossed them in the recycling, I took photos of some of my favorites and decided I’d post them here (about 140 more are not pictured). That way, they live FOREVER! Enjoy this journey–and read these books!

(click on the pic to make it bigger)

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For Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City (Dark Sky Press)

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The first shelf talker I wrote for Gary Lutz, when 3rd Bed republished Stories In the Worst Way.

The first shelf talker I wrote for Gary Lutz, when 3rd Bed republished Stories In the Worst Way.

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Another book that we've sold a ton of at Powell's.

Another book that we’ve sold a ton of at Powell’s.

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Zachary Lipez, Stacey Wakefield, and Nick Zinner did a great reading for this book at Powell’s back in 2010.

I was so excited to introduce Chelsea Martin's magic to the world.

I was so excited to introduce Chelsea Martin’s magic to the world.

I think this was for Greg's first book, I Have Touched You.

I think this was for Greg’s first book, I Have Touched You.

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For CA Conrad

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I love Spork Books!

I love Spork Books!

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Proof of my early love of all things Iredell.

Proof of my early love of all things Iredell.

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My favorite literary journal.

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We've sold so many copies of Ghost Machine. One of my all-time faves.

We’ve sold so many copies of Ghost Machine. One of my all-time faves.

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Still pretty obscure, SJB was one of my first writing influences.

Still pretty obscure, SJB was one of my first writing influences.

I still think this is kind of a minimalist classic.

I still think this is kind of a minimalist classic. By Paul Fattarusso.

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Like how I burned the edges?

Like how I burned the edges?

The first shelf talker for Chloe's classic.

The first shelf talker for Chloe’s classic.

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What the Heck Am I Doing?

Well, I was planning on laying low this summer, but after updating my Events page, I realize I am actually pretty dang busy. Go check it out.

I’m also hosting an event with my fellow Future Tenser Bryan Coffelt on August 3rd at Colonel Summers Park. Outdoors! In the shade of trees! BYOB! The readers will be three of my favorite people: Amelia Gray, Matthew Simmons, and James Gendron (a poet I’m pretty obsessed with right now). Details here.

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In the meantime, Mr. Coffelt and I are also putting the finishing touches on the paperback reprint of Gary Lutz’s book, Partial List of People of Bleach. It’s going to be as amazing as you’d expect a Lutz collection to be. At the same time, we’ve started work on putting together the fall Future Tense release, a collection of personal essays by Jamie Iredell. We’re still wrestling with titles ideas. Jamie will be in Portland for Wordstock and we’re hoping to have copies of his book by then (first weekend of October).

In other news, the audiobook of my memoir, A Common Pornography, was just released by Audible. If you’re an audiobook fan and aren’t hooked into Audible, you really should be. They’re producing some great stuff. They did the audio book for Chloe Caldwell too. And they’ll be doing the audio version of my novel, This Is Between Us, as well. Rumor has it, that they’re also going to do a bunch of audiobooks of the Akashic Noir series, including Portland Noir, which I edited in 2009.

Writing-wise, I seem to have picked up on some poetry mojo and have written a good dozen or more poems in the last couple of months. I read one as the surprise guest at Dena Rash Guzman’s book release party recently while Ryan Werner danced in spandex pants and cowboy boots. I ended up riding on Ryan’s shoulders by the end of the poem (it was called Rock Criticism).

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I have my own page on Ink Node if you wanna read some poems. I also have some appearing soon on Sink Review and elsewhere.

In the more journalistic side of things, I also have a article in the current Poets & Writers Magazine about people who are kick-ass live readers. You gotta buy the mag to read it but they also ran this cool web-only feature with clips from the people I interviewed (Almond, Lisick, McClanahan, Heald, Zhang, Kennedy, Nutting, D. Brown).

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Speaking of Alissa Nutting, I am crowning her saucy novel, Tampa, my fave of the year so far. And I talked to her about it for Tin House. That woman is tearing up the summer reading lists right about now, and for good reason.

Non-bookish stuff? TV stuff? Our household has been really into The Killing this season (the last Jonathan Demme-directed episode was amazing) as well as The Bridge and the new season of Wilfred (so depraved and funny). I also like that Amy Schumer show quite a bit. And we can’t wait for Breaking Bad, of course.

