Monthly Archives: December 2010

Pointer #24 – Café Irreal

* Online lit mags are publishing some of the most intriguing writing available today. Every Monday, I post a pointer to a site that offers fiction either as free content or as samples from subscriber issues. Today’s pointer is to Café Irreal.



The Cafe Irreal is a quarterly webzine that presents a kind of fantastic fiction infrequently published in English. This fiction, which we would describe as irreal, resembles the work of writers such as Franz Kafka, Kobo Abe, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Luis Borges. As a type of fiction it rejects the tendency to portray people and places realistically and the need for a full resolution to the story; instead, it shows us a reality constantly being undermined.

Fiction excerpt:

Fibonacci Sequence
by Stephen Guppy

In your new life as a Babylonian astrologer, you are entrusted with the regulation and taxation of shipping. You wonder about the relevance of maritime commerce to your knowledge of the stars, but you decide not to ask the Comptroller. The question remains on your tongue like a dark patch of blight on a leaf. For several days, you search for the harbour. In the fragrant bazaars and used-car lots of the metropolis, people avoid your gaze and refuse to reply to your questions. Some try to ward off the influence of your presence with intricate symbolic gestures. Others distract you with detailed answers that have nothing to do with your questions. Eventually, you wander off.

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Interesting Discussion of eBooks at NPR

Talk of the Nation hosted by Neal Conan. Panelists include Lynn Neary, NPR correspondent covering books and publishing, Peter Osnos, founder, Public Affairs Books, Paul Chan, publisher, Badlands Unlimited. Both the audio file and a transcript can be found here.

Some interesting points raised, especially the last one:

Mr. Osnos: The notion that you can have the book instantly in front of you in a device and read it is a really big change … You think you want to read it. If you have a device, you can be reading it within a minute …


Mr. Chan: … And as a small publisher and an artist myself, I think one of the things I saw was difficult was that you would make, let’s say, 500 or 1,000 beautiful catalogs, and there only existed 500 or 1,000 of them because we didn’t have money to publish any more.

Well, with the advent of publishing e-books, we can not only make a paper version of it but as well as an e-book version of it. So it drastically expands the potential of people experiencing your artwork in book form, whether it’s a paper book or an e-book.


Mr. Conan: … we’ve had a lot of inquires about those who, well, can’t afford a Kindle or a Nook or an iPad.

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This Sounds Pretty Cool

Video at link.

via GalleyCat:

Broadcastr Debuts at the eBook Summit

At the eBook Summit on Wednesday, Electric Literature c0-founders Andy Hunter and Scott Lindenbaum introduced Broadcastr, a storytelling app that will let people record audio versions of location-specific stories around the globe. We’ve embedded video of the presentation above.

Like Foursquare for storytellers, the new platform will link the audio to that specific place, allowing listeners to hear your story when they enter the same location.

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Five Free Short Stories By Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has posted five short stories on his website. If you’ve never read his stuff before (American Gods, Anansi Boys, Coraline), here’s your chance to sample the work of “one of the top ten living post-modern writers.

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Pointer #23 – Corium Magazine

* Online lit mags are publishing some of the most intriguing writing available today. Every Monday, I post a pointer to a site that offers fiction either as free content or as samples from subscriber issues. Today’s pointer is to Corium Magazine.


The corium is the dense inner layer of skin beneath the epidermis, made up of connective tissue, blood and an elaborate sensory nerve network. Corium aims to showcase work that touches on nerves and lingers. That evokes and awakens. That leaves an imprint that sticks around for awhile …

Born March 22, 2010, Corium Magazine is an online, quarterly magazine, featuring short and very short fiction and poetry, as well as artwork.

Fiction excerpt:

Night Train from Seattle
Suzanne Marie Hopcroft

Minnie is a boxer, and she doesn’t let the enemy get away with anything. But exactly what side Minnie is on tends to shift from day to day according to the vicissitudes of the more-than-marginally screwed up world that Minnie inhabits and the oddly tuned moral code that she carries around with her like an invisible pocket edition of Fordyce’s sermons updated to the extreme for a girl’s life hopping trains. And that’s always been Minnie’s way. With her, you can find yourself facing flashes of ferocity and bared teeth one day, then hot tea and a homemade chicken stew the next, all because the balance changes and you suddenly need rescuing from a threat even worse than the one you pose yourself (and she’s smart, so she knows it–and pities you enough to mother you for a while).

