Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SATURNs for sale / MASTERWORKS

I thought it was worth letting you know here that, if you like, you can buy copies of SATURN—my collection of David Bowie stories recently out from Spork Press—directly from me. Right now, they are $12 (including shipping). Obviously I will sign all of them and additionally include a ripped-out page of a Bowie biography from the era of your choosing. If you’re interested, give me a shout, and prepare to divulge 1) your preferred color (slime or blue, see previous post for evidence), 2) your favorite Bowie era (to determine the biographical excerpt), and 3) mailing address.

In other news, a smallish piece of fiction called “Accession” was published in Everyday Genius earlier this month; it’s kind of about utterly defacing famous works of art, and is a part of the book that I’m working on (thanks to Dolan Morgan for picking this piece up). In case you’re tracking these things, another death-focused part of this book appeared in the latest issue of Forklift, OH, but you’ll have to go to print for that one. (If you do, it comes with a packet of seeds; it also comes with Ben Kopel’s “Sad Punk Sutra,” which you wouldn’t want to miss a word of.)

Since last we spoke (and in direct and pointed contrast to defacing works of art), I’ve also started writing MASTERWORKS, a recurring flash fiction series featured every month in the Paper Darts e-newsletter. It’s about reenactments of famous works of art. Sign up for the mailing list here, or peruse the three installments that have been published so far:
It’s all paintings as yet, but this month (November) it’s going to be a monolithic stone object, which should be fun. These stories are mostly ornate little echo-boxes, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time; basically I want my stories to be the written equivalent of this song

Let me know what you think, or if you have any artworks you would like to recommend. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS.

As always,
I remain,
Simon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SHAMELESS

Here is a selection of the colors in which SATURN is now available, alongside commentary with what movie I was watching when I learned that these covers existed, basically:

1) Red: I am pretty sure that I watched The Skin I Live In the same night that I received these (it was very rainy), which is potentially appropriate because that movie is all about masks, costumed invaders, abuses of the ultra-rich, dastardly medical procedures, and Marisa Paredes (so often does life become an erotic thriller). (Did you ever see The Flower of My Secret? It is EXCELLENT.)

("gory," "blood" version);

2) Silver: when I saw these, I think I was reading The Dream of Doctor Bantam, by Jeanne Thornton, which is a book that I love and which I would recommend to virtually any reader. Here are no. 2-6 on the itemized list of “things that I loved about this book,” as written enthusiastically in an email to its author (no. 1 was incomprehensible even to me):

2. the sentence on p. 91 in which Julie wraps herself up with a sheet "like a human pita";
3. the canoe scene, specifically on the rocks;
4. when Julie bums a cigarette from the 'patch-and-hemp' kid and thinks, "I do not want to take this cigarette from this person. I hate this person. I despise this person for his weakness," and then takes it anyway;
5. when Patrice asks Julie if she's proud of her for being the youngest Unbound;
6. the whole freaking opening scene, pants, ihop and all.

Holistically, it kinda reminds me of a World/Inferno Friendship Society song.

(my mother's favorite version of the cover, because it's "less gory" and "less clear what is going on"); 

3) Green: I don't remember what I was doing here. Do you? 

(Speaking of which, I would like to point that there is a Beach Boys song (pt. 2 of "California Saga"), which includes the very traditionally un-Beach Boys-like lyric: "spilled down the hill, a wagon-load of bodies lay scattered.") 

(I call this the "poor little greenie" version, Spork: "Slime and Gilded Blood Edition," which is somewhat more ornate);

4) Blue: I think I saw these on the same day as was released the full cover of David James Keaton's The Last Projector, which comes out Halloween of this year and will probably be the best book about movies ever written. (If you have ever read this blog, you have read of DJK - he wrote a zombie novella, a short story collection called Fish Bites Cop! whose decorative murders rival Nick Cave, and is the subject of an 8,000-word interview that remains unpublished, where the topic that takes up the most space is the physical consistency of blood across several movie-decades.)

(Spork: "summer bluez"; I prefer "cosmic").


 *
SATURN has gotten a pretty exciting amount of attention lately - I'll spare you all the grisly details here (you can check the special SATURN tab above for links to pretty much everything including reviews in The Rumpus and NANO Fiction; clicking virtually anywhere on this blog will send you places to buy it), but I am very grateful to everyone who's bought it thus far. If you've done so, let me know what you think! I may have a special surprise for you.

