BEA: The Loot

I made it back safe and sound from BookExpo America, despite gigantic lines at the airport and baggage overloaded with books. I didn't end up taking many photos, and am having technical issues with the camera I borrowed, but I do hope soon to be able at least to post a picture of Jeremy Lassen in his zoot suit.

For now, I'll just note some of the books I brought home:
  • I picked up some Night Shade books I didn't have -- Bold as Love by Gwyneth Jones, Trujillo by Lucius Shepard, Maul by Tricia Sullivan, and London Revenant by Conrad Williams. (I already had a galley of one of the hottest books Night Shade offered at BEA, Ray Manzarek's Snake Moon, about which we kept saying to people, "Yes, that's Ray Manzarek of The Doors." One of the other popular books, Imaro by Charles Saunders, I thought I already had, but got home to discover I don't. Ahhh well, it's not like I don't have more than enough to read already...)

  • I don't know much about young adult fiction, but Kelly Link and Gwenda Bond convinced me I needed to read some, and so I grabbed galleys of The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas and A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz, and convinced a publicist to send me a copy of Ysabeau Wilce's upcoming, and marvelously-titled, novel Flora Segunda: The Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog.

  • Of the very little bit of YA fiction I've read, I've enjoyed that of M.T. Anderson, and therefore was excited to get him to sign an advanced copy of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party. Another fine and lengthy title.

  • I have not had time to read all of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and so was happy to get a galley of Susanna Clarke's short story collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu, which is due out in October. At least I will be able now to read some of her stories and familiarize myself with her work, which so many people praise so highly. (Not that I want to go in with impossible expectations.)

  • I have never heard of Ryan Boudinot, but was intrigued enough by the title of his first short story collection to grab an advanced copy -- it's called The Littlest Hitler.

  • I have heard of Brian Evenson, having done a reading and panel with him at AWP (and I've admired his writing for a few years now), so it was with great joy and expectation that I picked up an advance copy of his new novel, The Open Curtain, from the great people at Coffee House Press, one of the most consistently surprising, adventurous, and eclectic publishers I know of. The novel is about murder, memories, Mormons, and blood sacrifice, and I was pleased to see that the bio on the back cover notes Brian's recent International Horror Guild award for his collection The Wavering Knife. (Brian was at BEA briefly, and he and Kelly Link and I had a very quick AWP reading/panel reunion at the Night Shade booth before he headed back to the real world.)

  • I was thrilled to get a moment to chat with someone from TCG, one of the best publishers of plays in the U.S., because I don't get much chance to see shows anymore and would like to have some more scripts to read and to write about here. I picked up Conor McPherson's Shining City and the controversial My Name is Rachel Corrie. (I read half of the McPherson on the plane home and it didn't do much for me, but I may have been too tired to give it a fair reading.)

  • Eric Lorberer asked me to review a few upcoming books for Rain Taxi -- two by Bryher, The Heart to Artemis: A Writer's Memoirs and The Player's Boy, reissued by Paris Press, as well as a new book from the University of Minnesota Press, Transgender Rights. (This came after a discussion I had with Eric in which someone or other seemed surprised that I would be interested in a particularly feminist book. Eric said, "She seemed surprised you're a man." I said, "Little does she know!" He said, "Is there something you haven't told me? Have you had a ... change ... I should be more aware of..." And I replied, "Not recently." He said, "Recently?" I said, "Before I was born." He said, "That's a line you should use in something -- 'I had a sex change before I was born.'") The good, generous, and charitable people at UMN Press also promised to send, when they get some, a copy of New Downtown Now: An Anthology Of New Theater From Downtown New York, a book I've been looking forward to for a long time.

  • This morning I had a nice chat with a couple of people from McSweeney's, one of whom might have been the excellent editor Eli Horowitz, but I was suffering too much sleep and nutritional deprivation to have the basic politeness to ask, even though he recognized me as a champion of The People of Paper. I praised current LitBlog Co-op nominee Here They Come (to be discussed this week), a beautiful book, and he gave me a copy of Icelander by Dustin Long and a pamphlet of the first half of The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian, both of which look to be utterly bizarre in wonderful ways.

