Did You Hear? Power of Love

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

Happy New Year, everyone!

2015 is going to be the year of gratuitous Back to The Future references, so I’m getting mine in early. (In fact, remind me to get back to this on Oct 21st.)

I can never tell if this song is genuinely awesome, or if it’s just inextricably tied to a great childhood memory, but man does it make me happy! Besides, I hear Christian Bale really loves this band’s early work.

Enjoy this old school music video complete with cheesy intro.

- Brook Reeder

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Cheat Sheet for the Tournament of Books 2015

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Let’s be honest. None of us has read all 16 books that are competing in this year’s epic Tournament of Books at The Morning News. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick our favorites, make snap judgments, and moan about the eventual winners and losers.

Here is everything you need to know to fake your way through the tournament. From reviews to YouTube clips, from blog posts to formal interviews, we have compiled the best summaries of each competitor so you can get all huffy about your hasty opinions.

And just to make things extra contentious, I will list the books in numerical order, according to which ones I want to win.

- Brian Hurley

1. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Review at The New York Review of Books

Hitting Shelves at Fiction Advocate

2. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Review at Fiction Advocate

Hitting Shelves at Fiction Advocate

3. A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor

Review at Flavorwire

Excerpt at Fiction Advocate Continue reading

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DFW, PTA, FA and Emerson College

The story about Paul Thomas Anderson having a conversation with David Foster Wallace is making the rounds of the nerdiest parts of the internet today. The story, which was told on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, is a neat little anecdote that doesn’t add much to what we know about either artist. DFW was a nice teacher. PTA adds a little more to his literary cred, even on top of adapting Pynchon’s Inherent Vice last year. However, we the editors of Fiction Advocate found one detail to be exceptionally important: the whole thing happened at Emerson College in Boston, and we are all graduates of Emerson College in Boston.

PTA, feel free to call us anytime.

-Michael Moats

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McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh

McGlue

FA review tag

Ottessa Moshfegh begins her new novella, “I wake up,” and spends the next 118 pages exploring what awake means. It’s McGlue who wakes drunk, head split open, and he’s spitting teeth that “scatter across the deck like dice.” He’s bleeding and looking for a place to puke when he hears other men on the ship say that he killed Johnson, who was his friend, his close friend, and had saved McGlue’s life more than once. When they first met, Johnson had scooped McGlue out of the snow where he would have happily died drinking. This is the Johnson who funded McGlue’s booze habit and led them around the world, who woke McGlue in the middle of the night to share his “life words.” But now Johnson is dead and McGlue is stuffed in the hold of the ship where he tries to remember what happened. But memory, as Moshfegh writes it, is a lot like rolling the dice. On one toss you win and on the next there’s nothing—you get something somehow less than zero. So you keep rolling and rolling until it’s the rolling rather than the results that mean anything.

The story takes place in the 1850s. Moshfegh creates a world of ships and ports, drinking and fighting that is vivid and steady. But it’s McGlue’s voice, in first person, that makes the story compelling and holds my interest. He is brutal and tender. He can talk about anything and I listen, even when I know he’s lying. Moshfegh, who has previously written and published short stories and was awarded the Plimpton Prize for her work in The Paris Review, brings a trusty ear for words to this slightly longer form. Her language moves. On page after page are turns of phrase like, “He hands me the pen and points. I make a puddle of my name,” which are unique, even pretty, but aren’t just for show. They speak to McGlue’s consciousness. He is making a puddle of himself with booze, or by smashing his head and drinking his own blood when there’s no rum around.

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The Top Ten Books [I had Time to Read] This Year

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Foreground: Baby. Background: Books.

I became a parent in the Spring of 2014. Which is a wonderful thing, but it means that I spent my severely reduced reading time with books like The Happiest Baby on the Block Guide to Great Sleep (useful, but a pretty excruciating read); Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads (useful, and an enjoyable read); and The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree (still a classic).

I  did manage to pull off one half-assed review about a book I hadn’t finished reading, but for the most part my 2014 was spent dreaming of all the cool looking books I had no time to enjoy. Needless to say, this has left me woefully underqualified to make any kinds of judgments, even subjective ones, about the Best Books of the last 12 months.

And yet, I remain undeterred — what is the end of a year without a list of things? And while I may not have a top 10, I’m sure I can come up with something that fits our habit of  doing odd and unorthodox year-end lists.

So here is my list of Top Ten Books [I had Time to Read] This YearContinue reading

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That’s What College is For

Tampa

FA review tag

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to bang a teacher.

For as long as I can remember I fantasized about screwing an educator, but every year I was foiled. My teachers were either kindly old lesbians or profusely sweating heavy-set men with tobacco-stained teeth. Excellent educators and wonderful people, all of them, but not a sexual prospect in sight. I didn’t get my first attractive teacher until my last year of grad school. He had a full head of brown hair with a sprinkle of gray at the temples, wore elbow-patch blazers like Indiana Jones and smelled of pine cones and wisdom. I was newly married and not looking to mess that up. I graduated a year later without ever giving a blowjob during office hours.

The teacher is an enduring fantasy, like the librarian or the cheese guy at the deli (that just me?). It is this fantasy that makes us want to read works like Alissa Nutting’s Tampa. As adults who have made their way past AP Algebra, we can see both sides of the equation.

1) Banging a high school teacher would have been the ultimate conquest and made for a shocking story to tell at cocktail parties in my thirties.

2) Banging a high school teacher would have made me the victim of a sexual predator and would have caused irreparable damage to my psychological well-being.

Which witch is which? Nutting’s Tampa, the story of a twenty-six-year-old eighth grade teacher who screws her fourteen-year-old male students, takes us inside the question. Continue reading

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Did You Hear? Sugah Daddy

New music! Sometimes old music. Music that we love!

Put this on and make your day better! This song won the internet this week: D’Angelo is back, the album release was moved up to coincide with recent protests, and he comes dropping back into our lives in the best way possible: with an insanely funky, rambling, harmony-riddled, and totally original track. I cannot wait to dig into this whole album.

- Brook Reeder

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USSR: Diary of a Perestroika Kid

Jahresrückblick 2012

“Russian novelist” is a weighty phrase.

When I hear it, I brace for war, love, history, the high church, and earth-shaking politics; for an epic story that feels intimate. The names of the great Russian writers are like monuments: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Nabokov.

But literature is not a dead man’s game; it’s a living conversation. And I prefer today’s Russian writers to the old masters. Have you heard of Victor Pelevin, who writes trippy satirical novels about werewolves in Siberia and little old ladies in Moscow? I have read every English translation of Victor Pelevin that I have gotten my hands on. And Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, who writes “scary fairy tales” with titles like There Once Lived a Woman who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby? She’s an international treasure. Not to mention Masha Gessen, whose fiercely independent journalism about civil rights in Russia has made her one of the most admirable public figures in the world.

All I’m saying is, today’s Russian writers are crushing it.

That’s why I was excited to get an email, a few months ago, from Andrea Gregovich. She’s a translator in Alaska, and she had recently completed an English translation of USSR: Diary of a Perestroika Kid by Vladimir Kozlov. Andrea was looking for a small press like Fiction Advocate to help her publish USSR as an e-book. I didn’t know Andrea, and I had never heard of Vladimir. But I printed the manuscript and started to read it on a plane. Before the flight attendants came down the aisle with beverages, I already knew that we were going to publish USSR as more than just an e-book. Continue reading

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