Friday, December 30, 2011

'11 in Tens

“Is graduation ten letters because I want to make out?”

I live in a complex amidst one HEIRESS license plate.

Some veggie burgers are noticeably greener than others’ fart hallelujahs.

The ranch is not a condiment but Dent May’s flavor.

Spare washers, dryers do not count as cuddles or spouses.

I can climb inside a dumpster swearing WE A FARM.

Sweet potatoes act as babies when they are your stomach.

She says Marlboro after I sound it out for her.

The square is a skank away from a juice bar.

When you think of somewhere else, know you will soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011


DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION "Ben Tanzer" theme issue. Same guidelines as always, which pretty much means no guidelines. Keep them under 200 words and every story must contain "Ben Tanzer" somehow, someway. Have fun and thank you very much for all the support.

Send to:

Friday, December 23, 2011



Dan Wickett once described a Mary Miller story as "a slightly less gritty Elizabeth Ellen story." We're not sure what that means, but it sounds kind of cool. We like the word gritty. And we're obviously huge fans of Mary Miller and her stories. And grit. The stories in Fast Machine come in three sizes: flash, regular, and too-long-for-journal-publication. Some were previously published. Some are brand-spanking new. One is called "Period Sex," for Barry Graham/Kendra Grant Malone. There are slightly more than four hundred pages. There are no acknowledgments (i.e. no three-page thank you to everyone she met at every writers' colony). Zero epigraphs. There are repeated themes: driving, smoking, teenagers, drinking, escape, the Midwest, masturbation, self-loathing and blood. We hope some of you will like it. It's okay to hate it though, too. 

ELIZABETH ELLEN's bio video:


Friday, December 16, 2011


Here's a list of new menu items at various fast food restaurants, from 2011, that I've tried. Some were good. Some sucked ass. 


Dorito Tacos

So, you don't live in Ohio or southeast Michigan so you have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about. You're bad. Because, though I'm not usually a fan of Taco Bell, this shit is delicious. Regular tacos with Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch Dorito shells. Fuck what ya heard. 

XXL Chalupa

There's actually more meat stuffed in there (or what passes for meat at Taco Bell) instead of just more lettuce and refried beans. I liked them.

Bacon Ranch Chicken Flatbread Sandwich

It is what the name says and for just a dollar it beats the shit out of the normal fast food dollar menus when you get tired of them. Give it a go. It's pretty decent shit. 


French Vanilla Frappe 

Huge fan of the frappe. French vanilla flavored, blended cappuccinos. These things are delicious. Fuck Starbucks. Fuck your favorite indie java joint. Fuck Pluto not being a planet. Fuck Jay-Z. Fuck french fries and french apple pies. But the french vanilla frappes are amazing. My favorite is caramel, then mocha, then french vanilla. Try them all. Love them. Embrace them. 


Didn't have a chance to try this but my daughter did and she says it's good shiz and she's a pretty picky eater. So, I'd take her word.

Caramel Apple Yogurt Parfait

CARAMEL. APPLE. YOGURT. PARFAIT. What? You didn't hear me the first time. Yum. 


Thicker Juicer Burgers 

Exact same weight as the less thick, less juicer burgers, weighing in at 1/4 lb. But the difference is, the grill guy doesn't smash and press the shit out of em. The patties are smaller, but thicker. No real difference in taste, so you either like Wendy's burgers or you don't. I do. I appreciate cold condiments. I don't know why. 

Sea Salt Fries 

Wendy, I know you're daddy's gone and everything, but what the fuck were you thinking? I still love you, though. Call me. 


Chef's Choice Burger 

This thing is pretty good. Little over a 1/3 lb. Bacon, cheese, red onions, romaine, some weird ass wanna be Big Mac sauce, on a tasty artisan style bun. I liked it a lot. It's a little dry so I substitute the weird sauce for traditional Whopper style mayo and ketchup (catsup???). Charging five dollars just for the sandwich is pretty fucking ridiculous though. Get your shit together BK. 

New Thicker Fries 

Same as the old shitty fries, only bigger, so more shit.


Philly Sandwich

"Best Philly sandwich outside of Philly" get the fuck out of here Arby's. This statement is only true if you limit yourself to what's on your menu and even then it's questionable. Don't get me wrong, it's decent. But it's no Philly. They would have had done better to market it as a regular roast beef sandwich with the added amenities, instead of weighing it down with hype it can never live up to. I ate a better Philly at a fucking gas station. 


