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with Christopher Heavener

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Tuesday, May 21st

Annalemma Issue Nine Out Now

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Echoing from the gyre of the Indian subcontinent, we bring you Annalemma Number Nine: Outside Looking In.

Arvind Dilawar leads this issue’s nonfiction installment with “Swans.” Peeling through the streets of “the real India” on a motorcycle ride with his cousin, Dilawar unveils a series of tattered images: a butcher’s market infested with flies and dogs, a young girl feeding in a pile of rubbish between two cows, ritualistic bathers in the trash-infused bubbling of the Godavari river.

Murzban F. Schroff headlines our fictional selection with “The Mochi’s Wife.” Charting the spiral of corruption within a family determined to escape its social positioning, admirable artistry transforms into cunning technique. From modest beginnings, a shoe cobbler slithers into late night productions, and hooch-infused stumblings, as shoes make way for false suitcases.

Annalemma interviews Dr. Ana Aspras Steele, President of the Dalit Freedom Network. Dr. Steele provides an introductory explanation of the Dalit people, born into the lowest socio-religious-economic position in India’s caste system, outlining the role of the West in DFN’s mission to eradicate all forms of human trafficking.

Cover art and other flashes of illustrative wonder by Aimee Van Drimmelen.

Featuring non-fiction from Parul Sharma, Mira Desai, Linda Kobert, Paul Kavanagh, and fiction from Tanuj Solanki, Smriti Ravindra, and Patrick Bryson. Art by Topher MacDonald, Mark Lev, David Lemm, Andrea Manica, Laura Wood, Shawn Kuruneru, Karolin Schnoor, and Sergio Membrillas.

We hope to provide a point of entry for the newly acquainted Western reader through reflections of India’s complex beauty. Dropping you through a keyhole, in hopes of a ready expansion.

Click here to buy.

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Thursday, June 21st

Office Girl.

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Hey folks. We’re slowly coming out of a hiatus over here. I hope to be posting more frequently in the coming weeks and basically shaking off the dust. I wanted to let y’all know about a new project that will be going live on the site next week.

I’m a Joe Meno fan. One of the highlights of my time spent pursuing the idea of creative writing was taking a class with Joe. Until that point I hadn’t spent any extended period of time with anyone who’d focused so heavily on the process of storytelling than Joe, nor had I spent time with anyone who’d executed their writing so successfully. Joe lives storytelling. He has breakthroughs with the frequency that most people have sneezes. He’s constantly finding new ways to show moments of tenderness, honesty, hilarity, despair, charm, fear and connection to an audience of folks trying to make sense of the world and the people in it.

At the end of the month Joe will be releasing a new novel called Office Girl. Because Joe is a great guy, he reached out to me to see if I wanted to help promote his book. I said yes before he could finish his sentence.

In the next four weeks we’ll be serializing the first section of Office Girl here on the Annalemma site accompanied by original images from four different artists. I’m really excited about this project, Joe’s writing has the tendency to stick with me like an old friend and the section he’s sharing with us is no exception. In the mean time, click on over to the Akashic Books site for more info and give a look-see at these here blurbs:

Publishers Weekly pick of the week:

In Joe Meno’s new novel, set in the last year of the 20th century, art school dropout Odile Neff and amateur sound artist Jack Blevins work deadening office jobs; gush about indie rock, French film, and obscure comic book artists; and gradually start a relationship that doubles as an art movement. They are, in other words, the 20-something doyens of pop culture and their tale of promiscuous roommates, on-again/off-again exes, and awkward sex is punctuated on the page by cute little doodles, black and white photographs (of, say, a topless woman in a Stormtrooper mask), and monologues that could easily pass for Belle & Sebastian lyrics (“It doesn’t pay to be a dreamer because all they really want you to do is answer the phone”).

Booklist (starred review):

Meno has constructed a snow-flake delicate inquiry into alienation and longing. Illustrated with drawings and photographs and shaped by tender empathy, buoyant imagination, and bittersweet wit, this wistful, provocative, off-kilter love story affirms the bonds forged by art and story.

Kirkus Reviews:

The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999…A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending.

Marie Claire:

Cultural cred: Along with PBRs, flannels, and thick-framed glasses, this Millennial Franny and  Zooey is an instant hipster staple. Plot notes: It’s 1999 and Odile and Jack are partying like it was…well, you know. Meno’s alternate titles help give the gist: Bohemians or Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things. Cross-media: Drawings and Polaroids provide a playful, quirky element.

