Tag Archives: fun camp

Fun Camp Review in Puerto del Sol & New Boss Fight Excerpt at Kotaku

Kelsie Hahn published part of FUN CAMP in a previous issue, interviewed me for their blog, and has now reviewed the book in the new print issue:

As each new day of the week arises, announced in bold font like the chime of a bronze bell counting down the hours, you can’t believe how much of the week has already gone. You can’t believe how much you don’t want it to end.

You can read the PDF here.


Also, Michael P. Williams and I hard at work on his book, Chrono Trigger, and we just released an early chapter at Kotaku.

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Art Essay at Fanzine + Some Fun Camp Love @ Sundog Lit and SPD


I wrote about Joshua Dildine’s excellent PHOTO SERIES over at the Fanzine.

Tyler Crumrine’s review of FUN CAMP went up at Sundog Lit this week: “FUN CAMP is a novel about growing up through the eyes of those who think they’ve grown up already, and perfect for anyone who’s ever jumped off of something tall in hopes that everyone else was watching.”

Meanwhile, the book made the 2013 Small Press Distribution “Staff Picks” list thanks to Holly McDede, who notices the camp’s “sexual tension,” “stupid horrors,” and “sexually experimental girls”!

At Hazlitt, I got to take part in Tobias Carroll’s article about a classic DOS text adventure called Amnesia.

Before long, Boss Fight Books will actually be putting out books.

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Fun Camp Videoplex

Peter Tieryas turned his Fun Camp review into a sweet video for HTMLGIANT where dogs run backwards and children blur indistinctly into each other. That seems about right. As head counselor Dave says, “I want so much for you as a gaggle of campers, but as individuals i can barely keep your faces in focus.”


Meanwhile in YouTubeland, Michael Filippone reads the shit out of some Fun Camp pieces:


Let me know if you get up to performing some FUN CAMP bits online. I want teens to read from this book to audition for the school play and then accidentally fwd the audition video to the whole school and then become–not necessarily King of the School–but at the very least a wild card, one to keep an eye on.

I leave you with Demon Ben Kopel:


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FUN CAMP the eBook

Get it from Amazon for $4.

Get it directly from Publishing Genius for $3.


And check out this POSSIBLE SPELLING ERRORS compilation over at Publishing Genius.


“I’ll be maid of honor in your wedding and you’ll be co-maid with my sister but only cause she’d disown me if I didn’t let her.” – Big Lucks

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New FUN CAMP Review by Peter Tieryas up at HTMLGIANT

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“Fun Camp acts as a strange microscope for the cabin of our lives … The miracle is how much gets packed into that short period of time; falling in and out of love, friendships born and betrayed, philosophical schisms formed and patched” – Peter Tieryas-Angela Xu at HTMLGIANT

Thank you, Peter!

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FUN CAMP interview in the Short Form, Book Notes at Largehearted Boy, and Review at JMWW

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Thanks so much to everyone giving my book their time!

You can order it from Publishing Genius or Small Press Distribution.

Review/press copies also available. Email me or Adam Robinson.

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From 6/7-6/17, Jack Christian and I read in Brooklyn, Boston, Northampton, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Richmond, and D.C.

In the Brooklyn apartment of my friend Lily, we had the most incredible breakfast: jamberry eggcakes. It’s eggs, bacon, hot sauce, and strawberry preserves, served atop a pancake. Savory, spicy, salty, sweet–all the pleasure buttons at once.

Another incredible breakfast was in Richard’s home in Richmond, VA: fresh biscuits with sausage gravy. It was just the best.

At Flying Object, my friends Christy, Anne, Kristen, Brian, and Anu helped me read from my book. Each took a particular character or thread. It was a great chance to perform pieces of the book I usually don’t read from, like all the little comment cards (Christy) and the Tad Parables (Anu). Brian killed as Billy.

Before that, Mike Young played 3 songs, the newest of which he called me up to sing with him, assured I’d kinda pick it up as it went along. I kinda did!

The next night in Baltimore, Tim Paggi stepped it up and corralled a few of his fellow actors and they turned my book into a full-on performance, including a three-person rendition of “Every Man’s Battle,” a primer on goof-dancing. It’s so exciting to see people reinterpret my writing and make it their own.

A suspenseful thing was whether copies of my book would arrive in time for the tour, and they did. Just one day before I absolutely needed them.

The app part of Square Card Reader is better than the cheap plastic attachment. By the end, I forewent the attachment and just entered credit card numbers into my phone by hand, the way Grandpappy taught me.

A good thing is to get more brazen about telling people exactly how/where they could buy your book, and for how much. A tip I heard that proved true: Get someone to accept money on your behalf. It’s somehow more comfortable for everybody to have an intermediary.