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011






Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


without commentary or justification and maybe not in order)

1. The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas - Davy Rothbart (reread)
2. The Sisters Brothers - Patrick DeWitt
3. The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom & Party Girl - Marc Schuster
4. The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides
5. The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel - David Levithan
6. Waiting - Ha Jin
7. The White Boy Shuffle - Paul Beatty (reread)
8. Rule of the Bone - Russell Banks (reread)
9. You Can Make Him Like You - Ben Tanzer

Honorable Mentions

Yellow Medicine - Anthony Neil Smith
The Dead Man - Georges Bataille


Lost Memory of Skin - Russell Banks
American Pastoral - Phillip Roth
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


artwork courtesy of Amy Crockett
photograph courtesy of Chari Crockett


Coming soon...

Sunday, November 20, 2011


[ C. ] An MLP Stamp Stories Anthology is shipping now & to celebrate, we've done two things: First, we hooked up with the wonderful & freakishly good Scott Garson to create a special edition of Wigleaf, including thirteen original Stamp Stories by thirteen of our [ C. ] authors, all online & free here. Second, we are putting [ C. ] on sale for the next few days, giving you one-hundred Stamp Stories by one-hundred of the greatest contemporary writers, all for $10 with free shipping here. Good right? We thought you'd like it. So, read the special Wigleaf, order a sale copy before our deal expires, & then wait hummingly at your mailbox for the likes of some beautiful new Mud Luscious.

Stamp Stories are texts of 50 words or less, printed on 1×1 cardstock, & shipped free from participating presses. We wanted to tie together the indie press community in a vibrant yet viable way, & so this venture was born. Through 2010, we solicited stamp-sized texts from 100 authors & distributed the physical Stamp Stories through more than 40 participating presses. [ C. ] collects all of these texts into one perfect-bound edition.

Participating Authors James Tadd Adcox, Jesse Ball, Ken Baumann, Lauren Becker, Matt Bell, Kate Bernheimer, Michael Bible, Jack Boettcher, Harold Bowes, Jesse Bradley, Donald Breckenridge, Melissa Broder, Blake Butler, James Chapman, Jimmy Chen, Joshua Cohen, Peter Conners, Shome Dasgupta, Andy Devine, Giancarlo DiTrapano, Claire Donato, Elizabeth Ellen, Raymond Federman, Kathy Fish, Scott Garson, Molly Gaudry, Roxane Gay, Steven Gillis, Rachel B. Glaser, Amanda Goldblatt, Barry Graham, Amelia Gray, Sara Greenslit, Tina May Hall, Christopher Higgs, Lily Hoang, Tim Horvath, Joanna Howard, Laird Hunt, Jamie Iredell, Harold Jaffe, A D Jameson, Jac Jemc, Stephanie Johnson, Shane Jones, Drew Kalbach, Roy Kesey, Sean Kilpatrick, Michael Kimball, M. Kitchell, Robert Kloss, Darby Larson, Charles Lennox, Eugene Lim, Matthew Lippman, Norman Lock, Robert Lopez, Sean Lovelace, Josh Maday, Dave Madden, JohnMadera, Kendra Grant Malone, Tony Mancus, Peter Markus, Chelsea Martin, Zachary Mason, Hosho McCreesh, Alissa Nutting, Riley Michael Parker, Aimee Parkison, David Peak, Ted Pelton, Adam Peterson, Ryan Ridge, Joseph Riippi, Adam Robinson, Ethel Rohan, Joanna Ruocco, Kevin Sampsell, Selah Saterstrom, Davis Schneiderman, Zachary Schomburg, Todd Seabrook, Ben Segal, Gregory Sherl, Lydia Ship, Matthew Simmons, Justin Sirois, Amber Sparks, Ken Sparling, Ben Spivey, Michael Stewart, Terese Svoboda, Sean Ulman, Deb Olin Unferth, Timmy Waldron, William Walsh, Rupert Wondolowski, James Yeh, & Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Marc Schuster is a teacher and author whose debut novel The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl offers what author Steve Almond has referred to as “a terrific and unconventional look at motherhood.” In a recent interview with the Miami Herald, Almond went on to praise the novel by saying, “It’s about a divorced mom of two who sort of goes nuts and becomes a giant cokehead. It’s very funny and very sad, two qualities that travel well together. Schuster has a great ear for dialogue, and he’s both tender and ruthless with his heroine. I love books like this, ones that take big emotional risks.”

