Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Thomas Kohnstamm. His debut novel, Lake City, is available from Counterpoint Press. It is the official January pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club.

Kohnstamm is also the author of Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? (Crown). He was born in Seattle and lives there with his wife and two children.

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I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Melissa

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Ten

Driving through the night. A dark road. Melissa was in the backseat, holding my friend’s hand. I was up in the passenger seat, newly low. She’d stopped fucking me, now they were fucking. I mean it was more than that. They were in love. Me and her were out of love. A song came on the radio. “My Best Friend’s Girl” by the Cars. The driver turned it up. I can’t quite remember who was driving. I just know it wasn’t me. Those two lovebirds in the back started laughing. The driver laughed. I laughed too. I’m still laughing.

You’re born absolutely helpless. And then you’re alive awhile and you don’t think about how helpless you are. Then you get old and you turn back into a baby.

Public Defender

By Corey Burns

Essay

Law school doesn’t prepare you for the day-to-day practice of law, especially if you’re a public defender. Realizing this was actually kind of a relief for me because I spent all of law school on academic probation and graduated last in my class.  I mean, all you read in criminal procedure classes are these cases where the cops forgot to read someone their rights or did an illegal search, so a lawyer got his client off. You develop an expectation that cops screw shit up a lot. The reality is, those cases are pretty rare, which is what makes them famous cases. The cops don’t make the same mistake twice. So, all the stuff I was supposed to have learned turned out to be kind of useless.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Her new novel Sketchtasy is available from Arsenal Pulp Press.

 

This is Mattilda’s second time on the podcast. She first appeared in Episode 237 on December 25, 2013.

Described as “startlingly bold and provocative” by Howard Zinn, “a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda” by the Austin Chronicle, and “a gender-fucking tower of pure pulsing purple fabulous” by The Stranger, Sycamore is the author of a memoir and three novels, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

There are scant few bits of non-musical media that fans of shoegaze music would consider essential canon. There’s the 33⅓ book about My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. There’s a 2014 documentary no one really watched called Beautiful Noise. I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower references a song by Ride maybe. And most famously, there’s Lost in Translation, the 2003 film featuring Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray looking sad to a hazy soundtrack of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and the Mary Chain, and Kevin Shields solo tracks.

But that was about it, right up until this March, when Wichita’s Troy James Weaver put out the delightfully bleak and brutal Temporal (Disorder Press, 2018). “Set to a shoegaze soundtrack,” goes the synopsis, “Temporal is the story of one tumultuous summer in the lives of three teenagers in Wichita, KS.” As a lover of both shoegaze and indie lit, this seemed like an obvious new favorite. And you know what? It was. I loved this book.

I spoke with Weaver a little bit about the writing of Temporal and the role that the different kinds of music referenced therein play in the larger narrative.

Dreams

By Bud Smith

Essay

Good Luck: Episode Nine

Just a quiet Sunday when you don’t care. Leave the bedroom, 8am. Go out to the couch, read for awhile. Two books, a novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, William Maxwell, and a small blue book analyzing dreams. I can’t remember my last dream. In the novel, the narrator is an old man, and can’t quite recall what he is trying to say about Illinois, 1922. I put the paperback down and look out my window. Jersey City, 2019.

This Big World

By Devin Kelly

Poem

 

for Bud Smith

 

I have been in debt for a long time. Some afternoons, I sit on the windowsill & take the risk of thinking I could fall out of it & fly. Everything is loud & mostly beautiful. It’s not a matter of perspective. If you look at a building upside-down it is only a building upside-down. It’s not standing on its head. It’s better to see it right. The chicken place across the street serves chicken & people walk inside & come out with chicken. We got some things right: best friends, slow cooking, glass-bottled Coke, remaining wingless & rooted to other wingless beings who leave us slowly or not slow enough. Heartbreak is one way of knowing you’re alive. Compiling obscene & ridiculous amounts of debt owed to a strange & robotic voice on the other end of a phone is another. But debt owed to a friend is a simpler kind of beauty. Like sharing french fries or saying just get the next one, next time. There’s too much I love about the world to think of leaving it. My own lunacy. The way I am still here, sitting by the window. How I can take the risk of thinking I can fly without the risk of flying. I’d rather watch the birds, those little masters, who make big geometric shapes out of one another & head off in flocks to find a beach, another summer. It’s winter here & everyone deserves a big coat. Something to smuggle inside of it & share, yes, with the people who have been smuggling you from each day, like this one, into the next.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Tommy Pico. A poet, performer, and screenwriter, his books include IRL, winner of the 2017 Brooklyn Library Literary Prize, Nature Poem, winner of a 2018 American Book Award, Junk, and the forthcoming Feed (Tin House Books). Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker at the Ace Hotel, co-hosts the podcast Food 4 Thot, and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

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Photo credit: Niqui Carter

On the day we met, she told me she was named after the sexiest country music star alive. And that she knew how to fire a gun. And that she was one hundred percent Cherokee.

My mama says I’m named after nobody. We don’t have a gun in our house. I have blonde hair and blue eyes.

Like those corduroy knee patches on my favorite fifth-grade jeans?
Or Portland raindrops spattering coffee in a recycled-paper cup.
How about a faded Pine tree freshener dangling from the radio knob of an RV.
A tuna-noodle casserole in Corning Ware cooling on a Formica countertop?

 

It’s there, in my stomach, and it stirs up; a wicked batter.  All nettles and ache.  My mom’s wooden spoon, weaponized, upside my brother’s heathen head.  I wield it.  I stick it in the mix and stir.  A bloody mess as it blends.  I taste it and wince.  Too much despair.  My hand heavy on the pour.

I open my mouth bucket-wide.  I shovel it in.

Swallow.

Start again.

I Have a Terrible Feeling is a series of weekly drawings, cartoons, and sketches by poet Adam Soldofsky.

Well, it was last fall and I was just finishing up moving stuff out of the farm up in Belgrade to move Nana down to Saco into her new condo. And I was picking up stuff in the yard. She had left a blue tarp out in the woods that she was using to put all the rusted, metal pieces on top of. The pieces she’d collect for me. She would dig up rusted, metal pieces out of the ground while she was gardening and she’d save them for me. To make things out of. Which, I wasn’t really making things out of, but she thought they looked cool, so she saved them for me. So I put the last of the chunks of the rusted, metal pieces in my truck, and I was picking up the blue tarp, and I noticed that underneath the blue tarp—stuck to it—was this brown… looked like a sac. Maybe about an inch and a half in diameter. Kinda made out of a tough… felt like a really tough paper. Like Tyvek. Do you know what Tyvek is? Tyvek is what they use to… it’s a sheath, kinda like paper… it’s what they use to wrap houses. When they’re building houses, before they put the shingles on. It’s really strong. That’s what this felt like.