These are the writers and publishers that should have been on your holiday reading wish list
Since a series of scandals rocked the world of online literature in the autumn of 2014, the indie writing community has been hard at work educating itself and rebuilding from the ground up. Here are some of the writers (and publishers) giving us hope for a new golden age of words and feelings in 2016.
This Hungarian-Swedish writer, based in Brooklyn, came to our attention in 2015 with the publication of her chapbook, SOFT SPLIT, fresh from Future Tense Books. With a prose style reminiscent of her press-mate, May-Lan Tan, her writing is hyper sexual, hyper feminine, super dark and accompanied by a sleek and sardonic sense of humour. Honestly, if you’re into dazzling prose by powerful women, Future Tense Books is always a press to watch out for. They’re also the outfit behind killer debuts from Chelsea Hodson and Wendy C. Ortiz. When asked what she is working on next, Molnar responded: ‘Something much longer than Soft Split. Something I have to bleed for! ;)’
Essays by Elle Nash have been published widely online over the past few years and one in particular, Swinging Upside Down, a graphic chronicle of the author’s relationship with eating disorders, published by Human Parts, stands out as one of the most memorable and moving essays to appear online in 2015. Nash has taken workshops with literary heroines like Lidia Yuknavitch and Chloe Caldwell, and it shows in her honest, brave and deeply personal style, which is always aiming to push things further. Nash is also a founder of the recently launched, Witch Craft Magazine, a print zine that ‘celebrates the darker elements of life.’ Issue one is out now and highly recommended.
Montreal poet, Sara Sutterlin began making waves in early 2015 with the release of her chapbook, I Wanted To Be The Knife, (Metatron, 2015) and then quickly followed it up this Winter with her first full-length collection, Baveuse (Electric Cereal). The title comes from a Quebecois expression meaning, ‘wet, drooling, dripping’, or alternately, ‘arrogant, cocky, cheeky against authority’ which makes for an obviously intriguing combination. Fellow Canadian author, Guillaume Morissette, described Baveuse as “a work that fully embodies its own slogan: All good art is revenge.” For an online sample, we recommend this excerpt at Potluck Magazine.
Rumours of a first novel coming in 2016 have been circulating since Bookin published his short story, ‘The Joke’ last Summer at The Bohemyth, a quarterly online journal known for publishing exciting, young writers from all over the world. Bookin’s stories, often loaded with darkness, blood and horses, are as impressive for their precision as they are memorable for their biting one-liners. Matthew Bookin’s fiction is timeless.
Raul Alvarez’s first book ‘There Was So Much Beautiful Left’ (Boost House, 2015) handles topics like mental illness, the complexity of family, and losing one’s religion in a way that makes you feel like everything’s going to be okay. “Empathy is my new religion”, Alvarez said of the philosophy behind his debut collection. And his approach to the literary community at large is refreshing in just the same way, (he believes it depends on active and meaningful communication between artists.) Boost House itself is a small press with huge potential to publish even more important books. They’re also behind Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s spectacular collection, ‘i’m alive / it hurts / i love it’.
Kristen Felicetti has been tirelessly publishing the work of other people in her gorgeous and inimitable zine, The Bushwick Review, for years now, but it’s currently her own, innovative writing style that we’re feeling most excited about. The zine’s most recent incarnation, issue VI, included an in depth, Yelp-style review of Felicetti’s local convenience store, way too funny to be read alone on public transport. And she’s got that special gift for telling a great short story. Felicetti writes radio plays, directs music videos, and sustains a sense of community through readings and events related to the The Bushwick Review in New York City. Now all we need is a real life book featuring her Collected Works
He may be best known for co-founding the historic Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn (may it rest in peace), but Matt Nelson’s literary output has accelerated ever since the library closed its doors last spring and he moved from NY to the West Coast. His first poetry chapbook, An Apology for Apologies, was published by Big Lucks in the summer of 2015 and more recently, this December, he published a post-relationship, epistolary ebook with ex-girlfriend, Melanie Lorisdottir. Please Don’t Make Me A Character is out now at Shabby Doll House and recounts the breakdown of a relationship that ended in 2008 when the couple were separated by an ocean. A literary rom-com for the post-modern age.
Portland-based, Bronx-raised, Dominican born writer and artist, manuel arturo abreu published their novella, LIST OF CONSONANTS in 2015 through Bottlecap Press, a new publishing outfit that guarantees a catalog, ‘alarmingly, frustratingly, artistically human.’ (Other standouts include, Uptalk by Kimmy Walters and The Female Gaze is Cool by Alexandra Wuest). For a taste of abreu’s writing online, check out their three micro poems published recently as part of The Offing’s 2015 Trans Issue, and notice how your eyes open wide every time you reach one of those perfect last lines. abreu is also a co-founder of Home School, a free pop-up art school in Portland, OR, which provides welcoming contexts for critical engagement with contemporary art and its issues.
Oscar d’Artois’ first poetry collection, Teen Surf Goth (Metatron, 2015) captures a fast life lived in an existential daze with a pop-punk, poetic consciousness that feels equal parts inspired by Nicki Minaj and Arthur Rimbaud. The book is a testament to editor, Ashley Opheim’s vision for Metatron press. She describes d’Artois himself as, ‘sort of a fucked up, contemporary Lawrence Ferlinghetti or something’ and Teen Surf Goth as ‘a book that will make more sense as time goes on.’ Peter BD’s blurb on the back cover asks, ‘This is a poetry book... right?’ Metatron’s recent fall catalog also includes a stunning novelette, Pony Castle, from Sofia Banzhaf and a delightfully bizarre story collection, Looking Good and Having a Good Time, by Fawn Parker. All three writers and Metatron itself are worth paying very close attention to in the coming year. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Okay, we know you probably already know Chelsea Martin, the author of Even Though I Don’t Miss You (SF/LD, 2013) and The Really Funny Thing About Apathy (Sunnyoutside, 2010), but her latest offering, a novella titled, Mickey, (a story told in a series of vignettes about a young woman struggling to situate her life, her art, and to reach her mysteriously absent mother) is forthcoming from Curbside Splendor in June, 2016. 200 pages of Chelsea Martin feels like something to get very excited about.
And (okay this is cheating here but there are so many more than ten writers to look out for right now) another veteran of the online scene that we’re excited about in 2016 is Crispin Best. He was recently selected as one of Faber’s prestigious ‘New Poets’ and will publish his first pamphlet through Faber & Faber real soon. We can’t wait.