When he’s not writing, Schuster is the editor of Small Press Reviews, and he teaches English at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. His second novel, The Grievers, is due from The Permanent Press in May of 2012.

PS: Have you ever tried cocaine?

MS: No, I've never tried cocaine, but I did a lot of research on the subject to make Audrey's descent into addiction feel realistic to readers. The idea for the novel itself started with some reading I was doing for another project altogether. I was writing a paper on drug imagery in the poetry of TS Eliot, and the section of library where all of my sources were located included a lot of contemporary books on the issues of drugs and addiction. I started paging through one of them, and though it was fairly dry, a case study caught my eye. This was back in 1997, so I'm a little fuzzy on the exact details, but what I remember is a description of a divorced mother of two who had tried cocaine for the first time when her boyfriend offered it to her. She reported that she liked the drug because it made her come out of her shell. When asked, the respondent said she would probably try it again. That case study stayed with me for a long time, and, in my mind, anyway, the woman in the study eventually evolved into Audrey.

PS: Ah, Audrey. From the very first opening line I knew I liked her. Then just a few pages in, I became infatuated with her. She's so perfect in her imperfections, so deliciously feminine. Being a man, how were you so able to capture the mindset of a woman? Surely this is beyond the scope of research?

MS: Oddly enough, I did do a little bit of research—not into the character of Audrey so much as the kinds of messages our culture is always sending out to women in general and mothers in particular. This research consisted largely of paging through parenting and women’s magazines and making notes about the kinds of articles and advertisements I saw. I give a slight nod to my sources when Audrey and Melinda head off to procure some cocaine from a new, sketchy source and Audrey pages through a magazine called Pretty Easy to take her mind off the neighborhood they’re driving through. I don’t think there’s actually a magazine called Pretty Easy, but the ad copy that Audrey reads, and which makes her feel guilty for not being a perfect mom, comes directly from real-life advertisements. One of my favorites is “Having sexy underarms is no sweat.” I wish I could have made that up, but it was pure Madison Avenue. The same goes for “Me time should come drizzled in chocolate.” The only difference for Audrey is that her vice of choice when she gets some “me time” isn’t chocolate.

As for capturing the mindset of a woman, I never sat down and thought to myself, “I’m writing from the perspective of a female character.” Instead, I tried to think about all of the things that make Audrey tick, all of the things she wants, all of the insecurities that might motivate her. Personally, I have plenty of insecurities to draw on, so it was easy to get into Audrey’s head. The biggest one, at least as far as her character is concerned, is loneliness. I’m not quite the loner I was in my youth, but there was a time when I felt incredibly isolated, and that’s what Audrey’s going through in the wake of her divorce. She’d met all of her old friends through her ex-husband, Roger, and the only adults she knows are her coworkers. When Owen Little shows up and pays a bit of attention to her, it’s her loneliness—her fear of never really connecting with another adult again—that makes her take risks that she might not normally take.

PS: God, you make me want to menstruate, but towards the end of the novel, you outright broke my heart. Owen gets rough with Audrey and demands that she admit being attacked by "goat-boy" turned her on. And that she made her kids watch them have sex and threatened to have their father killed if they ever told. At any point did you worry you went too far there?

MS: A lot of people are disturbed by that passage, and rightly so, I would say. But I never thought I went too far. I generally don't go into writing thinking, "Is this going to upset people?" Life upsets people, and life is what I'd like to think I'm writing about, so I assume that some of what I write is going to be disturbing. In this sense, I'm glad I broke your heart with that passage. It lets me know you're not a sociopath! As far as writing goes, though, I also don't start out trying offend or disturb people just for the sake of doing so. I'm not into gratuitous sex or violence. Or gratuitous anything, for that matter. I usually try to make sure everything I put into a story or novel is there for a reason.

PS: Yes, later I realized it's a key scene to the entire story. Any scenes that didn't make the final version you want to tell us about?

MS: There were plenty of dead-ends when I wrote the first draft of the novel, and even characters that ended up getting cut completely. Early on, I had Audrey working at a commercial real-estate company. There was a sub-plot where she was selling drugs out of unused office spaces. At that point, I actually had two different characters that I eventually merged into Melinda. One was a hairdresser named Deirdre, and the other was a co-worker named Melinda who encouraged Audrey to have a little fun once in a while. It wasn't until draft three or four that I remembered I knew nothing about commercial real estate and that my actual background was in editing the kind of rag that Audrey works for in the final version of the novel. At the very least, this gave me the opportunity to create a believable livelihood for Audrey--or one that I understood, anyway.

