Tag Archives: Chloe Caldwell

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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The Samps Awards For Outstanding Literature

If you follow me on Goodreads or spy on me when I ride the Max to work, you know that I read a lot. Instead of doing an ordinary top ten kind of deal, I’ll pretend to give out some awards. Imagine it’s a foot tall, shiny gold, statue of me in a rocking chair with a book in one hand and a container of maple yogurt (with peanut butter M&Ms in it) in the other hand. And maybe I’m wearing a fuzzy cardigan or something. Kind of like this…

Also: replace racing form with The Listeners by Leni Zumas or something.

Also: replace racing form with The Listeners by Leni Zumas or something.

I’m linking my Goodreads reviews on some of these babies.

Crazy Poetry Is the Best Poetry Award: I read a lot of poetry in 2012. And lots of it was cray cray. From youngsters like Jenny Zhang and Gregory Sherl to a ton of old Russell Edson books I scored at work (it was a good year for finding used Edson rarities at Powell’s), poetry inspired me probably more than any kind of writing this year (besides of course, the creative nonfiction of Future Tense writers Shane Allison and Chloe Caldwell). But the most crazy goodness was found in Dan Magers’s Party Knife. Seeing him read at Bad Blood was also one of the highlights of the year. (Correction: I saw Dan at If Not For Kidnap. Geez, how many reading series can Portland have anyway!?)

magers

The Great Discovery Award: Recently my sharp eyes spotted a random late 80s-looking Knopf title while shelving lit books and I had the sneaking feeling that it was maybe something rare and cool. It was Campfires of the Dead, a short story collection by Peter Christopher. I did a quick Google search and found that he was an ex-Lish student. A quick read of some of the stories revealed some great sentences, so I snagged it! Looking forward to reading more of it. Unfortunately, Christopher died in 2008 of liver cancer and this was his only book.

christopher_campfires

The New Obsession Award: The year before last I discovered Leonard Michaels and got all lovestruck with his works. This year, it was the poet Sharon Olds. I had no idea how great and intense (and sometimes explicit) her work is, but now I’m a superfan. Start off with The Gold Cell like I did. I read five of her books in 2012 and will probably read five more this year.

Worship the Sharon!

Worship the Sharon!

The Book I Wasn’t Sure About at First But Really Appreciate Now: I think while I was reading Zachary Schomburg’s latest, Fjords, I kept wanting it to get more sad or something, but Fjords has something else in mind. It has less interest in dwelling on matters of the heart and more gumption to just soak in a world of weirdness. I sort of held that against the book for some reason. But now I see that Schomburg (love the guy like a brother) was just stretching into a new direction and it’s just as amazing as anything he’s done. And it does have a lot of heart too.

fjords

Best Odd Detour From What I Usually Read Award: I wanted to read a good coming-of-age novel and Chloe Caldwell convinced me to try Elizabeth Berg’s Joy School (from 1997). Apparently, she had read it when she was a teenager and was really into it. So I gave it a try and really liked it too. It has a funny voice and a quirky charm, not to mention an underlying sadness and a nice easy tone that anyone could love. I guess that’s why Elizabeth Berg is a bestselling author.

Joy School

The Lost in the Local Shuffle Award: Portland poet Leanne Grabel’s memoir, Brontosaurus, was overshadowed by the intensity of Lidia Yuknavitch’s Chronology of Water and the awesomeness of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but damn–there’s some ultra-naked bravery going on in that book. The book has only been rated nine time on Goodreads? WTF!

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The Dusty Dust Jacket Awards: Of course, I didn’t get to read ALL the books I thought I would. You should see the stacks around this place! Some of the books I was really excited to get but still haven’t read much of yet: House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, The Sugar-Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

Books I’m looking forward to reading in 2013: The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri, The Reenactments by Nick Flynn, Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan, and How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Oh–and hey: I’m reading at this cool event on January 12th. Come out and say hey!

Weekday! And Weekend!

Hi Friends!

I have two little fictions in the new issue of WEEKDAY, the cool journal printed right in front of your eyes at the Publication Studios in Portland, Oregon. This issue (their third) even has a cool embossed border and title printed on it. Editor Patricia No told me they were going for something extra fancy with this one.

