Mila Jaroniec talks about her debut novel Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover,” writing autofiction, the surprising similarity between selling sex toys and selling books, and the impact of having a baby on editing. ...more
Naomi Jackson discusses her debut novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, how she approached writing about mental illness and its affects on a family, and choosing to to tell a story from multiple perspectives. ...more
Torch songs, i.e. “sentimental love songs, typically one in which the singer laments an unrequited love,” were once the flagship of every respected crooner: with sultry lonesomeness, a smooth voice would dance above the elegant orchestra accompaniment, singing of lovers lost or unreciprocated romance.
Fitting comfortably in the gap between Angel Olsen and Lana Del Rey, Molly Burch’s debut Please Be Mine (Captured Tracks) is a collection of compelling torch songs, reminiscent of a gothic Frankie Avalon; the 1950s-inspired songwriting is the perfect counterpart to Burch’s amazing, deep voice, charming without ever being sugary.
“I was always really interested in singing before songwriting. I didn’t always have the confidence to write,” Molly says, “Initially it was more about finding the right songs to complement my voice.” We couldn’t be happier she finally did! Watch two videos from the new album after the jump. (more…)
Welcome to This Week in Books, where we highlight books just released by small and independent presses. Books have always been a symbol for and means of spreading knowledge and wisdom, and they are an important part of our toolkit in fighting for social justice. If we’re going to move our national narrative away from one of hate and fear, we need books that display empathy, that help us understand different points of view, that show us we aren’t alone, that feed our spirits.
Sunday 2/19: Co-founder of Milkweed Editions and poet Emilie Buchwald will feature at Literary Witnesses, held in the Plymouth Congregational Church. Buchwald will read from her newest collection of poetry, The Moment’s Only Moment. 12 p.m., free.
Tuesday 2/21: Carol Connolly’s series Reading by Writers continues with a tribute to Charles Bukowski. Readers, all Twin Cities-based, include Mark Berriman, Tom Cassidy, Erica Christ, Ted King, Klecko, and Willie Murphy. University Club of Saint Paul, 7:30 p.m., free.
Meanwhile, over in Minneapolis, novelist Kevin Kuhn presents his newest book, Do You Realize?, at Magers & Quinn. 7 p.m., free.
It started, as it often does, with a recommendation from a friend, in this case Gabrielle Calvocoressi. She sent me an email saying “You have to look at this book.” I would have anyway, because I’ve been a fan of Adrian Matejka’s work for a long time, and in fact, I wanted his last book, The Big Smoke, for the Poetry Book Club but couldn’t make it happen.
So I was excited when I got a PDF of Map to the Stars in my inbox, and was hooked from the first poem, “Star-Struck Blacks,” which evokes Indianapolis and the Midwestern winters I’ve recently become used to, but which ends with an allusion to a dick joke.
Friday 2/17: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s parents, will discussRest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets are $15–20 and are available here.
Saturday 2/18: Head to Township for Wit Rabbit Weekend #11! Readers include Matthew Corey, Molly Dumbleton, Diddle Knabb, and Tara Stringfellow. 5 p.m., free.
Sunday 2/19: The Chicago Network for Justice and Peace and the Guild Literary Complex launch the Chicago City of Refuge project for exiled writers. The first program features presentations by Unoma Azuah and Osama Alomar. Loyola University’s Piper Hall, 1 p.m., free.
This week, Joyland has a new story from poet and fiction writer Joanna C. Valente about gender, sexual intercourse, and sexual violence. Their story, “You’re Gonna Scream When You Die,” opens with a scene that immediately backs up the dire tone of the title. From the outset, the story is direct, raw, and unflinching in its truth-telling:
He asked if he could come on her breasts. They weren’t using a condom and she wasn’t on birth control but K didn’t like using condoms and Baby Girl was too scared he would stop fucking her if she protested.
Valente’s protagonist, only called Baby Girl, has an array of sexual partners who are referred to only by first initials, who seem to drift in and out of her apartment like so many anonymous ghosts. But this isn’t the empowering kind of casual sex, the enjoyment of two bodies in the freedom of sexual expression; this is something harmful, self-destructive, shadowed by a literal specter that haunts the corners of Baby Girl’s room, watching while Baby Girl lets these men use her body, its face featureless or hidden in darkness. This menacing presence carries the weight of omen or memory, or both. (more…)