Author Archives: Mike Moats

Post-hope

Looking back at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral, James Baldwin wrote: “One could scarcely be deluded by Americans anymore, one scarcely dared expect anything from the great, vast, blank generality; and yet one was compelled to demand of Americans—and for their sakes, after all—a generosity, a clarity, and a nobility which they did not dream of demanding of themselves.”

One might assume, seeing his language out of context, that Baldwin was taking stock of his despair in a nation that responded to Dr. King’s work with murder. But Baldwin was writing of the time before King’s death, and “the act of faith demanded by all those marches and petitions while Martin was still alive.” Continue reading

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The Best Books of 2017 vs. the Republican Tax Plan

As you’ve probably read in a rage tweet, Republicans in Congress are spending the holidays giving tax breaks to rich people and corporations. We are all for advocating fiction here, but trickle down economics requires too much suspension of disbelief. Speaking as human beings and Americans, we believe the Republican plan is a bad idea that will hurt the country.  

Speaking as a small business, however, we look forward to our tax cut. Not only that — we look forward to using it for things that the modern GOP would absolutely hate. 

Small businesses like Fiction Advocate stand to benefit from rules designed to help rich guys who give campaign donations. In other words, the same law that lets right-wing religious fundamentalists give more money to buy political candidates will also give Fiction Advocate more money every time you buy a copy of Matthew Gallaway’s #gods, whose theme is that gay sex is like religion, only way better. It also happens to be one of our favorites from 2017. 

Buy #gods direct from Fiction Advocate and put this tax cut to good use. Or consider picking up one of the other great books published by small, independent presses this year. Here are the best books of 2017, from small presses that we love, and that we hope will get a nice tax cut from a not-nice law.  Continue reading

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Fiction Advocates of the Day: Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer

Keith Mann?

Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer are the founders of online art marketplace Witchsy. They are not, to our knowledge, novelists or literary critics. They are the creators of a platform for people to sell arts and crafts that, as Fast Company reports, “eschews the ‘Live Laugh Love’ vibe of knickknacks commonly found on sites like Etsy in favor of art that is at once darkly nihilistic and lightheartedly funny, ranging in spirit from fiercely feminist to obscene just for the fun of it.”

As they worked to build their company, Gazin and Dwyer noticed that the hired help — mostly men brought on for design and development — were “slow to respond, and vaguely disrespectful in correspondence.” So they created Keith Mann, “an aptly named fictional character who could communicate with outsiders over email.”

You can read the full story of how that changed things over at Fast Company.

David Foster Wallace used to say that the point of fiction was to show what it’s like “to be a fucking human being.” Sometimes, apparently, the point of fiction is just to be treated like a fucking human being.

 

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Rebel in the Rye: Official Trailer

Just a few days after the 66th anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye, IFC Films released the official trailer for the unfortunately titled “Rebel in the Rye.” The feature-length movie covers J.D. Salinger’s early writing life and the creation of his most famous character. Starring Nicholas Hoult, who also plays X-Men’s Beast, another nerd who’s blue as hell, “Rebel” was adapted from Kenneth Slawenski’s J.D. Salinger: A Life by Danny Strong. Strong helped create the hit show “Empire,” and penned Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” and is one of those actors you see in a lot of other shows and movies.

Previous film treatments of Salinger have all basically sucked — everything from the 2013 documentary that Slate call “No goddam good,” (the book it was based on sucked too), all the way back to 1950, when Samuel Goldwyn released “My Foolish Heart,” a film adaptation of the short story “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut.” The movie was sappy enough to turn Salinger away from adaptations for the rest of his natural life, even though it did have a nice song in it.

Given this ignominious history, I am deeply skeptical of any and all Salinger projects. But I admit to being seduced by the polish and drama of the “Rebel” preview. Salinger would definitely hate it and Holden would probably never stop puking, and I’m confident that the storytelling tramples over the complicated history of the book in service of orchestra swells and climactic realizations. I also have my doubts that Whit Burnett, one of Salinger’s early teachers and fiction advocates, was a wryly sassy as Kevin Spacey. But at the very least, I like the idea of a novel inspiring Hollywood-level drama, and I’m still interested in seeing what Strong and team have come up with.

One early review calls the movie “watchable.” All will be revealed on September 15, when “Rebel in the Rye” hits theaters.

In the meantime, if you want to know more about the development of Holden Caulfield and Catcher, we’ve got you covered.

-Michael Moats

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Filed under J. D. Salinger, The Real Holden Caulfield

Did You Hear? Radiohead OKNOTOK

 

Radiohead’s OK COMPUTER came out 20 summers ago. To mark the occasion, today the band released OKNOTOK, a remastered version of the original album, along with a lot of really good b-sides and three previously unreleased tracks. You can listen to it all on Apple Music and Spotify, or get it the old fashioned way from Radiohead’s site. I know “Paranoid Android” is considered the album’s most revolutionary track, but 20 years later I think we all understand that the better choice is the video above for “No Surprises.” It is simply extraordinary.

I won’t burden the world with two decades of feels from someone who was graduating high school the same year the greatest artwork ever made on modern sadness was produced. No one wants that, and there is already a ton to read about it over at Pitchfork. I’ll just say that listening to OK COMPUTER again today, sitting in my office, in these times, was like running into an old friend when you’re in a tough spot. A reminder.

-Mike Moats

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The Best Books to Distract You From the Dumpster Fire That Was 2016

Should 2016 be forgot and never brought to mind…

There are, no doubt, a few people who love Donald Trump, hate music, don’t like zoo animals and despise beloved actors and actresses. For the rest of us, 2016 was terrible.

This calls for distractions. We asked Fiction Advocate contributors to tell us which books they read this year that helped them forget, even for fleeting moments, that David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gwen Ifill, Prince, and America — UPDATE: and George Michael and Carrie Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds — died over the last 12 months.

In what may be the only happy coincidence of the year, the vast majority of the recommendations below come from a few people who have some of the most important things to say about 2016: Continue reading

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