Tag Archives: A Common Pornography

It’s List Time Again

It’s that time of year when a bunch of year-end lists start popping up everywhere and I’m glad to say that A Common Pornography has landed on a couple of them.

Every year–especially now in the 21st century–there are so many books published, so I feel fortunate and grateful to people who liked my book enough to still remember it and talk about it months later. Jonathan Messinger at Time Out Chicago calls it one of the “best unexpected books” of 2010. The Book Lady’s Blog says it’s one of the best memoirs of 2010, and Jason Diamond lists it in his Top 10 over at Vol. One Brooklyn.

I even talked about some of my faves of the year at Big Other.

I want to thank everyone for such a great year. 2010 was maybe the best year of my life so far. 2011 should be pretty great too. I’m hoping to finish up the novel I’m working on, This Is Between Us. I’m publishing some killer books by Jamie Iredell, Myriam Gurba, and Shane Allison. And I’m starting out the year by getting married (January 15th) to my long-time love and best friend, B. Frayn Masters.

I’ll make sure to share more photos with you in the weeks ahead!

The Essay You’ve All Been Waiting For

Well, at least I’ve been waiting for it. I wrote it earlier this year and now it’s out. Snip Tuck: A Simple Vasectomy Goes Wrong is in this week’s Portland Mercury, which means all sorts of people in the town I live in will be reading it for free and then pointing at me and laughing. Yeah, yeah, verrry funny, people. And if you don’t live in Portland, you can of course read it on their web site.

In other news, I’m very excited that A Common Pornography is on the PNBA award shortlist. I’ve never been up for a literary award before, so this is very cool–and my competition is pretty serious.

I’ve been writing as much as I can on my novel-in-progress and there are parts of it you can see already. The Writers’ Dojo put up one chapter (the chapters are all really short, so they’re quick reads) and they’re putting another one up soon. Go here for that. The new issue of Fugue (from the University of Idaho) is out and there are several tiny chapters in that as well, not to mention work by David Shields and an interview with George Saunders.

Fugue #39

I also wanted to tell you that I’m reading at a cool reading series here in Portland called 1.000 Words on December 2nd. Go to the Facebook events page or their web site for more info. Melissa Favara is the host and readers include my friends Amy Temple Harper and Laura Moulton. This is an Oulipo-inspired reading where all the readers had to write short pieces using the same prompts and a set of pre-chosen words. Should be a weird and interesting night.

Hope to see you all there!

What Have I Been Doing?

Hey friends,

It really seems like this whole year has been nonstop action. After all the touring and attention for A Common Pornography, I thought I’d be settling down a little, but I still have a few big readings coming up. Check the events page for that list. We got libraries, benefit readings with rap groups, a huge Future Tense Books celebration (!!!!!), and a big stage appearance at Wordstock.

In other news, I feel comfortable enough to mention that I’ve now dove headlong into a new book. This one is shaping up to be a novel though in some ways it may resemble the short chapter style of ACP. I guess that’s just the way I’m writing these days. Some day I might write something with long, sweeping chapters, but for now, this is the method I get most excited about. I’ll sit down and write anywhere from 75 to 300 words most of the time. On good days, I’ll write 300-1000 words. I don’t think any chapter of this book will be longer than two pages. In some ways, I’ve modeled it after the great Joe Wenderoth book, Letters To Wendy’s. It’s about the ups, downs, joys, kinks, secret thoughts, and buried insecurities of a relationship that has endured seven years of beautiful and painful moments. Parts of this book, tentatively titled Fissions, will appear this fall in Fugue magazine (from University of Idaho) and a few other places. I’ll keep y’all updated on this thing but I’m aiming to have it finished and sent to my agenting and editing peeps next spring or summer.

