a public ransom and flying with molly

 

 

Two of the coolest people I know are currently running indiegogo campaigns for two very different projects.

I’ll start with the great Pablo D’Stair, who published my first novel, Ash Cinema, recently finished his first film, A Public Ransom. He’s a friend and probably genius and you’re going to want to see this movie, if nothing else. Details about the indiegogo are here:

So, my debut film A PUBLIC RANSOM is done and out there, available to all for free viewing online HERE. It was a pure underground, guerrilla endeavor to put together, this bleak little art-house noir–purposefully working with no budget and rudimentary equipment to make something in the bare bones spirit of so many filmmakers iconic to me.  As with everything I do, it was l’art pour l’art and came together exactly as uncompressed and non-solicitous as was the intention.

So what is this campaign then?

The single aim of this is to raise some additional money for entry fees to film festivals. I am draining my own personal coffers as much as possible as well, rest assured, but there are many opportunities–with it firmly in mind the sort of movie this is, I ain’t sending it to Cannes, dig?–that seem specifically tailored for films like A PUBLIC RANSOM and I would hate to miss those boats just for being a few bucks short.

To read more check out the indiegogo campaign page.

The next campaign is for the amazing Molly Gaudry. She’s been dealing with a brain injury for the last couple years, and she’s finally discovered therapy that truly works for her. In addition, she wants to bring this therapy to others. Molly’s an awesome friend, founder of The Lit Pub and one of the kindest people I’ve encountered. Details about her campaign here:

Why I Want To Become An AntiGravity® Fitness Instructor and How You Can Help

  • As many of you know, for the past few years I’ve struggled with double vision, cognitive functioning, and sensory processing disorder (explained in fuller detail here and here).
  • A few months ago, at the end of my first semester as a PhD candidate at the University of Utah, Dr. Ericson at the Rehabilitation Center’s Brain Injury Program said to me: “It’s time you start seriously considering a viable Plan B, outside of academia.”
  • Instead, I renewed my efforts in vision therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy (including vestibular, proprioceptive, kinesthetic, sensorimotor, listening, and sensory integration and regulation therapies), craniosacral therapy, myofascial trigger point release therapy, and mental health therapy.
  • Then I found AntiGravity® Fitness, which changed my life. And now I want to become a certified instructor so I can help change others’ lives.
  • I’m going to go into a lot more detail about all of this below, but right here I’d like to ask for your help: I NEED TO RAISE $7,000, which will go toward CERTIFICATION COSTS (outlined below, including indiegogo’s and other 3rd party fees). If you are able to contribute in any way, please select from the THANK YOU PERKS donated by writers, artists, musicians, photographers, editors, and publishers from all over the country. (If you are in a position to contribute and would rather not receive a perk, every $50 or $100 donation will go a very long way toward this campaign.)

Full details at the indiegogo campaign page.

So, yes, go help out some awesome people be somehow even more awesome.

revenge of the scammed anthology fully funded

 

The Revenge of the Scammed Anthology’s indiegogo was fully funded on Saturday! I’ve not been home so I haven’t been able to write something proper for it, but this is going to be my attempt.  There’re ten more hours of funding, so if you feel like getting in on this, there’s just a bit of time left.

This is a thank you. It’s just the beginning of the thank yous I owe, and I’ll keep learning how to thank you all better.

Where to even begin. When I found out that my bank account was cancelled and all my money was gone, I was devastated. This happened on Thanksgiving Day, and I pretended nothing had happened so I didn’t ruin the holiday for anyone. Also, i couldn’t call the bank till the next day, so I just held on, hoping for the best. The best, as you all know, did not arrive, and Wells Fargo told me, essentially, that everything is my fault and not only will they not help me, they won’t even be my bank anymore.

So I ran all over town, talking to police, and so on to figure something out. Nothing happened, until Nate Tower decided we should do something about it and he pushed this anthology forward and I set up the indiegogo.

I honestly never imagined anything would happen with this. I thought we’d make a couple hundred dollars to make the anthology and that’d be it. It would go away and I’d keep trying to dig myself out of the hole I found myself in. Nate even asked me the first day if I thought we’d make $100, and I said maybe. Within twelve hours we had raised $1,000.