A scene that got dropped later in the revision process involved Audrey's first experience with cocaine. The research I had done suggested that many first-time cocaine users don't get much of a buzz. As a result, most of the early drafts of the novel have Audrey trying cocaine once and not feeling much of anything. The experience, however, is enough to make her curious to try it again, and it isn't until the second time that she falls in love with the feeling the drug gives her. One of the ideas that I was trying to convey was that she was effectively addicted before the drug even got her high--that just the idea of cocaine, the allure of the drug, the fact that using it makes her someone other than the woman her ex-husband rejected, is what gets her hooked. As much as I liked this idea, it slowed the story down a bit, and my editor didn't feel that it matched up with popular mythology regarding the drug. Ironically, my attempt at realism made the editor think my portrayal of Audrey's first experience with cocaine was unrealistic.

PS: Haha, I guess sometimes realism isn't so realistic. Has your editor ever done coke?

MS: That thought did occur to me, but I never had the courage to ask. And, of course, I can't tell you which editor it was.

PS: Fair enough. I understand there's a second version of your novel. Can you talk about why that is and the differences between the two?

MS: The novel was originally published by PS Books, which is the books division of Philadelphia Stories magazine. The run was about 500 books, and there was never a plan to do a second run. At about the time their stock was running low, Martin Shepard of The Permanent Press started reading some of the reviews I'd written at Small Press Reviews and called to ask if I ever did any writing. Though I was working on another project at the time, it wasn't even close to being finished, so I asked if I could send him a copy of Wonder Mom. He read it and liked it, and said he'd publish it if I could cut it down a bit. Since I've always respected The Permanent Press and loved its titles, I jumped at the chance. In the cutting process, though, I started realizing that the structure of the book as a whole would have to change. As a result, the two editions are very different from each other.

What I call the pink edition is the paperback version that PS Books published in 2009. It's a bit longer than the later edition, but the bigger difference is that it jumps back and forth in time. The blue edition, by way of contrast, is the hardback version from The Permanent Press. I cut a lot of backstory from that version--mainly information having to do with Audrey's divorce, because I didn't think I was doing anything especially new with that material. Fifty years ago, describing an ugly divorce might have been groundbreaking, but today, it's just part of the furniture, so I was okay with cutting it. But the novel started feeling a little lopsided when I started cutting, so I reshuffled the chapters and put them in chronological order. To me, the whole experience underscores the performativity of writing. We tend to think of a text as a single, unbending, unchanging thing in our culture, but my experience moving from one publisher to the next allowed me to play with the book and, in turn, allowed the book to evolve. In this sense, I see it as akin to a jazz performance. The basic themes are all present in both editions, but I do something different with them in each. I'm really happy with both editions.

PS: As you should be. Next I'd like to discuss the good guy of the story: Captain Panther, who perhaps seems pathetic in his ambition to be America's #1 anti-drug superhero, but really proves himself as a true friend and support to Audrey by the end. He's so unique yet real. I think the last time I saw a character like that was in a Tom Robbins novel. Where'd he come from?

MS: Captain Panther is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. I used to live near a nursery school, and one day when I was struggling with writer's block, I heard a drum machine and someone yelling into a microphone: "Come on out, Tigerman!" Then I heard a few dozen preschoolers chanting, "Come on out, Tigerman!" I looked out my back window and saw a man dressed like a tiger rapping about saying no to drugs and bullying. Initially, I was really annoyed. I was trying to write a novel, after all, and this guy was a bit of a distraction. But then it hit me that this might be the key to breaking my writer's block. A new character. A new direction for the story. So I started imaging what a guy like this would be like and why he'd do what he does--the origin story, as it were. It really helped me find a balance in terms of the characters in the novel. So many of them are just slimy and selfish. It was nice to be able add a decent, if somewhat off-kilter, human being to the mix. The only problem is that a few readers have complained that Captain Panther is just too ridiculous of a character, completely unrealistic. It's a problem I run into a lot, I suppose--reporting what I see and being told that it's not realistic.

PS: Do you think those readers have ever done coke?

MS: Definitely.