What else? I wrote about Padgett Powell on the LA Times book blog

I just published a new chapbook on Future Tense–a totally beautiful and mysteriously sexy thing called Ventriloquism by Prathna Lor

I designed(?)/built(?)/obliterated(?)/tarnished(?) a Moleskine journal that will be auctioned off at this benefit for Write Around Portland on Oct. 2nd. You can go see the thing I made at Design Within Reach. I mostly just did some word collage and found photo stuff…

I have new stories in the newest Ne’er Do Well and the Portland Review special anthology, 20 Minutes in Portland (with cover art by Matt Bors)…

That’s it for now. Hope your summer was as good as mine (the Southern tour was awesome, plus I got to see Pavement and The National play beautiful outdoor shows in Portland).

Talk to you later.

Road Trip/Tour Diary Wrap-up: Atlanta

Hey y’all, I’m back in Portland.

Our last few days on the road were great. We got into Atlanta on Thursday just in time to return our rental car without getting a late charge. I wasn’t so sure we’d make it since we started out from a cheap hotel in Hamilton, Alabama that morning. While checking out, the front desk person warned us that the highway between Talladega and Georgia would be heavily policed to enforce the 55 mph speed limit there. It seems weird that the speed limit is 55 (as opposed to 70 everywhere else) right outside one of the most popular NASCAR sites in the world, but I guess it’s meant to discourage amateurs Jeff Gordons. There are some pretty bad drivers in the South.

Besides the lower speed limit, we had to pass through Birmingham–like actually drive through it, which seemed strange. Also, did you know Birmingham, Alabama is called “The City of Trees.”

And keep in mind that we did most of this driving without the aid of good coffee. On this particular morning, we had to settle for McDonald’s coffee (and breakfast from Hardee’s). Has good coffee really not caught on down here?

Once we made it to Atlanta, Jamie Iredell picked us up at the Hertz office and we went to settle in to his guest room. For those of you who don’t know, Jamie was recently selected in an alternate list of 20 writers to watch (in response to the New Yorker list) and his next book, The Book of Freaks, will be coming out this winter from Future Tense.

That night, our other Atlanta friends, Blake Butler and Amy McDaniel, joined us (and Jamie’s sister Megan) for some Thai food and walking around. Atlanta is a cool city despite being the one city that was actually burned to the ground by Sherman’s army in the Civil War.

Amy McDaniel and Blake Butler (BB copied me and ordered a Thai iced coffee too)

The following night, we went to Amy’s house for a pre-reading barbecue. We met a bunch of other people like Ben Spivey (who read with us that night), Chris DeWeese, and Heather Christle.

Chris DeWeese and Heather Christle

When we got to the Beep Beep Gallery, there was a good crowd waiting for us (thanks for the nice review, Creative Loafing!). Frayn read her now legendary-in-Atlanta story “1970s Space Erotica.” Blake Butler was at a loss for words after that and tried to assure the crowd that I wrote dirty stories as well and then he said something about how we were “a sexual couple.” I think he was a little buzzed. The reading went really well and I was able to do the slide show as well. I sold a few books too (I even signed one for a woman named Diva).

A bunch of us went back to Jamie’s house after that and Blake told us a hilarious story about his experience in Second Life. I will not be able to do it justice, so we will have to hope that Blake writes his own porn-centric memoir some day (but apparently, you have to buy a dick if you want to have sex in Second Life).

After midnight, we decided to go on a Krispy Kreme and Taco Bell run. I was really excited about this because I didn’t get to have any doughnuts at all on the road trip and I was craving some. Frayn, me, Blake, and Amy hopped into Amy’s car and waited in the long drive-thru line at the KK. This was down the street, I was told, from the “Murder Kroger,” so called because of the store’s criminal history (there are a lot of late night security guards and bouncers employed in Atlanta). After a much quicker stop at the Taco Bell, we returned to Jamie’s place and stayed up late talking more about porn, Thomas Kinkade, HTML Giant, rapid weight loss, and Blake’s attempt to write 70,000 words in ten days (insomnia helps).