I say we, but I really mean you.

All of you have been so unbelievably amazing. None of this would have happened without the many contributors or without the funders. Some of you did both, and I can’t thank you enough. JA Tyler, Ryan W Bradley, J David Osborne and Broken River Books, Phil Jourdan and Perfect Edge Books, Ryan Werner and Passenger Side Books, Pure Slush, Sam Snoek-Brown, Susan Tepper, Alex S Johnson, Alex Pruteneau, Ben Tanzer, Gregory Sherl, and I’m probably missing someone but I hope not. These are the people who gave extra to make this happen, and then there are the contributors to the anthology. There’s no final line-up yet, but I want to thank everyone who submitted something and tried to help me out. I want to thank everyone who liked us on facebook or shared it on facebook or twitter or anywhere else.

I’m forever in your debt and I owe you all so much. You’ve given me the ability to start again and push forward without a stone around my neck called debt.

I’ve since started banking with a credit union, which is pretty awesome. Wells Fargo also decided to cancel my credit card, so there’s that inconvenience too. I’m finding new work, though, so I’m actually fine now. I would’ve been pretty crippled for the first half of this year, having all that debt hanging over me, but now I can get back to doing what matters.

I’ll be starting on the rewards that I specifically owe soon, so expect some singing and some painting, as well as a few biographies, and a novella.

I wish I could tell you all how much this means to me, how beautiful and wonderful I think you all are. It’s amazing what this community of writers have done for me. I’ll be seeing as many of you as I can at AWP, and I’ll try to grab most of you a beer, or something.

I love you all.

Thank you so much.

down by the water

That video makes me lauuuuuuuugh and I like the song, too, because it reminds me of high school.

Anyrate, watched Woochi yesterday, which is sort of a Korean action fantasy comedy, which I enjoyed maybe more than I should have. It’s too long and probably not actually that good, but I liked it.

Watched Timecrimes the other day, which is basically a Spanish version of Primer, in that it’s a lowtech time travel film where unlikely people bend time around them and run into all kinds of difficulties. Very interesting film that’s almost entirely awesome.

We’re down to the last four days of Revenge of the Scammed so help us get those last $445!

tammy ho lai-ming interview

My interview with the lovely, talented, and brilliant Tammy Ho Lai-Ming went up at Monkeybicycle today. We talk about her poetry, expatriatism, love, and her work as an editor and academic.

She’s a cool person.

Remember to send me your submissions for your own interviews! We’re always looking for content at Monkeybicycle, and since this is a new part of the site, I’d love to see it grow.

The indiegogo campaign, Revenge of the Scammed has entered its final six days, and we still have over $500 to raise before we’re fully funded. Get ye hence and revel in some amazing rewards! I would absolutely love to see this fully funded so I can pay off my debt, and we can make a truly amazing anthology, which also pays its contributors. Check out the link or click on the picture below to see what kind of rewards are available.

 

It’s immensely touching and beautiful to see how this has come so far. I had literally zero expectations for this, but since we’ve come this far, I’d love to see it go all the way. So help us get there.

I’ll forever be in your debt.

What else? Watched some great films.

Her by Spike Jonze is so beautiful and amazing, and it’s everything I tried to capture in a novella I wrote a few years ago about falling in love with an AI. Spike Jonze is amazing, and the acting is great here, even Scarlet Johansson, whom I normally can’t stand. It’s beautiful and touching and heartbreaking. It’s a lot like love.

Drug War is a disappointing Chinese thriller that doesn’t really give us much of anything. The problem with Netflix for me is that they think everything made in Asia is something that I’ll automatically love, regardless of actual quality, and this was a definite failure for me. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t very good.

The Great Magician is sort of similar, except I liked it more, probably because Tony Leung’s there to make everything okay. It’s a funny enough comedy, but it’s not exceptional. I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t see it again.

I can’t remember what else I watched recently. Probably that’s it.

There are so many films to always be watching, but I’m trying to keep this sustainable.