Michigan Avenue Magazine:

While Office Girl features illustrations by artist Cody Hudson and photographs by Todd Baxter, its real substance lies in the story itself. Set in Chicago right before the new millennium, Meno, a Chicagoan, explores the start of an art movement through the eyes of two twenty-something dreamers in this novel.

The Stranger, Seattle:

Office Girl might be Joe Meno’s breakthrough novel. Set in 1999, Office Girl tells the story of a pair of young, intelligent drifters who decide to start their own art movement. It’s a stripped-down experience of a novel which means Meno’s crystalline prose has a chance to shine.

Philadelphia City Paper:

Office Girl is a relatively simple love story: You know most of the beats and understand from the beginning how the story needs to end; the pleasure comes from the way Meno hits those beats, how he manages his characters and moments. And some of those moments are really excellent: Jack and Odile’s drift toward a first kiss, for instance, or their lovers’ conspiracy, mirrored in Cody Hudson’s naive drawings. And the heavier ideas that Meno stuffs into the corners around his self-consciously slight characters — like an ongoing struggle with sound and music that’s part of the last-act climax — give the book weight.

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Thursday, May 3rd

Wars Are Dumb.

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Hey Orlando: if you’re around on May 18th, head on down to Urban ReThink to celebrate the release of Wars Are Dumb: Orlando High Schoolers Write the Wrongs of Adults.

A few months back Page 15 put the call out to Orlando Public High School students to answer, in the form of story or essay, the questions, “What do adults do wrong? How would you do it right?” We got a slew submissions and whittled them down to 15 pieces about politics, environmental issues, family, war, love, fear, death, music, art, sickness, health, and basically the core elements of life itself. It’s a bit mind blowing. Those pieces were collected and given to Brandon Rapert, who illustrated them, then given to Jen O’Malley who laid everything out real nice. We sent to the printers and printed up in to a fancy book which will be on sale at the release party, all proceeds of which will be going directly to Page 15.

Come on out to the party! There’s going to be free food and live author readings and signings from the contributors and a good time to be had by all. Head on over to Page15.org for more details.

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Tuesday, April 17th

What Happened?

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From commenter “Sam”:

what happened to this site? isn’t it supposed to be a monthly (or was it weekly) magazine?  you haven’t updated the stories in months.

Thanks for your interest, Sam. You’re right. Something has happened here. Or rather, not happened. I left the rudder for a little while. Here’s the explanation. But first lemme start by saying that I hate blog posts that start “Sorry I haven’t updated in a while,” or “I feel really bad I haven’t posted on this blog in a while.” My philosophy with blogging is if you have something good to share, great. If you don’t, then don’t. The last thing the internet needs is content for the sake of content. So I’ve been sparing myself the dirge of churning out blog posts and updates if my heart isn’t in it. I don’t want to make excuses,  you don’t want to hear excuses, we’re all better off. But it’s a different situation when someone asks for an explanation like Sam here. So. On to the explanation…

I got a new job. I’m managing a chocolate factory. Seriously. I helped a buddy start a chocolate factory cause he’s good at it and I had access to investors who’d be interested in such a thing. I believed in the business so I decided to devote my time and resources to it.

But this new job was acquired after I had a mild nervous breakdown/existential/identity crisis at the end of 2010 that caused me to drastically reassess and change the course of my life. I’m not ready to write about that yet. But it is one of the reasons why this site has been slowing down on posts.

I also got involved doing organizing and volunteer work with a group called Resource Generation. It’s timely, relevant work work I believe in. This has also been taking time away from me reading submissions and posting new stories and essays on the site.

So much has changed from the days I was able to devote hours upon hours of my time to doing this magazine, a rad thing I started with what seemed like a limitless surplus of energy and focus. Now it seems like I’ve reached capacity. So what’s all this mean for the future?

For submitters: I’m really sorry we’re so backed up with submissions. Some of you haven’t had your submissions read in a year. That sucks, I know the feeling. If it’s any consolation, it’s not personal. I don’t think you’re undeserving of eyes on your words. If anything, I’ve broken my end of the bargain and I apologize for that. I’m trying to find a situation where you’ll get your submission read and I have time to do the things I need to do.

For print subscribers: I’m also trying to find the time in my schedule for putting together two print issues a year. Things may undergo a restructuring regarding subscriptions and when/if they do, you’ll be the first to know.

For the India Issue: It’s 80% done and should be of to the printers by the end of May at the latest.