Blake and me, with some precious Krispy Kremes

We got a couple of hours sleep and then Jamie and his wife took us to the airport. It was a great road trip and I want to thank everyone who helped us out in any way. We will definitely come back to visit again someday. Much love to everyone.

Jamie Iredell, Frayn, and me

Spring With a Vengeance!

It seems like every week is a busy week for me these days. This one is no exception. It’s packed full of events with a capital E!

  • First off, this Wednesday night is Back Fence PDX. My lady is the co-host and the line-up is stellar. (She’s always giving me hints about what the stories are about)
  • On Thursday night, I’m a guest on Live Wire! This is a super fun radio show taped live at the Mission Theater. A couple years ago, we did Haiku Inferno on the show and it was a blast. Looking forward to talking about ACP on the show.
  • On Friday at 12:30, I’m signing books for librarians and other sexy folks at the Library Association Conference at the Oregon Convention Center. Then that night–I’m going to see Sam Lipsyte read at Powell’s. Hoo boy–do I love me some Lipsyte!
  • On Saturday night, I’m going to see the Road House play at the Someday Lounge.

What else is going on? I just released the new Future Tense title, OK, Goodnight by Emily Kendal Frey and Zachary Schomburg. Read about it and order it at the ol’ Future Tense Books site. It’s super fine stuff!

And in other news, I had a really fun reading at Pilot Books in Seattle last weekend. On our drive back to Portland on Sunday morning, Frayn and I decided to listen only to country music stations. This gave us the idea to listen ONLY to country music stations in the car this week. Favorites so far are “Rain is a Good Thing” by Luke Bryan (great rhyme scheme), “Why Don’t We Just Dance” by Josh Turner (great deep voice that dude has), some song by Miranda Lambert about a house she grew up in (just about shed a tear to that one), and some other party tune by some dude who talks about hicks and beer and lakes. And oh man– this!

Maybe I’ll talk about country music more next time. Until then…

V-day, Fainting, etc.

So. Let’s get personal here. Ready.

On Friday the 15th, I got a vasectomy. I know. I know. Who does that the week before their book comes out!? Well, I do. But I didn’t think it would be a big deal. The packet told me it would only take two or three days before I could go back to work. The packet was wrong!

Eight days later, and I’M STILL FEELING the pain! (sorry about the CAPS–they were unintentional but coincidentally appropriate, so I’m leaving them).

Sadly, I had to miss most of my work schedule on the first week of my book’s release. I was pretty bummed about that. I said a couple of things on Facebook about my condition but was a little embarrassed about the whole thing, so I never came right out and said the v-word. I know it’s nothing to be embarrassed about but I felt dumb hobbling around after more than 5+ days. Either the doctor fucked up or I’m a slow healer.

But at least I got some good material out of it. On Thursday night, I was the “special secret guest” at the True Stories show at Mississippi Studios. Though I was walking like a cowboy, I was still able to get on stage and read an essay I just wrote about the operation. It went over really well. But while most people were laughing, one guy in the audience fainted halfway through. Paramedics came in and took him away on a stretcher soon after.

Hopefully, I will be able to get this essay published in the next couple of months so you can all enjoy it (or faint).

In the meantime, here’s some other goodies that have popped up the past few days.

Alec at The Rumpus offers his personal story upon reading ACP.

Our Cat in Residence, Boo-Boo, gets featured in this cool Harper Perennial feature!

This long feature in the Willamette Week.

I’d also like to thank everyone for tweeting about the ACP Promo video. It’s fun to see it get spread around so much. I’ll be getting more videos up throughout the spring.

Video Gift From My Baby

Yesterday, on the first day of my memoir’s shelf life, my beautiful girlfriend, Frayn Masters (I call her Barb) presented me with an incredibly awesome gift. She snuck around under the cloak of darkness (and the Internet) and asked a bunch of our friends to give recorded and written huzzahs for A Common Pornography. He is the epic and sweet (and sometimes ridiculous) result! Thanks to everyone (names below) who sent their love. Right back at ya!

