Monthly Archives: June 2010

PANK Interview + News + Link + mmm!

I did one of those wet n’ wild interviews for which the PANK blog is famous. All questions but one directly reference text from my pieces in their online issue.

New Fun Camps are coming out in Quick Fiction, Everyday Genius (Luke Goebel’s upcoming month as editor), NOÖ Journal, and Gargoyle (though since Gargoyle is an annual, that one won’t be out until next summer).

Killer Franzen excerpt. Potentially melodramatic subject but really well-handled. I’ll read the book even if it is called Freedom.

Already accepted a couple of great things for Keyhole 10. Fun!


Really excited to be announcing this: I’m the new editor of Keyhole Magazine.

For those who don’t know about the magazine, Keyhole is an indie lit quarterly run out of Nashville. Under the reign of Peter Cole, Keyhole put out nine issues of great writing. A bunch of the better stories I’ve read in magazines in the last couple of years have come out in Keyhole, including “I Hope You Still Love Me in Your New Hyundai” by Crispen Best, “Hold on to Your Vacuum” by Matt Bell, “I Pilot my Bed Deep Into the Night” by Ryan Call, “Kind and Merciful” by Nick Kocz, and a few of Shellie Zacharia’s Now Playing stories. In other words, I’m already on board with The Keyhole Aesthetic, which really just amounted to the taste of Peter and the other editors.

I met Peter this last winter after he printed a story I’d submitted called “This Nun” in Keyhole #9. My wife and I were pretty seriously considering moving to Nashville by then, and I was looking to make Nashville friends in case we did move, so I emailed him while we were in town. He and I sat in a Hillsboro Village sports bar and talked books/publishing/writers pretty late into the night.

So when I moved to Nashville earlier this month, Peter offered me the gig so he could focus on Keyhole Books, putting out sweet collections/novels by Matt Bell, Aaron Burch, William Walsh, and, as of yesterday, Matthew Simmons. I think the first thing I said was, “Sounds like a lot of work.” But then I thought about how fun it could be to put together a magazine made only of writing I love, and to work with people I like who’ll help me make it happen. So I said, yes, sure, yeah, cool. Cool? Cool. With a little bit of fine print that says I could quit after one, three, or seven issues, and pass the editor hat to somebody else if I need to.

I’m excited to say that Keyhole mainstay/Twelve Stories/Willows Wept/indie lit powerhouse Molly Gaudry is staying onboard as an editor, and that I’ve also tricked the writer Christy Crutchfield and the writer/co-editor of matchbook Brian Mihok into joining up.

My first act as president is to shut down submissions for the quarterly and the digest. Our inbox is flooded and we’ve got to spend some time reading our way out. In a break from the old policy, we will be responding to all submissions. However, If you’ve sent something to Keyhole in the last year, there’s a chance it may have already been considered, rejected, and deleted before I got here.

However, Keyhole Online will remain open for business–Peter’s still running all online content–so log in and send him your fiction, poems, articles, and interviews! Overwhelm him with your writing. He likes it.

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Most Used Words in Current Drafts of my Books

Every Mostly Great Man in the State: like, just, got, one, time, Merrill, get, little, back, know, something, man, made, told, right

Them at Their Worst: like, just, know, little, want, Mom, good, go, one, Dad, time, get, way, now, see

Fun Camp: one, like, got, get, just, know, time, something, back, make, tell, love, think, even, way

From these findings, I conclude that all three books are pretty boring and my writing is filled with the same filler words I use in speech when I’m struggling to articulate something. Thanks, Wordle.

Don’t be [a] bitter Anna, I know how you think.

I’ve got another mini-post about The National’s High Violet in me, but it’s based on a lyric I can’t prove exists. The National doesn’t release their lyrics officially, so when you look up their lyrics online, you’re just getting the product of a fan listening closely.

The lyric, from “Little Faith,” as I hear it, goes, “Don’t be a Bitter Anna, I know how you think / You’re waiting for Radio City to sink.” And that got me off thinking how great an unexpected article can be: By adding the word/letter “a,” Berringer adds a cruel intimacy to the line. The speaker is close enough with Anna that he has a lightly coded expression for when she’s being needlessly bitter. And that it’s followed by “I know how you think” drives the point home. The speaker discards Anna’s feelings for their predictability. Another slight jab from a lyricist full of them.

Compare that line with the one the lyric websites report, “Don’t be bitter, Anna,” which is fine, functional, but just isn’t doing the same work.

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Roundtable + Reading

Over at Hobart, Jensen Beach put together a beast of a roundtable “first books” interview with Kyle Beachy, Jed Berry, Andrew Ervin, Roxane Gay, Rachel B. Glaser, Caitlin Horrocks, Holly Goddard Jones, Tom McAllister, Laura van den Berg, Kevin Wilson, and  Mike Young. Lots of interesting nuggets. Here’s Mike saying a lot of stuff I agree with about reading and performance:

Performance has always felt like a natural outgrowth of writing to me. If my work is talking at imaginary faces, then real faces are the mystical bonus round. Granted, I don’t like hustling people to buy my shit, but I do like entertaining them. Entertainment comes from roots that mean “to hold among,” to draw people in, to intertwine with somebody. That’s why one of the nicest things a stranger can do is entertain us, because that means they’re becoming less strange. Think of how you don’t have to say anything when you and somebody else are both laughing, but how much you know about that somebody else that you didn’t know before you laughed together.I mean, maybe this is all just my weird taste. I’d love for The National to play in my livingroom, and I’d buy their CD if they did a good job. And, okay, I actually enjoy sleeping in kitchens and eating 7-11 jerky. I’d rather live in a snow globe than an apartment, etc. Which is ridiculous, sure. But I do agree with Kyle above that publication is, fundamentally, a very egotistical gesture. For me, readings—and other forms of direct contact with readers, but most especially readings—actually feel like (potentially) graceful manifestations of that gesture: here I am with this language I made. And I’ll go ahead and make it again for you with my breath. That’s always felt actually kind of amazing. Which is to say I try my hardest to be half as good as some of the really terrific readers I’ve seen. Plus, if the book sucks, I (the author) can be off on an island riding walruses while you (the reader) suffer with my sucky book. If my reading sucks, at least you have this warm human to hate, which is always more satisfying than hating a book.

And hey–I’ve got my first Tennessee reading coming up in July, thanks to the efforts of the generous Kyle McCord, who is putting together a tour to promote his own first book:

The Titans of Library

Kyle McCordKeith Montesano – Gabe Durham

Nashville Public Library (Special Collections Center)

Saturday, July 24 – 3 pm

(I’ll remind you again.)


I went to a coffee shop near my new apartment called Portland Brew this morning and discovered it’s the site of the Brick Reading Series in East Nashville on Friday, June 18, featuring John Minichillo, Susannah Felts, and Motke Dapp. I’ll be there. Show me what you got, Nashville.