For Annalemma Magazine in general: I honestly don’t know right now. I want to keep it going but it’s a lot of work for very little reward. I love connecting with readers, I love being involved in the editorial process, I love working with artists. But making this thing sustainable financially has and always will be hard and will never be easy. And with all the responsibilities listed above I’m struggling to find the time to make it work. The good news is I want to and desire is the root of action.

Thanks for your patience and support through all this. I know it’s going to make an interesting story one day if I can ever wrap my head around it.

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Monday, March 26th

Cataclysm Baby Trailer.

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We made this shadow show for a Matt Bell story published in Issue Six and performed it at the release party. A couple years later Matt releases the story as part of a larger work called Cataclysm Baby. So we thought it might be a good idea to put it down onto film. Mr. Bell came into Brooklyn for an evening and we got weird in the studio space. Hope you enjoy. And check out Cataclysm Baby, available April 15th, 2012 from Mud Luscious Press.

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Wednesday, March 7th

AWP 2012 Report.

Trying something new this year. All photos are from the evening festivities. All words are stray observations from the book fair.

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{Doug Paul Case @ Convocation in Chicago}

AWP CHICAGO BOOKFAIR 3.1.12 - TABLE H18

9:48am – Why am I here? This might be hell. No wifi, no cell signal, no link to the outside world, just sitting here trying to engage with people who have profound social anxiety to the degree that engaging in a social way is paramount to having fingernails yanked out by needle nose pliers.

9:56am – Attempting to enter a zen state. Attempting meditation. Calm yourself. Be in the moment. It feels like people are buying books everywhere but here. Draw them in with your energy.

10:06am – Desperation condenses on the walls & ceilings of this place. It drips from the air ducts. The table across the aisle from me has a poster asking the question, “What is creative sustainability?” Whatever it is, it does not feel like it’s here.

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{The esteemed host of Convocation in Chicago}

10:21am – Met Amanda Jane Smith. Handed off a bunch of post cards. I’m trying to see how long I can get people to stay at my table by talking to them.

10:35am -  Good conversation with a young Asian woman. There was a moment in the convo when it was going so well I wanted to cut ties before I could fuck it up. Work past that.

10:45am -  Met Juked editor. Cool guy, talked shop about conference. 1-2 min convo. Talking is different w/ males. Need to entertain or appeal to their benefit.

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{Chris Newgent @ Convocation in Chicago}

11:14am – Smattering of interactions. People aren’t going to talk to you if they don’t want to. No matter how much you engage them.

12:06pm -  Met a submitter I rejected. We had a good dialogue. Talked about creating a mark of quality.

12:19pm – Met Liz Wykoff and her friend from American Short Fiction. I feel an overwhelming sense of wanting to read more of ASF. An almost savage desire to get all their back catalog and devour it in a day. I don’t mention this to them. I think it shows on my face though.

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{Tim Jones-Yelvington @ Convocation in Chicago}

12:31pm – Keep accidentally dissing Bryan Furuness. Totally not intentional, just keep having bad timing when he comes up to talk.

12:55pm – Lesser men have been broken by running a book table at AWP.

3:30pm – Thinking about Wu-Tang. This quote pops into my head “You gotta have love in your heart.’ – The RZA

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{Literary Karaoke fake Elvis following Convocation in Chicago}

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8:50am – When I lived here in Chicago I was lost, confused, angry, afraid, ignorant, obsessive, cloistered and immature. What kind of a city fosters that kind of behavior? Most cities foster that kind of behavior.

9:06am – Walking past Columbia I read a promotional poster for the school that said “Live what you love.” I am part of a generation sold this trajectory that getting paid for doing what you love is the ultimate goal. What’s unspoken is that making a living doing what you love is an incredible display of privilege. And most people do not have the means or privilege to attempt this ideal.

9:28am – It is a struggle to stay present. Maintain.

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{Kurt Kennedy and a big hammered dude @ Neutron Bomb #8}

9:39am -  Thinking about how I got here, to AWP. What road lead me to sitting at this book fair table? I was raised in a place of illusion, an artificial culture. It felt wrong, inauthentic, a fake life. I searched for things that felt real. Books felt real. But books proffer their own illusions. And the truth is, everything has an authentic and artificial side.

9:45am – What is creative sustainability? Being fearless of the future.

10:01am – Met Barry Grass. Fucked up the spelling of his name on the postcard I made excerpting his essay. Felt shitty. Make a new run of cards and send him a stack.

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{I read something @ Neutron Bomb #8}

10:15am – Be aware of peoples inclination to just want to say “hi” and nothing else. Let them move on and don’t take it personal. You’ve got no idea where they’re coming from.