That’s all for now. Stay cool out there, friends. See you soon.

I’m a Busy Man, Man!

That’s what the Atticus Review says anyhow.

Jamie Iredell did a fun interview with me there plus they published a few more excerpts from my novel-in-progress and a bonus fiction called “Fire Sale.”

Oh–and I’m doing a talk at the Wilsonville Library this Sunday afternoon for their Northwest Author Series.

As for today, after being at work all day, I’m now going to make myself a drink, do a little reading (Amelia Gray’s Threats and Mark Leidner’s Beauty Was the Case That They Gave Me), and pack up a few more orders for the Chloe Caldwell book that I just published. Maybe I’ll get some writing in there somewhere too.

This Book stretches my head!

Thanks–and have a sweet day!

AWP 4EVA

I had a great time at AWP this past week. There were so many people to see, meet, and say hello to that it’s really kind of an impossible mission to complete. Someone should make a video game out of it to inspire kids to become writers. It would be like: I have to make it to the Hobart table before they run out of magic juice (whiskey)…I have to make it to the Sun Magazine reading to see Cheryl Strayed and get 500 points…I have to find Lindsay Hunter and give her a high five…I have to avoid that dude with the long beard who keeps submitting manuscripts to me…I have to meet the guys from McSweeney’s and have a discussion about irony for 800 points and a bronze coin with Dave Eggers’s face on it…I have to try to remember who that guy is who wrote that poem I liked in that new lit journal…AAAAAARRRRRGGGH! I’ve been stabbed by Jamie Iredell!!

GAME OVER. (well, I imagine an AWP video game would be pretty close to that anyhow)

But AWP is also like a yearly class reunion made up mostly of your good friends and Internet celebrities.

Here are some of my AWP 2012 highlights in no particular order.

1. Seeing a killer line-up at the YesYes reading at Columbia, which included my pal Emily Kendal Frey and one of my favorite poets, Ben Mirov, whom I met for the first time. He was freaking great. He reads kind of like a loud robot (sorry, Ben, but it was AWESOME!) and I can’t wait for his next book from Octopus as well as this thing. Also reading that night was the surreal southern charmer Nate Slawson and the fantastic Mark Leidner, whose reading was the best I saw on the trip. His poem, Memoirs of a Secret Agent, was one of the weirdest and most entertaining things I’ve heard in a long time.

2. Chloe Caldwell’s book, Legs Get Led Astray, made its debut at the conference. CC and I hung out a lot and sold almost all of the copies we had of her book at the Future Tense table and at her readings. The book, which comes out officially next month on Future Tense, is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever edited. Here’s the happy author with one of our favorite people, Mark Cugini.

MC & CC

3. I rented a car for Chicago. I guess I didn’t realize that it costs like $50 an hour to park in Chicago. Plus, the lady voice in the GPS would often send me on the wrong route, which made me lost and late to a few events. In hindsight though, I guess it was pretty entertaining to drive around aimlessly in a huge white Dodge Charger with Chloe Caldwell and Bryan Coffelt punching buttons on the GPS.

4. I snagged my contributor copy of the new Fairy Tale Review at their booth and chatted with the lovely weirdos, Alissa Nutting and Kate Bernheimer.

I'm all up in this beautiful thing.

5. Met some awesome folks for the first time like Molly Gaudry (The Lit Pub), Jimmy Chen (HTMLGIANT), Matthew Salesses (PANK), Joseph Riippi (“A Cloth House”), Jen Companik (Triquarterly), Zach Wilson (musician/writer whose couch I crashed on), Andrew Shuta (Spork Press), Gary Sheppard (Kitty Snacks), xTx (“Normally Special”), Marion Winik (Above Us Only Sky), Lily Hoang (HTMLGIANT), Sy Safransky (The Sun Magazine), and Sam Pink (“No Hellos Diet”).

6. Books! I didn’t really get a ton of books but I did get the following: Meat Heart by Melissa Broder, Treesisters by Joseph Riippi, a bunch of stuff from Spork Press, and an issue of Oxford American.

7. My friend, Joseph Lappie (who used to work with me at Powell’s back in the day, but now lives and does book arts in Iowa) gave me a stack of these beautiful mini-broadsides.  I’m trying to figure out how to distribute these to interested folks. If you want one, let me know. We’ll work out a deal.