PS: Ah, that explains a lot. Everyone knows you can't trust cokeheads. I used it for a while in college and found it totally un-heady; it affected only the lowest, most base parts of me: my id and ego. I did dumb, cliché things like snort lines off women's tits while thinking I was so cool. You've spent a lot of time with cocaine, even if indirectly, what are your thoughts about the drug now? How did your views change from the time you started until the time you finished?

MS: When I started working on the book, I was thinking of cocaine as a metaphor for consumerism writ large. We live in a culture where we're always encouraged to spend loads of money on useless shit we don't need. And we're supposed to do it quickly--probably because if we think too much about our purchases, we might be less likely to make them. We're really into immediate gratification, and that, from all I'd read, was also what cocaine was about. Feeding the id and ego, as your experience suggests.

As I continued to work on the book, though, I started thinking about addiction more broadly. Everybody, I think, has a void that needs to be filled in one way or another. We all feel pain, existential angst. Everybody hurts, to quote Michael Stipe. Some people discover that getting high is a way to quiet that angst, to quell those fears. Other people turn to things like shopping or gambling. Still others eat or love or pray. Or they starve themselves. Or cut themselves. Personally, I can't go five minutes without checking my email. It's not that I'm expecting anything. I just keep checking it on the off-chance that someone wrote to say something nice to me. It's like playing a really lame slot machine. It's also why I had to get off Facebook. I was on there all the time, seeing what people had to say.

I mention all of this because when I was meeting with book clubs and doing readings, some people would comment and say that Audrey was weak--weak for trying cocaine in the first place, and weak for succumbing to addiction. My response was always to say that everyone has a weakness, but this doesn't make everyone weak. It's how we respond to our weaknesses, how we deal with our angst and the mistakes we make that matters. For me, that's the whole point of the novel.

PS: Amen. I feel the same way about America which is why I hope everyone reads The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl which can be purchased HERE:

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Marc.

MS: Thank you, Peter. The pleasure was all mine.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Uptown Goldblatt's Building (former Borders Books)
4720 N. Broadway location
4701 N. Broadway

Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday 12pm-6pm

Over 40 participating Chicago fiction and poetry presses in a pop-up bookstore!
CLICK HERE to see which presses

Impressive list of publishers, magazines, presses, etc. And some pretty great panels, readings, and other events. If you're anywhere near Chicago, peep the CHICAGO BOOK EXPO.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011


Kick-off AWP 2012, Chicago-style, at the Empty Bottle with readings, party, mayhem, bands, DJs, more details to follow...

Hosted by:

Harold Ray, a ruinous West Virginian janitor who secretly longs to become a famous country singer but has no discernible talents other than an ability to drunkenly croon.

Music by:

James Greer (of GBV) and peeps
more TBA

Presented by:

Curbside Splendor
Orange Alert
Artistically Declined
Other Voices Books (OVB)
Featherproof Books
Empty Bottle

Readers include:

Sarah Rose Etter
Jesus Angel Garcia
Jeff Parker
Michael Czyzniejewski
James Greer
Lindsay Hunter
Jamie Iredell
Michael Kimball
Sam Pink
Lara Konesky
Mary Miller
Craig Renfroe
Rebecca Roberts
Peter Schwartz
Amber Sparks
Sarah Sweeney
Ben Tanzer
Mike Young

More info coming soon...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


We would like to welcome Peter Schwartz back on to the editorial team at DOGZPLOT, where he's served proudly almost since the begin. True soldier, artist, poet, writer, comedian, photographer, editor, and friend.

And to welcome him back proper we've feature one of his kick ass flashes in the new issue of DOGZPLOT and he's also going to be guest editing the next issue. So get those flashes out and send them along.

As always thanks to everyone who continues to read, encourage, support, subscribe, and submit their brilliant flash fiction and art work to DOGZPLOT.


Friday, September 16, 2011


Victor David Giron is the son of immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala. He's a CPA, bar owner, and runs Curbside Splendor Publishing, a small press that showcases art and literature celebrating urbanism. In addition to publishing works by local writers, he puts on literary events and sell books by Chicago-based publishers and authors at the Logan Square Farmers Market. His work has appeared in Rougarou, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Jersey Devil Press, and Diverse Voices Quarterly, among others, and his first novel Sophomoric Philosophy came out in November 2010. He lives in Chicago.

Your protagonist, Alex, seems to have lived a pretty average, middle-America, Mid-Western life. As a young man he seemed preoccupied with the same things that all of us are; music, girls, beer, and being cool. He then chose a stable career path through a Big Ten university and settled into his life as an accountant where his interests haven’t changed much from that of his youth. What do you see as the primary correlation between Alex’s middle of the road life path and his desire to be an artist / philosopher?