{If you are planning on giving a reading in the future, put those plans on hold until you watch Scott McClanahan read. This is the bar. You are instructed to either meet it or exceed it.}

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Monday, March 5th

Interview: Indira Chandrasekhar

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Out of Print is an Indian online lit journal dedicated to providing a platform for writers of short fiction with a connection to the subcontinent. While doing research and outreach for Annalemma Issue Nine: India, I had the chance to speak with the founding editor Indira Chandrasekhar about the climate of Indian literature, important Indian writers and common themes in Indian literature.

How did you get started with your publication?

The relative dearth of English language outlets for short fiction when I started looking to place my own writing was what got me started. After that, it was conversations – with our marvellous editors, Mira Brunner and Samhita Arni, our web consultants, Resource Design in Bangalore, our designer, Yamuna Mukherjee of Kiri Design, and of course, our sponsor, Brothers Twain, that brought Out of Print together.

What’s the most important thing Western readers should know about Indian literature?

I hesitate to be prescriptive, particularly when talking about ‘Indian’ literature, which, I believe is as complex and diverse and sophisticated and hard to define as India or, dare I say, the subcontinent itself. Every region is multi-layered and has its language, every language its own subtle cultural voice and context which translates into the written word be it in English or otherwise. And yet, there is in my opinion, an undeniable commonality of perspective and understanding. Does that come from our shared geography, history and politics, how do the nuances of the urban subculture define our contemporary space? It is those questions, particularly with the growing strength and confidence of the Indian writer in English and the emergence of a strong presence outside of the diasporic angst, which we at Out of Print are curious to explore.

What are some commonalities you see in fledgling Indian writers?

Well, our editor Samhita, who is of the generation of new writers has this to say: because of the economic boom, and the growth of the publishing and affiliated (e.g. media, journalism) industries, it’s possible for a writer of my generation to live in India, and eke out a living as a writer. So I think there are also more journalists who also write fiction and conversely, aspiring novelists who supplement their income with journalistic assignments – and thus some amount of the new literature coming out seems to reflect that ‘journalistic’ world view. Being a writer is now starting to have acceptance as a viable career option.
I would hesitate to see too many commonalities of style. There are various ‘groups’ emerging. For example, there is a whole school of fiction writers from the business, engineering and technical fields who address a commercial mainstream market. There is a growing readership – books aren’t luxury items anymore, and writers are addressing this new readership – many of them reading books for the first time.

I think there’s also a greater engagement or at least awareness, even among IWE (Indian Writers in English) writers, with vernacular, regional language traditions and literature. Salman Rushdie once spoke scathingly of Indian writing in languages other than English (I suspect he meant contemporary writing, because Haroun and The Sea of Stories draws on ancient, storytelling traditions) – I don’t think any writer could make such a remark today.

How do you see Indian literature influencing the global literary landscape?

Aha, when worthy magazines such as Annalemma run an India issue, it seems to me we have the answer!

Who are some writers Americans need to be reading?

With increasing accessibility of translated literature, writers who write in languages other than English such as U.R. Ananthamurthy who appears in our September 2011 issue. And the wide and interesting range of writers – Kuzhali Manickavel, Anjum Hasan, Murzban Shroff, K R Usha, Altaf Tyrewala, Annam Manthiram, Chandrahas Choudhury, and the many others whom we feature on Out of Print.

Indira Chandrasekhar

{photo: Mira Brunner}

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Friday, March 2nd

TONIGHT: Neutron Bomb #8

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Hey Chicagoans: I’m going to be here tonight. Come see me read something about Wu Tang. I miss you.

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Thursday, March 1st

TONIGHT: Convocation in Chicago.

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Hey Chicagoans: Come to Beauty Bar tonight and see some wild humans ejaculate perfection from their mouths. People found out how much fun this was last year. Expectations are high this year. Will they be met? Come and see, come and see.

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Wednesday, February 29th

Come See us at AWP!

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Hey Chicago folks! We’ll be setting up our AWP book fair table tomorrow afternoon. Please come by table H18 in the Southwest hall to outfit yourself with some of our new postcards and maybe a magazine or two (or twelve).

Words and images excerpted from Annalemma Issue Eight: Creation. These are also free with any purchase from our store.

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An asymmetrical configuration for the nonconformist in your life:

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Hope to see you there!

p.s. Come to our reading we’re hosting with [PANK] and MLP, Convocation in Chicago. Will post more details tomorrow.

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