Printed by the amazing Joseph Lappie. He's also printed work by Aaron Burch and Farrah Field recently.

8. I got to be on a pretty fun panel about chapbook publishing (specifically fiction chapbooks) and I got to do a fun reading with Adam Robinson, Vanessa Place, Amelia Gray, and special surprise guests, Chloe Caldwell and Blake Butler. Thanks to the Ear Eater folks for that awesomeness.

Thanks for reading, folks! I hope to make it to next year’s AWP as well–in Boston. The year after that it’ll be in Seattle. That means no rental car. Hallelujah!

 

Scott McClanahan: What’s Up With Those Book Covers?

When I discovered the stories of Scott McClanahan last year, I was instantly enthralled with his natural storytelling voice and freaky funny tales. There’s no pretense to Scott’s work. It’s like you’re just dropped right into the middle of these fantastic and true stories. It’s like a sweet blend of my favorite southern writers, Larry Brown and Harry Crews. Reading McClanahan is like listening to a good friend telling you his best real-life stories on your back porch on a humid night. And you both got a nice whiskey buzz going.

And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that’s what this Friday night at Ampersand will be like. Scott makes his first northwest appearance at a special outdoor, back patio reading with Portlanders Patrick deWitt (The Brothers Sisters) and Jenny Forrester (Guns, God, and Irony). It starts at 7:30 and there’s free beer from Ninkasi. A good time and hella-great stories are guaranteed. He’s also reading in Seattle on Saturday night.

But what’s up with those covers?! I didn’t mind the first one but the 2nd and 3rd books from the West Virginian sport the weirdest, goofiest cover images I’ve seen in a while.

I looooove Scott McClanahan like a brother, but I had to have a heart-to-heart with him about those covers and other stuff. Here’s what he had to say…

Mr. McClanahan

I like your first book cover, but I thought the 2nd one was kind of gross. Probably because I have a thing about feet (it’s somewhere between a fetish and an aversion). It took me forever to realize there are six toes on that foot. Where the heck did you get this image and why the heck did you put it on a book cover?

To be honest, I just stole it.   I’m actually in the middle of a lawsuit right now over it.   We have the Holler Presents lawyers working it out.   This is going to be a landmark case though and set a real precedent for people who want to use a foot with six toes on it for a book cover.   I’ll keep you posted.

I decided to use this picture for the cover of Stories II because originally there was a story in the book called “Six Toed Russell.”   It was about a friend of mine who had six toes on both feet.  We used to go into coal miner bars and bet drunken rednecks that Russell had six toes.   There is no better way to get free beer than when your buddy has six toes.   The story “Six Toed Russell” was eventually cut from the book, so I was kind of stuck with the cover.

It’s not a joke or anything.   That image feels like a religious image to me, or like a totem of some sort (I’d throw the other covers into this as well).   There was a group of ancient people here in West Virginia called the mound builders.   The National Geographic Society unearthed one of their burial mounds in the early part of the 20th century and they found the skeleton of a man who stood 8 feet tall (8 and a half in heels).   There was evidence in the tomb that this man had been treated like a king in his lifetime, and then worshipped like a god afterwards.

I think genetic abnormalities pretty much explain all religion when it comes down to it—Shiva, Osiris, etc.

Genetic abnormalities make good book covers.

What’s the deal with the cover of Stories V. I looked at it for a while trying to figure out if there was a joke in there somewhere, like maybe she had three ears or a mustache but I didn’t see either. What kind of creepy sexist bullshit is this, man?

My first response to this question would be, “How do you know it’s a woman?”

We were going for a Myron/Myra Breckenridge vibe.   I’ve always described the individual on the cover as “a person.”   It’s the folks on the blogs who keep bitching about “the woman” on the cover.

The problem was we picked the picture (we had a few to choose from) without a real prominent adam’s apple (instead of picking the one where it was obvious).   We decided to be subtle and being subtle always creates confusion.   You have to bang people over the head with something before they get it.