Have a pleasant night (watch a movie you fruitcake),
Simon




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ON SELLING OUT

SATURN officially launched at AWP in Seattle last weekend. Here is a photo of SATURN on the Spork table, at the beginning:

R3

It sold out. All 50 copies, gone.

Despite what people tell you, it feels very nice to be a sellout. If you bought one of the 50 - let me know! Like any narcissist, I'd love to hear what you think of it, or if you want to debate my facts. Since I wasn't in Seattle to endorse the copies for you, I'll propose something similar: if you let me know that you got the book, I will tear out highlighted/annotated pages of the classic 1986 David Bowie biography Alias David Bowie and mail them to you in lieu of a signature. It's definitely much more practical this way.

Right now, Spork has returned home without SATURNs, but they are always busy, and I expect that very soon there will be more books and it will be available to buy on the Spork website. This offer will stand for as long as I can manage it - even if you don't want a scrap of paper mailed to you, I'd love to hear what you think of it. Or if you have any photos or tactile descriptions (as yet, I haven't held a physical copy, so I am interacting vicariously), by all means, send them along. I would like to thank you, at least.

There are over 500 pages in Alias David Bowie. Plenty to gut.

*

While Spork continues making books and books and books, a few SATURN stories have made their way into a couple of new journals: first, online, in the inaugural issue of The Knicknackery (brought to you by the very estimable team of Sonja Vitow and Keren Veisblatt Toledano) you can find "David Bowie Sleeps with 1001 Arabian Nights Next to His Bed," which is, of course, about unending stories.

In print, Skydeer Helpking, a new journal put together by Russ Woods and Jeannette Gomes, also just released their first issue, and inside you can find both "David Bowie Approaches Tilda Swinton to Play Him in the Movie of His Life" and "David Bowie Confronts His Digital Self in Omikron: The Nomad Soul." 

Did you ever play Omikron? This is what he looked like:

"The souls here are grey and withered."
Finally, in non-Bowie-related news (thank god), I have a small story called "Booties" in the last (!) issue of Fractured West, a print flash fiction journal from Scotland. It's really beautiful and full of equally tiny things.

Once again, thanks for reading,
Simon



Monday, February 17, 2014

ALL STORIES ARE ABOUT HUNGER AT THEIR CORE

SATURN now has a cover and a release date:


The book will be first available at AWP 2014 in Seattle (Feb 26 - March 1), and then from the Spork website shortly thereafter.

If you're in Seattle, stop by table R3 to get one, and meet the team responsible.

Anything at all SATURN-related, let me know.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Almost two weeks ago, Against Me! released their latest album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (their first full-length since 2010), and since then, I've probably listened to it all the way through 45 times. It's one of those albums that seems both utterly personal - in the sense that it feels like a direct summation of Laura Jane Grace's transgender experience, a lifelong struggle finally heaved out into the open - and politically broad, like all the best punk albums. It's furious, aggressive, righteous, haunted, paranoid, desperately self-aware, and, I think, totally relevant. These are the first lines of the album, from the titular opener:
"Your tells are so obvious
shoulders too broad for a girl
keeps you reminded
helps you to remember where you come from."
Right off the bat, you know this is gonna hurt.

(I saw an interview with Laura Jane Grace where the interviewer cheerfully said to her, "Well, this must be a very happy time for you!" essentially because she'd come out as transgender and public response from fans/etc. had been mostly supportive. She said, "I'm a wreck." But, I mean, how could you not be?)




Possibly my favorite track on the album (at this moment) is "Paralytic States." Not only does it have a powerful, building intro and some really nice swirly dark undercurrents (you can tell that I don't know one goddamn thing about music), but it also carries several of my favorite moments on the album, including:
"She spent the last years of her life
running from the boy she used to be
cut her face wide open
shaved the bone down thin
plumped her lips up exaggerated
a fucked up kind of feminine"
I really don't think you can find lyrics like that anywhere else.

I've always wished I could sing like Laura Jane Grace. She can do the best throaty roar. (And has anyone ever called out James Bowman for his backing vocals? It's such a thrilling pairing; he needs more public praise.) One track on the album, "Drinking with the Jocks," has inched slowly towards the top of my list - it's got the hardcore roar, and at first it seems kind of satirical but ends on a really chilling note, with the repeated shout of "THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ME AND YOU" (thanks James!).