I remember the smooth chill of the winter night when Minnie and Sky laid it all out for me. Their distrust of the men in blue polyester suits with their radios and badges and patrol cars, set to harass them at any turn for not exactly having a home address to put on the report at the precinct. Their rule that a friend knifed in the back or a kid sister catcalled one too many times would mean one thing and one thing only: vengeance meted out swift and savage by their little community taking matters into its own hands. No recourse to courts of evidence or restraining orders, just eye for an eye, quick and sweet.

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Why I AM Renewing My Subscription

OK, so I’ve written about how I’m letting my magazine print subscriptions expire in favor of digital copies. But when you get something like this in the mail– something that treats paper and ink as more than a simple delivery system– the advantages of electronic text seem cold and ephemeral in comparison.

Behold the unboxing of McSweeney’s Issue 36!

McSweeney's Issue 36, still in it's shrink wrap.



A Box Full of Awesome

Subscription definitely renewed.

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The Impact of Technology on Reading (cont.)

Not surprised by the article below, only curious why the corporations didn’t simply offer an “opt-in” program where users allowed access to their reading habits in exchange for discounts on books, much like supermarket “Club Cards” give discounts in exchange for tracking one’s grocery habits. As consumers first and foremost, our personal data is one of the few valuable commodities we have left to offer at the altar of the ever wise, ever benevolent Free Market.

via NPR:

Is Your E-Book Reading Up On You?

E-books are quickly going mainstream: They represent nearly one out of 10 trade books sold.

It’s easy to imagine a near future in which paper books are the exception, not the norm. But are book lovers ready to have their reading tracked?

Most e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, have an antenna that lets users instantly download new books. But the technology also makes it possible for the device to transmit information back to the manufacturer.

“They know how fast you read because you have to click to turn the page,” says Cindy Cohn, legal director at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It knows if you skip to the end to read how it turns out.”

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Ending my subscription to One Story was tough– One Story’s format and content was excellent– so I was excited to come across a new iPad/iPhone app that promises to deliver high quality short stories every week for six months for just $4.99 (21 cents per story).


One great story delivered to your iPhone or iPad every week
We’re excited to bring you the beta launch of Storyville, which premieres today, December 14 2010. Our mission is to bring you one great story every week. Stories are timeless, but the world has changed the way stories come into our lives, and how we share them.

Storyville publishes one story each week to your iPhone or iPad (soon other platforms as well). The stories are always with you. Read on the bus, in an airport, waiting in line, in bed, or wherever you are inspired to enjoy a well written story.

Storyville currently has two public domain pieces (used in Beta testing, I assume) and Ben Greenman‘s, “The Transgression”. Upcoming authors include:

… Joe Meno, Robert Boswell, Mavis Gallant, Pasha Malia, Charles Baxter, Shannon Rouss, Belle Boggs and more. New story collections represented in Storyville will include work from Akashic Books, Archipelago, HarperCollins, W. W. Norton, Simon and Schuster, Random House, Graywolf Press and more.

The app itself seems well designed. Fonts, font size, and background color are all adjustable. There’s no landscape mode and, in my initial testing, I found some adjustments finicky and had one crash– minor issues that are common in new releases.

Some pics of the app on my iPad:

Title Page



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Why I’m Not Renewing My Subscription (cont.)

Awesome! Ploughshares, one of the best lit mags out there, just announced that it will now be available via Kindle for just $4.00 (regularly $10 each for a one year subscription).

I’ve already received my printed copy of Ploughshares Winter 2010-11, but I couldn’t resist buying a digital copy:

Blurry image of my iPad running Kindle app.

Looks good!

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Pointer #22 – DOGZPLOT

* Online lit mags are publishing some of the most intriguing writing available today. Every Monday, I post a pointer to a site that offers fiction and/or poetry either as free content or as samples from subscriber issues. Today’s pointer is to DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION.

The weather here on the Kitsap Peninsula has been more volatile than I can remember, from the big freeze of two weeks ago to today’s 6″ of rain. I think plague and/or locusts are due up next.


via Duotrope:

DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION is a bi-weekly flash fiction site that features things under 200 words. A Best of print anthology is published annually. DOGZPLOT is what the description says, erratic, so send us precise, playful, honest, original, disgraceful, hopelessly optimistic, dirty, beautiful, ugly, thoroughly proofread, over the top writing. So don’t send us the good stuff. Send us something that will blow our fucking minds.


Fiction excerpt:

X – marnie shure
The shadow on the x-ray is actually almost lovely, my sister told me: a flourish on something as static as bone. I wasn’t prepared to believe her but when she took the square cardstock envelope from off her bed and turned off the lights and pressed the contents against the apartment window to push the sun right through I saw just what she meant. Like a Rorschach test on her lumbar curve.

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