Of course, you should never underestimate the self righteousness of identity politics or independent literature for that matter.   We live in a world of being ashamed about our secret feelings—our secret lusts, desires, objectifications, prejudices, the nasty little parts of ourselves we don’t want to fess up to having.   We can show scars, but we can’t show our pimples.   There are so many Jerry Falwells out there labeling things, and 90% of the time they don’t even understand the objects they’re labeling.

Covers should confront you, piss you off, and contradict what’s in between their pages.   I say let’s bury good taste once and for all.    

What do you think will be on your next book cover?

I’m starting to like the idea of just a face.   I don’t even like the idea of my name on the book or the title of the book anymore.   I also hate blurbs. I think we should pick books the way we choose our mates.  So I think we should just have covers of our ugly faces.   I’m tired of people hiding behind abstract art covers and “pseudonyms.”  

I write under the name my mommy gave me.   We should publish our books under the face our mother gave us too.

There’s a great cover Grove Press did with the Complete Plays of Joe Orton where it’s just this extreme close-up of Orton’s face.  I like that.

Mr. Gian Ditrapano has some great ideas for the cover of Hill William though, but I’ll hold those cards close to my chest right now.

What are your favorite book covers lately?

The cover for Jamie Iredell’s Book of Freaks is great (and I’m not just saying that because of who is asking the questions).    I love the covers Sam Pink has been doing with his Lazy Fascist Press books.   There’s an energy to those covers that the minimalism of the moment just can’t touch.   Tao Lin’s Richard Yates and Mike Young’s Look! Look! Feathers! are pretty amazing covers too.

We’re living in an age of prog-rock when it comes to covers. We need to punch it in the face. No more paintings of animals! No more line drawings! No more brown! Please!

Nobody is buying these books anyway, so let’s have some fun.

 Are you excited about coming to the northwest?

I couldn’t be more excited   I feel like Lewis and Clark.   I have such a horrible fear of flying that it’s ridiculous though.   I get on a plane a couple of times a year and each time it’s a panic attack.   I’ve tried flying drunk or drugged up, but then it’s just being drunk or drugged up and having a panic attack.

I always hear Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” in my head when I fly, or the last line the Holly character from the movie Labamba says, “Don’t worry, Richie.   The sky belongs to the stars.”  

Of course, then they fall from the sky.

I’m getting ready to have a panic attack right now.  Stop thinking about Buddy Holly.   Stop thinking about Buddy Holly. Think Lewis and Clark.  Think Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark it is!

Dancing In The Mirror

I sometimes wonder: if a musician dances to their own music, isn’t that kind of arrogant? Is it like an author cracking up at his own jokes at a reading?

Also: I’m hosting this reading at Ampersand on March 5th, along with Michael Schaub of Bookslut. It’s going to be awesome!


Marriage, Staples, Freaks…

Alright, 2011! It only took you two weeks to change my life!

On January 15th, I got married to the beautiful B. Frayn Masters.

B. Frayn Masters Sampsell

I will put up some more wedding photos soon, I hope. Just waiting for friends to send their pics from the ceremony.

You may know B. Frayn from her smash hit storytelling series, Back Fence PDX, or her own writing. If not, get with the program, because everything she does is golden. Her next big show is Entertainment For People 4, which is on February 23rd at The Woods.

In other event news, I’ve been organizing the next Smallpressapalooza, the annual celebration of small press writers at Powell’s Books. This year includes folks like James Gendron, Nicole Georges, Jennifer Denrow, Alissa Nutting, and Suzanne Burns. More details on that as it gets closer.

Speaking of small press, I wrote this article for The Center For Fiction’s new website about how to start your own little press. It’s pretty much a behind the scenes look at what I’ve been doing for the past couple of decades (stapling, stapling, stapling).

The newest book on Future Tense though, is a fancy paperback tome called The Book of Freaks by Jamie Iredell. It will be out really soon, but in the meantime, the book’s trailer (created by cover artists Bryan Coffelt and Brian David Smith) has been creating a buzz with various mentions on blogs and international newspapers. Check it out.

Jamie will be touring soon for the book, doing a bunch of west coast readings with Mike Young, one of my favorite young writers out there. Watch out for that. Their Portland stop will be March 5th.

Alrighty, folks. I’ll be back with an update in early February.

In the meantime, I have been tweeting a little more these days–most recently about fashion! One of my favorite trivial things to be cranky about. Come follow me!

Stay warm!