This bleeds right into "Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ," which works perfectly. (And I also feel compelled to point out that the latter song, after the bridge of "What's the best that you can hope for?..." etc. has literally THE most effective set of "na na na na"'s I've ever heard in a song - like, both echoing the chorus and slightly mocking; it's just terrific, go listen to it and you'll see what I mean.)


The cover art for Transgender Dysphoria Blues - by Steak Mtn, once again, who I'd argue was just about the greatest aesthetic decision for this band ever - is absolutely brilliant (and hardly mentioned in things that I've read! for shame!) - it not only speaks to the album's unapologetic honesty about the body, but also serves as a really, really good metaphor - basically, when it's all cut down, we have the same meaty insides. We're just cross-sections of other bodies. Also, Against Me! has the best typefaces ever.

If you buy the physical CD, the artwork is hilariously censored with a sticker on the plastic wrap, which, too, I think makes an awfully powerful point about what we will and won't accept:


That is - you can't have the nipple, but you can have the bloody meat underneath.


I saw Laura Jane Grace perform at the Bowery Ballroom in August 2013, where she performed most of Transgender Dysphoria Blues (which had either just been recorded or was in the midst of being recorded); at that point, I'd only heard the two songs from the EP True Trans, "True Trans Soul Rebel" and "FuckMyLife666," so most of the material was unfamiliar to me, but one of the most striking aspects of the show was how the crowd knew every bit of the new stuff as well as they did the old stuff, such that you knew these songs had been traveling, had been beating on someone's chest for a long time, as a prerecorded experience of their own, something that I - as a generally solitary, album-based music-listener and infrequent show-goer - was not used to. It made me think about COMMUNITY and all of those implications, etc, how it's built up, but also intimidated me a little - namely, the community that exists in Real Actual Space with other people vs. the community that exists By Yourself, In Your Head.

Which, I guess, is just another way of saying how important it is that this particular album now exists - here it's taking a set of issues that are very ultimately Yourself and relating them with total, unfiltered, necessary vigor and honesty. Which, in the end, is basically what music is about, isn't it?

***

[Sidenote!: Like many others (I believe in the common experience), I had my own gender troubles, which probably reached their fullest, 'public' realization in a poem I wrote in 2012, which adopted Laura Jane Grace as savior. (I wrote it shortly after her 'coming out'; despite its quasi-hysterical tone, that poem was eventually published and honestly I still really like it. If I wrote it today I'd probably take out a few stanzas, but looking at it now a lot of the lines make me smile; the audio recording, however, is truly embarrassing and features a pseudo 'mic drop/walk-off' at the end.) In any event, it's simmered down.]

IN THE NEWS:

Speaking of gender and bodies and their sensitive parts, I have a new story called "Our Bodies" in the latest issue of Weave Magazine. It's really a very snazzy journal with some very snazzy writing inside (my story is not overtly 'snazzy,' just painful), and it's print, which means you can stroke it.

And! My David Bowie book, SATURN, comes out later this month. I don't know what to do with myself until then (besides writing very long blog posts about Against Me!) - I'm too excited (I've said this already). This, I think, will never stop being the case.

Google-searching 'simon jacobs saturn,' which I'm not ashamed to admit I've done several times, brings up basically a lot of self-reference, but hopefully when the book finally drops we will make some goddamn waves.

As always, thanks for reading all the way down to here,
Simon

Monday, January 20, 2014

TIME TO GET A DRASTIC HAIRCUT AND FLEE THE CITY

Hello again! (so soon?)

I've had two new stories bloom into cyberspace over the past couple of weeks. I'll tell you about them, because they were both written during the same summer, and occupy two sides of the same coin:

1. "The Inventory of Marcus, Level 16" in Issue 54 of The Collagist.

This is the biggest story I've ever had published anywhere (6400 words!). It was one of those magical things that came out more or less correctly the first time, written, initially, during the summer of 2012, very quickly and in very tiny handwriting. This is the story that finally put the hundreds of hours I spent playing Diablo and Baldur's Gate to good use, as well as most of my high school angst. Writing solves problems!

The Collagist, too, has been a personal publishing benchmark for a couple of years, and so it's extra-satisfying to have such a thick, meaty story in there. It is, as always, a stellar issue all around, and I'm in there this month with Meghan McCarron, an amazing writer whose 2010 story "WE HEART VAMPIRES!!!!!!" was a very formative short-fiction read for me.