WEEKDAY #3, with fancy orange embossing!

This issue also includes Travis Jeppesen, Robin Cameron, another Kevin (Champoux–which is a cooler last name than mine), and an interview with Jonathan Lethem. My pieces are called “Eight Legs” and “Seed.” There’s an interesting thing on their website where you can read and make notes on the stories. Give it a try. Go ahead. I won’t look.

Other stuff…

Well, I finished my novel and now I’m officially shopping it. As you might know, it’s called This Is Between Us (read parts of it here and here), and I’m really excited about it, even if I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to describe it or if it’s even “commercial” or “a novel.” I’ll keep you updated. If someone buys it, you’ll be the first to know. Wish me luck (or send me a message if you want more info about it/are an editor at a big publishing house with deep pockets).

In fact I’ll be reading some parts of it at Wordstock this weekend. I’m reading with Chloe Caldwell, who is not only an awesome writer but also a brand new Portlander and one of my best friends. We’ve got a good plan for our reading and I can tell you that we’re not going to hold back on the sizzle!

If you can’t catch our reading, you’ll probably see me walking around on Saturday (probably going to check out Lidia Yuknavitch and Jon Raymond at 2:00) and then I’m also working in the Powell’s area on Sunday before my reading. It shouldn’t be hard to mark me off of your Tin House bingo card. Hahaha.

Thanks for reading everyone. Talk to you soon!

Oh–and mark your calendars for October 26th. I’ll be hosting Booty Call #8, this time with Sarah Mirk, at The Blue Monk. It’s going to be great (with Paula Bomer, Michael Heald, and Nancy Rommelmann reading dirty stories).

Miss Mirk

Until next time,

KS

Summer Splash

Hi friends,

Summer is officially here and I’m planning on doing some fun stuff and getting a few important things done. Here’s a quick rundown.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be hosting a kick-ass outdoor reading at Colonel Summers Park. It starts at 7pm and the weather is supposed to get clear and nice by then so we’ll probably even get there early and play some basketball or frisbee or something. I’ll be introducing Eirean Bradley, Diana Salier, and Chloe Caldwell for their short readings and fellow Future Tense peeps Bryan Coffelt and Becca Yenser will also be there. Check out the details here. It was also a featured pick in the Mercury and Oregonian!

Bryan Coffelt and me, pimping some literature (from AWP 2012)

In July, I’m going to fly down to visit my brother in Houston and also read alongside some of the coolest ladies in America (I’m reading at the Houston and New Orleans stops on their tour). I love going to the south, so this should be a blast.

While I’m down there, I’m hoping to finally finish up some of the final edits and revisions of the novel I’ve been working on for twenty months (feels like twenty years). More updates on that as they come.

Summer reading? Well, right now I’m about to finish Ryan Boudinot’s Blueprints of the Afterlife, which is one of the weirdest and funniest books I’ve read in years. I also have the debut issue of Radio Silence that looks fantastic, Pauls Toutonghi’s new beauty, some more poetry by Sharon Olds and Matthew Dickman, the new novel by Padgett Powell, and that newish dirty Nicholson Baker book that I still haven’t gotten to. I like to do a lot of my reading on the Max train or at Bipartisan Cafe, where they have the best pie in Portland.

Summer literary happenings? I’ve set up a reading for Justin Maurer and Lindsey Kugler for Friday, July 27th at Ampersand that should be awesome. And then in August, I’m helping coordinate the Portland stop of the “Lil’ Bitch Tour” with Chelsea Martin, Elizabeth Ellen, and Scott McClanahan. That’s on August 17th, location TBA.

Summer movies? I saw Prometheus with my son a couple of days ago and it was pretty fun I thought. But most new movies have looked real crappy lately, so I’m not sure what else. Ruby Sparks could be a guilty pleasure. Maybe The Bourne Legacy too? I don’t know. Where are the slow, depressing dramas about fucked-up people when I want them?!

Summer songs? I hope to listen to Peggy Lee a lot. Mates of State always sounds good when the sun is out too (I hope to see their show in Portland on June 30th). That new Best Coast is also playing around here.

