Matthew Salesses is the guest. He is the author of two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics and We Will Take What We Can Get, a novella called The Last Repatriate, and his new novel is called I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying (Civil Coping Mechanisms).

Earlier this week, the NW Book Lovers website published an essay by bestselling novelist Jonathan Evison arguing in favor of old-fashioned, paper-and-ink books. It’s the first in a series of six essays by this year’s PNBA Award winners, and it’s as charming as you’d expect from a writer of Evison’s calibre. It makes a case clearly and succinctly for “actual books”, praising their feel, their smell, and even their use as an aphrodisiac. It has been greeted with a chorus of approval from book lovers.

Unfortunately, it is also misguided and wrong.

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Another year has come and gone, and it’s time once again to present The Nobbies, the official book awards of The Nervous Breakdown.

Below you’ll find this year’s winners, our picks for the best books of 2012.

Congrats to the victors, and their publishers.

And thanks, as always, for reading.

-BL

A lot has been written on Junot Díaz lately.  For several weeks starting in September, he appeared in at least twelve publications that showed up at my house.  He was in everything from the unsolicited Time Magazine, apparently intended for my fifteen-year-old son, to Vogue, where Díaz appeared in costume, dressed as a member of Edith Wharton’s circle.  Díaz’s face smiled out from Entertainment Weekly, and he appealed for understanding from the pages of the New York Times Magazine. Online, the Guardian Blog stated that the term “genius” was inadequate praise.  Seemingly everywhere, his big glasses, smooth head, trim beard, and tentative smile greeted me. If Andy Warhol still lived, he would use Junot Diaz as a subject.

Thrilled to announce that The Beautiful Anthology has been named one of the Best Bathroom Books of 2012 by The New York Times.

Money quote:

Like a David Cronenberg movie, this offbeat anthology zeros in on beauty’s dark and complicated side. Another bonus: it mostly features good writers you’ve never heard of.

I bought a Kindle, which means I’m the devil.

I’m the devil because Kindle is part of the vast network of Amazon, whose goal is pretty much to destroy everything I hold dear in my brick-and-mortar culture. And they employ a morally reprehensible scheme to do so. They charge less than what a book actually costs them, taking a small loss on each sale, with the hope of driving every other book retailer out of business. Kind of like gas wars from fifty years ago, when two competing gas stations lowered their prices beyond profitability to beat the guy next door, but in this situation Amazon’s the only company that can afford to lose money. Their job, as they seem to see it, is to keep dumping cash into themselves until they become the go-to place for not just books, but everything. “Don’t waste your time going to your local store. Buy it from Amazon for less and you’ll never have to leave home.” This drives many independent bookstores—which rely on profits to stay afloat—out of business, taking with them the entire culture of book buying I value (selling back used books, seeing my money go into the local economy, dealing with a bookseller, author readings, creaky floors, participating in a community as opposed to mouse-clicking, etc.)

If you’ve never read Alix Ohlin, you should.  She’s one of the good ones out there, and she’s no slouch when it comes to publishing.  Two story collections and two novels in seven years – perhaps not an impressive haul for bionic typewriters like Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates, but plenty impressive to me.  She may not have won a Pulitzer or a National Book Award yet, but Ohlin is someone I look up to, because she’s just a very solid writer.

In conjunction with the U.S. Marrow, Tallow, and Alternative Proteins Council, and in honor of today’s National Zombie Appreciation Day (and Celebrity BBQ), we are happy to present the animated book trailer for The Infects, by Sean Beaudoin.

 

Anyone who doesn’t find the beach at least a little bit disturbing hasn’t really thought about it enough.

I spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer, and it’s hard not to notice the darker side of the ocean after a while: the crime-scene bleakness of a beach town in the rain, or the wind-whipped days when the breakers seem intent on your bodily destruction. So I was excited when, a few months ago, I came across an L.A. Times article musing on the “fascinating light-dark duality” of that city’s coastal playground. The article looked at the beach through the lens of California crime writers from the golden age of pulp to today, and lined up a stellar reading list that included Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Dorothy B. Hughes, Leigh Brackett, Horace McCoy, and others.

Suddenly I realized that the beach and noir go together like sunshine and skin cancer.

In 1980, prostitution inadvertently became legal in Rhode Island, the consequence of one of those boneheaded foul-ups for which the Ocean State’s legislature, the General Assembly, is justly famous. The state’s politicians made a lot of speeches decrying the shame of it, but for 29 years, they didn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t help but wonder why.

Two weeks from Friday, The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, will open in the United States. If this film does anywhere near the box office its predecessor, The Dark Knight, did, the three films will gross 2 billion dollars. Batman is big business.

In the credits of that movie, it will say “Batman created by Bob Kane.” Indeed, Kane appeared in the Michael Keaton/Jack Nicholson Batman film a generation ago.  His heirs will see some major coin this summer.

It’s nice to see a writer make so much dough for a character, right? The problem is, Bob Kane was not the only creator of Batman. It could be argued, in fact, that he wasn’t the more important of the two creators, as so much of the Batman backstory–the Bruce Wayne identity, the Batcave, most of the inventions, and the villains like The Joker and Catwoman–were the work of his silent partner, a man named Bill Finger, the Tesla to Kane’s Edison.

We’re proud to announce the publication of The Beautiful Anthology, edited by Elizabeth Collins, now available in trade paperback from TNB Books, the official imprint of The Nervous Breakdown.

The Beautiful Anthology can be purchased at Amazon.  To order your copy, please click right here.  (Note:  in the coming days, TBA will be available via other retailers like Powell’s and BN.com.  Ebook editions are also forthcoming.)

Author’s Note: A musical track I created with L.A. musician Bo Blount is currently featured in the trailer for The Beautiful Anthology (BIG thanks to David Grossbach for putting it together). Below you’ll find the poem which inspired the piece. If you’d like to listen to the track, or download a free version of it, click on the SoundCloud link at the bottom of the page. Hope you enjoy…

 

Like a Russian mobster tattoo
This is you forever inked into my flesh
Telling the story of us

That story’s name: Butterfly, Moon, Bed