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american-monsterSometime in the night back in the Spill City trailer, Norma had woken up and eaten the last churro but in the morning had no memory of doing this, or of anything else. She tried to shrug the burn out of her shoulders, her night with Bunny slowly coming back to her. Calling Mommy down at the beach. Half-falling over some kid outside the pay phone.

We were both eighteen but Rebecca was hopelessly naïve. She talked about her crush, Brother Matthew, with an unbridled enthusiasm I hadn’t seen since middle school. The first time he flirted with her, she told me the story like her life was never going to be the same.

When he was “babysitting” Rebecca and her brother one night, Matthew opted to join her on the couch instead of sitting alone on the love seat. The babysitting thing was pretty ridiculous considering that Rebecca was old enough to menstruate, drive and even vote, though as a Jehovah’s Witness, she never would.

Money Poem

By Donald Dunbar

Poem

after James Gendron

        Money is an extrovert. Money is social, sociopathic. Money is important in many games, but less so in children’s games,
        and can be used in sex games, as when I paid my girlfriend for sex and she said, acting, “Money gets me wet.” Money gets wet;

        if money floats, it floats only for a minute. Money has been made into shelter, into clothing, cooked into food:
        it tastes like butter, fuzz, or blood. Money for beer? Money is power. Money is quiet. Money electronic.

Lesh_HotDishPoster

TNB, The Rumpus, and Hot Dish reading series proudly present…

Nerdy, Wordy, & Dirty

An off-site event to help kick off the LA Times Festival of Books weekend!  Live readings!  Comedy!  Music!  Beverages!  Friendly banter!

WHEN:

Thursday April 10, 2014
Starts at 8 p.m.

WHERE:

Bootleg Theatre
2220 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057

WHO:

Readings by Gina Frangello, Dana Johnson, Jerry Stahl, and xTx!

Comedy by Ted Travelstead!

Music by DJ Mira Gonzalez!

Hosted by Brad Listi, J. Ryan Stradal, and Zoë Ruiz!

See you there!

_____________

Original poster art by Lyndsey Lesh.

On a tailgater and challenge by R. S. Gwynn who said, “Is there a Miltonelle in your future? I hope not!”

Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of man’s first disobedience, its fruit:
God’s ways ain’t for this homeboy to dispute.

That angels tumbled from the fluffy clouds,
From inky darkness and from fluffy clouds
And led to disobedience and its fruit;

Tortilla

On Thursday Nights I take a class at the Junior College.  Philosophy 101.  I know, I know, you’re supposed to call them Community Colleges, but they’ve only been Community Colleges for, oh, maybe fifteen years.  For thirty years I knew it as East L.A. Junior College.  It still sounds better to me.  Looking up is better than looking down.

Megan-Milks-Kill-Marguerite-author-pic-web“Milks.” That’s a funny name. Are you a funny person?

Nope. Not even going to deliver an anti-joke here. But I’m interested in comedy, for sure, especially the comedic grotesque and “stupid” writing. My fiction definitely has a sly side. Lots of deadpan humor, the occasional very bad pun. Plus talking insects, acts of gods, and winkingly insincere morals.

For Jamie Moore

I have to believe even your death was graceful.
That you lifted yourself into the backseat
effortlessly as your feet in first position raised onto pointe,
toes careful not to disturb the gear set in park.
That you crawled over the empty prescription bottles
to enter the trunk through the rear, folded yourself there,
wrapped your body around the blackness like a partner
who made you weightless in that perfect last ascent
before the stage went dark, before the curtain dropped.

Kill-Marguerite-Megan-Milks-webLevel One: The Rope Swing

BEGIN>> So they are at the rope swing, swinging. The rope swing is this dinky little wooden seat knotted onto a long rope that hangs from a sturdy big tree branch and it swoops back and forth over Swift Creek Reservoir, and you can stand on the seat or sit or whatever. Some of the boys even climb up the rope while it’s swinging because they’re showoffs like that. And there is Caty in her jean shorts and old New Kids on the Block t-shirt getting Hot and Heavy with Alex on the rope swing, at least she guesses that this is what that means.

we-met-at-the-old-motel-laurie-search

My mother is adamant that I was distraught the evening my father committed suicide. I have no recollection of that. She insists I continued to be very upset the next day. I have no recollection of that either.  In my mind I was stoic, calm, in control, but the events during that time don’t exist in my memory on any type of continuum or even as full scenes. Rather they are present as moments that stand out against a blurry backdrop, so it is possible she is right. I begin to lose details just seconds after my sister finished saying the three words she had called to relay: “Dad shot himself.”

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So how long have you been writing?

Since kindergarten. isn’t that when everyone learns how to write?

 

No, I’m sorry, I meant….you know, creative writing. Like what’s in your new book.

How do you know about my book?

 

My friend Rich told me about it. Is it any good?

That’s a strange question. Like if I told you I saw a car accident on my way here today, and then you asked me: was it any good? I wouldn’t know what you meant, you know?

9780374182212The cover of Jonathan Franzen’s strange, wonderful, and occasionally frustrating latest work, The Kraus Project, is immediately striking. Its peach smoke and antiquated type make for a different and mysterious feel. The typical Franzen cover is big, abrasive, traditionally American and in some cases, tactile or reflective. Into the world came The Kraus Project and it was greeted with a small well-mannered hooray and scarcely a glimmer of anticipation, like someone whom nobody was excited to see arriving late to a dinner party. The usual Franzenian hallmarks were strangely absent—there was no cannonade of tweets, motions for canonization or general controversy.

NYWe pile into grungy lofts along lower Broadway, far off on Avenue B, over by the West Side Highway, where our calloused feet turn black from the dust and grime caked on the wooden floors, where we steam up the tall windows with the ecstatic force of our efforts. We are all bargaining for space in these crowded dance classes—an opening in which to toss out a leg, an arm, always negotiating for that extra yard of floor. There is never enough of it, all of us hungry for more emptiness, more attention, more air in which to stretch out our limbs and spines and hearts, to rip through space.

Domenica_Ruta_ 32

The Library of Congress breaks down your book into these categories: Children of drug addicts—Massachusetts—biography—drug addicts. What genre would you put your book into?

I really dislike reducing any work of art to a DSM-IV listing. My mother was more than her addictions and mental illness. And I am more than her daughter.

Kim ChurchHas anyone told you that you misspelled the title of your novel?

My family, when we were together over Christmas. I reminded them it’s only my first book; what did they expect?

 

If you could read your book to anyone in the world, who would it be?

My grandmother, if she were still living. We would sit at her kitchen table and I’d read to her, short bits, just as she used to dictate to me. For years, I was her scrivener. One afternoon every week, I wrote letters for her. She had terrible arthritis and it pained her to write.