Peggy Lee!

Also, I’m not a strong swimmer, but I may put some floaties on for this year’s Big Float. (Watch for the awesome promo videos coming soon–written and produced by B. Frayn Masters!)

That’s all for now. See you in the sun!

I Have Never Won a Super Bowl But I Have Won Some Poetry Slams

Hi friends,

As many of you know, I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Or maybe I should say a get it/don’t get it relationship. But poetry has made a comeback in my life the past couple of years. Take a look at my Goodreads page! It’s chock full of the stuff. I even started writing and publishing some again. This after claiming “retirement” from poetry in the late-90s, after a few years of being a Portland Poetry Slam regular (I was on the team from 94-96 and was even on the cover of the Willamette Week once).

Some of the folks who’ve inspired my new interest in poetry are hot new bloods like Ben Mirov, Zachary Schomburg, Gregory Sherl, Ariana Reines, Emily Kendal Frey, Mark Leidner, Sommer Browning, and Jenny Zhang. Not to mention my recent discovery of the legendary Sharon Olds.

Reading more poetry in the past year or two has also been a big influence on how I’ve been writing my novel, This Is Between Us, which I just finished a first draft of. Hooray for me! I hope to get it polished up over the summer and then submit it to publishers at that time. Stay tuned for more news about that.

For now though, I’m excited to announce a couple of my new poems today at Metazen. And look–I’m even growing out my “beard” so I can even look like a real poet!

The Poet at his home, June 2012.

Whenever I write poetry, I think/worry about a few things:

1. Is this worth anything? Will it ever be in a book, or does it hold the artistic longevity of a tweet or Facebook  status update?

2. Will other poets like me or do they just think of me as a poser?

3. Should I be studying what makes poetry good, like in an academic setting, and should I be trying harder at this?

4. By putting in a sports reference, am I ruining the form? Am I a ruiner?

5. How much honesty should I mix in with shenanigans?

6. What is the difference between a really good haiku and an advertisement for liquor?

7. How much longer should I not shave?

I will try to stop worrying. In all honesty though, I do write poetry to convey something and I hope you enjoy it.

What else is happening?

I am STILL talking about A Common Pornography to anyone who will listen! Hahaha. Recently, I spoke to a book club that met at the Powell’s Cafe. Photographic proof…

Some very nice Book Club members

If YOU want to talk about my book for a book club, I’m always game to come visit you and talk about it or even Skype with you! Don’t hesitate to ask: kevin@futuretensebooks.com

Also also–I’m hosting a super fun outdoor reading at the end of the month (June 26th at Colonel Summers Park at 7pm) with awesome writers Chloe Caldwell, Matthew Dickman, and Diana Salier. I hope to see you there. Maybe we can play some football in the grass before the reading.

Until later…bye bye.

Wife Beaters, Cut-Offs, Flip-Flops, Sunscreen

I don’t think I’ve ever worn flip flops in my life. And I know that driving through the south in July is going to be sweltery (I’ve done it before). I know I won’t be wearing army boots or anything. But I probably won’t wear cut-offs either. Maybe a wife beater, though, you know, I’ll call it a tank top (still sounds kinda aggro though, right?).

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. First I need you to help me and the wild women I’ll be appearing with to get some gas money for our summer adventure. I promise not to spend any at Whataburger. I’m talking about the Southern Summer Comfort Book Tour, which I’ve helped organize for my friends Elizabeth Ellen, Chloe Caldwell, Mary Miller, Brandi Wells, and Donora Hillard.

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Domy Books will host the ladies in Austin and Houston.

Help us raise some moolah on their Kickstarter page. There’s some cool stuff to be had–books, Polaroids, private editing sessions. Hair pulling? If you’re into that sort of thing.

What else is happening?

I’m teaching another class on personal essays. This time with young hotshot, Chloe Caldwell. CC, as you may know, is the author of Legs Get Led Astray, the latest release from Future Tense Books, It’s on June 23rd at the Crow Arts Manor. I think there may just be one or two spots left in the class, so act fast! It’s only $40 for three hours of hard work.

If it’s warm out, we’ll be doing it outside. I won’t be wearing flip-flops.

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!