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
Long-form ghost stories are rare, probably because they’re difficult to pull off. You have to keep the tension ramped up. You have to work within a story archetype, but surprise your readers and keep them on their toes. You have to write in such a way that not only do the characters have no idea what’s going to happen, but neither does your audience. In short, you need a lot up your sleeve.
Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky moves in tightening circles, spinning closer and closer to a rabbit hole of a drain. We follow Leah Shepherd, who has returned to her semi-fictional hometown of Crow Station, Kentucky after a stint in graduate school and a broken-off engagement. Her job as a social worker with a tiny nonprofit feeds bits of surreal, small-town humor into the text: a woman asks for a felony charge to be dismissed because it’s her birthday; a dead dog is found on the side of the road and becomes the all-encompassing conversation topic for a day. Throughout the novel, Leah is reminded of her little brother Jacob who went missing when they were children, and behind every plot advancement is the lurking knowledge that something bad is going to happen.
Bitmaps and knit blankets both are based around grids, and the graphics that defined early video games look to a modern viewer as sharing a primitivism with folk art. Their geometric designs dictate that pixel art of an animal resembles a depiction that could occur in a woven tapestry. Shane Jones’ novel Crystal Eaters tells the tale of a village whose simplistic belief system is understandable in video game terms: Their folklore assigns every living thing a number, a crystal count, and this image of hexagonal crystal, imagined interlocking, is the engine on which the book builds its everything. Crystals are life, and while every living thing’s number diminishes to zero and death, they are also a material thing, findable outside the body, capable of being mined. In this form, colored yellow and red, they fuel the village’s economy, either melted into an energy source or traded as trinkets. The crystal can be understood as energy, and the book’s world, like our universe, can be understood in terms of math.
The employment of such language – of crystals, energy, and math, in terms almost interchangeable- can be understood as “drug talk.” Even within the book’s mythological confines, there is an idea understood as a myth, that black crystals, if found, can be used to extend life. In practice, the black crystals are a hallucinogen, the ingestion of which detours the story’s forward progress through time and space to shuffle its chosen images into something non-Euclidean, although they also give whichever character is using them the impression that they are being made healthy. But a momentary feeling of infinity only lasts so long, and the clock keeps ticking, in numbered chapters counting down from forty, foretelling mortality in form. By the time the reader learns that forty is the number every dog is born with, the first dog they’ve met is already dead.