When Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen got together with Julian Assange on June 23, 2011, Assange was staying with a WikiLeaks sponsor in rural England and had just completed his sixth month under house arrest as he fought extradition to Sweden for questioning regarding sexual assault charges. He was also dealing with the aftermath of the funding freeze on WikiLeaks, arranged by the US State Department, in retaliation for his publication of embassy cables and war-related secrets leaked to him by Chelsea Manning, including the now-infamous Collateral Murder video. Though he was the recent recipient of prestigious journalism awards, including the Martha Gellhorn prize and Australia’s premiere journalism award, the Walkley Award, the re-established sexual assault charges (Swedish authorities had dropped them and allowed him to leave the country) cut deeply into his popular appeal and began the intense counter-assault on WikiLeaks and on Assange’s character that continues to this day.
New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!
Nod your head, trip out, and dive into this because it’s Friiiiiday! One part trip-hop, one part jazz, one part a cappella goodness, oh my. It’s like the turducken of songs, combining three great things into one bite… one nine-minute bite to be fair, but I won’t blame you if you don’t make it all the way. Quick tip: If you have something important to type up today, doing so while listening to this will reduce your typos by 20%, and for some it may even fix Oxford commas. That’s science with lab coats, everyone.
- Brook Reeder
I mean this in the kindest and most kinetic way: the stories in Monica McFawn’s debut collection, Bright Shards of Someplace Else, remind me of that moment before a car accident. Split seconds elongate to a prolonged nowhere-time when you have a few languorous moments to notice the oddest details—why did I buy that dumb hanging air freshener, who the hell would still have a McCain/Palin bumper sticker, and by the way, what’s with gravity?—before the inevitable crunch and whimper. Not that these stories ever end in high drama. Characters spin slightly out of control, and rarely do McFawn’s stories click neatly shut; instead, we’re hanging on with them in that slow revolution before impact, often more aware than they are of what set these bodies in motion.
The “shards” in the title refer to one character’s memory of the sparks behind her closed eyelids after her stepfather struck her as a child. What she felt then was an unexpected and sudden release; the Technicolor vision behind her eyes was “evidence of another world seeping through.” To me, the “shards” refer to the well-articulated characters in this collection. They have no idea just how broken they are.
Dungeons & Dragons is supposed to be a fantasy game. You might descend an ancient staircase to an abandoned wizard’s chamber and ambush the slobbering goblins who lurk there. But when the game ends, the adventure stops.
Fearing that the fantasy might creep into the real world, a number of Christian groups and concerned parents have opposed D&D over the years, including my own seventh-grade teacher, Mrs. Bueckman, who forbid us from playing D&D because it would invite Satan into our lives and make us run away to the woods and hack each other’s heads off. But in the 40 years that D&D has been around, most players have kept their heads. The fears have been unfounded. What happens in the dragon’s lair stays in the dragon’s lair.
New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!
Initially I was impressed by this song because of how far they stretch one sample, turning it into a whole song by cleverly shopping it up and rearranging it. However, the music video is like some kind of f****d up Where’s Waldo page, and there are waaay to many things right with it to call out here.
- Brook Reeder
Harvey was reminded of miniature golf courses. The large, cartoonish figures scattered around the courtyard were separated by three or four types of shrubbery and a thin chicken-wire barrier to keep out vandals and pests. Small paths branched off in different directions leading to one plaster sculpture or another. He wondered for a moment if he should feel guilty. They were gods, after all. His mind did something like a shrug.
Pearl straightened her hair in the bathroom mirror. She carefully rearranged the pieces of metal holding it in place and thought about pistons. She didn’t know much about pistons, but she imagined infinite rows of them efficiently doing their job, whatever that is.
Between Pearl and Harvey was a sign that said “Do Not Pluck Flowers.” There were no flowers to pluck, but the couple immediately thought of chickens. They did not consult one another, but they may have felt a warm camaraderie if they had.
Over a loudspeaker someone prayed in monotone in a language they didn’t understand. They’d learned only important words, like the names of a few common menu items and a polite way to say hello, but none of these words were used in the prayer, and they were not moved by the lyrics about goodness and equality, even though those subjects were exactly the kinds of things they cared about.
Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg comes out today!
It’s the story of Sal Cupertine, a hit man for the Chicago Mafia who kills three FBI agents, runs away to Las Vegas, and changes his identity… to Rabbi David Cohen, the surprisingly capable leader of a Jewish community in the desert. But the FBI won’t let him go. Goldberg is a widely accomplished writer: he is the director of the MFA Program at UC Riverside, and the author of 12 books, including original novels based on the TV show Burn Notice.
We asked the author one question.
How are you celebrating the publication of Gangsterland?
Tod Goldberg: When my first book came out – this was almost fifteen years ago now – I had a book signing that very same day at the Barnes & Noble in Las Vegas, where I was living at the time. I arrived fifteen minutes early and saw people flooding into the store. Well, I thought, this is going to be awesome. It turns out that my book was coming out on the same day a little book called Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire was also being released – something no one bothered to tell me, nor something I would have thought mattered, anyway, because I was 29 and knew everything – and, well, it ended up being a fairly anti-climactic day, though we do have a nice first edition of Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire.
When my second book came out a few years later, I determined it would be different. As happenstance, the book was released on my wedding anniversary, which seemed like good luck. So, what the hell, we planned an event that day. What could go wrong? That morning, I ran to answer the phone – this was in a time when a thing called “landlines” still existed and which, if not answered, would go to a thing called “the answering machine,” and that was an unreliable system, so one had to run when the phone rang – and ended up breaking three toes on my right foot. I played soccer as a kid so I was used to breaking my toes, so I just, you know, taped them up and pretended nothing was wrong and went about my day, pain shooting into my eyes every time I used my foot. Or breathed. Or someone else breathed. I mean, basically, I was in excruciating pain. And those toes still don’t work quite right. The event that night was great, what I remember of it, other than the burning white pain and how now, years later, when it rains, I walk with a slight limp. Continue reading
Great god a’mighty!
We’re excited to announce that Fiction Advocate is publishing a new anthology of works inspired by Richard Brautigan.
This marvelous beast is edited by Shawn Andrew Mitchell, with an introduction by Ianthe Brautigan, and with contributions from ROCKSTAR WRITERS WHO SET OUR PRECIOUS HEARTS AFLUTTER including Jesse Ball, Aimee Bender, Pinckney Benedict, Christopher Boucher, Ryan Boudinot, Anisse Gross, Michael Hennessey, Ben Loory, Joe Meno, Theresa Ann Williams, and more to be announced. G’damn!
It’s called Mine is Clouds.
On sale March 2015.
You’re going to love it.