Monday, December 7, 2015

2015 Reading List

This will be my last post for a cool minute for a number of reasons, not that I'm super regular with new content or anything.

This year was bittersweet in so many ways. It began with me getting injured at work. Strained trap, sprained tricep, tendinitis of the bicep, strained rotator cuff capsule, and (after x-rays and an MRI) we found that I'd had chronic tearing of my labrum. For a few months, I could barely wash my own hair in the shower without some serious pain shooting up my back and down my arm. After 6 years of heavy lifting at my job, I was probably due for a serious injury and boy did I get it. The pain has subsided, but still returns on random days. There's no rhyme or reason for its appearance and I've desperately tried to establish the pattern to no avail. It's apparent the pain will not be going away any time soon. This was not a good thing.

What was a good thing was being put on paid medical leave from work for three days a week and not having to lift anything for the other two that I was there training my replacement(s). This afforded my arm and shoulder time to heal (slowly) while also making sure my rent and bills were paid. Once I realized this was going to be a lengthy healing process, I understood that I had been given a gift through the injury: more time to write.

So while this year's reading list is significantly smaller than the last few years, I'm not too embarrassed by it. Especially considering how few books the average person reads in a year (via Pew Research Center: median number of books read by an individual per year is 6 while the average is 15; that's pitiful). I can do better, but with the process of moving back across the country and the amount of really solid writing, submitting, and eventual publishing that got done this year, almost 40 books is still pretty damn good.

What to say about the list this year? Heavy on the Murakami, for sure. After years of putting him off, I finally decided to dive headlong into his work. He is a polarizing author for me, not unlike some of Millhauser's work wherein, I love parts, but feel the author could've tried to step just a little further into the weird without sacrificing the story. Murakami's later stuff is better written by far, however. His early stuff really had me tearing my hair out due to some pretty terrible metaphors and similes, though I wonder how much of that is due to the translation.

The Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series ended this year. Pretty great finish, honestly. It'd be nice to see Riggs put out another book involving that world or one just this side of it. Really fun read, conceptually.

Mark Z. Danielewski's latest project hit shelves. I'm still working through Book 1 despite it being listed below. It's a bit of a slog at the moment and hard to latch on to. I hope others are enjoying it more than I am currently, but I'll finish it by the end of the year.

For now, most of my books remain in storage until I move into my apartment in January. Strangely, it's the bookshelves I'm looking forward to filling the most, second only to hanging all the art I've been collecting from friends and friends of friends over the last few years.

2015 Reading:


01.) Gilbert Sorrentino - "The Abyss of Human Illusion" (151pgs)
02.) George Orwell - "Animal Farm" (139pgs)
03.) Kurt Vonnegut - "Slaughterhouse-Five" (215pgs)
04.) Haruki Murakami - "The Strange Library" (96pgs)

(601pgs total)


05.) Junot Diaz - "This is How You Lose Her" (217pgs)
06.) Roberto Bolano - "The Secret of Evil" (144pgs)
07.) Madeline Roux - "Sanctum" (343pgs)
08.) Ransom Riggs - "Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children" (396pgs)
09.) Haruki Murakai - "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles" (607pgs)

(1,707pgs total)


10.) Joe Hill - "Horns" (397pgs)

(397pgs total)


11.) Albert Camus - "Exile and the Kingdom" (213pgs)
12.) Dean Koontz - "Odd Thomas" (446pgs)
13.) Ayn Rand - "Anthem" (253pgs)
14.) C.G. Jung - "Modern Man in Search of a Soul" (244pgs)
15.) Nic Pizzolatto - "Galveston" (258pgs)

(1,414pgs total)


16.) Phantom Drift, Issue #1 (153pgs)
17.) Phantom Drift, Issue #2 (159pgs)
18.) Phantom Drift, Issue #3 (155pgs)
19.) Phantom Drift, Issue #4 (160pgs)
20.) Thomas Pynchon - "The Crying of Lot 42" (152pgs)

(769pgs total)