Anyrate, I finally began 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain, and am about to jump back into it, once I stop being weary. Writing like 5,000 to 10,000 words of content a day really makes it difficult to transition right into fiction. It’s like my fingers are too tired to type properly. But that’s the job, yeah?

the unknown show with bud smith

Had a great time talking to Bud Smith at the Unknown Show. We talked about my new books and about the indiegogo campaign for The Revenge of the Scammed Anthology. It was my first time being on live radio and I think it went pretty well. Bud’s an awesome guy and I got the end of his conversation with Joseph Quintela, who’s one of the coolest guys I’ve met and has published my work more than anyone else. He’s an artist, poet, and editor doing so many interesting things, it’s hard to even pin down what he’s up to year to year.

But, yeah, the indiegogo’s doing pretty well, and we kicked over the $2,000 mark last night. So many great rewards still available and I hope you can help out and get some great rewards for yourself. For some surprising reason, the most popular reward has been the fingerpainting, which no one expected. It makes me laugh, but it also touches me deeply. This whole campaign has been so amazing and so beautiful and I’m constantly overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity.

 

But, yeah, it’s still very cold here and I’m still feeling down, but the interview made me feel better.

Also, now that I’m the Interview Editor at Monkeybicycle, I’d love to see your interview submissions! So interview somebody awesome and send it my way. Here’s the submittable.

Not sure what else to say.

Thank you to everyone.

I feel I should say that more often.

the last of the year in interviews

The final interview of the yearlong weekly interview series brings us back to the man who started it all. It’s JA Tyler’s birthday today, and this is my interview with him at Monkeybicycle. I’ve known JA for a few years now and he’s truly an amazing person, and he does so much for the writing community and young writers like me. He’s a pleasure to talk to, to know, and he always has great advice. Along with that, he’s one of my favorite writers, and, I think, one of the best around, so it’s an honor to call him a friend.

Read his interview and then buy his books. All of them, probably.

I spent last night with Girl with Oars & Man Dying again, almost exactly two years after I first read it. It’s magic and it’s beautiful and it’s perfect. It’s sublime. I love it.

What else? Bart, Bonnie, and Charlie are in town, so we had a very good time the other night, which caused me to spend yesterday sort of a ruinous wreck of human, but tonight we’ll do it again, this time with the Hambro, who’s always a pleasure to see. Just went to the library to get some of the books I requested, so I should have some goodness to occupy my time before they arrive.

I have one more post to write before the year is done, and it’ll be a recap of the year, because that’s what you do, yeah?

Still not sure what to do for New Year’s but Lake & Irving seems to be where I’ll end up.

Lake & Irving is a restaurant started by my good friend Dewey and his brother, Chris. Both of them are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, and Chris has, I think, ten years of experience as a chef at a Hawaiian 5-Star resort, so they come pretty decorated. More than that, they just make awesome food at a reasonable price. Lots of great beers, too, and the interior is so perfect. I really should write a proper post about it soon, but just know that it’s a great restaurant and bar here in Uptown, so if you live in the Twin Cities, treat yourself to some amazing food for a good price.

But, yeah, I guess that’s it. Still doing research on the giant monster novel, which still just means watching godzilla and Evangelion and so on, but the project grows and I’m excited to start writing it. Also, should have cover art soon for a very cool surprise.

It’s 45 degrees out and it’ll be -10 tomorrow, so I think I may try to do anything outside.

Till next time, which will probably be Monday or Tuesday or whenever I have time.

Oh, almost forgot to mention, the indiegogo campaign just broke the $1,700 mark! So many great rewards still to be claimed.

Thanks to everyone who’s been so helpful.

sausage making

As we do every year on the solstice, tonight the family makes sausage, which my dad calls the sausage party. It’s one of the greatest days of the year! Drinks and food and making forty pounds of sausage.

Anyrate, my interview with Robert Kloss and Amber Sparks went up this week. They’re awesome, and this is also the first full interview of the interview series. Next week will be the incredible JA Tyler to round out the year.

I can’t remember what I wanted to say in here. It’s been an odd week, I guess. I keep feeling all these projects rising and I just keep putting my head down and trying to do work for money. I think it’s a difficult time of year to find work, maybe. Or I’ve just been unlucky.

