The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens comes out today! It’s a hilarious debut novel about a smiling, suntanned, backpack-wearing Australian (you know the type) and his search for meaning. We asked the author one question.
Fiction Advocate: Emma! How are you celebrating the publication of The Australian?
Emma Smith-Stevens: On the publication date of my novel The Australian (today!), I’m doing a reading at Unnamable Books in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn at 7pm. Some really incredible writers—Rachel Khong, Aaron Thier, and Nick Flynn—will be reading as well. It’s open to the public and I invite you, too: the more the merrier! Bring friends! Evil twins! Friends with benefits! Lovers—secret or otherwise! Frienemies! Doppelgängers! Those with whom you have relationships that you would describe as “complicated!” Bring ‘em all! Continue reading
Exes by Max Winter comes out today! It’s a heartbreaking, hilarious novel-in-fragments, in which Clay Blackall compiles the stories of longtime residents of Providence, Rhode Island, in an attempt to understand his brother Eli’s death and the city that has defined and ruined them both.
Fiction Advocate: Max! How are you celebrating the publication of Exes?
Max Winter: I guess I already did? Because even though Exes’ official release date is April 11, Amazon shipped their copies two weeks early, which completely caught me off guard. (But I worked media retail in the pre-Internet Age, when these dates were inviolate. Except for the new Sinatra box when Liv Tyler or Richard Hell were asking.) It felt thrilling, of course—knowing the book was finally in readers’ hands—but because my author’s copies hadn’t even arrived yet, it also felt an awful lot like having blacked out at a wedding. “Ohmygod, you don’t remember? You were so funny and/or mean!”
George Saunders’ first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, reads like confetti, like fireworks, like a snowstorm. This novel, like an image made of pixels, is a collage of intricate individual parts that, taken together, create the dazzling swirl and pulse of tenuous coherence.
Allow me to literalize: it is a story told in snatches by dozens of different narrators, most of whom are dead and dwelling in the “bardo” (a Buddhist term for the transitional state between life and death) of a crypt in Georgetown. As in Dante’s Divine Comedy, the novel’s clearest intertext, souls are punished according to their sins—one sexually frustrated man sports a massively engorged member because he was never able to consummate his marriage. Death, heaven, and intermediate states have long been a fascination for Saunders, explored in stories like “Escape From Spiderhead,” “Sea Oak,” and “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.” In Lincoln in the Bardo, Saunders looses his ghosts on the graveyard to shuffle through their danse macabre. Continue reading
Three nights after I left the Arctic Storm, I heard my name as I passed the Salty Dawg. I looked back. A small, thin man hurried after me. His walk had something hopeful, almost jaunty, in it, but his face looked tired under its graying stubble.
“Buy you a drink and we’ll talk about a job,” he called. The skipper of the Arctic Storm came out behind him, shouting, “Damn you, Jay, you’re stealing my deckhand. You’re gonna work for me, aren’t you, sweetheart?”
I let myself be herded inside, strangely elated at the thought of fishing again.
Hell is truth seen too late.
— Thomas Hobbes
He knew they were doomed as any couple in the history of rotten love. He’d known it long before, actually, and yet he’d driven out here anyway, to this land of barbequed ribs and noxious air, and magicians and cretins and drunks.
The same imbecilic logic of old had held for them, as well: if they ran fast enough, they figured, if they put distance enough between them and their filth, they might still have a chance at life.
But though they’d only dragged their filth along, it wasn’t till the moment he appeared before her in his tee shirt stained with gravy and cheese, his face painted blue and teeth all black—a 240-pound fiend covered in tattoos—that the extent of their imbecility had obtained in full, the repulsion in her eyes, had he somehow doubted, its awful confirmation.
She was in the bathroom, turning herself into a “sexy gothic Martian.”
Future Sex is a collection of Emily Witt’s groundbreaking essays about the different ways young people are having sex, right now, today. And all of you broke-ass perverts are lucky, because 4 of the 8 essays are available online for free.
Internet Dating was originally published as “Diary” in the London Review of Books.
Internet Porn was originally published as “What Do You Desire?” in n+1.
Live Webcams was originally published as “Are You Internet Sexual” in Matter.
Burning Man was originally published as “Diary” in the London Review of Books.
You might also like Emily Witt’s New York magazine article about men who give up masturbation.
But if you want to read “Orgasmic Meditation,” “Polyamorists,” “Birth Control and Reproduction,” or “Future Sex,” you’ll have to get the book.
Brian Hurley is an editor at Fiction Advocate and Books Editor at The Rumpus.