In order of appearance: Zachary Schomburg & Emily Kendal Frey, Steve Almond, Davy Rothbart, Brandon Freels, Dan Kennedy, Mary Van Note, Sean Wilsey, Stephen Kurowski, Jeffrey Yamaguchi, Eric Spitznagel, Magdalen Powers, Beth Lisick, Blake Nelson, Frances Miller & Mycal Quaempts, Chelsea Martin, Claudia Smith, Hayley Barker, Andrew Monko, Matt Sampsell, Chris Ballew & Kate Endle, Melissa Lion & Archer, Gigi Little, Bob Gaulke, Chris Faatz, Bryan Coffelt, Reuben Nisenfeld, and (Barb)Frayn Masters.

For All the Shy Readers…

My book is now out! And if you’re shy about putting money down on a book with the word pornography on the cover, fear not: I have thought of some crafty ways to protect your chaste reputation. Enjoy these helpful tips, my fair reader!

Reclinerland and the ACP “Soundtrack”

In 2002, I was about to self-publish the first version of A Common Pornography. It was a slim 60-page book with footnotes by Mike Daily and collages by Melody Owen, The print run was about 600 copies. It looked like this:

But first I needed to make a bit of moolah to pay for it. So I threw a benefit at Disjecta with some readings and music. Melody introduced me to Michael Johnson and told me his band, Reclinerland, would like to be on the bill. They played along with Mykle Hansen’s Bad Mintons, Giant Bug Village (the Guided By Voices cover band), and Crack City Rockers.

I remembered having a nice conversation with Mr. Johnson after the show. Not only did his band play for free but he also gave me some free CDs. A few weeks later, the book was out and I was driving around dropping off free copies to the folks who helped with the benefit. By that time, I had already played the Reclinerland CDs to death and was head over heels for Johnson’s smooth voice (great for make out music, by the way) and literary-minded pop stylings.

We became fast friends and I even wrote about my man-crush for the Mercury.

A couple of months later, Michael asked me to write fictional liner notes for the Reclinerland album, The Ideal Home Music Library: Volume 1. That came out in 2003.

Soon after that, to my surprise, Michael told me that he really liked the stories in A Common Pornography and that he was writing songs based on them. Some of the songs were nearly word-for-word musical versions of the stories themselves while a few were turning out a little looser in their translation. In 2007, he played some for the first time at a show at the Someday Lounge. It was pretty surreal and spectacular. And for the past couple of years, he has been crafting a whole CD of these songs–twenty of them based on chapters from the original–now rare–version of ACP.

Now it’s finally here! You can download the whole album on the Reclinerland website or listen to parts of songs on iTunes or Amazon. I think it’s a pretty fun creation and I’m flattered that Michael took so many hours (weeks! months!) to create it. And while you’re at it, check out his other fine work. I especially love the orange, green, and blue albums.

Michael Johnson: I heart you!

When it rains, it pours

A great smattering of stuff about A Common Pornography lately. Like…

pg 57 of the new Poets & Writers Magazine!

A sweet review on Blog Critics!

The cover of The Portland Mercury! (they excerpted a part of the book) (I had no idea they were going to put my name right on the cover, but that’s cool)

I had some dirty haiku published in this magazine (NSFW!) under a pen name. (Note: I know this is cheesy, but a good friend was an editor there until recently) (Yes, they edit) (Yes, you’ll have to buy the issue to see the haiku)

And on top of that stuff, I also have a new story up on this weird e-book thing. It’s a little ditty about Mary Gaitskill and her cupcakes. Please Note: It is fiction! She did not really live in Portland and hang out at open mics!

Awkwardness alert: I am hosting Mary Gaitskill at Powell’s later this spring! And yes–she is one of my favorite authors.