Green Mountains Review Open for Submissions!

The 2014 Neil Shepard Prizes in Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Nonfiction is now open for submissions. The contest is hosted by Green Mountains Review, edited by Leapfrog author Jacob White.

http://greenmountainsreview.com/?p=3737

Short Stories — For FREE!

Our short stories are now free online! Bookslinger comes preloaded with short stories from independent publishers around the world. Every week we let fly a free story from one of our award-winning publishers. Available on iTunes.

Just out:

“Our Big Game” from “Immanence of God in the Tropics” by George Rosen

 

 

 
Recent Leapfrog Press stories available on Bookslinger:

 

 

“Shadowboxing” from “Dancing at the Gold Monkey” by Allen Learst
http://thebookslinger.com/?s=Dancing+at+the+Gold+Monkey

 

 

 

 

 
“The Floods” from “And Yet They Were Happy” by Helen Phillips
http://thebookslinger.com/?s=Helen+Phillips

 

 

 

 

“Men in Brown” from “How to Stop Loving Someone” by Joan Connor
— this one is guaranteed to make you fall out of your chair laughing!
http://thebookslinger.com/?s=joan+connor

Being Dead in South Carolina – Three Guys One Book Review

In Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Warren Beatty’s John McCabe—with all his roughness and maundering—grumbles, “I got poetry in me,” an assertion with which nobody around him seems to agree. This dialogue kept running through my head while I read Being Dead in South Carolina, Jacob White’s debut short story collection, which begins with a question: “Look. Have you ever tried to right a car you yourself have tumbled?” Immediately, the reader intuits that this narrator is a fuck-up who spends his life attempting to fix disasters that he himself has caused. But check out the way he describes the overturned car: He calls it a “strange articulation of stupidity and rebirth.” He may be a fuck-up, but he got poetry in him.

The majority of the 17 stories in Being Dead are told in a conversational first-person voice. Many of these narrators are ne’er-do-wells whose unremarkable lives dot the American South; in this way, the book’s cover—a cheap-looking couch perched next to shimmering water—is a perfect evocation of its contents. But if you’re a reader fed up with the MFA-workshop-story conventions usually (if not entirely correctly) blamed on Raymond Carver’s brand of “dirty realism,” don’t be turned off.

Consider, again, that opening story—titled “Being Dead in South Carolina”—in which the narrator, after righting the car, ends up at a bar with some friends. By this point, the reader has learned that the narrator was shot in the head years before and has weakened mental faculties as a result. This feels like a familiar redemption story—he will fix his life, connect with other people, etc. etc.—until the final paragraph, which turns in a sudden, frightening direction. “I’ve been born again a thousand times,” the narrator says in the closing moments, “and each time’s scarier than the last.”

Consider, also, “Bethel,” in which the narrator recalls the time that his brother reappeared at the family’s farmhouse after a mysterious (and maybe murderous) six-year absence. The narrator was 12 at that time, and is now a middle-aged trucker. “Bethel” reaches its climax between the 12-year-old narrator and his brother, and then returns to the present, and then keeps going on and on for too many rambling pages, it seems, until it becomes clear that the story is actually about the narrator’s disturbing present-day psychology. White’s endings always force the reader to reconsider what s/he thought the story was about…

“The Days Down Here,” Being Dead’s centerpiece and best story, [is one] in which Hammond and Jean, an old married couple, have moved to South Carolina with their 19-year-old son, Zach. Their days are idyllic, but punctured with brutal flash forwards—“This was only weeks before her cheeks sallowed and sank, before her eyes turned to pitch”—which remind the reader that Jean has cancer and that these days, though idyllic, will be her last. The story becomes a sun-soaked Amour, and White’s poetic flourishes are in fine form. (At dusk, the lake becomes “a floating city of gridlocked boats.”)

Eventually, those problematic prose poems seem like a rehearsal for the climax of “The Days Down Here,” when Hammond, the narrator, describes his son doing something fantastic in a lake while the sun sets and his movements become “smears of shadow.” Here, White’s leap into sustained poetic language feels organic, attached to Hammond’s experience of the world as it becomes heightened and lyrical. This is the best story—maybe the best moment—in Being Dead in South Carolina, and it establishes Jacob White as a fine new writer.

