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In which I invent (okay, clarify) a genre at Electric Literature…

I have a new essay up at Electric Literature, where editor Lincoln Michel was lovely enough to let me mess around with genre definition and cook up something new/old. A sample:

Domestic fabulism, on the other hand, is immersion, an exploration of self and situation – of the dread that lives and lurks at home, where we cannot escape it. It creates a double existence, an anxiety that ends, if it does, in a sort of forced catharsis – we must confront the thing that lives in our house, in our marriage, in our family, in our town – the succubus that sits on our throats when we dream. Domestic fabulism, it seems to me, is also on the rise. And that makes sense – that in an age beyond the age of exploration, in an age where the exotic has become the familiar – we might once again look to the fabulous in the small minutiae of our daily home lives. We live in an age of dread and anxiety – harm can come to us at any moment; we live in absolute awareness, where domestic stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. It’s a perfect time to turn ourselves inside out by turning the world around us outside in.

 

Some thoughts and wishes pertaining to my far-off funeral…

…is the name of a piece that the brand-spanking, shiny new Threadcount Magazine has been kind enough to publish in their inaugural issue. I’m really excited to be featured alongside the words of Peter Markus, JA Tyler, Catherine Wagner, and Rachel Levy – and bear a huge debt of gratitude to editors Annie Bilancini and Matthew Weinkam for making it so. 

The piece is in the spirit of what I perceive Threadcount’s vision to be: a hybrid, a not-quite-one-thing-and-not-quite-the-other. Something entirely new, I hope, and maybe a little depressing but also hopefully funny and readable. Here’s a sample:

  1. Could we pretend death is really a sort of starting over? Or is that just too much to ask? Could we refrain from imagining one another in our underclothes, in our skin, in our bones, in our foaming muscle and softening fat to feed and fortify the loamy soil we float in? Could we refrain from the cranking of hymns, from the showing of slideshows, from the off-center programs made in Microsoft Word over our lunch breaks, littered with lachrymose sentiment and wrong-aspect-ratio pictures where we look, ashamed, at the camera—suddenly so embarrassed to be alive. Standing in front of the Taj Mahal, or in Times Square, in places teeming with life while we stop what isn’t ours to stop and claim it like a big game hunter in the Nairobi, while we nail down our trophies of space and seize this pretense, this rarified air that we pretend is ours alone.  While we understand that we are all just falling through, like Alice down the rabbit hole, and taking snapshots on the way of all the wrong-sized things and places we may find ourselves, oh funny man-shaped spaces, because what else, really, can we be expected to do with this tiny vial of time on earth?

So enjoy reading about my death–about all of our deaths. May they hold off for a good long while.

Two Great Reviews and a Book Launch for THE DESERT PLACES

THE DESERT PLACES...coming October 15th

THE DESERT PLACES…coming October 15th

The book I co-wrote with Robert Kloss, The Desert Places, has launched, and it’s a terrifying thing of beauty. With glorious full color illustrations by Matt Kish, author of Moby Dick in Pictures, the book is a sort of time-collapsed trip through the birth and death of humanity, and a study in evil–both natural and man-made.

The Small Press Book Review says, ”  It is always exciting to read something that manages to feel new in a world where everything has been done. The Desert Places takes some of the oldest questions and fears that have embedded themselves in literature, rips them apart with jagged teeth, and lays them out in front of us in new configurations, still pulsing.”

And HTMLGIANT says, “In The Desert Places, Amber Sparks and Robert Kloss commiserate with darkness, and through this they dissect a core element of us all.”

You can get pre-order the book (shipping literally any day now) at Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, or click here to find the nearest indie bookstore to you.

Or, stop by and pick up a copy in person if you’re near Salem, Mass on October 25th - join us at our book release and Halloween celebration!

The Desert Places

THE DESERT PLACES...coming October 15th

THE DESERT PLACES…coming October 15th

By Amber Sparks, Robert Kloss, and Matt Kish.

Coming October 15th to a bookstore near you.

Pre-order it here.

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New Stories and…a Novel Excerpt! Only at Atticus Review.

AR_Masthead_ArtThanks to the lovely Jamie Iredell, I am the featured writer at Atticus Review this month. That means you can find an interview with Jamie, as well as some brand new, never-before-seen stories I’ve written. And it ALSO means you can get a glimpse of the novel-in-progress that nobody has seen so far. Here’s a teaser:

Oliver always said the Cabinet contained the best of this world and the remnants of the one before it. Set was confused and fascinated by it, this gilded wooden cabinet, long as one wall and topped in sections by a carved snake, a wolf, and a fierce giantess; this glassless exhibit where brass clocks butted against stringless lutes, and chalky human bones overlapped pearlescent fish scales and fetuses floating in glass jars. In it, Indonesian ceremonial masks sat alongside works of art by Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec; a little glass chimera peeked out from behind a magic lantern, three crystal balls were wrapped in maps made by Chinese explorers in the 1500s; a beautiful painting of a stag hunted by dogs hung crooked and slashed in one corner; and everywhere were stuffed birds, magnets, obelisks, pieces of armor, bits of Claude Lorraine glass, and branches made of wood, of iron, of ash.

Go and get the rest here!

Where I’ll be at AWP

ImageA little more than a week from now, I’ll be heading to Boston for AWP! So it’s time for the obligatory “where I”ll be” post which really, honestly, is the online version of those family white boards (Tommy at soccer practice, Suzy at trombone lessons) so that I can keep track of all of my friends’ whereabouts and they can keep track of me. AWP is a little bit of a looser, less calendared out event for me this year, thank god. I mean to relax and have fun, so feel free to join me or just stop and say hi!