Adam Robinson’s now boyish in a clean-shaven short-haired mode. His and Joe’s apartment is decorated with the original collage from Chris Toll’s book and art from Easter Rabbit, and at Stephanie’s I spotted the collage that Fun Camp’s woods photo comes from.

When Adam gave me 20 more books to sell, I (because I was in Baltimore) kept referring to it in my head as “a re-up.”

On a dewey field we got in nine holes of disc and then went out for crab cakes and fries. We passed a woman, standing, hunched-over in unpained repose, leaning down and twisting into herself, an accidental yogi.

I got to hear a bunch of great writers read: Jonathan Callahan, Chris Cheney, Biana Stone, Ben Pease, Greg Gerke, Brian Foley, Matthew Salesses, Jess Lacher, Megan Kaminski, Allison Titus, Tony Mancus, Wei Tchou, and best of all: Jack Christian x8.

The walls of Mellow Pages Library are like a 3D screengrab of a cool kid’s “to read” queue, indie lit’s minimalist homepage.

I woke one morning to Jack’s dog Patty excitedly greeting me. She threw up on the comforter, then happily returned to try to lick my face while continuing to cough as if about to throw up some more. From Patty’s perspective, the best thing would have been to throw up on my face so she could greet me while clearing out her system. I didn’t agree.

Whenever I could, I’d steal away to tend to the ongoing Kickstarter for my new press, Boss Fight Books. In the car I did a podcast. On a train I answered some questions. Hoping This is Good Enough and Pressing Send is the soul of wit.

In Boston I met up with Super Mario Bros. 2 author Jon Irwin, who turned out to be the great guy I’d suspected he was. The encounter filled me with self-congratulations for knowing how to pick ’em.

In a Baltimore kitchen after our reading, Jack misstepped, grabbed a sink to steady himself, found that the sink was not stable, and tumbled down, cracking open a spot above his eye on an open cellar door. There’s a version of the story where Jack continues falling, down into the cellar, and his life ends there. Instead: He butterfly-bandaged the wound and bounced back like a champ.

For the front half of the tour, Jack and I challenged ourselves to read all-different stuff each night. By the end, we’d both dropped it and just read what we wanted.

Music! Guy Petit played camp tunes on the P.A. at Flying Object. The night before that, Jack and I gushed over and sang along to the entirety of August and Everything After. Brian Foley, if he had any sense, recorded this occasion in his brain and made fun of us to mutual friends as soon as he was out of the car.

I slept mostly on air mattresses, and slept hard every night. At Jack’s friend Phil’s I wore an eye mask to keep out the morning sun, challenging the close-held notion that I’m not an eye mask man.

On the streets of Manhattan, I had the most insanely easy meet-up with my old friend Andrew and new friend Maxwell within an hour of one another. In both instances, I’d assumed we’d meet up later in Brooklyn and instead we were within the same block of each other in Manhattan.

Before that, I met the most famous cat in Manhattan, Jimmy Jazz. “Do you think fame has changed him?” I asked his owner Julie. “Well he knows how good-looking he is,” she said. “He’s dumb but good-looking.” His coloration was especially impressive: the black on his hind legs formed a boot cut and the black on his front legs stopped at the mitten zone.

I’m really starting to come around on French press coffee.

What do you write when you sign a book? Traditionally, something pithier than what I wrote in friends’ books, which was usually about how I was glad to see them and how I hoped not much time would pass before they’d come see me in Los Angeles.

Our chillest reading was in the new Philly home of Zach Savich and Hilary Plum. I read a little something with Jack and our new LA friend Jess, and then we feasted. It was good to see Z&H happy and alive in a real city.

At the beginning of my last reading in D.C., I tried to raise host Mark Cugini’s mic stand to a height that was 6’4″-appropriate and ripped the top of the mic stand right off its base. Holding the stand like that, I felt like an 80’s comedian and proceeded to make an obsolete joke about airline food.

I succumbed to McDonalds and paid in pain. I succumbed to Arby’s and got out pretty clean. A place that sucks is Bukowski’s in Boston. The photo of a sign I saw in Dunkin Donuts got mad likes on Facebook.

I had one mojito, one glass of wine, one Fun Camp (invented in my honor by Z&H: proseco, vodka, and a bit of blue Kool-Aid burst), but mostly drank beer. Writers, so.

A couple months ago I took an improv class for eight weeks. I told friends I felt like the class’s secret lesson was “How to Be Fun at a Party Without Drinking Too Much,” and indeed my nerves never pushed me over the line. I also felt like improv had made me weirdly fearless about doing readings. I’ve always liked reading my stuff, but now I was excited for the unplanned elements, and sensitized to the secret truth that at a reading, people want to see you get up and talk to them as much as they want you to read from your book.

