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levi-neptuneTwenty years ago, in 1994, the internet was very different from today. This was long before blogging, before the idea of social media (Mark Zuckerberg was only ten years old), and two years before Sergey Brin and Larry Page started the project that would end up becoming Google. It was the year that Lycos and Yahoo! (then known as “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web”) were founded, that someone registered www.sex.com, and the White House, then occupied by Bill Clinton, moved online at www.whitehouse.gov. It was also the year that Levi Asher founded a website called Literary Kicks at http://www.charm.net/~brooklyn.1 It was one of only 2,738 websites occupying a rather uncluttered and unorganized internet, and it survives today as one of the longest running websites around.

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Please explain what just happened.

We just released our poster and trailer for Hellion into the cyberspace and my mom emailed me to say she couldn’t stop crying. Moms rule.

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Bookslut Managing Editor Charles Blackstone is a writer-about town.

The town is Chicago. It’s toddlin’, as you know, and I imagine Charles eating long lunches in the patio seating of River North restaurants, sampling the delicate cheeses available in our bountiful Midwest, and later watching the sunset stream over west town from his window with the satisfaction of knowing that it is all being well done, and done well. I’ve lunched with Charles on the patio, performed with him now and again over the years, and have come to admire the apparent effortlessness he uses to approach the literary life.

He was kind enough to submit to a conversation below, where we talk about oh-so-many things. Enjoy!

Luce three scenariosKelly Luce’s debut collection, Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail—the first book from Austin small press A Strange Object—is garnering attention, something that’s difficult for short story collections to do. But it’s no surprise that this one is making waves. This lovely book is a joy to read. Luce’s stories show the kind of attention to the human spirit that makes short stories fun to read and makes the form special: there’s just a hint at magic and the fact that something otherworldly might be possible. Luce uses her stories to examine moments of grief, joy, love and the connections between people. And did I mention? Her writing is just damn good.

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It is with great sadness that we report the passing of author Ned Vizzini, who committed suicide in Brooklyn on December 19th.  Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Below, in its entirety, is his December 2012 interview with Brad Listi on the Other People podcast, which Ned called the most candid he’d ever done.  If you would like to learn more about his life and work, please visit his website.

h1203034Two Dollar Radio, the Columbus, Ohio boutique publisher of works such as Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps and Joshua Mohr’s Termite Parade, recently announced the addition of a micro-budget film division, Two Dollar Radio Moving Pictures, set to release its first three titles beginning in 2015 with Editor-in-Chief Eric Obenauf’s I’m Not Patrick.  Subsequent films will include The Removals, written by Nicholas Rombes and directed by Krilanovich, and The Greenbriar Ghost, co-written and co-directed by Scott McClanahan and Chris Oxley.  I recently spoke via phone with Obenauf to learn more about Two Dollar Radio’s crowd-funded foray into indie film.

imgresI’ve known Lisa Borders for a decade. We teach together at Grub Street, Boston’s writing center, and see each other every few months at some reading event or another. I’ve always known that Lisa was a great teacher, because her students will happily give you an earful.

I was even more pleased to learn what a fine novelist she is. Her new novel, which follows her 2002 debut, Cloud Cuckoo Land, is called The Fifty-First State. It’s about a photographer in her late thirties who leaves New York City to help her half-brother through his last year of high school, after his parents are killed in a car crash.

So no: not a feel-good story.

Unless you’re the sort of sicko (like me) who is actually interested in grief and how we survive it, and how distant families function, and whether it’s possible to find redemption where you weren’t exactly looking for it.

I was curious enough about all this to seek a further interrogation of Ms. Borders, who agreed to answer a few questions…

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NICK ANTOSCA:  Okay, normally they do self-interviews here, where the author just interviews him- or herself.  But I didn’t want to do that, so in this case two authors are going to interview each other. We both have books out.  Mine is The Girlfriend Game, a collection of stories which came out last month.  Yours is Threats, a novel which came out last year and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner.  We both live in Los Angeles.  We both moved here in the last few years.

It seems like a lot of writers are moving out here.  I came because I wanted to write for TV.  Why did you come?  A disproportionate number of serial killers have lived in Southern California.  Why do you think that is?

Bee photoThe River of No Return, Bee Ridgway’s time travel adventure, set in modern Vermont and London and Regency England, is a swift-moving, smarty-pants joy of a book — a thinking person’s escape into the past, a steamy forbidden romance, and a quest to save the world.  Bee Ridgeway is the pseudonym of the friend of my lucky youth, Bethany Schneider.

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Last Sunday I bumped into Iris Smyles, the notoriously reclusive author of the new novel Iris Has Free Time, as she was leaving her favorite stationery store in New York City’s East Village. She growled and tried to move past me, but not before I persuaded her to answer five questions about the writing life.

trick_of_the_lightWriter Lois Metzger was born in Queens, NY and has always written for young adults.  She is the author of three previous novels, all set in the fictional “Belle Heights” which is much like the Queens neighborhood where Metzger grew up, the place she has said, “where my imagination seems to live.”  Metzger has written two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, also for young adults,  is the editor of five story anthologies and has contributed to The New Yorker, The Nation and Harper’s Bazaar, among others.

sussman2010Ellen Sussman’s last novel, French Lessons, was a national bestseller that charmed Francophiles and non-Francophiles alike. With Ellen’s new book, The Paradise Guest House, the reader is again taken away to an exotic locale. Only this book goes beyond a romantic travel story by plunging into the painful complexities of terrorism and its echoing aftermath.

Here are six questions for Ellen Sussman:

TQA

HOST (V.O.)

Eugene, Oregon!

 

Ext. Midday. Rain pummels a tiny little city while the homeless runaways with face tattoos still sit in the open on the corner outside of Voo Doo Donuts, demanding baked goods from passersby.

red shirt garden smallCaroline Leavitt is silly and weird. I know this because I interviewed her here about her last novel, Pictures of You, but here I am again.  Is This Tomorrow is her second novel with Algonquin, the employees of which she refers to as “the gods and goddesses” of publishing. The novel centers on 1950s Jewish divorcée Ava Lark and her 12 year old son, Lewis, who move into an unwelcoming suburb, where Lewis quickly befriends the only two other fatherless kids on the block, Jimmy and Rose. But when Jimmy vanishes, Ava is targeted, Lewis grows up directionless, and Rose is convinced her brother is still alive. But what really happened that day, and should the truth of it really be told?

Thanks, Caroline for letting me pepper you with questions.

Freeman, Ru (Brenda Carpenter)Do you like asking yourself questions?

Hell no! I want to be asked questions. I want there to be a stream of people thrusting microphones in my face, snapping photographs, and asking me a thousand unanswerable questions which I simple deflect with a wave of my hand and a dazzling smile which reveal my perfect teeth as I keep walking, and pausing – occasionally – to sign autographs and wave and blow kisses. All to the music of Josh Ritter. So it’s kind of a swell but also poignant and about-to-fall-off-a-precipice feeling. Oh, and I’m also rocking some designer bling as I’m doing this. In high heels. Backward. George Clooney may be holding my arm too. Or Jonathan Rhys Meyers (since we share that bit about being expelled from school at the age of 16). I’d be heading off to a rally for some cool social-justice cause or to party hard, depending.