Thursday: I will be pretty much parked the whole night at the wonderful Sweetwater Tavern, where magical things will be happening all night long. First up is the AWP IRL Happy Hour. Free drinks! Hosted by Electric Literature, Tumblr, and Lapham’s Quarterly, which my lovely parents just gave me a subscription to for my birthday! FREE DRINKS! And best of all, you don’t even have to go outside to get to the next great event, Their Peculiar Ambitions: A Night of Presidential Fiction Readings! I’ll be hosting this puppy and giving out free swag to a lucky few here. This event is going to be killer – tons of your favorite writers reading flash fiction about the presidents of the United States – what could be more fun? Don’t even bother answering with anything else or you’re dead to me.

Friday I plan to eat and drink and play it by ear. Lit Party, maybe? Afterparty? I’m concentrating on food at this point.

Saturday’s a packed day. In the morning, from 11-12, I’ll be hanging out at the Curbside Splendor table at the bookfair and signing copies of May We Shed These Human Bodies – so please stop by and say hello if you get a chance! Then around happy hour time, I’m going to be reading for Curbside Spendor at a joint reading with Other Voices Books, at one of the nation’s best bookstores, the Brookline Booksmith - with Steve Almond, Steven Dau, Rob Roberge, and Thea Goodman. Incredible goodness – come out come out if you can! Then finally, ending up the night with one of those magnificent mega-readings, Heavy Feather Review, Big Lucks, Magic Helicopter Press, and Factory Hollow Press present There’s Still Good in You! an AWP 2013 offsite reading, featuring: Jensen Beach, Gabriel Blackwell, Rachel B. Glaser, Evelyn Hampton, W. Todd Kaneko, Seth Landman, Jordaan Mason, Caryl Pagel, Adam Robinson, and me!

Hope to see you all there, regardless of when and where and how! (Okay, well, the how might be kind of important. But you know what I mean.)

You’ve probably heard, but…Best Small Press Debut!

You’ve probably heard, but…Best Small Press Debut!

Atlantic Wire named MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES the best small press debut of 2012! Thank you to Cal Morgan at Harper Perennial for sharing the book and his thoughts about it with the folks at the Atlantic. This is the best Christmas gift ever, for sure.

Oh – and if you haven’t bought the book yet but were on the fence, it’s half off at Curbside Splendor through the holidays!

In Which I Self-Promote and Join a Chain Letter (Sort Of): The Next Big Thing, Um, Thing

The lovely Tara Laskowski, author of MODERN MANNERS FOR YOUR INNER DEMONS from Matter Press, asked me to be a part of this thing called, uh, the Next Big Thing. It’s pretty much self-promotion (and isn’t all of this, really?), but while you’re promoting yourself, you’re also promoting other writers, so I could get down with that, I decided. And here I am, down and ready to interview myself, I think. It’s a little creepy – this is the second self-interview I’ve done. I’m kind of an egoist but this feels a little desperate. Nonetheless, I didn’t devise the questions, at least, so here we here we go!

What is your working title of your book? MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES. That one was easy.

Where did the idea come from for the book? There were many ideas, and they came from all over the world. They fell from the clouds like rain, they came up like soft shoots into the soles of my feet, they seeded my brain and molded black on the inside of my heart.

What genre does your book fall under? Literary fiction. Or possibly blue cheese nachos.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Hmm, these questions are really more for a novelist than for a flash fiction writer, eh? Bobcat Goldthwait. He would play ALL of the characters. It would be like a reunion of the cast of Police Academy, only with just Bobcat Goldthwait. Wait, is he dead?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Stars and stars like seed pearls and a lot of darkness and sometimes a little comet or two.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Neither one. It was published in October by Curbside Splendor, and is not represented by an agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? All my life.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Maybe a little bit Angela Carter, a little bit Lorrie Moore, a little bit George Saunders, with a hint of Ben Marcus. And some Saltine crumbs in the flaps.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? My cats.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s green. Apparently no books are ever green. Well, mine is.

Up next week! Look for blogs by the fabulous fiction writer Lauren Becker, author of Shut Up/Look Pretty, the wonderful and very witty Steve Himmer, who is working on a fascinating new novel; and the ridiculously-talented Robert Kloss, author of The Alligators of Abraham, just out from Mud Luscious Press.

Happy Pre-Order Order Day, The Alligators of Abraham!

That’s right! Today is the day! You can pre-order Robert Kloss‘s phenomenal alternate Civil War history (illustrated by Matt Kish) at Mud Luscious Press today. And you should, and you should not wait, because I’m guessing this book will sell out very fast indeed.

While you’re waiting for the physical copy, here’s the book trailer to whet your appetite a little.

 

 

In Which I Explain How One Should Not Speak to One’s Boss if One’s Boss is A Terrifying Angel with Many Heads

Confused? Wonderful. Read this fantastic collection, edited by James Tadd Adcox and published by NAP, and that should clear things right up. If not, perhaps you’re in the wrong room.

Seriously, this anthology is free and it is amazing and not even in that order. In addition to my story, in which I definitely imply that our heavenliest residents may be missing a screw or thousand, there are also fantastic stories by writers like Matt Bell, Robert Kloss, Meghan Lamb, Michael Czyzniejewski, Joseph Scapellato, Brian Oliu, Davis Schneiderman, and a whole bunch of other fantastic writers and poets and weirdos.

Really this is teh shit. Even the angel kitteh agrees.