Alex is a hyper-contemplative person, highly aware of his surroundings to a point where it drives his insecurity. And though this is only touched on briefly in the novel, his parents are originally illegal immigrants from Mexico. Alex initially grows up in a predominantly Latino area of Chicago and his parents work hard to move their family to a middle-America suburb so that he and his sister live an ordinary life. To their parents this is success. Although Alex embraces this, and indeed cherishes the things living in a middle-American suburb affords, he also discovers he has interests that his immediate friends don’t—reading books, writing, really listening to music, drawing. Or rather, they might share them, but being hyper-aware, Alex begins to see these interests in his friends are disappearing as they get older and start to be consumed by the hardships that their indulgences bring them. So he feels this pull to not let go of these interests, because it scares him, the idea of completely letting go. But he’s also pulled back because he knows his parents worked so hard to allow him to indulge in every day comforts, something they themselves never had. It’s the tipping point of this struggle that fuels him to want to be some sort of artist.

What does it mean to you to "become an artist?"

In my opinion, to be an artist is simply to be that. To create. Whatever it is you like to create. Essentially (and here is the sophomoric philosopher in me), to be human. I’m a firm believer that our best quality is our desire to express ourselves creatively and we’re at our worst when this creative energy is suffocated and the energy that is lost is released in a much more destructive fashion (i.e. intolerance, frustration, boredom). I’m sort of a late bloomer when it comes to being creative. Like the character Alex, I’ve struggled with navigating the need to be secure and the yearning to create. I’ve always been attracted to folks that are outwardly artistic because I admire their ability to be so. Most of my ‘artistic’ friends, however, tend to believe that to truly be artistic one must always strive to create something ‘unique.’ While I appreciate that drive, to me there are various forms of art, and I’m of the opinion that to be artful and to be unique are not mutually exclusive, and again, the act of creating alone is artful and if it happens to be unique, then great (but I’m also not really convinced how ‘unique’ anything can really be).

Sophomoric Philosophy is told non-chronologically. Alex leaps from youth to adulthood then back again and back and again and back and… At times there seems to be a method to the madness and at other times it seems he is relating the facts to the reader as he is remembering them. What does the reader need to know or what should the reader know about the order of events? Is there a hidden meaning or message in the way he arranged his life for us? Are events listed in order of importance/significance? Like so much of Alex’s day to day thinking, is the arrangement musical?

The funny thing is the first drafts of SP were much more scattered. Thanks to my editor R.A. Miller who really guided me in rearranging chapters, deleting some, writing new ones, the final order of SP does have a rhyme and reason. The first chapter starts in the present, establishing that Alex is telling his story in the present (or really in the middle 00’s), and it then proceeds to flash back to his youth growing up in Chicago and his family moving to Des Plaines, a blue-collar suburb of Chicago. The chapters go on from there following Alex grow as a youth and as an adult. The back and forth is mostly between Alex as a youth and as an adult, mostly at a whim, as the memories hit him, but I it as his comparing and contrasting himself, his troubles he’s having with relationships and identity as an adult versus how he handled similar problems as a youth, and how there’s some troubling similarities. In the end Alex focuses more on his late teenage years, almost forgetting some of the adult problems he was having that drove to want to write his story because he kind of stumbles on something that, in the end, provides him with the energy to go forward as an adult. Other aspects of Alex sprinkled in throughout is that of him being Mexican-American and his relationship with his abusive father. You can see it’s something he’s thinking about but not quite ready to fully explore (more because I as an author wasn’t quite ready to delve fully into that). Your question about whether the arrangement is musical is interesting as it’s been asked a few times. I reference over 70-something songs in SP, and that’s because I’m interested in how music plays a role in our development (and I just really like music). I’ve had people try to decipher whether there was some kind of arrangement of the songs, or have had people remark that I was just really writing about songs (like each chapter was supposed to be an interpretation of a song or set of songs). Truth is there was no such arrangement or purpose – at least not intentional.

Alex seems to have some pretty great insights into Generation X and what it meant to be young and alive during the 80s and 90s. He understands complicated social networks that high school and popularity, socioeconomic status, and beauty inevitably create for us. He also understands music and film and the way they create social groups that bind us to our peers. It isn’t necessarily easy to decipher form the text itself, so I have to ask; are those insights that Alex was able to perceive as a young man, while he was experiencing them in real time, or is that Alex speaking in hindsight as a little-bit-older and a little-bit-wiser thirty-something?