21.) Horowitz, Derby, & Moffett - "The Silent History" (513pgs)

(513pgs total)


22.) SK Kalsi - "The Stove-Junker" (334pgs)
23.) Jean-Patrick Manchette - "The Gunman" (155pgs)
24.) Dia Felix - "Nochita" (242pgs)

(731pgs total)


25.) Amelia Gray - "Gutshot" (207pgs)

(207pgs total)


26.) Sjon - "The Blue Fox" (115pgs)
27.) Roberto Bolano - "Tres" (175pgs)

(290pgs total)


28.) Madeline Roux - "Catacomb" (330pgs)

(330pgs total)


29.) Haruki Murakami - "Kafka on the Shore" (480pgs)
30.) Imre Kertesz - "Detective Story (112pgs)
31.) Mark Z. Danielewski - "The Familiar, Book I" (839pgs)
32.) Ransom Riggs - "Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children" (458pgs)
33.) Catherine Fisher - "Incarceron" (442pgs)

(2,331pgs total)


34.) David Young/Keith Hollaman - "Magical Realist Fiction: An Anthology" (519pgs)
35.) Haruki Murakami - "After the Quake" (147pgs)
36.) Haruki Murakami - "The Elephant Vanishes" (327pgs)
37.) Miyuki Miyabe - "Brave Story" (816pgs)
38.) David Young/Keith Hollaman - "Magical Realist Fiction: An Anthology" (528pgs)

(2,337pgs total)


39.) Matt Bell - "Cataclysm Baby" (105pgs)

(105pgs total)

Total Pages: 11,732


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Settling In to the New Version of the Old Life

So. Kansas City. I made it back amid some interesting hurdles and yet, here I stand, about as pleased as one could be after being unemployed for two months in their home town. And the Royals are in the World Series, so...that's pretty damn rad as well. This city is straight up electrified right now and the vibe is awesome everywhere you go.

The journey back was tough. Issues with low bank accounts and overly heavy luggage caused some minor stresses, but , as things tend to do when I'm forced into a corner, it all worked out. I made it out of San Francisco and into Phoenix where I got some really solid family time in with my father, step-mother, brother and sister. I really can't say enough good things about my times spent in the desert climate. Pops and I travel down to the bottom of several bottles of vodka, talk politics, and basically just rap while out on the patio for pretty much the entire time. Weirdly, I really only spend time inside the house when sleeping.

That week in Phoenix was a good way to clear my head before getting back to my hometown of Kansas City. Ease into the new manifestation of my present, if you will. I started off with a job, then landed and found the job had been given to someone else. Weird, but okay.

Went back into job search mode. Some 300+ resumes sent out during my last three years in San Francisco and I get no response from any of them. Somewhere near 50 sent out in the two months I've been back in the Midwest and I've had 14 interviews (!), one of which culminated in a job that I'm very much looking forward to, a job that requires all the skills I learned in both grad school and undergrad. I cannot tell you the absolute joy I feel at finally being out of the blue-collar industry, at using my brain rather than my brawn for once after working so hard on my education. I start that job on November 2nd.

Meanwhile, I've done a reading since I've been home. A great experience put on by an old friend at his wife's pop-up art salon surrounded by other word nerds who contributed some great conversation on all the pieces read by the spotlighted readers.

I've also done some dj-ing. Riot Room, MiniBar, Ruins Pub...and more to come at those places with another Thanksgiving themed party in St. Louis next month at The Upstairs Lounge. Playing records has been a good release while I rectified my job situation. It's also given me the chance to reconnect with a lot of the old crew, who are many and spread out across the entire city.

I will soon have my own place, an apartment I share with no one where the messes are my own and the solitude a perfect place for my future creative endeavors to start brewing again. It will be the first time I will live on my own as an adult and the amount of art I have to hang in order to make the vibe entirely my own is ridiculous.

