My very good friend and one of Los Angeles’ finest writers, Joseph Mattson, is in dire need of your help. If you live in the LA area, there will occur on Tuesday December 4 a benefit for Joseph at The Echo. In addition to my band DTCV, other, better-known bands will play, including a one-time-only reunion of noir-punk legends The Starvations. Joseph will read, other writers will read, possibly some very famous ones, and many items of great intrinsic and aesthetic value will be auctioned off, all to raise money for Joseph and his family.
You can read the full story here. Suffice to say that the nightmare Joseph has undergone would tenderize the heart of Baal. If you don’t live in or near LA, there is a site at which you can contribute money. Any amount, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated.
Last year right around this time I had the pleasure of accompanying Joseph on a West Coast book tour in support of an anthology published by Akashic Books called The Speed Chronicles, which Joseph edited and to which I contributed a story. Wasn’t the first time I did a book tour with Joseph and I very much hope it won’t be the last. In addition to his very evident gifts as a writer, Joseph is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people whose company I have had the pleasure of sharing. He insisted on doing all the driving, he insisted on paying for every hotel room, every gallon of gas, every meal, every bag of corn nuts. He treated myself and Beth Lisick, another hugely talented writer who came along on tour, as his guests. He was unfailingly courteous and attentive and as a result it was the best book tour I’ve ever done.
On the second night of the tour I lost my voice completely, and found myself in the unusual position of having to shut the hell up. During the long hours of driving that ensued, Joseph slowly and reluctantly told us the story of what had happened to him up to that point. It was horrifying. It was unbelievable. It’s gotten much, much worse since then. If you can, please help.
To the right of this post you will notice a list of upcoming dates, times and places at which I will be appearing along with some much more talented people. The occasion is the publication of an anthology of stories called The Speed Chronicles, edited by Joseph Mattson, and published by Akashic Books. My contribution is a story called “The Speed of Things,” and is not about the drug speed, unlike almost every one of the other stories.
The book is part of a companion series to Akashic’s wildly successful Noir series. In conjunction with The Speed Chronicles, Akashic has also revised, expanded and republished The Cocaine Chronicles. Some of those guys and gals will be joining us on a few stops of our brief West Coast tour as well.
The Speed Chronicles features brand new stories from: Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, James Franco, Megan Abbott, Jerry Stahl, Beth Lisick, Jess Walter, Scott Phillips, James Greer, Tao Lin, Joseph Mattson, Natalie Diaz, Kenji Jasper, and Rose Bunch.
If you live in one of the places listed on the right, and happen to be free on the evening in question, we would love to see you. No, really. It would be absolutely our pleasure. I mean that. Sincerely.
Here’s some propaganda:
“Akashic launches a new series of crime anthologies, each focused on a different controlled substance, with this addictive volume.”
“All told, The Speed Chronicles deserves great praise for the audacity of the topic, the depth of the discussion, the diversity of its voices, and plain, old, good storytelling.”
–New York Journal of Books
“The perfect stocking stuffer for your uncle in AA.”
–New York Observer
“Just reading the table of contents for this fucker makes me want to hop in my time machine, zoom back to 1966, and find those two dubious physicians who used to write me scripts for Dexedrine, even though I was too tall and skinny to live already. Mainline this book now!”
And some further explication of the books subject/contents:
SPEED: THE MOST DEMONIZED–and misunderstood–drug in the land. Deprived of the ingrained romantic mysticism of the opiate or the cosmopolitan chic of cocaine or the mundane tolerance of marijuana, there is no sympathy for this devil. Yet speed–crystal meth, amphetamines, Dexedrine, Benzedrine, Adderall; crank, spizz, chickenscratch, oblivious marching powder, the go-fast–is the most American of drugs: twice the productivity at half the cost, and equal opportunity for all. It feels so good and hurts so bad. From its dueling roots of pharmaceutical miracle cure and Californian biker-gang scourge to contemporary Ivy League campuses and high school chem labs, punk rock clubs to the military-industrial complex, suburban households to tin-can ghettos, it crosses all ethnicities, genders, and geographies–from immigrants and heartlanders punching double factory shifts to clandestine border warlords, doctors to bomber pilots, prostitutes to housewives, T-girls to teenagers, Academy Award-nominated actors and the mansion on the hill to the poorest Indian on the rez–making it not only the most essentially American narcotic, but the most deceivingly sundry literary matter.
THE SUBJECT OF SPEED IS SO INNATELY INTIMIDATING yet so undeniably present that it begs to be written about. It is no secret that the drug has historically tuned up the lives of writers, including Jack Kerouac, Susan Sontag, Philip K. Dick, and scores more. Too rarely, though, has it been written about, and its jolt to the bones of the American landscape continues to peak. Akashic Books dares to bring forth the first contemporary collection of all new literary short fiction on the drug from an array of today’s most compelling and respected authors. These are no stereotypical tales of tweakers–the element of crime and the bleary-eyed, shaky zombies at dawn are here right alongside heart-wrenching narratives of everyday people, good intentions gone terribly awry, the skewed American Dream going up in flames, and even some accounts of pure joy.
A few items of interest to readers of North of Onhava, and possibly to normal people, too:
1. An excerpt from my novel-in-progress is available for your reading pleasure at Joyland NYC. As far as I can tell, it’s set in a kind of pre-apocalyptic Paris, and contains at least two characters who [...]
