East End Book Exchange and Plays Inverse are teaming up to celebrate Josh’s first reading in Pittsburgh since the release of THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE at AWP. The reading will also feature Josh’s cohorts from The Lettered Streets Press: Aubrey Hirsch, Abigail Zimmer, Nicole Wilson, and Alexis Pope.
Oh, and there’ll be free beer too.
It’s gonna be a hoot and a half. Possibly a hootenanny even.
Poster by the ever talented Ryan Spooner.
Civil Coping Mechanisms is open for submissions three times a year, for one week
Mainline starts June 23 — two weeks away
I submitted to this during the winter and was a finalist, which was cool. Y’all should send to mainline. It is fun submitting a book and finding out whether you’re in the running within a day or two. Finding out whether you are accepted within a week.
Joshua Young is the author of THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (Plays Inverse Press), and three other collections. Recent work in Gulf Coast, RHINO, FUGUE, Hobart, The Laurel Review, PANK, Nightblock, and others. He is editor-in-chief of The Lettered Streets Press and is Associate Director of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He lives in the Wicker Park neighborhood with his fam.
We hope you are all as big a fan as we are! Come see Josh this Saturday! RSVP here.
This trilogy of ghosts claims, ‘No one will remember / their names,’ but that is a lie. We will remember. We will always remember. We will know their names, even in the blood-light, even in the trees. We will wait and we will hold these names in the Vanity House & ‘everyone will clap.’ At the end of it, York’s couplets have unlocked the ghost-poem, spilling us forward into the ether.
— Joshua Young, author of THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE
RSVP for the release reading Saturday June 7th at 9PM at Habana Cabana in Chicago.
Working on some updates for the Plays Inverse website and realized I forgot to share this on here. Genevieve Barbee was kind enough to have me on her podcast The AP Collection to talk plays, publishing, and Pittsburgh. Check it out if you’re into any of the above, and subscribe to the cast on iTunes.
Also, did I mention the press has it’s own tumblr? Regular updates and such here.
PS) Photograph by Genevieve in my basement bedroom/office. Frog was a gift from a production of A Year with Frog and Toad I directed, and is still one of my favorite musicals. Bowser on the other hand is signed by each member of Anamanaguchi. Interior decorating at its finest.
I just finished Redshirts, John Scalzi’s novel send-up of Star Trek from the point of view of the extras. A group of ensigns on the Intrepid (not the Enterprise, because intellectual property laws), realize that going on away missions or hanging out near the senior officers (i.e., the main characters) almost always gets junior officers and new recruits killed violently. A crazy science officer gone AWOL tells them to “beware the narrative.” They realize they’re on a TV show, they think of a way to game the system, blah blah blah. I can’t be bothered to summarize the assinine plot of this book. Here's the wikipedia page.
Eighty percent of this book sucked. The plot, despite its meta-narrative concerns, was predictable. The characters were all ciphers (which is kind of the point, but they were ciphers even when they didn’t need to be ciphers). The dialogue came in about four flavors of sarcastic banter, like Whedon without the comedy chops. The whole idea has been done to death. Galaxy Quest but in reverse. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Stranger than Fiction. That scene in Gremlins 2 when the gremlin burns the film stock of Gremlins 2. Redshirts could, if it wanted to, really explore the existential ramifications of its too-clever TV-writer meta-shtick, but it doesn’t. Redshirts doesn’t give a fuck. Redshirts just blasts forward on massive plot engines—too much intertia to bother with things like character and originality and thinking.
But then a weird thing happens. About three-quarters of the way through, the story ends, and the book presents us with three codas. Each coda is a short story that follows one of the minor characters from the novel, and digs into the nitty gritty of what being alive in this meta-fictional world would actually be like. Finally, some real science fiction instead of just fan service. The codas are emotionally complex, disturbing, full of freaky existential inquiry. In short, they’re great. They almost, almost made wading through 250 pages of bullshit worthwhile.
But they also made me angry. Scalzi, it turns out, can actually write! And he’s really good! He clearly has a bead on the deeper, weirder implications of the world he’s built, but he deliberately chose not to include them in the body of the book. On one hand, I get it: he wanted to preserve the purity of the style in the first 3/4 of the novel. It zips along like the TV show it’s supposed to be, characterization and exploration of ideas is shallow, it’s cliffhangery, and I guess it’s supposed to be like that. On the other hand, why write something deliberately mediocre when you could write something good?
The codas got me thinking about Michael Chabon’s ideas of “trickster writing,” how the best genre writers use convention as a tool rather than a blueprint. They flirt with, subvert, deconstruct genre tropes. Redshirts is a great book to illustrate the difference between genre writing that hews to convention and genre writing that plays with it because Redshirts does both—doggedly tracks genre tropes and sucks in the first 3/4, plays with and explores them and kicks ass in the last 1/4.
Also, a random note: I just realized that my longest posts on this blog are all about books I didn’t like—and that I really only write commentary for books I thought sucked. Weird. I guess it’s the wrathful comments-thread lurker in me.