As I explained before, Alex is this hyper-aware individual who’s always analyzing his status in social circles, friends, what he’s into and what he’s not into. So the perceptions are ones that Alex as a youth was aware of, but certainly they’re now refined or acute from his perspective as adult, even more so because Alex is aware that these same sort of social cliques exist, and in certain cases are stronger among adults. Because of this he’s a person who’s drifting between different groups, always weary of being too immersed in any one of them, like he’s always worried about not completely fitting in so he doesn’t totally try. Therefore he looks very middle of the road, ordinary, and so you’d never know that he’s listening to something like death metal or techno at the present, you know?

As keen as Alex’s observations into Generation X seem, he implies that ther is a generation gap that exists between his generation and the youth of today that makes it hard for him to understand them, collectively. What do you think causes a generation gap like that, and what do you see as the primary difference between Generation X and the youth of today? What are some of their similarities? After all, don’t all boys from all generations just want bong hits and blow jobs while listening to their favorite albums? Or there something else that sets today’s youth apart from their predecessors?

Growing up, I was always interested in how adults would complain that we were not like them when they were young, that the music was so much better when they were growing up, etc. I would tell myself they believed that because they had just lost touched, weren’t really listening to Motley Cru or Guns N’ Roses like we were and therefore just didn’t get how kickass they were. So I promised myself that I would not lose touch like that. I like to think that I do well in terms of keeping up with music and trends, but I know that I am beginning to lose touch with today’s youth. The biggest driver behind that is technology. Also, as an adult, you just don’t have the same kind of time to get immersed in such things (at least for most adults). As a child I had access to telephone, cars, cable television, all which now seems outdated but back then was really new to my parents. And now my children will grow up with small devices much more powerful than our “smart-phones” where they can access all the information they need, at some point the devices will probably be ingrained them. They’ll not know books or albums how I did, but what they’ll be into will be so much more different than what I experienced that I can’t say whether it will be better or worse. In the book Alex misses how when he was young he and his friends would be able to scream out loud the verses to their favorite songs, how they loved entire albums. I think today’s youth still do that, but just in different ways.

Alex’s high school AP English teacher say that “the purpose of all different forms of writing is ultimately the same – to make sense of our existence.” I always thought of the written language in a less romantic sense. I believe the primary function of writing is to communicate. How would you answer that question? What is the primary purpose of writing?

Well, writing certainly is a form of communication, I agree, but it’s one of many forms of communication, as is speech, audio / visual recording and sharing. I think what’s different about writing is that it’s not just a form of communication, but it’s a form of documentation. And that’s an important difference to me. We communicate by talking to each other or through physical gestures, etc., but when we want to communicate something in a way that it can be shared with others because we want it to be a historical record, an artistic statement, a fact to be analyzed in business or social settings, we write it down (or now record it somehow). So what the teacher in SP was getting at is that the act of writing a history, a story, a philosophy, the reason we want to do any of that at all, is to try and document our histories, perspectives, capture our imaginations, ultimately for the purpose of making sense of our existence. It’s like we’re these self-aware beings, we know we are doing things, but not always immediately sure why or whether what we’re doing is ‘right’. And so we are driven to document our actions, almost so others after us can try and make sense of what happened. So yes, the basic form of writing or communication facilitates are interactions socially, but the act of writing to document a story or history or a law, I think, is to try and convey with others what the hell is happening.

How much of your own life and experience and philosophy do we find in your protagonist Alejandro “Alex” Lopez?

A lot, most of it, well more like 60% of it based on real people and events, and the rest made-up or based on real people and events but embellished. The idea of who Alex is, though, for sure is all me (for better or worse).

Saturday, August 20, 2011



1) "The Peaches Are Cheap"

2) "The Fire Hazard"

3) "None Of It Grace"

4) "Burk's Nub"

5) "None Of Us Would Meet Her In the House of Mystery"


1) "The Kid" by Rachel B Glaser:

2) "Eight Times In the Everywhere" by Gabe Durham:

3) "Life Would Be This Way" by Jimmy Chen:

4) "'Eat or Die' Is Only an Unpleasant Threat" by Ofelia Hunt:

5) "Babyfat" by Claudia Smith: (cheating a little because this is in NOÖ, and really I could pick anything from NOÖ, but it's so good)