“Dag, yo,” Jack would say. And during the readings, he’d speak of “old friends and new friends” and mean it. And all his new shit went over great. And whenever his wife called, Jack would go, “It’s Liane!,” happy to hear from his buddy.

Over drinks in Richmond, I played “Ask the Expert” with Dave and Jenna where your friends ask you questions about the world and you’ve got to act like you know everything. We also played “Which friend’s inner thigh is depicted in this photo?” and “Split the drunken noodles.”

And before we split ways, Dave read me a story my friends from college had cowritten about a saucy young writer, Dabe Gurham, whose hotel blows up while he’s on book tour. The story’s really lusty and profane. The first paragraph went like this:

It was a pretty ordinary day at the beginning, what with the hotel alarm and the shower and shaving and complimentary continental breakfast and all.  Yessir, nothing about the Styrofoam coffee or rubber bagel alluded to the total clusterfuck of a day that was about to descend upon successful musician-novelist-blogger-PublisherOfBooksAboutVideoGames and gigolo-about-town Dabe Gurham. He had arrived into the godforsaken tobacco ghost-town of Richmond, VA the night before, in preparation for a reading of his newly published and critically acclaimed first novel, a book of such verve that it left audiences weeping for joy and for their wasted lives lived pursuing things that would never contain one-millionth the genius found on just one page of Gurham’s bold prose.  “It feels good to change lives”, thought Gurham as he ate his third bagel.

A few times at readings I felt the throb-throb of appreciation for those who’d helped make my book happen, and of affection for friends (and sibling) I hadn’t seen in awhile. There’s something cool about getting to perform for people you love, where suddenly the quality of your writing seems beside the point and the main thing is the “all of us here together” feeling.

If the worst part of readings is the incantation of lit mag names, the best part is a momentary fusion of the private and the public, the leaning in close for a secret.

And the secret to a book tour in general? Think of it as a fun road trip to visit friends, culturally sanctioned and partially subsidized.

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Quincy Rhoads Reviewed FUN CAMP in The Fiddleback

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Big thanks to Quincy Rhoads for his review of FUN CAMP in The Fiddleback.

Fun Camp offers surreal laughs, as when a camper yells “refresh inbox!” at a clothesline designated for inter-camper notes, or the ghost story pastiche around the campfire: “To this day, La Malhora appears at the crossroads whenever someone is going to die. That baby was my daughter. That psycho was me.” And the book offers surprisingly familiar pathos, as when veteran campers mourn the loss of summers gone by or when scratchy love notes are stowed in socks.

It was Quincy’s review that set off a big controversy at HMTLGIANT when it appeared anonymously and then disappeared mysteriously hours after being posted. And by “big controversy,” I mean “a thing that happened.”

Secure your copy here.

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Joeseph Riippi Reviewed FUN CAMP in Heavy Feather Review + Interviewed Me and Adam Robinson

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From the review:

Like adolescence, too, the pieces in Fun Camp run a superlative range. Durham gives us moments of mind-blowing insight and moments of devastating heartbreak … it’s like a dark blue water balloon coming at you at nighttime.

And then instead of excerpting myself, I’m going to excerpt an interpretation Joe Riipi formed-and-sorta-abandoned while reading the book:

Here’s a long question, but I think an important one. On my first read, I thought of “fun camp” as an allegory for social networking. What struck me, especially in the first sections, was this phenomenon that occurs at camp (and, I think, in a lot of life) in which a person must create a kind of avatar of him or herself. There’s a piece toward the front called “Summer After Summer of Love” in which the voice is trying to reconcile the “this summer” self with a “past summer” self. There’s a key difference between a self at camp and a self in real life—a vacation, really—which made me think of the escape to “fun camp” in general as an escape onto the Internet. On Facebook and Twitter, people can choose to project an “ideal” of themselves, just like they can at camp. For instance, in telling how to perform publicly in a nightly skit, you write: “Act well, using method techniques like drawing from memories of some of the more intense emotional experiences you had in the last hour. Try to be complex and cathartic and redemptive.” Then there are notes of encouragement and compliments that campers publicly share with another along a clothesline—the “warm fuzzies” you call them—which are so much like posting on another’s Facebook wall or Tweeting “at” someone. Do you see the fun camp you created as a reflection of life as it is, how it should be, or how it shouldn’t?

Thanks, Joe, for putting the whole post together, and to HFR who has been awesome and recently published part of the book in a print issue.

Book be here.

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