The indiegogo campaign has slowed considerably, but that’s okay. I imagine people are busy with the holidays and so on. I’ll pick up pushing it after, I think.

 

And if you don’t feel like giving to me, think about giving to Gregory Sherl.

 

He’s struggled with OCD for several years and he needs money to get well.

be careful, my children

Be Careful, My Children

And so the novel’s finally complete. Be Careful, My Children. Oddly enough, the first draft is almost exactly as long as I thought it would be. Got the final 5k words written just now and we’ve reached the end of a very strange journey.

I won’t post the chapter this time because then you’d have the ending, and that’s a weird piece of information to give, but I will post a short piece of that last chapter.

Before the Tree before the world before Time came to this place there was the Father. The Father found the child Goddess dreaming and He listened to Her dreamt song coursing through Him and all the everness. He lifted Her up but still she slept. Small with hair as black as the neverness and eyes vibrant and purple. Color did not yet exist like it does now but the Father saw Her eyes and fashioned color and Light. He fashioned these from the notes of the song. With His hands He grabbed the notes and swirled their essence into the everness and from them bubbled the world. The world was a sphere of Nothingness but the song promised and envisioned so much. The Father bent the song towards the world He molded and the song gave life and Light to the sphere but also Death and so we know the Goddess as the Goddess of Death and Light. Within Death there are a thousand thousands lives and within life there is but one Death continuing forever in all directions and across all dimensions but our infinitesimal Deaths are but a grain of sand on the shore of eternity. When the world was fashioned and still the song persisted the Father tied the notes around the world binding us and our world to the Dream. With this finished He watched the lives of the world come into being and He smiled. The Father watched over us and the Goddess dreamt. The more the Father watched the more He understood the sorrow of life and He saw lives blinking in and out of existence before He could name them or love them and He returned to the song and tried to bend it to better serve life on the world. But the Dream and the song are not for this world and so they cannot be made for it. The Father finally understood and when He understood he lay down upon the world and ripped open His chest. The Father killed himself to breed our world within the Nothingness of yours. From Father’s chest sprouted the Tree and the Tree became the heart of the world. It used the Father’s body to create itself and His blood became the rain forever Cycling and his bones became the Dust. Every drop of semen in His testicles became a brother and we brothers fashioned our homes from the organs and skin of the Father. And so through the Father we learnt creation and from the Goddess we learnt Death and from the two of them we learnt the Cycle. For Father returns to us every four seasons to give us life new and when we seek through the everness it is the hands of the Father guiding us through the Dream.

So, yeah, things just keep getting weirder in the novel. The language of this final chapter wasn’t what I expected it to be but I think it turned out all right.

Finished it later than planned because of Chelsea’s holiday party, which was really fun, but it meant I was hungover yesterday and lost the entire day to film.

Watched Only God Forgives, which is probably perfect but also just very bizarre. I’m not a fan of David Lynch and this was very Lynchian. I loved the silence of it all because I think film should have way less talking, and the aesthetic was so strong and perfectly executed, and everything was held back the way I like, but I guess I just didn’t actually care about most things that happened. So I suppose that’s what missed for me. It was like a perfect thing that I just didn’t care about enough. Still, though, definitely worth watching.

Also watched Robot & Frank, which is a pretty cool film about a man spiralling into dementia who befriends his robot caretaker and uses the robot to help him rob things. A pretty interesting film that’s often funny but also a moving meditation on what life is and what it means to be alive.

Now I’m in that weird post-novel space where everything’s bright and easy and lovely but also sort of opaque. The novel was meant for Broken River Books but I don’t really think it’s a good fit there. It may not be a good fit anywhere. Maybe it’s a bizarro novel, accidentally and finally. It’s on the short side, too, but I don’t know. I have several hours to reread, edit, rewrite, and assemble the novel into place.

Also, the giant monster novel sort of formed and crystallised in my head as I was writing this, which is exciting. I think that might be what I write next.

Also, getting very close to the date of a super secret surprise, which is actually the weirdest thing I ever wrote.

