I first met Ross Angelella (I just can’t call him by his official author name – J.R. Angelella – because, well, I’ve never called him J.R. and I don’t know anyone else who has, either, but he has good reasons to be called J.R. on his books, reasons which are not revealed in the interview below, but which exist somewhere on the internet and I trust that if you search long enough, you’ll find the story and you will be justifiably moved) in 2007. I’d made the fateful decision to attend Bennington for graduate school and Ross was assigned to be my student mentor. That he was ten years younger than me and was just starting out and I was heading towards the middle of my career and was already running an MFA program seemed a little weird to me (I’d Googled the hell out him, too, so I’d read his LiveJournal and was, well, somewhat concerned that he was a serial killer, but that’s another issue all together). His job was simple: to prepare me for the harsh world of low residency graduate education…which, in this case, consisted of him calling me one evening and telling me to buy one of those foam mattress tops if I wanted to be able to sleep on the prison beds Bennington uses in their dorm rooms. That seemed like an extremely solid and learned piece of advice, so from there we went on to talk about a series of mundane things for about an hour. There were lots of giggles. I think I may have rolled out the word “fucktard” early on, just to make sure he wasn’t one of those people easily offended by my common vernacular. He showed no ill effects, so we pressed on. And we’ve kept pressing on for five years.

Jurgen Fauth has written a terrific new novel called Kino, the story of a silent film director in Nazi Germany and his granddaughter’s quest to redeem him. With a cast of characters including Joseph Goebbels, Fritz Lang and Leni Riefenstahl, Kino raises important questions concerning the nature and purpose of art at the intersection of politics and culture.

Jürgen Fauth is a writer, film critic, translator, and co-founder of the literary community Fictionaut. He was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and received his doctorate from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He lives with his wife, writer Marcy Dermansky, and their daughter Nina. Kino is his first novel. Follow him on Twitter at @muckster.

I’m not going to waste precious time blabbing about how awesome the stories in Cul De Sac are. (You’re busy. I get it.) I’ll only say that I never intended to read the fucking thing. Why? Because I’ve got two small children at home and, like, six other books I’m supposed to read. I only read the thing because I couldn’t not read it. Which is annoying. And also kind of awesome.

When I met first met Michelle Toth, a dozen years ago, she was pulling together a massive party to promote the work of her favorite artists – a writer, an architect, a photographer, and the wonderful independent filmmaker Shandi Garrison.

It was the first party I’d been to in which the whole point was to connect people to art. More than two hundred folks showed up. Everyone checked out the art. Then we got drunk and flirted and checked out the art some more. Some hooking up transpired.

A few years ago, I went to visit Michael Griffith at the University of Cincinnati, where he teaches in their PhD program. I was there in my usual capacity (i.e. to terrorize students of creative writing). But I was also there in my other usual capacity, which is to lunch with other writers in sad cafes and complain.