‘Billy Christ’ Lovereading Review

‘Billy Christ’ by Michael Cameron has just received a glowing review on Lovereading, one of the largest book review sites in the UK.

“For those who like dark, adult mystery thrillers with great twists and turns, Billy Christ is a must-read. It’s a unique, fast-paced coming-of-age page-turner, set in the turbulent 1970s and written as a fictional memoir, detailing the life of a smart boy named Billy, who believes he’s been chosen by God to be the next Christ.”

To read the full review click here

BillyChrist_ebook_final_2

 

Get Billy Christ in the UK and US.

Short Stories You Must Read: 5. ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafta (1915)

485894

What to expect: A comic and harrowing tale of a young, travelling salesman who wakes up one morning to find himself turned into a beetle-like insect.

Best known for: Transmogrifying the main character, Gregor Samsa, into a bug as a metaphor for human troubles such as alienation, sympathy (and its limits), and the absurdity of life.

Interesting Fact: Aside from countless media adaptations, The Metamorphosis is perhaps one of the most famous examples of humans turning into animals in short stories. Modern examples being Sarah Hall’s Mrs Fox, which won the BBC short story award, and Nina Killham’s My Wife the Hyena.

Best Quote: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”

Final Words: The Metamorphosis is a seminal 20th century short story written by one of the masters of the form. It’s longer than most short stories (hovering at novella length), but well worth the investment.

Party of Nine

‘Party of Nine’ by Joel Blumenau is out today!

Ming, a tormented teenager does battle with his own demons while shouldering the heavy burdens of taking care of his mother and their failing restaurant. It has been a struggle to survive ever since Ming’s father deserted the family. Despite a ray of hope that materializes in the form of a big reservation one night, their lives climax in an unforeseen torrent of pain, violence and tragic consequences.

A gripping story from the pen of one of Cracked Eye’s favorite authors.

99c (US): http://bit.ly/PartyofNineUS

99p (UK): http://bit.ly/PartyofNineUK

 

Party_of_Nine

 

Short Stories You Must Read: 2. Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

10176119

What to expect: A satirical and dystopian short story set in a 2081 world where, due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, the Handicapper General and its agents enforce equality on the population by law. The story is centred on George and Hazel Bergeron when the government imprisons their smart and athletic fourteen-year-old son, Harrison.

 

Best known for: Being set in an unsettling society where the strong, intelligent, and better-looking citizens are forced to wear ‘handicaps’ that set them on a level playing field with the rest of the population. The intelligent must wear in-ear mental handicap radio transmitters, the athletic must wear weights, and the beautiful wear ghastly masks.

 

Interesting Fact: Justice Antolin Scalia wrote a dissent that drew upon the story in the PGA Tour, Inc. v Martin (2001) case, where The Supreme Court ruled in favour of a disabled golfer who argued the PGA Tour couldn’t stop him riding a golf cart between shots.

 

Best Quote: “Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime.”

 

Final Words: If you like your dystopia thought provoking, satirical, and a little tongue-in-cheek, then this one’s for you.

Short Stories You Must Read: 1. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)

I_Robot_-_Runaround

What to expect: A collection of nine science fiction short stories interwoven through the character Susan Calvin, a robopsychologist, which chronicles the development of robots from basic beginnings to complex beings with the potential to render humanity obsolete.

Expect robots that glitch, make jokes, read minds, and secretly control the world.

 

Best known for: Redefining our perception of robots by creating the fictional laws that govern them, The Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot may not injure its own kind and defend its own kind unless it is interfering with the first or second rule.

 

Interesting Fact: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Isaac Asimov coined the word robotics, in his short story, Liar (1941).

 

Best Quote: “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

– Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

 

Final Words: If you love robots – read it. If self-aware robots freak the bejesus out of you– definitely read it.

Laid Off by Seth Augenstein

Today’s post is from Seth Augenstein whose short story, Laid Off, is published today on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

seth-augenstein-photo

In 2008 – as the chickens came home to roost, the seeds once sown were reaped, and just desserts were being served – I wrote the story “Laid Off,” now published by Cracked Eye.

The Great Recession continues to drag on, and friends continue to lose jobs, houses, savings accounts – and their natural hair color.

But as one character in the story says, it’s all part of a natural process of selection. Or is it?

The story’s genesis was interesting, at least to its author. It was written after a tumultuous trip back to Boston, where I’d gone to college. The excursion was distinctly different than the one portrayed in the story. In reality, the city was encased in ice – there was no snow, just a frozen slippery sheet over houses, sidewalks and streets. Walking up and down the slopes in Beacon Hill made for some Olympic-style slaloming, and some psychedelic contusions on every limb. My friend Mark – not Fred – and I lay prostrate in the back of a fishtailing pickup truck drinking beer and singing about Plastic Jesuses because, at the time, it seemed to make sense.

