Brian Conn’s The Fixed Stars is a difficult book, difficultly written. Ulysses. Samuel Beckett. Our literary tradition often revolves around authors of this sort, works of this type, the utter complexity of a book that demands attention, requires it, and makes for itself, in the process, a string of readers as enemies. This is not to say that Conn is Beckett (he isn’t) or that The Fixed Stars is Ulysses (it isn’t) but rather simply to head this review with a reminder to both the reader and myself: sometimes books are difficult.

The first time I met Amelia Gray was at the release party for Scorch Atlas (Featherproof) by Blake Butler, here in Chicago. Amelia read “Go For It and Raise Hell” and I knew immediately after her reading that I was going to be a fan of her work. I picked up a copy of AM/PM (Featherproof) after the show and read it the next week. The following year when I went to AWP Denver, and had the chance to hear her read again, she apologized that she was going to be reading “Go For It and Raise Hell” again, but to me, it was like going to see a rock band you love, and hearing your favorite song. I knew what was coming, and that her reading, her performance, would be epic. Imagine:

Carl is coated in the filth of the world. He sees that you never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”