Also, "Inventory" is illustrated! With ASCII images! Which was also something that I was into during the summer of 2012, apparently (see, for example, these poems in Word Riot many moons ago). Many thanks to Gabriel Blackwell, for taking the story and giving it so much time and care as we prepared it for the issue (did I mention it was long?).

2. "Two Heads" in Issue 15 of Crime Factory.

Basically exactly what it promises. I wrote this story staring at a lake, which makes sense because the story is set in a desert. The first draft of it was written for the PANK 'pulp' special issue in 2012, and then rejected, so the fact that, many editions later, it's found a home in Crime Factory - a no-holds-barred hardboiled noir journal - is a particular kind of revenge (it has stitches on the cover, so you can tell it's hard).

It'll cost you $1.99 to get this issue, but there's 220 pages of legit crime writing (including my 2400 words) and you got 640,000 for free in the last story, so it all evens out. If you're saving up money to buy SATURN when it comes out, though, I understand.

"Two Heads" was originally part of PARTNERS, the story-collection I've mentioned here a few times, which is out searching with big googly-eyes for a home. On my last round through, I nixed "Two Heads" from the lineup, because there are enough painful sex scenes without it. Which is to say, you won't be seeing this one anywhere else, so hop to it while you still can.


There are a couple of personal meta-morals to take away from the publication of these fairly 'old' stories. First, if there's a story that's been kicking around for a really long time, and which hasn't found the right home yet - sit tight. It will get there, eventually. Second, going through "The Inventory of Marcus" again has made me realize that there's nothing quite as fun as a good, shaggy story. After a full year of focusing on hyper-concise David Bowie stories, I think it's time to sprawl a little bit. Like the suburbs.

(FYI, when I think of a 'shaggy' story, this s generally a variation of what I imagine, along with Matthew Lillard:)


*

SATURN is getting so close, and I am too excited. I have basically run out of things that I can do to 'prepare' in advance of its publication, other than making .gifs, so if you have ways to keep me busy or are interested in doing something with the book, let me know and I'll be in your debt forever.

All for now,
Simon


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

THE NEW YEAR AND THE NEXT DAY AND A BOOK TO PUT IN THEM BOTH

Today is David Bowie's 67th birthday, which is an especially appropriate time for this announcement:

My first book, SATURN, a collection of David Bowie stories, will be published in early 2014 by none other than Spork Press.

I bolded that. And increased the font size. You bet I did. It's the biggest news we've had around here since ever!

You know Spork, right? The press responsible for such beauties as Colin Winnette's ANIMAL Collection, Joyelle McSweeney's The Necropastoral, and Zachary Schomburg's From the Fjords; handbound, hardback books (they have such sturdy spines), embossed covers, each one of them made with love and sweat and tears and definitely blood beneath the hot sun of Tuscon, Arizona. David Bowie could not be in more loving hands, and I could not be happier.

The book is 19 stories long - I like to call it, very loosely, a latter-day biography of potentiality. There's a lot of trivia in it, a lot of factoids for David Bowie nerds (I know there are a few of them out there), a lot of heart/soul/minotaurs/etc. I think you'll love it. My mother read it and said to my father, "It's amazing, the things he knows."

Earlier versions of a couple of these stories have been published already in places like Everyday Genius and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review - check them out for a taste!


SATURN will probably be out in February, definitely in time for the Spork table at AWP in Seattle, where you'll be able to go and purchase your very own little piece of All-Simon to take home and treasure forever, along with all of your other David Bowie collectibles.

I won't be at AWP this year, unfortunately, as I will be on the hunt for the ever-elusive Snowy Buffalo.

(yeti)
Rest assured, as soon as SATURN is out, you'll never hear the end of it. There's even a cover now, which is one of the most badass pieces of art I've ever seen; it's not completely done so I can't share it with you just yet, but again: we don't keep these kinds of secrets for long.

*

If you investigate the newfangled links at the top of the page, you'll also see that I now have something called a 'mailing list,' which, if you sign up, means that you'll receive cryptic updates from Simonthia about as frequently as I post on this blog, which is very close to not at all. Basically, I set this up in order to send pictures of weird fish to a defined, self-selected group of people, and also because the Mailchimp logo is, obviously, a monkey, and I wanted to support that.

There's also now a page specifically for SATURN, because why not, under which you'll be able to find excerpts, reviews, interviews, etc. as they appear. If any of you invisible readers out there are particularly interested in knowing more about the book or the project, let me know and I'll overwhelm you with information. Thanks for reading! A book, a book, a book.