I forget the name of the driver of that truck. He was a bald person, and solemn – but kind, and he had good reflexes.

In the Real Trip, two vagabonds did indeed crash a party in a secret wing of a blue-blood old hotel through a decoy exit door, but there was no Aaron Burr. There was an aspiring novelist, sure – but he was a bigger jerk than was portrayed herein.

Back to history… At that point in 2008, America had made its bed and was just about to lay in it, as we’ve said. After a decade of paying for all sorts of nifty exploding gadgets abroad, and thousands of McMansions springing up across the land, all paid for on the credit card, the tab had come due. Suddenly big entities with anthropomorphic names like Freddie and Fannie were cashing in all our collective chips, and panic hummed in the air. And then there were talks – even in the mass media – about Historical Patterns and Cycles of Civilization and all sorts of other high-minded Pop concepts.

I believed them, and I still believe it now. But I’m also a student of History, and because of that, I’ve read Ecclesiastes:

“Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.”

In trying to make sense of our lean times by boiling it down into abstraction through a fictive medium, I drew inspiration from the greats, too. For one, I was a tour guide at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin one rainy autumn about a decade ago. And this story certainly owes a debt to the author of “Two Gallants.” So if you remember a mumbling American walking you through the steps of scheming Corley and lascivious Lenehan in the fall of 2003, it might have been me. Or it might have been some hopeful Yank, spry of foot and mind, who actually thought poor suckers had a shot in this world.

LaidOff_Web

Buy now on Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Author Interview With Louis Bourgeois

 

Today we interview Louis Bourgeois, author of The Gar Diaries, about his memoir, poverty, and his friend and mentor, Barry Hannah.

 

Tell us in thirty words or less what The Gar Dairies is about?
Thematically speaking, it’s a fairly simple book about a boy who loses his arm and attempts to re-invent himself through poetry.

Who is the intended audience and why should they read your book?
I wrote the book for fellow outcasts such as myself so they would know they were not completely alone in the world, perhaps, even, not completely hopeless.

The Gar Diaries has been described as brutally honest. Such writing has a tendency to challenge what the reader is comfortable with. Was this a conscious decision, to challenge the reader?
I will have to say the brutality of the book was not a conscious decision on my part.  I was merely recalling the events of my first 30 years of life (and re-feeling the events) as I experienced them.

The Gar Diaries is also beautifully poetic. How has being a poet influenced the style of writing in this book?
Well, the book was intended to be a long prose poem, but, alas, stories began to emerge from the poetry, and the poem was ruined.  All prose is degenerate poetry, and that’s what happened here.

Why did you decide to write The Gar Diaries?
I wanted to see how much I could remember.  It’s as simple as that.

For our European readers who may be unfamiliar with gar fish, can you explain what they are, and why your book is named after them?
The gar fish is perhaps the oldest species of freshwater fish on the North American Continent.  When I was growing up on the bayous and lagoons of South Louisiana, they were an all pervasive presence: I seemed to have developed an early fixation on them judging by their recurrence of garfish in The Gar Diaries.  I think it also serves as a metaphor for that primordial part of ourselves that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t overcome.  For Europeans, I would just say think about a sturgeon and that will give you some sense what a gar is all about.

You published a compilation of essays on the great American writer Barry Hannah by those that knew him – “A Short Ride: Remembering Barry Hannah”. How do you remember him? And how, if at all, did he influence you as a writer?
Barry Hannah was a friend and mentor of mine while I was a graduate student and Instructor of English at the University of Mississippi here in Oxford.  His personality was grand, his writing often potent.  To be brutally honest, he didn’t have much influence on my writing:  he was from the upper bourgeoisie of Dixie Land, I am from the lower strata of that region–we had different agendas to follow.  He could afford to laugh at life, I was too poor, I couldn’t afford to laugh.

What book are you currently reading?
I’ve been reading a great deal of prison literature…prison may be the final frontier of the literary avant-garde.

You’re executive director at VOX Press – can you tell us a little bit about VOX?
I established VOX to give my fellow wayward contemporaries a place to go.  Those of us inherently locked out of trade presses and university presses.

What can we expect from you in the future?
I have some smaller collections of poetry and stories that I’ve been piecing together for sometime now.  I’m also working on assembling my Collected Works.

 

The Gar Diaries is available as an ebook from Amazon US and Amazon UK; or as a paperback from Amazon US and Amazon UK.