The transition back to the land of seasons has not been without its struggles, but each struggle seems to be easily overcome either by luck, chance, or simply my years of being prepared for the worst and planning ahead. Whatever the solution, it's becoming clearer every day that my move back was absolutely the right decision and that my original hypothesis of finding work in my particular field being easier here has been proven correct in a short 8 weeks.

I miss my West Coast degenerates, without a doubt. But I'm at the point now where I need to be selfish about my career goals and follow them wherever they may take me. This is simply the first step of many more I expect will come in the years to follow.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Update: A Reading, Some Publications, A Move

My exit from the hills of San Francisco looms ever closer. It's been a solid 6 year run wherein I've moved my entire life across the country, earned an MFA in Writing, found an amazing crew of friends, and found some success in getting publishers of journals and reviews to like my writing. All in all, I'd call my West Coast growth experiment a success. But it's time to press on to other pastures and cultivate other experiences, despite the righteous view from my back patio (see: picture above).


I was nominated by a dear graduate school friend for a reading series here in the city called Under the Influence. I was chosen and got to read from a book by an author who influenced me. I chose Blake Butler's "Scorch Atlas" as his prose and stories turned me completely on my head and made me re-examine language in some really fun ways. You can find the video of my reading below.


I've recently had the good fortune of having a couple stories picked up for publication later this year. I made mention in a previous post about two upcoming publications ("Leonard & Marj" in the Serving House Journal and "The Dinner was Lovely," which can currently be read in Cahoodaloodaling's "He Said/She Said" Issue), but here are four new pieces that have been picked up since then.

"Black Crush" - picked up by Ginosko Literary Journal. The story of a crowd of people hiding in silence from the onslaught of a military coup passing by their darkened basement. Publication sometime in September or October.

"Racking Focus" - a blending and bending of the supernatural and the classic detective story trope. A little tongue-in-cheek, but a fun read, I think. Picked up by The Poydras Review for publication sometime in September or October.

"Welcome to the Fireworks" - the story of a wife tilted sideways by the paranoid thought that her husband is cheating on her with another woman. This is her journey through the midnight streets, knocking on the doors of every hotel room she comes in contact with, hoping to catch him in the act. Picked up by Sediments Literary Arts Journal and should be published around September or October.

"The Forgetting Muse" - this piece originally began as a kind of Gattaca-influenced bit of writing and turned into something completely different. It turns the idea of a date based on a dating website on its head, giving the woman all the information about her date except for the truly important things that can't be quantified by numbers, percentages or graphs. Picked up for publication by Five Quarterly and will be published sometime in August.


And then there's this, my move back to Kansas City. My time here in San Francisco has run its course. There is plenty to love about the west coast; the food is varied and delicious, the coastlines gorgeous, and the proximity to pretty much any kind of climate within an hour's drive. Makes it a little hard to leave.

San Francisco is a hard city to make it in. Or maybe I'm just old and bullheaded in ways that don't jive with the city's younger, more tech-savvy residents. Whatever the reason, I did what I came out here to do and then some. As a writer, I've grown and experienced exponentially since my arrival six years ago, but after multiple attacks by random strangers in the street and the steadily increasing rent that makes living here harder and harder to do, it's time to go back to a place where the dollar stretches further and where my roots remain deep and labyrinthine.

What I could not do for employment out here is something I hope I'll be able to achieve upon my return to my hometown. I can only think that this city is over-saturated with intelligent, creative people the way Kansas City, thankfully, is not. I say that not as a jab at my hometown, but simply as a matter of fact - San Francisco is overrun, to its credit, with brilliant and talented people that constantly try to add to and preserve large swaths of culture in myriad ways. I hope that my aspirations and expectations are not only met, but exceeded in the same way by moving home and trying to achieve that same exaltation of arts and culture in Kansas City to higher levels.

After all...I can write anywhere.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anatomy of a Mixtape (Videos)

I've just finished writing a story called "Anatomy of a Mixtape." Since I can't really include the videos in the text I send to publishers, I'm going create the playlist here so people can simply follow the link I've included at the bottom of my piece. If the piece gets picked up for publication, I will edit this posting to include a link there so that you can read it as you listen along to the songs chosen for the story.