Anyrate, the indiegogo campaign reached and passed its halfway mark this weekend! Big thanks to everyone who contributed, but especially Matt Dodge who pushed us over the midway mark. I’ve known Matt for a very long time but we’ve only talked a handful of times, which is sort of weird. He’s a musician and he just had a new album come out.

But, yeah, still so many great rewards, including a new one from Passenger Side Books, who’s being generous enough to donate five bundles of all their chapbooks. That also comes with the anthology! So check it out and thank you, sincerely, from the bottom and top of my heart. It means the world to me how awesome my friends and even strangers have been during all of this.

progress !

The Revenge of the Scammed Indiegogo has slowed down considerably, but we’re still doing an amazing job. Next week I’m going to begin rolling out some of these rewards and hopefully attract more attention to it. I figure if we can hit the halfway point this week, we’ll be in very solid shape.

Still recovering from the loss, and the only way for me to do that is to just keep working. More work, better work, done more often. So I’m in a constant hustle to try to make up for all I lost. It’s not ideal to be climbing a mountain only to have someone push you back to where you began. But the only thing to do is give up or just start climbing again. This campaign is going to be huge in assisting me back up there, but a lot of this is still on me, to pick myself up and keep pushing.

But, yeah, loads of great rewards still available and the anthology is going to be awesome. I’ve received such amazing support from so many people. It makes me want to cry from how kind everyone is.

But I soldier on.

Already hit 5k for the day on Be Careful, My Children which puts me at about 17k total, and I should have no trouble reaching 20k tonight. I may even be able to reach it in a few hours.

Here’s a chapter, because why not?

She wasn’t born Angel de Paz Pizarro, but became her through will. She grew up in Pyonyang, an orphan like Park Jiyun. Because of her name and her clearly hispanic ethnicity, no one would have any trouble accepting a name like Angel de Paz Pizarro, no matter how audacious it is. Most people don’t know her native tongue is Korean and that she only learnt Spanish later, like everyone does. If you pay attention to the way she speaks, you’ll even notice the Korean accent.

Her given name was Kim Haneul and she grew up in the same neighborhood as Park Jiyun, if you can believe it. In the same apartment complex, even, and they were friends from a very early age. The only two people with the most expertise on the niños were also eaten by them, and raised within the same building in decaying Pyonyang, the last of the great Korean cities. Most people believe that Park Jiyun’s family was killed when Seoul became a crater and most people believe Haneul comes from Mexican diplomats also killed in the Seoul disaster.

These two have been bound together for their whole lives and no one knew. There are even rumors, absurd as they may be, that the two were telepaths, and communicated throughout their lives, even hundreds of miles away, even after Jiyun died.

There’s some evidence to that. It can hardly be coincidence that Haneul showed up at Antiguoniño only days after Jiyun left. Long before the book was published or even close to finished, Haneul was there.

I’ve been trained not to believe in fate or coincidence but there’s something to these two women and the niños, and it’s something larger than setting and time. It almost makes me believe in the quantum magic alleged. You hear the whispers, don’t you? How they’re were psychically linked, or how the Dust of the niños calls them? How the Tree is a bridge between dimensions or realities or is some secret explanation behind string theory, despite it being disproved centuries ago? How the gods of the niños have become our gods and set a series of events in motion that will lead to some future cataclysm?

If these gods always existed, why are they only relevant to us now? What does that say about godliness? Do gods only matter when you’re aware of them or when you believe in them? Are the niños gods? Are they evolved versions of us or are we evolved versions of them? Are they one of the many missing links in our evolution, or are they something separate and new entirely?

And if they are a species so separate from us, is it murder?

I mean that in a very real way. We don’t consider it murder or cannibalism when we eat rats or wolves, so why should they feel regret over the consumption of some higher or lesser being? And who’s responsible? How do you find a criminal in a population if every citizen is guilty?

You see, I just don’t see the purpose of all of this. I don’t see what’s to be done or why anything needs to be done. I think it’s clear they want nothing to do with us, and I think it should finally be clear that we should have nothing to do with them.

