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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Call for submissions, part two: HOPELESS BOOKS, UNINC.

aka My vast and wicked publishing empire.

So, I decided to start a publishing company this week. No, that's not exactly true; this week I was reminded that, several months ago, I made a drunken promise to start a publishing company.

I'm hard at work setting up the blog and editing release #3, so let me just give you a screen shot and a link by way of further explanation:


Feel free to submit manuscripts (fiction preferred, genre fiction accepted, brilliant nonfiction also taken with zest, but I may recommend a more nonfiction-centric publisher) to the same email address given in Call for Submissions, Part One (

But be forewarned: My business model is zero budget—except for cover art; by the way, ALL royalties will go to the authors, I'm only keepin' my own—but it's not zero risk. I'm staking my reputation on my writers' talent.

So, thin skins, please do not apply with something that sucks and then get some sort of passive-aggressive Intertubes revenge. Please. It will be bad for both our souls. I mean, sure, you'll probably want to say some nasty things about me, I know the feeling, but do it in an honorable fashion, SVP.

Of course I'm interested in antinatalist literature, but my judgments will be aesthetically based, not ideologically based. Never cling too hard to an "ism"; it will ruin your eyes. So if you send me something like this embarrassingly written thing, I will agree very cordially with your opinion about reproduction, but not with your opinion about your writing talent, and we will not be able to work together, to my regret.

Nevertheless, I encourage you to submit. Whatever your opinions about things. Because the only thing I know for sure is that we're all sort of on the Titanic.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Matt Forney, Kafka, managers, and Andy Nowicki and me and ghosts. Happy Halloween!

Linked below: another set of kind words from Matt Forney regarding NVSQVAM (the stupidest thing anyone ever named a book, publicity-wise, as it turns out; way to go, me), fellow novelist Andy Nowicki, and our mutual embodiment of the Generation X... continual malaise and the er... zeit... hm.

How does one underline the more ghoulish shadings one could pull from the dreaded word "zeitgeist" when our zeit has already rolled over us and left us under the shit-infused tarmac of the 21st century?

Ah well. If you don't like novels, the first half of the interview touches on some fascinating stuff about managerialism, a practice as well as a theory which describes, as I gather, the unpleasant, Platonic, Kafkonic reality underlying the eerie similarities between communism and late "capitalism" (and the reason why your CEO, not the stockholder, is truly the master of your neoserf hind end):

Friday, October 25, 2013

Call for submissions

Hey there. I'm not sure how much interest people have in reading book reviews on, or submitting book reviews to, this blog, particularly the way I tend to write them these days (see my review of Almost Home by Frank Marcopolos below).

I used to get paid to write these things, but then the newspaper industry died, and I'm an old fuck who doesn't know or care much about how making shit go all intertube-viral works, and while I still very much enjoy getting books for free and then blathering about them, the absence of a monetary reward tends to make me lazy when it comes to a. Bothering to organize my reviews terribly formally, and b. Making sure there's a blurb-worthy sentence or four in there.

Also, while I will try to not be vicious if I don't like your book, things unrelated to your book may occasionally put me in a very bad mood. Apologies in advance.

That being said, I'll accept just aboout anything for review: big publisher, small publisher, self-publisher, fiction, nonfiction, lies, and in either printed or electronic form (god knows postage costs a mint these days). My email address is, and you can mail paper things to me at Ann Sterzinger, three hundred fifty North Orleans St., Suite twelvetwelve, Chicago, IL ZIP code sixohsixfivefour. (That's my work address, not my home address, since I haven't completely lost my mind yet, and I'm spelling out the numbers to reduce googleability, since I'd rather my coworkers not read all this, because I have no idea how they'd react.)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh my god, trolls, it's a Nazi stealing your pets!

Wait... er, sorry, no... that's just Chip Smith of Nine-Banded Books, completely covered in the cats he would never eat. Think what he wouldn't do to people. This is one of the cutest things I've ever seen, but... NAZI!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Frank Marcopolos' "Almost Home": Frank, what the hell is this about?

It's been a few months since I read ALMOST HOME, the (sort of?) romantic comedy of a novel by my old friend Frank Marcopolos, and I still don't know what the hell to write about it, so I'm winging it here. What the hell is this book about?

I could always ask Frank, since I've known him for a decade and a half, but a. That would be too easy, and b. That would also be too hard, since Frank is an inscrutable smartass, and he likes it that way.

For the AN community: No, this isn't a natalist novel, but to say more would be to ruin the uniquely paced ending. Suffice it to say that Frank isn't likely to wind up in the Daily Mail next to the Octomom anytime soon.