Robert Glasper - "Maiden Voyage / Everything In Its Right Place"

Al Green - "What Is This Feeling?"

Soul Coughing - "Soft Serve"

Leon Ware - "I Wanna Be Where You Are"

Jose Gonzalez - "Heartbeats"

The Cinematic Orchestra ft. Roots Manuva - "All Things To All Men"

Explosions In The Sky - "The Only Moment We Were Alone"

Failure - "The Nurse Who Loved Me"

Jimmy Eat World - "For Me This Is Heaven"

The Radio Dept. - "Tell"

Washed Out - "Don't Give Up"

Bjork - "All Neon Like" 

Billie Holiday - "Don't Explain (Dzihan & Kamien Remix)"

Little Dragon - "Cat Rider"

Jeff Buckley - "Lover, You Should've Come Over"

4Hero - "Conceptions"


Friday, April 10, 2015

Update on 2015 Publications

The year has started off pretty well for me, writing-wise. I've got a few publications that have already come out (links below) and a few others that will be forthcoming. A couple will be online, but mostly I believe you'll have to purchase the majority of them directly from the magazine's site itself.

"The Machinery of the Heart" 
in Issue 13 of L'Allures des Mots

First off, the issue is flat out gorgeous. That they took the first piece (also, the title piece) of my newest collection of stories is pretty great. I was really happy with the finished product, both in terms of story and the magazine itself. The story is about a tinkering father on his deathbed and the way he toils over creating a gift for his son that he hopes will make up for the time the son never got to enjoy with his mother in life. 

"Saudades & Ossuaries"
in Slice Magazine, Issue #16: The Resistance Issue

It took me awhile to place this particular piece, but I'm glad it ended up in such a great magazine. That it has a wide circulation is also pretty great. The piece itself is a kind of war story, set many years into the future (and yet feeling very much in the now) and centered around the civil war-like struggle of a country battling itself to see who can be the most depraved in an effort to rule over all. 

"Evans Barlte and the Inspiration"
in Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Issue 8

This piece germinated from an idea I'd been sitting on for YEARS. Just a weird moment, a line, that finally decided to sprout wings and fly. Evans Barlte, an artist, creates a way for patrons of the arts to consume art in a way that lets them actually feel the entire process of creating a work. From the inspiration stage to the actual painting/sculpting stage, he wows an entire crowd of people at his latest exhibit. I haven't seen the actual copy of this issue yet, but I'm anxious to dig into it once I get back to Kansas City. 

Upcoming Publications: 

"Leonard & Marj"
in Serving House Journal

This piece is an excerpt from my novel "Impasto." It's a strange little piece meant to convey the fracturing of a relationship through the use of tiny moments in the lives of the characters. Imagine it as a kind of movie montage like in the movies, but in a more literary sense. You get the feel of decades of marriage, the tugs and pulls of each partner, over the course of 10-15 pages as opposed to several hundred.

"The Dinner was Lovely"
in Cahoodaloodaling

Believe it or not, this was one of my writing samples that helped get me into the University of San Francisco's MFA program. It's been added to, revised, edited, added to again, edited again, so on and so forth. It might be the best example of where I was headed with my particular style of writing before grad school and it definitely goes to some dark places with a little bit of humor. But only a little.


Friday, March 27, 2015

The Necessity of Other Creative Outlets

I've been writing since I was fifteen years old. Obviously my early stuff was not very well executed (some could argue that my current stuff falls under the same descriptor), but I was doing it and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was also playing the bass guitar at the time, which later got me into a pop-punk band where I had a phenomenal time playing shows around Kansas City. With the band, I got to experience that perfect little bubble of time where four guys playing different instruments completely nail their parts and it seems, at least for awhile, impossible to screw up a song. It is a singularly amazing experience to feel that kind of absolute and perfect synchronicity with your band mates, one that's always hard to describe to people who've never played live in front of crowds before. I call it the "Midas Moment" as everything you do seems to be absolute gold. You are unstoppable.