Do you believe the Dust calls you? Do you believe the gods have finally revealed themselves, and, after all this time, the european men really were its image and likeness?

Is it significant that Jiyun and Haneul share all these similarities?

I don’t know. I truly have no idea.

But don’t believe everything you hear about these two, and believe almost nothing you hear about the niños. Those who spend time with them become drunk on the uncanniness and those who study them see only their own projections.

We discovered a new world in this dead and dying one and we’re working tirelessly to reduce or aggrandise it, depending on who you ask. Eventually you’ll have so many blurred versions of the same stories told wrong that you won’t be able to tell the truth when you finally see it. Maybe you ought to go there and see for yourself.

Better yet, ask the niños. Let them speak for themselves.

 

25 influential books

This is going around facebook but I don’t think I could stick it to just ten so I’m going to give myself this larger but equally arbitrary number for my list. These are books that stayed with me/changed me/on and on. There’s no specific order beyond the first two.

1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky – This may not be Dostoevsky’s best, but it’s my favorite, and it’s the first one I read. It literally changed my life. It changed every bit of me. It changed the way I saw the world, the way the world felt, the way I thought and still think. I think it’s the novel that caused me to give up my anger. It taught me how to live. It taught me everything I know about life. It broke my heart over and over and I wept into the pages. Not cried, but wept big alligator tears as my heart sort of fractured and disintegrated in Russia so long ago. It tore me apart and broke me to pieces for so long and then it rebuilt me slowly. Raskolnikov is so deep inside me, so fused to my life that I think Dostoevsky’s still building me, still trying to get me right. I read it twice the first week I held it in my hands. I read it four times by the end of that year, and I’m afraid to even pick it up. I have a few different translations of it but can never make it past the first couple pages. Not because I don’t like it anymore, but because I’m afraid of what’ll happen.

2. A Season in Hell / Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud – You’re only sixteen once and so you only get to discover the perfect books for you at that age once. This, along with Crime and Punishment defined my sixteenth year, and just about every year after that. This is when I still thought I was a poet, or at least when I was desperately trying to write the perfect line, and then Rimbaud disemboweled language for me. Everything I thought I knew about what words could do and what they could be shifted radically, and, still, every year I reread these, discovering more each time it drains into my brain. It invigorates me and it’s one of those cures for when I get absurdly depressed about the world I exist in.

3. The Waves by Virginia Woolf – Like Rimbaud, this just radically changed what I understood language to be and what it could do. It transformed narrative for me, and I still consider it maybe one of the only perfect novels I’ve ever read. It’s sublime and untouchable and she writes so beautifully that it makes you want to quit, but it’s also endlessly inspiring, pushing me harder and deeper.

4. The Magus by John Fowles – This is the novel that taught me that language needn’t be difficult or overpowering for a novel to be absolutely brilliant. It transformed what I understood about narrative once more, and it broke my heart. It’s beautiful and nearly perfect. And it begins so quietly, so unassumingly. The first 100 pages took me about a week to read and the next 600 took me about two days. It’s like falling into a kaleidoscope and hoping to never find your way back out, and even when the novel ends, you’re still trapped in the whirlwind, just hurting, just loving. And then the world shines, but from a new light. One you didn’t know could exist.

5. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – I don’t even really have words for this novel. It’s unstoppable. It’s one of the few perfect novels ever written and I could live in that language, in that world forever. It taught me so much about what a novel can be. Forget narrative and character and the language. It taught me that a novel can be so much more than just words or even just an experience. A novel can be this grand neverending world that exists nowhere but feels realer than the world around you.

6. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin – Like many people in love with literary fiction and its genre constraints, I rarely read any genre fiction, which is a huge oversight in my reading that I began correcting a few years ago. That’s when I fell into this. Read the first five novels, all 5,000 pages, in about three months. If you want to see what plot can do, just pick one of these up. The writing’s not perfect, but he creates a world so profoundly complex and large and characters so real they drip off the page. But the greatest achievement, I think, even beyond all the mythos and legends and so on, is the unrelenting pacing of these novels.

7. Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas – I’ve been talking about this novel so much for the last two years it’s strange to think that I might have even more to say. But it’s perfect. It’s perfect in every way, even in the ways it fails. And Nadas does so many things that shouldn’t work. He takes a moment, literally a single moment, and stretches it over fifty or one hundred pages, and it’s somehow never boring. It’s invigorating. I generally dislike sex scenes in fiction because I think they’re pretty boring, but he writes these enormous scenes centered around just a minute of sex and cast over so many pages, and it’s the greatest writing I’ve ever read. Nadas is a master. Maybe the only one at his level living, and his enormous crumbling cathedral of a novel is absolutely sublime.

8. Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian – Imagine a Chinese Milan Kundera, and imagine him doing what Kundera does, but somehow better. Honestly, I used to always say that no writer writes like Kundera because no one could possibly pull off what he does, and then I fell into Soul Mountain. Part memoir, part ethnography, part history of the Cultural Revolution and Maoist China, part political treatise, part ecological report, part mythology, part noir, part travelogue, part mythology, part metaphysical exploration of the self and nation. It’s enormous and so beautiful, so readable, so perfect.

9. Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson – Ever since I’ve read Erickson, I’ve been preaching his name to whoever will listen. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the greatest living american author, and my favorite writer maybe ever. He changed me in ways that haven’t happened since Dostoevsky, and so maybe this should be at the beginning of this list too. And, really, I could put any of his novels here. People had been telling me about Erickson forever, telling me how much I’d love his work, but I always just sort of wandered off to some other book. And then I discovered his first novel, Days Between Stations, at a secondhand shop in Dublin. Everything’s been different since then. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without him. I wouldn’t have ever been able to write a novel without him. His writing taught me that I could be the writer I wanted to be. I didn’t need to fit into a niche or some other well-trodden path of literature. I could carve my own way, write the stories I wanted to read and live in. I read most of his books twice the first year I found him, and I think this is his best. But it also only works at this level if you’ve read all the novels published previous to this one. It’s a gargantuan achievement, how he ties all of his novels together into a single world constantly in flux. Steve Erickson is a giant and we’re lucky to have him and you should read him now.

10. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu – If Crime and Punishment taught me how to live, then Lao Tzu taught me how to be human.

11. The Stranger by Albert Camus – Along with the Tao Te Ching, this novel taught me how to be human. Its influence is still felt today, and, outside of that, it’s just a great novel. It’s another book I discovered at the right time that led me to read everything he ever wrote. I think The Fall is probably a better novel and maybe even taught me more about what it means to be ydde, but I’m sticking with The Stranger because of what it opened up to me.

12. Factotum by Charles Bukowski – I actually don’t think Bukowski is very good anymore, bu he was extremely important to me when I was younger. Back when I was hating the world, drinking way too much, so angry and depressed about existence, he was the one who sort of tempered my anger and pushed me towards creation. I wouldn’t be the same person without Bukowski but I find him one of the hardest writers to return to.

13. The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin – This is a brilliant novel by one of the greatest novelists around. Read this while I was simultaneously seriously studying anarchism and it sort of opened up the world to me. Not only that, but it opened up the ability in me to dramatise politics in a way I never thought possible before. From here, I’ve read a great number of her books, though there are still many more to read. That’s one of the delights of discovering a prolific master.

14. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata – Taught me what beauty really is. It fell so perfectly into my head and my constructs of reality that, rather than shift who and what I was, it crystallised aspects of me. And ever since reading this, I’ve chased after his delicate beauty, that brilliance. It’s not my favorite of his books or even his best, but I think it captures this aesthetic best.

15. Bird is Gone: A Manifesto by Stephen Graham Jones – This isn’t Stephen’s best or even my favorite, but it’s the one that does things I can still barely wrap my head around. It’s a novel I didn’t even begin to understand until I read it the second time, and every read becomes better, fuller, more rich. It taught me the importance of rereadability, and how important that is to a novel. Ever since reading this, I’ve always sought to get that subtlety and shifting quality that he captures here. And I could put so many of Stephen’s books here. Especially Ledfeather. Always and forever. My whole life caught in that little book, which also has the unique quality of being unputdownable. If I read that first page, I’ll be reading the last page in a few hours. I’ve read it four times, all of them in one sitting, the last three times accidentally, usually way too late at night.