A few items of interest to readers of North of Onhava, and possibly to normal people, too:
1. An excerpt from my novel-in-progress is available for your reading pleasure at Joyland NYC. As far as I can tell, it’s set in a kind of pre-apocalyptic Paris, and contains at least two characters who may not be human. It would mean a lot to me if you would pretend to read it, and even more if you would pretend to like it by clicking on the little “like” icon next to the story.
2. I am reading from The Speed Chronicles, an anthology of stories about guess what, edited by Joseph Mattson, who is the author of the acclaimed (by me, but not just by me) novel Empty The Sun. The event is at Book Soup on Wednesday November 16, 7PM. Joseph will read from The Speed Chronicles, too. Also reading will be the editors of The Cocaine Chronicles, an analogous collection of stories about guess what. Both books will be published by Akashic Books and should start filtering into bookstores and online retailers very, very soon.
3. Joseph and I will be embarking on a West Coast tour to promote The Speed Chronicles at the end of November into early December. Exact dates, times, and participants (all subject to change because humankind is fallible and I in particular am a whimsical guy) can be found, conveniently, to the right of this post. We’ll be reading and drinking in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arcata, Portland, and Seattle. If you live in one of those cities, your attendance is mandatory.
5. Dennis Cooper is reading from his (masterful, ground-breaking) new novel The Marbled Swarm at Skylight Books on Thursday November 17. If you are anywhere near Los Angeles and don’t come to hear Dennis read I will no have no choice but to conclude that you are a fool, or worse.
6. Finally, but not in any way less importantly, the LA-based literary magazine Slake has begun a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their fourth issue. I cannot stress how great this magazine is and will continue to be, with your help. I know times are tough, but if you could see your way to throwing a couple of units of currency their way, not just Slake, not just me, but the entire literary world except for that one really bitter guy will thank you.
This week in Los Angeles there occurred (and as I type this is still occurring, though not for a few hours yet) a book festival called the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books. It’s a compete clusterfuck, but people seem to enjoy it. Last year I went for the first time. [...]
This week in Los Angeles there occurred (and as I type this is still occurring, though not for a few hours yet) a book festival called the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books. It’s a compete clusterfuck, but people seem to enjoy it. Last year I went for the first time. I sat at the Book Soup table and signed copies of The Failure for an hour with Stephen Elliott, author of a bunch of books and editor of a website called The Rumpus. Nice guy.
This year my publisher at Akashic Books, Johnny Temple, and his Managing Editor Johanna Ingalls flew in from New York (actually Johanna lives in Ireland, but that’s a long story) for the festival. On Wednesday, there was a reading at Book Soup featuring: Joseph Mattson, author of Empty The Sun, with whom I have conducted about eleventy-seven readings on both coasts of the United States for what seems like the last several years of my life; Nina Revoyr, author of Wingshooters, a very fine and finely-written novel; and Nathan Larson, author of The Dewey Decimal System. Nathan’s maybe (maybe) better known as a film composer and former member of Shudder To Think, but his book is brilliant. You should buy all three of these books. I did. (Well, I didn’t buy Joseph’s book, because I already own it. But you take my point.) While it would be impractical to suggest that you buy these books at Book Soup if you don’t live in LA, I hope you will consider patronizing your own local independent book store, rather than, say, Amazon, because these serve as much more than mere booksellers. They are, to me at least, sort of like shelter from the storm, if you imagine the unlettered world as a storm. Especially in Los Angeles, which despite a recent surge of literary activity that threatens to deface the city’s reputation as a black hole of culture, has not historically been known for its bookishness.
The photo above is my attempt to take a picture of Nathan reading from his novel at Book Soup, using my phone as a camera. Some people are very good at this. I am not one of those people. Afterwards we all went out to a nearby bar which shall remain nameless because of its impressive awfulness, and ate something unidentifiable, while Nathan and his old bandmate Craig Wedren and I swapped mid-90s rock stories. I will not trouble you with these. You’re welcome.
- It's a long climb up the rock face at the wrong time to the right place
- James Greer's books on GoodreadsGuided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Rollreviews: 24
ratings: 195 (avg rating 3.70)Artificial Light (Little House on the Bowery)reviews: 6
ratings: 71 (avg rating 3.66)The Failurereviews: 9
ratings: 59 (avg rating 3.65)EXPERIENCED: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fictionreviews: 4
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.60)Two Letters Collection, Volume 2ratings: 5 (avg rating 4.60)
Friendly Fire"James Greer, one of the nimblest and most multilayered American fiction writers, has, with his latest novel The Failure, pulled off a sublime and shivery-smooth literary hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha. I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book's first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work."—Dennis Cooper"James Greer's The Failure is such an unqualified success, both in conception and execution, that I have grave doubts he actually wrote it."—Steven Soderbergh"Greer has done it again: a big-city, techno-jargon-filled thrill-ride with slick medium-brow drop references to our (once-shared) mythological hometown. What could be more poignant?"—Robert Pollard"How do you assess if your life has been a success? For starters, take time and turn it on its head. You'll first need to find its head. Luckily, James Greer's novel The Failure will help--it's a brainy, boisterous, unsettling, and unsettled look at a group of people thrust into the most confounding of existences, complete with petty crime, high science, love, sex, and cars. The narrative winds and darts, gleefully uncooperative. The characters have funny names and sometimes funny existences. Still, you will recognize them. They are us."—Ben Greenman
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