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James R. Gapinski’s favorite books of 2015

To wrap-up the year, our managing editor, James R. Gapinski, chimes in with his top five books of 2015. A few days ago, Melissa Reddish also shared her list.

Binary Star, by Sarah Gerard

If you want predictable syntax crammed into neat boxes, look elsewhere. Binary Star takes risks. Come for the inventive structure, stay for the characters who seem to be in a constant state or implosion and/or explosion.

Scrapper, by Matt Bell

Scrapper tells a riveting story set in a near-future version of Detroit, ravaged by climate change. Its unassuming blue collar protagonist has waaaaaaay more shit going on than first meets the eye. This book is its own masterclass in character development.

The Seven Good Years, by Etgar Keret (Translated by Sondra Silverston, Miriam Shlesinger, Jessica Cohen, and Anthony Berris)

Etgar Keret’s memoir explores the seven years between the birth of his son and the death of his father. Yes, the book builds toward a death, but it’s more about celebrating life. And it’s filled with the sense wonder and whimsy that have become a staple of Keret’s work.

Gutshot, by Amelia Gray

The stories in Gutshot have a visceral intensity to them. They rip open your perceptions of what a story is and can be. They scream at you and dare you to flinch. Yeah, you might bleed out by the end, but you’ll feel alive the whole goddamn time.

 Citizen, by Claudia Rankine

I’m not surprised that Citizen is also on Melissa’s top-five list as Book I Would Slip into Everyone’s Bag When They Weren’t Looking. I gave this book to my partner over the holidays—then she received a second copy from her sister. When you read this book, you want to share it. And you want to share it quickly. These pages have urgency. You’ll finish it in one sitting, and if you’re not already a proponent of #BlackLivesMatter, you will be. Read it. Now.

Carmiel Banasky at Wordstock

As we announced earlier this week, Carmiel Banasky will be a panelist at an upcoming AWP panel presented by The Conium Review.

Meanwhile, Carmiel will be involved in the Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon. We hope that our Pacific Northwest readers will come out and show their support.

The Wordstock Festival is on November 7th. It takes place throughout the day, then the inaugural Portland Lit Crawl kicks off in the evening. Carmel Banasky will give a Pop-Up Reading at 1:00pm in Northwest Art (Main Building, 3rd Floor), followed by the panel “Lost and Found: Fiction on the Threshold” at 4:00pm in the Whitsell Auditorium (Portland Art Museum, Main Building, Lower Level).

Carmiel is also reading at Lit Crawl Portland later on! See her at the “Tell Your Truth: Write with the Writers” even at the Burnside Proper Salon and Showroom. From the description, it sounds like the reading transitions into a brief collaborative workshop, so be prepared for an interactive experience.

Tickets for the Wordstock Festival are still available, and the full Lit Crawl schedule is available here. (FYI, you do not need a ticket for the Lit Crawl. Tickets are specifically for the Wordstock bookfair and events taking place earlier that day at the Portland Art Museum).

Carmiel’s debut novel is The Suicide of Claire Bishop, out now from Dzanc Books. Other authors at the event are Monica Drake and Debra Busman.

Find this Lit Crawl reading on Facebook and invite your friends!

Amelia Gray at Late Night Library’s “All Fines Forgiven”

amelia headshotAmelia Gray (our recent contest judge, author of Gutshot, and other awesomeness) is coming to Portland! She’ll be performing at the Late Night Library event, “All Fines Forgiven.” The event is a book-themed variety show, with performances and talk segments. What is Amelia’s segment going to be all about? We’ll see, but our managing editor thinks maybe it will involve knife throwing and/or chainsaw juggling (not making any promises, but not ruling it out either). Other performers include musician Whitney Mongé, Natalie Graham, Carola Dibbell, and Dao Strom. Arthur Bradford hosts.

Friday, October 23rd at the Clinton Theater in PDX at 7:00pm. Find more details and purchase tickets through the Late Night Library website.

Contributor Conversations: Chelsea Werner-Jatzke interviews Christine Texeira

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke interviews Christine Texeira (contributor to The Conium Review: Vol. 3). Her work has also recently appeared in MossShe currently works at the Hugo House in Seattle, and she is managing editor of Paragraphiti.


[Chelsea Werner-Jatzke]: What is Paragraphiti?

Christine Texeira photo[Christine Texeira]: Currently it’s an online journal, but we’re about to release our first print issue. It was started by a fellow grad student at University of Notre Dame and is focused on international writers and artists. I’m the managing editor.

[CWJ]: Besides the journal, what else are you working on?

[CT]: I’m editing my graduate school thesis into a novel. It’s a series of stories that feel cohesive to me. One of them was published in Moss. It’s very much a novel of the Northwest. Lot’s of Sasquatch and D.B. Cooper.

[CWJ]: Both the story in Moss and the piece published by Conium are focused on strange sibling dynamics. What’s the deal?

[CT]: I was raised as an only child and had always wanted a sibling. There’s something about that relationship that I have no insight into. It’s like, because I can’t comprehend it I am trying to figure it out in writing. Later in life I discovered that I have an older brother that I’ve never met and I don’t think he knows I exist. Before that discovery I had always written characters that had siblings but it wasn’t the focus of the story. After that discovery I decided to focus on this obsession.

[CWJ]: At AWP I asked you if all your stories were so odd and you were like, “yeah pretty much.” Conium is a journal for experimental fiction, is all of your writing experimental in form or just bizarre in content?

[CT]: A lot of it is form. I become attached to strange bits of information and write about them. Then I begin to see how they can combine. I like to be surprised and am always looking for the funny and the scary that together create the strange. I don’t mean “surprised” or “scary” as in, horror stories. I mean I like to be surprised by my own narratives. To write to the place where I’m a bit afraid because I don’t know where the narrative will go, what the rules are. Then I go back and tame the story, edit a lot of that out.

[CWJ]: Can you describe your editing process?

[CT]: I typically write in sections that are titled and specific. They can have a wide variety in length. Then I cut entire pieces and see what’s left, how they fit together. I consider myself a short story writer but the pieces that I am editing into a novel right now feel unified.

[CWJ]: You have a Furnace reading coming up in 2016 and they publish longish, self-contained stories incorporating audio. What are you presenting for that?

[CT]: That is also a section of the novel, similarly self-contained as the Moss piece. It’s about Mortal Kombat. I’m partial to Mortal Kombat 4 since it’s what I grew up playing so I am going take recordings from that for the reading.

[CWJ]: Are you working anything outside of the novel?

[CT]: I’m writing other stories, not connected, about strange jobs.

[CWJ]: Like what?

[CT]: One is about a continuity editor for a porn production company in futuristic Seattle.

[CWJ]: Do you watch a lot of porn?

[CT]: No not really. I was talking to someone who works at Amazon writing descriptions or reviews or something, and I got to thinking about the job of someone who has to watch a lot of porn, what that would be like.

[CWJ]: Well there’s certainly room for improvement in the cinematic qualities of pornography.

[CT]: Yes, this production company believes porn could be so much more.


Look for more fiction from Christine Texeira to inspire the literary world and the hopefully the porn industry too. Visit her website at https://christinetexeira.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter @xtinetexeira for more information.