Death and the Penguin

Mellville House is publishing Andrey Kurkov’s crime-fiction, including one of my favorite books of all time (see title of this post). Hot. And they’re having a celebratory Adopt-a-Penguin program. What’s not to love? The details:

We will adopt a penguin in the name of any bookstore who successfully sells 25 copies of either book (combined or single title) in the series, which includes Death and the Penguin, or Penguin Lost. The contest will run from now until December 31st.

As a reader all you need to do is head down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of either book. If your local bookstore hasn’t heard about the promotion let them know about it by sending them to  If they are already participating, well then buy a book and help save a penguin.

The Kenyon Review Fellowships

This is a banging opportunity for post-grads.



TAGLINE - In an epic life of perpetual motion—Paris, Pamplona, Mount Kilimanjaro, Key West, etc.—one place was truly home to Ernest Hemingway: the Finca Vigía, his rustic estate outside Havana. It was kept by the Cuban government as a shrine in the half-century since his suicide, and its full contents remained a mystery until 2002. One of the American team that finally gained access, A. Scott Berg, shares the discovery of a literary treasure trove to celebrate the publication of thousands of never-before-seen letters now to be included in the forthcoming volumes of Hemingway’s collected correspondence.

Read something.


The third issue of Curbside Quotidian is now live. Be sure to read the editor’s introduction, and my story “Ingenue.”

Link to Issue here

 Story by a former MFA classmate, Christine Utz.

How to get a story into the BASS.

Wendy Wimmer is working on a great series analyzing the Best American Short Stories in an attempt to improve her chances at getting one of her own stories in. Very interesting so far. For example:

…these five publications have the highest percentage of female authors in the BASS (let’s call them the The Girl Scouts)

  • New England Review (84.6% female)
  • Alaska Quarterly Review (75% female)
  • The Sun (71.4% female)
  • Ninth Letter (71.4% female)
  • Missouri Review (71.4% female)

However, as Wimmer clarifies, that’s not to say these journals are publishing more female authors in general - just that the ladies might have a better shot at the BASS if published in one of them. More to come.

Read this.

Guernica has the first ten pages of Kyle Minor’s novel The Sexual Lives of Missionaries. I kind of love the opening paragraph, among other things. Looks like the book’s not out until next year.


For $1.05 million, you could sleep where Thomas Pynchon probably slept.

A Manhattan Beach duplex said to be the former home of author Thomas Pynchon is accepting back-up offers. If the current deal falls through, you could sleep where the reclusive Pynchon once slept, or on the floor above, if you so choose.


For $1.05 million, you could sleep where Thomas Pynchon probably slept.

A Manhattan Beach duplex said to be the former home of author Thomas Pynchon is accepting back-up offers. If the current deal falls through, you could sleep where the reclusive Pynchon once slept, or on the floor above, if you so choose.

These abandoned novels seem better off that way.

One of them is titled I Probably Pooped on Your Couch. And it’s not so much a novel as it is a…memoir, I guess?

Oh, my.

There are just too many exciting books coming out later this year. A sampling (courtesy of The Millions - in case you haven’t already seen it there yourself):

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta: The author of the best-selling satires of suburban life, Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher, Perrotta turns his dark arts to the strange tale of a small town grieving the loss of many of its citizens to a rapture-like event known as The Sudden Departure, which has caused millions of people the world over to suddenly and mysteriously disappear. The science-fiction premise is a departure for Perrotta, who made his bones skewering the mundane realities of American life, but the plot focuses less on the logistical/religious implications of The Sudden Departure and more on the emotional aftermath felt by those left behind. Some join cults, others follow mad prophets, while still more find solace in the age-old pursuits of adulterous sex. We are, in other words, very much in Perrotta Country. (Michael)

The Call by Yannick Murphy: Yannick Murphy, who bewitched me with her short story “In a Bear’s Eye” and later, with her novel Signed, Mata Hari, brings us a new novel, The Call. Composed of diary entries by a veterinarian in New England named David Appleton, The Call records a difficult year in the life of Appleton’s family: a recession, a mysterious stranger, and his son who falls into a coma after a hunting accident. Publishers Weekly says, “Murphy’s subtle, wry wit and an appealing sense for the surreal leaven moments of anger and bleakness, and elevate moments of kindness, whimsy, and grace.” The book sounds more conventional than Murphy’s previous work, but I have no doubt that her distinct prose and point of view will render this story truly original. (Edan)

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks: When Tom Perrotta explored our country’s mercilessness towards sex offenders, he tucked it inside a romance, a dog pill smooshed in cheddar. The resulting Little Children was, while not uncomplicated, fairly easy to swallow. Russell Banks, however, takes on the same subject in Lost Memory of Skin—and as it comes from the unsparing source of Affliction and Cloudsplitter, the pill will go down raw; much of Memory takes place in an encampment of outcast offenders. There is an excellent chance that Patrick Wilson will not appear in this book’s film adaptation. (Jacob)

There But For The by Ali Smith: A British literary phenom, Smith sets her third novel (after Hotel World and The Accidental) at the posh London suburban home of the Lee family, who are throwing a dinner party one night when guest Miles Garth goes upstairs and locks himself in a room. While his host, her daughter, an old school friend, and the Lees’ neighbor all try to coax him out, he communicates only via notes passed out under the door, resulting in a game of words as engaging for the reader as for Miles’ unwitting hosts. (Janet)

Cain by Jose Saramago: In Cain, his last novel, the late Nobel laureate Jose Saramago re-imagined the Old Testament through the eyes of Cain. Skimming through time and space, Saramago’s Cain witnesses some of the most harrowing events of the Bible, including the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the battle of Jericho, and Noah’s construction of the ark on the eve of the flood. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa, the novel created a furor in the author’s native Portugal when he suggested that society would have better off if the Bible had never been written. (Bill)

I still didn’t even get around to reading Signed, Mata Hari! Others on the impressive list: Eugenides, Ondaatje, Didion, Bolaño, Houellebecq (!), Robinson, etc., etc., etc…

Why do people read?

Rather than searching for the “true cause” behind the embrace of certain books in America, Aubry takes readers at their word. What he finds is that most readers do not expect novels simply to entertain or inform them. Rather, they treat fiction “as a practical dispenser of advice or a form of therapy.” That is, they expect it will help them deal with problems in their lives.

Read something.

A free short story by Deborah Eisenberg, courtesy of The New York Review of Books.

How does it feel to be a great genius, Sir? I am so excited at seeing you, Sir, that I could weep.