During my time in the band, I was writing less of my own personal creative stuff and focusing more on the musical. I had three other people depending on me to be on top of my game, so I practiced both at home and with them. Long summer days spent in our drummer's basement before we all went to our jobs in the early afternoon or early evening. Hours upon hours of practice. Some days were brutal or unproductive; others the complete reverse, finding the completion of songs or perfect edits to pieces we had long thought finished.

College came. I was writing again, but bad poetry this time as opposed to stories. You know the kind of poetry I mean; youthful in style and content, overly emotional, fraught with awful metaphors and similes, and just painful to read years later. But I was writing. I was creating. I had an outlet for whatever creative ADD I had bubbling and brewing inside me. Then I flunked out of college, came home, began working and trying to figure out what life was going to throw my way next.

As it happens, turntables and vinyl records were next. I'd gotten into electronic music and hip hop late in high school and was given a kind of musical education by a friend's older brother. Over the next few years, I practiced matching beats and learning to EQ levels between tracks. From 2001-2009, I played a large number of shows around Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha, even a few scattered about the plains of Iowa. Music had wormed its way into my brain again, albeit in a different and more solitary form than what being in a band entailed.

Towards the end of my time in Kansas City, I was given a residency at a friend's sushi restaurant and told to just "do what you do." My friend knew that I understood it was a restaurant and not a club, so he told me to play whatever I felt appropriate. As it happened, this experience became a kind of musical lab for me, experimenting with various styles of music mixed with seemingly disparate other styles, forcing them to work well together. It was a fantastic experience that allowed me to play in the purest sense fusing styles and genres into one cohesive form over the course of several hours. If my experiments didn't work one night, they would during another. It was playful and helped me to push my own boundaries in a way that running a different kind of weekly club night didn't always allow.

In 2009, I moved to San Francisco for grad school (MFA in Writing). Torn between the decision to save my book collection (which filled my bedroom) or my record collection (which filled an entire storage unit), I opted to sell the records I had been collecting since the beginning of the decade. I can't even properly describe how that decision ruined me. So many great records cultivated and curated and I had to give up all but the most important ones.

Over the last six years, I've completed one novel (in need of serious revision), halfway completed two others, completed one full short story collection and am nearly finished with a second. I've been busy and it's been good. The payout for publication of these pieces is less immediate and more long-term; where one week's gig dj-ing might land another for the following week, it can take months, if not up to a year and a half before I hear anything back about a single story being picked up for publication, and even then, the publication may not be a paying one. This is the reality; this is the trade off.

The holidays during the winter tend to find me at a creative standstill with the writing. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's ends and we're immediately into the next one. For me, there's not a lot of mental breathing space, so my creative output tends to decrease during this time of year and it's exceedingly hard to get back into the swing of things once the new year starts. Other outlets are necessary. I've done some fun collage work with friends, which gave way to some fun finished products, but it wasn't the same. These same friends, however, knew that I was heavy into music before moving to San Francisco. An unbelievably giving crew, they all chipped in to purchase a dj controller for me that worked in tandem with the software I already had. Since that purchase, I have been creating new mixes of music that have been bubbling and brewing inside my musical mind for the last six years. You can find all links to all those mixes at the bottom of this post.

This is all to say...go out and create. If you find yourself listless and bored, anxious for some kind of newness, don't turn down the opportunity to create something, even if it's not your normal medium. I've found that the creative mind doesn't really stay mired in one area but reaches out with tentacled arms into all others with relative ease. Even if you're more interested or educated in one area, your brain is built to explore, so one set of skills (I believe) translate easily into another set of skills. Your brain will allow certain things to foment if you're open to trying and you'll still be feeding the creative monster that lives inside your head.

Mamet was half-right when he used "ABC" as "Always Be Closing" in his play Glengarry Glen Ross...

Always Be Creating.

