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Happy Rock by Matthew SimmonsThe delicious economy of good short fiction can give you a character in two sentences, a world in a paragraph, or in five words deliver one exquisite detail that captures the gist of an entire story. In his new collection Happy Rock, Matthew Simmons gives us all of these, and over the course of fifteen stories set mostly in rural Michigan, a picture of an author whose loyalties are clearly located among the misfits and mistreated of the upper peninsula of the mainstream.

A round-up of high quality tweets from people in the world of literature…

 Amelia Gray:

 

An idea familiar not simply to fans of the Godzilla film franchise—wherein a fire-breathing lizard of monstrous proportions makes his destructive way through the city of Tokyo with destructive results—is that the creature is a metaphor for the results of the weaponization of the atom. That is, the monster is the monstrous indifference and the monstrous destructive force of the bombs called Little Boy and Fat Man which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively, three days apart in August, 1945. In fact, the destruction left in the aftermath of the bombs was still present in the minds of those who made the Godzilla movies. It was a marker for them. They endeavored to create, to recapture the look of that destruction when they made the films. It was always present, always a part of the story.

 

Over the past few years, I’d read great and magical things about The Nervous Breakdown Literary Experience in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and sundry other burgs. I scrolled through photos and comments generated by each reading and thought, Holy hell, that looks tastier than pizza. Each city fielded a deeply talented roster and the sense of excitement and cohesion was palpable. I looked forward to Seattle’s shot.

 

What I discovered in my attempt to select books for this month’s column is that there are more books for me to read than I have time. So, I’ve decided this month’s focus would be about the “little press”. To me every independent press is a champion in its own right, but there were a couple presses in particular that stood out for me this month. While these two selections are only two among many worthy titles, I really felt like these were outstanding. I like books of all shapes, sizes, styles and (okay, sorry non-fiction, you . . . not so much) I try to be as well rounded as possible however; I do tend towards shorter books when in a pinch for time. I’ve come to learn though, shorter books are equal if not more time consuming than a novel or short-story because they are replete with thought-provoking sentences, images and often, complex paragraphs of poetry. A shorter text requires a bit more commitment from my brain. I cannot flip the pages as easily, partially because I want so much to savor the words and sentences, so I read slowly (that and I seem to have horrible reading comprehension or ADHD) and thus, a fifty page book takes me almost as long as if it were two hundred and fifty. What does all this mean? Quite simply put: Good writing is good writing regardless of length.

The stars were packed so close that night
They seemed to press and stare
And gather in like hurdles bright
The liberties of air.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins

I will tell you this story, but only if you promise never to tell anyone else. I’m certain of much of it, and where I am not certain, I am comfortable making up the rest. This inaccuracy is only one of the reasons why I ask for your confidence. The other reason will become plain as you listen.

You work in a bookstore and have had the opportunity to attend a lot of author readings, right?

Yes. Lots and lots. Thousands, I imagine.

Matthew Simmons wrote an hilarious post over at HTMLGIANT about the “Five Stages of Publishing“: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I’m not sure it’s a linear path, but I can definitely attest to the grim reality of each stage. Right now I’m hovering somewhere between Depression and Denial, though some of my actions certainly amount to Acceptance, and I’m no stranger to bursts of uncontrollable Anger.

When does this damn game get easier?