  • I introduced myself to somebody at New Directions by saying I'm a reviewer and blogger interested in strange, surreal, uncategorizable books, and they gave me How I Became a Nun by Cesar Aira, which is described as "A sinisterly funny modern-day Through the Looking Glass that begins with cyanide poisoning and ends in strawberry ice cream." How could I resist?

  • And there are a few other books, but they're not in front of me at the moment, and so will have to wait to be discussed at another time. As I get a chance to read through all these treasures, I'll do my best to at least point to the ones that seem most interesting, though right now they all seem quite interesting, which is unfortunate, because I've got a bunch of other things I really should be reading....


  1. Good to meet you in person, if briefly, at BEA!

    If you get a chance, ask your new TCG contact for a copy of Tony Kushner's wonderful collection THINKING ABOUT THE LONGSTANDING PROBLEMS OF VIRTUE AND HAPPINESS. Great essays, and an interesting short play (SLAVS!) plus the occasional poem, a prayer, some speeches, etc.

    In re: Transgender stuff: Kate Bornstein has a new book out soon titled HELLO, CRUEL WORLD, but I didn't have a chance to swing by and try and snag a galley.

    Also, Leslie Feinberg has a new book out, too.

  2. I am very, very jealous.

  3. Well, you know, Dave, it's my job in life to make you as jealous as I possibly can... ;-)

    And Lawrence, a pleasure to meet you as well, and thanks for the tips. I know Tony Kushner's TCG books quite well, and part of my fondness for the company stems from their editions of Angels in America -- reading those plays when they had just been published was a powerful experience. (My opinion of them has cooled somewhat over the years, but not the effect of that moment of reading.) I was thrilled, too, to see on the TCG shelf some copies of Christopher Shinn's plays, because Chris and I were at NYU together and I admire a lot of his writing, so it's nice to see it getting some wider circulation in the U.S.

  4. FYI, Alyson is publishing a volume of various Craig Lucas screenplays this fall (October): THE DYING GAUL, THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS and LONGTIME COMPANION. I haven't seen the film, but I thought the play was interesting.

    He wrote a fun piece with his now-ex-boyfriend for my book TWO HEARTS IN LOVE: GAY COUPLES ON THEIR LOVE, where both sides of relationships write about each other.

    Don't know Shinn's work but will pick it up if I see a copy.

    Have you read Phiilip Ridley's plays? (I am a big fan of his novel IN THE EYES OF MR. FURY, which you should also read. So I only have the plays as an adjunct to the prose. But I was amused that Methuen brought out his Plays: Volume 1, when at the time he said he did not yet have any plays written to be included in volume 2.)

  5. "That's a line you should use in something -- 'I had a sex change before I was born.'"

    That is a good line. You should.

  6. Hey Matt, are you coming to WisCon this year?

  7. Karen -- No WisCon, for me, alas, as it's always scheduled the same weekend as graduation at the school where I work, and I can't miss that.

    Lawrence -- I don't know Philip Ridley's plays at all. Huh. I'll look for him. Methuen does that optimistic vol. 1 thing on plays a lot. I remember searching a few years ago for the second volume of someone, thinking it was amazing they'd written enough to have one, and discovering that, well, they didn't. (Might've been Martin Crimp.) As for Chris Shinn's plays, the best are, I think, "Four" and "Where Do We Live". I'll be curious to know what you make of them.

  8. Thanks Matt - I didn't know Boudinot had a collection coming - Hobart and Monkeybicycle have published some excellent work by him.

    Dan Wickett - EWN

  9. Hey Matt.
    I saw Dan last night and he mentioned your mention of the Boudinot book. I'll be curious to hear what you think of the collection -- he's a great guy, and I've enjoyed a number of his stories.


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