As for the mixes below, please excuse some of the iffy mixing in some of them. I'm working without a monitor currently, so I'm not able to hear how some of the EQ-ing meshes in real time, but considering that...I'm VERY happy with the outcomes.

Bourbon & Blunts: Autumn
(Jazzy HipHop/Instrumentals)

Les Loups – “Elephant & Ivory (Vanilla Instrumental Remix)”
Notorious B.I.G. – “One More Chance (Woody remix, ft. Carlitta Durand)”
Mono Massive x Vertical Vertigo – “Can’t Let Go (Figub Brazlevic Remix)”
Common Sense – “Nuthin’ to Do (Instrumental)”
The Pharcyde – “Devil Music”
Dj Four One One – “Highest Melodies”
Noza – “Dear Old Budapest”
The Roots – “Distortion to Static”
Es Nine – “Madness”
Ronny Jordan & Dj Spinna – “Mackin’”
Jazz Liberatorz – “The Return (ft. Sadat X)”
C-Swing – “Obese Request”
Ice Cube – “You Know How We Do It”

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. III

Tropics – “Popup Cinema”
Moon Boots – “Sugar”
Rae & Christian – “Divine Sounds”
Rae & Christian – “Swimming Pool”
Andy Caldwell – “Warrior”
Dam Funk – “Hood Pass Intact”
Dwele – “Let Your Hair Down”
Nate James – “Funkdefining”
Vikter Duplaix – “Temple of Thoughts”
Le Nonsense – “Kaer (Original Mix)”
Alteria – “Prasso (Piano House Mix)”
Crayon – “Give You Up, feat. KLP (Darius Remix)”
Luc Angenehm – “Morning Tea (Original Mix)”

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. II
(Deep House)

Kogyo - "Across the Border (Giuliano Rodriguez Remix)"
Brooklyn Guy - "Scat (Be Scat Mix)"
Boston Beach - "Heart Deep (American Dreams Deep Mix)"
Mr. Mason - "Chill Forever"
Deep Republic - "Deep Loop of Other Times (Marius Fareneit Mix)"
Fashion Man - "TNT (Deep Scat Mix)"
Modell & Mercier - "Love Melody (Light & Passerella Mix)"
The Silk Man - "The Spirit (Private Mix)"
Aquatic - "Similar Bodies"
Karasto - "Funkbass"
Times Square Vibes - "Femme (New York Deep Mix)"
Zero Beats - "Kiss Me on the Beach (Maurice's Rising Mix)"
Bag2Gab - "Bag Bass (Original Mix)"
Submantra - "Lilly (Original Mix)"
Emanuel Satie - "Gold"
Fake Forward & Amba Shepherd "Rewind (Aidan Lavelle Remix)"
Liquid Rainbow - "I Know That You Know That I Know That You Know (Giuliano Rodriguez Remix)"
Damolh33 - "Go On"

Morning Glow

Basement Jaxx - "Just One Kiss (Accapella)"
Luvian - "Haze"
Dj Krush - "Beyond Crashing Waves"
Soul Bossa Trio - "Naima"
DePhazz - "Nu Chic"
Sade - "Skin"
JaysWays - "Surround Me (Cosmo's Midnight Mix)"
Lemongrass - "Balcony"
Yasmine - "Sunrise Ruby"
Mo Horizons - "African Sunset"
Miso Shiru - "Gush" 
Reggie B - "Hypnotic (ft. Donald Hays)"
Dzihan & Kamien - "Ford Transit"

The Bounce Kitchen, Vol. I

Full Crate & Mar – “Man X Woman”
WastedPeople – “She’s Playing Hard to Get (Gabriel Slick Remix)”
Dwele – “The Truth (J. Paul Getto Afterparty Remix)”
Heart Groove – “Sad Sea Waves (Deepsoul Mix)”
AlunaGeorge – “You Know You Like It (Wilfred Giroux Remix)”
Harness and Spencer – “Taboo Jazz”
Biboulakis – “La Bulgare”
Demarkus Lewis – “Your Touch (D’s Lush Instrumental)”
Oliver Desmet & Oriental Funk Stew – “Hot on Your Trail (Frequent Fliers)”
Kevin Yost – “Stronger Love”
Mr. Nice Legs – “Summertime”
Alicia Keys – “Rock Wit U (Hannes Fischer Remix)”