Jesus, I still don't know what to say. When I started on the first few pages of this book all I could think was, "Where is Frank, and why the is the person who kidnapped him writing rom-coms about dipshit college kids in his name?" Granted, Salinger was nowhere near Holden Caulfield's age when he wrote Catcher in the Rye, but by the time we're in our [mumble lateearly mumble]-ies most writers have found less weary ground to tread than "college brats getting shitfaced, and then they fuck." But it quickly gets weirder than that. [EDIT: By "weirder," I meant "more interesting. Not sure if that was clear.]

Yes, this is technically a rom-com; the protagonist spends most of the book chasing/being chased by/engaging in various folies a deux with a couple of girls, one wife material, the other a psycho-sex-fantasy beast of whom he winds up being very afraid (not that his little head isn't still obsessed with her). It's also a bildungsroman, a satire, a conspiracy theory, a grotesque parody, thoroughgoingly entertaining, and a sports novel.

It's also a pair of parallel character sketches. The villain, or what passes for one here, starts out as an old-fashioned snob from the snobs-and-slobs genre (see REVENGE OF THE NERDS). Barry Budski is rich, blustering, and happy to humiliate anyone he needs to.

But Budski is so miserable that you eventually feel sorry for him, oiled moustache and all. He quickly gets swamped in his own bizarro Illuminati web, spun mostly from his daddy issues, and in doing so drags the whole book into a parallel (or not?) universe in which frat houses are fronts for failed financial empires.  Frank has clearly done time as a subject of Bush II. I don't know if that was what he was consciously thinking when he wrote this character, but he is a native of the U.S., where our last two national figureheads, come to think of Obama's autobiography, have been as full of Daddy issues as a stripper (oh yeah, a stripper dies in the opening act, by the way).

The protagonist, Enzo Prinzatti, is clearly a slob, though he also wavers in his devotion to his role in the great shipwreck of life for a while; his vacillation between archetype and individuation mirrors Budski's. I've read a review of ALMOST HOME that dragged out the hoary and obnoxious old dismissal: "The main character is unsympathetic." Unless we're talking about horrible Lena Dunham's horrible GIRLS— which is hardly a piece of writing, so to speak—this nearly always translates into Annish as "I am unable to admit to the basic horrors of my own being as a human, and prefer to read morality plays which flatter my sense of what being me means."

Yep, he's a slob, and yes, he makes a few (a few? Try a neverending stream of) terribly clumsy and self-sabotaging, cringe-making bad moves; at times it reminds me of PEEP SHOW. Even when he quits trying to drink himself through to a higher state of messing up the rom-com plot, he keeps stumbling ahead with his graphically, sympathetically portrayed fear of commitment, a fear that in standard rom-coms is made light of or treated as a fixable disease. Prinzatti is so terrified that he torpedo vomits. Most of the time he's fully aware that what he's doing is incredibly stupid but, puppet-like, he's driven by forces that are both in him and beyond his control. Kind of like a Ligotti character, except more comically gamboling, even more helpless, and pathetically, I'm-just-a-dude-with-a-dream hopeful.

And just before Enzo lurches into the pen of his final destiny, the thing suddenly turns into a grotesque parody of the Iliad. Yeah. I mentioned that this is a baseball novel, right? In Prinzatti's final attempt to thwart the Fates who use him for their own sport—whatever the hell the rules to THAT sport are, if there are any—he thwarts himself after injuring his Achilles tendon (get it?) by sending his little buddy Patroski (sound familiar?) in to pitch against a guy who's blatantly called Hector and whom only Prinzatti could beat.

It does hold together, it's a wonderful read, but I give up on trying to coherently explain it right there. It's available HEEEEEEERE. As always, Kindle books are readable on any computer, so if you can read this, you can read that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

NVSQVAM: "A MUST-READ NOVEL" (So read it. Or I'm coming to everyone's house to kill them, I've had it, I swear on a stack of Vanity Fairs [the book, not the magazine, shithead].)

(Sigh) Obviously, I'm a little tense this week. But I'm also extremely chuffed and grateful for this kind review by Matt Forney, the twentysomething who fooled us all by posing as a gruff old pervert on In Mala Fide:

Thanks, Matt!

Everyone else: hey! This thing I made with my brain might amuse you. Don't turn down amusing things, life's dreary enough as it is. If you're leery and you want a sample chapter before releasing the toiled-over coin, shoot me a line ( In fact, I think I'll start posting a few samples out of NVSQVAM here soon; its publisher, Chip Smith of Nine-Banded Books, has, to the surprise of no one except the trolls, graciously given his blessing.

To those of you who only read nonfiction (a surprising number of my friends, in fact, subscribe to the "truth is stranger than fiction" truism disappointingly religiously), Forney says this:

"Man does not live by bread alone, and you need to read fiction and literary nonfiction in order to become a well-rounded individual.

I’d rather die than live in a world where I can’t read books like NVSQVAM (Nowhere)."

I'd probably rather just die, myself, but I enjoy his point.