Read the complete review at http://threeguysonebook.com/being-dead-in-south-carolina-by-jacob-white/

An Interview With Author Sarah Gerkensmeyer

Prof. Sarah Gerkensmeyer of SUNY Fredonia has recently published a new short story collection. What You Are Now Enjoying, is an extremely well crafted example of originality in writing.  The work was selected by Stewart O Nan as the winner of the 2012 Autumn House Press Fiction Prize.  Crossborder got in touch with Prof. Gerkensmeyer for an interview. Being both a creative writing educator and a newly published author; Sarah’s insight was fantastic!

What You Are Now Enjoying

What inspired you to write your first book?

I think I’ve been working on this book since as far back as I can remember. Although only one of the stories is from when I was in graduate school (and none of them are from before that period) the ideas for strange stories have been spinning around in my mind since I was a little kid. I have always felt like a storyteller, and I have always wanted to write a book. And it only took three and a half decades! I think the most immediate inspiration for this particular book of stories was the birth of my second son. He was a very erratic sleeper as a newborn, and I couldn’t concentrate on smooth, seamless projects. So I started challenging myself to write a draft of a story during each one of his naps. Those super-strange short shorts became the pieces that glued my entire collection together.

How did you come up with the title?

The title was actually a recommendation from my agent. The title story is one of her favorites, and I agreed that it was a neat title for the book as a whole. That story features 20-something women who are just on the verge of getting going in life, and then the book ends with a piece about an elderly couple. So I like how the title alludes to that arc across the entire book.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part of writing is always the writing itself. Thinking up ideas is easy. Taking copious notes about those ideas is easy. Booting up the computer and making a cup of tea is easy. Sharpening pencils and arranging highlighters in rainbow order and then making another cup of tea is easy. But the writing is the hard part. Each time, I have to convince myself that the story will get going if I would only begin. I have to convince myself that I have discoveries to make and that something really will rise up on the page in front of me, like a miracle. Sometimes that’s a very hard kind of convincing to do.

How did you decide on the cover for your book?

My publisher, Autumn House Press, has a wonderful artist on staff who came up with the design. I was so flattered to see her visual representation of the strange stories in my book. Yes–my stories are about women, but it was such a relief not to see pink or ruffles or frilly things. She captured the ghostly essence of some of these stories that even I hadn’t noticed before.

What is the best first step in marketing a book? How can a writer get book reviews, etc.?

The publishing process can be intimidating for first-time authors. Small presses and big presses alike are cutting back on public relations and marketing services, asking authors to take on much of the job of spreading the word about their books. My secret discovery during the release of my book was the book blogging community. These blogs and websites (such as Largehearted Boy, The Quivering Pen, Beatrice, and The Next Best Book Club) are truly amazing advocates for books–and for new authors, especially. I realized that I would feel most comfortable marketing my book in a grass-roots kind of way. I wanted the opportunity to make personal connections and have interesting conversations. Many of the interviews, essays, and book reviews that came out around the release of my book took place on book blogs. I had so much fun, and that’s such an important thing during what can be a nerve-wracking experience.

What genres/authors are you most interested in right now?

Well, I love crossing borders, too! I’m constantly on the lookout for authors who challenge the notions and boundaries between poetry and fiction, fiction and nonfiction, reality and fabulism, etc. I recently read and really enjoyed Maggie Nelson’s book of lyrical essays Bluets. Now I’m excited to check out Anna Joy Springer’s fabulist memoir The Vicious Red Relic, Love. And at this moment I’m devouring Lucy Wood’s story collection Diving Belles. She’s like a British Karen Russell. And she writes about mermaids!

Being Dead in South Carolina Review

A new review from Midwest Book Review!

Being Dead in South Carolina is a 200 page compendium comprised of seventeen skillfully crafted short stories set in the modern South. The deftly written characters combine with strongly developed and original storylines resulting in a series of literary experiences that the reader will remember long after Bring Dead in South Carolina is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended.”