Deep Thump 2015
(Deep Tech/Deep House)

The Razor - "Hauzor (Detroit Mix)"
Saccao & Jean Bacarreza - "G&G (L.O.O.P. Remix)"
Stage Rockers & Papa Martin - "You Can More (Original Mix)"
Urmet K. ft. Millie Mad Docks - "Dreamz (Jody Wisternoff Remix)"
Earstrip & Torha - "The King (Original Mix)"
Dirty Minds - "I'm For Pleasure (Claptone Remix)"
Angelo Ferreri - "First Question (Original Mix)"
Jay Lumen - "The Reason (Space Shaker Remix)"
Maceo Plex - "Conjure Superstar (Original Mix)"


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Surya Kalsi's "The Stove-Junker" (Little Feather Books)

The cover of the book...

"In the winter of 2012, 79-year-old Somerset Garden travels back to his ancestral home in idyllic Drums, Pennsylvania, to renovate his dilapidated house. Burdened by the loss of his beloved wife, angry at God and at himself, Somerset hopes to reach a final understanding of the meaning of his life.

While a blizzard barrels down from the north and "Armageddon" draws closer, Somerset discovers an unnamed boy squatting on the property, a strange boy who forces him to confront his past. Unearthing objects in the house, Somerset remembers his father's cruelty and the accident that cost him his brother's life; his youth's itinerant wandering, tethered to his mother after a fire that blazed the woods; his artistic wife and their rebellious son—all of whom are caught in the grip of Luzerne County's ancient history of violence. 

Part elegy, part history, part existential ghost tale, The Stove Junker is a harrowing, lyrical meditation on loss, heartbreak, and the power of memory."

The trailer for the book...

I genuinely love getting to hype new books by former classmates/current friends, like my friend Courtney Moreno's book "In Case of Emergency" (which you can find HERE) or in the coming months when my friend Lauren Saft has her first book hitting shelves later this year.

But I've got a soft spot for my dude Surya. We met the first day of grad school. We bonded in that awkward first day of school talk; what we were into, who we read, what we write, etc. Mutual loves of highly stylized writing and the entire school of philosophical thought through the years made us instant homeboys. Despite this, it took us three months before we figured out that we lived only two blocks from each other in San Francisco. After that, we were damn near inseparable.

Late nights of Italian dinners and drunkenly browsing the shelves at City Lights Books just before midnight. Saturday afternoon writing sessions fueled on coffee and cigarettes. Wednesday nights across from campus, drinking Johnny Walker and discussing the critiques we'd just gotten from our peers in workshop. I was the best man at his wedding to a fantastic woman and a pseudo-uncle to their first child together. I am stoked for this latest accomplishment.

He sent out a letter to let everyone know about the forthcoming book. You'll find it below, along with links to find it for purchase, and other important ephemera. He also blogs at Headers, Margins, and Footnotes.

Surya K. Kalsi

"Dear Friends and Acquaintances,

I wanted to share some exciting news with you! My first novel The Stove-Junker is being released in April from Little Feather Books, Inc. Needless to say my wife and I are so excited. The book started out as my MFA thesis and grew out of all my hard work at USF.

The novel is being likened to Cormac McCarthy and Paul Harding, so I cannot complain. However, it makes me nervous just thinking about it.

I hope you will visit my website at and browse around, learn a little about the book, peruse some images (photography mine) of the book’s setting, and leave me a message with your thoughts.

I also encourage you to visit my Facebook page HERE, view the book trailer(s), and LIKE me.

Please see the attached image, representing the final artwork for the novel. I hope you will read it when it is released and, good or bad, let me know what you think.

Thank you for your support, and all my best to you and yours,

SK Kalsi"