16. Collected Stories by Amy Hempel – I don’t think you can read Hempel and return to writing the same way. I read this around the same time as I read Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson and Thom Jones’ short stories, and while I think all of these are pretty similar, I think Hempel does it best. Her aesthetic is so strong and so near perfect. If you want to learn how to write a sentence so full it’s nearly bursting, pick up anything by Hempel.

17. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link -Read this at a time when I forgot how great short stories could be. Such a unique and brilliant imagination, and just unstoppably great. Link is definitely one of the best around. Should probably put Yiyun Li here, too, since I read it around the same time, and though it’s unbelievably different, it captures that same kind of brilliance. Yoko Ogawa, too.

18. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card – This was the first novel to make me cry. I read it when I was, like, eleven, or something, and I just started bawling. I’d tell you at which part, but that might ruin things. I didn’t know books could do that to me. I didn’t know words could effect me like that. It changed everything I knew about art [which, at that point, was not very much] and I’ve read this book several times, always loving it, always learning from it. Card may be a reprehensible person, but he wrote a near perfect book about 25 years ago.

19. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I don’t even know what to say about this novel. It does so much and so perfectly. I still think about it quite often and there are scenes here that will never leave me. It influenced a great deal of my writing without me every really even realising it. Especially, maybe, my obsessions with circles.

20. The Female Man by Joanna Russ – Just brilliant and visceral. Should probably include Kathy Acker’s Empire of the Senseless and Samuel R Delany’s Nerveryon here, since they’re all so related in my head. They talk about gender and identity in ways that I never really thought about before, but that also fit so perfect and right in my head, in the way I had always looked at the world. It wasn’t so much as a revelation like having your eyes opened but more like someone turning on the light and realising you’re not alone in the dark with all these thoughts. And they’re all just brilliant books, too.

21. Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa – Just read these stories and discover how great short stories can be. Each one is so different and so perfect.

22. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes – Just unbelievable. Right when I was getting past how perfect language could be, I fell into this and sort of wanted to live there forever. Djuna Barnes writes like she’s on fire and the apocalypse is everywhere, but it’s also hilarious.

23. Girl with Oars and Man Dying by JA Tyler – I don’t understand why more people haven’t read this novel. It’s a fairytale and it’s beautiful and heartbreaking, and maybe my favorite JA Tyler novel, which is really saying quite a lot. It’s perfect, in every way, and it gave me that open eyed awe sensation that art’s meant to give you, but that I had almost forgotten about.

24. The Tempest by William Shakespeare – This, of all Shakespeare’s plays, influences me the most on a day to day basis. I think about it more than I can really explain. It’s so full of ideas and wonder. It’s literally bursting with awesome, and I still just want to live in it. It does everything so well, and it’s probably his best play for its versatility and depth.

25. The White Hotel by DM Thomas – Like Erickson, discovered this in a halfpriced bookstore after hearing about Thomas for a long time. It’s absolutely brilliant and on fire. It captures life in brutal and hallucinogenic tones and shades and hues. I’ve read several of his novels and this is still the best, I think, and also the most unique and perfectly realised.

So that’s the list as it stands today. It’s surprisingly western. I think if I had made this list last year or even the year before, you’d see a lot more asian and latin american writers on there, but I guess that’s why I’m allowed to make lists whenever I want. There are also few women on here, but that’s just the way the list happened. All kinds of people I forgot to make room for, too, but I’m sticking with my list and I’ll defend it to THE DEATH!

Maybe I’ll make one every year just to see what happens. Dostoevsky and Rimbaud are so fused to me that they’ll always be on here. Same with Woolf and Erickson, but a lot of the rest is probably up for grabs.

All right. Off to do other things.

Oh, also, wanted to mention my indigogo campaign again.

It’s insane what we’ve raised already, but there’s still a long way to go. Lots of great rewards still available and my eternal gratitude, always. And thank you to everyone who’s donated and contributed. I’ll be saying this many times over the coming weeks, but I’ll always mean it just as much.