The Guardian on the lives of British mid-list authors, who used to be able to make a living writing, and since 2008… have struggled. “Welcome poverty! Welcome misery, welcome houselessness, welcome hunger, rags, tempest, and beggary! Mutual confidence will sustain us to the end!”
I hate hipsters, I hate liberals, I hate rock’n’rollers, I hate the counter-culture, I hate movie people. I want to go somewhere quiet, peaceful and decorous, and be radical in my mind. I have fatuous American ideas about Britain. I want to go to the moors. I want to buy a shotgun from Purdey for a lot of money, but I understand it’s tough to buy a gun – you can’t just walk in and say, “I’m an American, give me that gun.” … The potential nightmare for me is I go to Britain and all I see is like in LA; meth labs, white trash and women with tattoos.
Meanwhile, while James Ellroy contemplates leaving sickening America, Martin Amis has already left England for America, because England sickens him. The grass being greener, and all.
Over the next few months, I chipped away at The Perkins Declaration: a 1400-page, ten-part handwritten epic that told the secrets of a military tribunal executing a group of Pakistani filmmakers who were shooting a DeLorean biopic movie in rural Iowa before getting nailed by the Department of Agriculture on charges of aggravated sodomy and interstate commerce fraud. It was a love story, sort of.
We’re proud to announce that Jon Konrath’s ninth book, Thunderbird, is now available. It’s a 26-story collection of short stories and flash that blends Kafkaesque insanity, paranoia, nightmare surrealism, and scatological dystopia. It’s got FDA drone strikes against weight-loss clinics, amputee porn, a celebrity kickboxing match between Yo Yo Ma and Manuel Noriega, and hobby shop exorcisms. It takes place in Jeff Spicoli-themed restaurants, indian casino abortion clinics, and the bizarre landscapes of extreme heavy metal album covers. It’s filled with insane humor and nonstop non sequitur references to pop culture, medical technology, military machinery, and GG Allin albums.
If you’re a fan of plot-driven detective stories with relatable characters and realistic, believable scenarios, you will not like this book. This is experimental, demented, obscene, and a lot of fun.
Thanks in advance to everyone who helped with this, especially Ray Miller for his help on the cover, and John Sheppard for all of his various editorial advice. Please, check the book out, and help spread the word!
I’m proud to announce that Paragraph Line Books has released the newest from John Sheppard, author of Small Town Punk and Tales of the Peacetime Army. His new book is titled Alpha Mike Foxtrot, and it’s an awesome tale of redemption and finding yourself in this crazy modern world of consumerism and chaos.
John frequently writes about his time in the Army, although it’s more of a Tim O’Brien The Things They Carried approach than a Full Metal Jacket sort of war glory trip. This is the story of a guy named Joe, a soldier, but it starts after Iraq, after he got wounded and discharged, and has more to do with starting over, finding your duty in life after your duty in the armed forces has abruptly ended. He’s got a mom with cancer and a brother that’s schizophrenic, and instead of immersing himself in that drama, he thumbs his way to the midwest, finds a room in an eclectic boarding house filled with lost souls, and stumbles into the only career for which his service trained him: stocking crates of junk merchandise at the local big-box store.
The book is a great black-humored capture of the culture of the mid-00s, a midwest full of oversized SUVs with yellow ribbon magnets on the back, with owners racking up credit card debt to keep the biggest TVs in every room of their house. It’s a great story set in that world, about becoming lost and then found, and very awesome writing.
For more info, check out the book’s page at Alpha Mike Foxtrot. It’s available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats.
John Sheppard’s latest, Alpha Mike Foxtrot, is coming soon!
More details in a bit… stay tuned!
All right, it’s the start of another month, and another bunch of fiction here at Paragraph Line. Last month was awesome, and a big thank you to everyone who submitted, appeared, and most of all read this stuff.
This month, we’re publishing more flash, but also mixing in some longer short stories. Look forward to some stuff from some great writers, including Joshua Citrak, G. Arthur Brown, Hassan Riaz, Tyler Gates, J. Bradley, Joshua Martin, and Chett Tiller. We’re going to publish something each Monday and Friday this month.
We’re starting to get more stuff submitted, but we’re always looking for more. Please check out our submissions page, especially if you write absurdist or bizarro fiction.
And please spread the word! We’re on facebook over at https://www.facebook.com/paragraphline and Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ParagraphLine. The best way to find out about new stuff is to add one of those two and get all the updates.
In Between Altered States is a zine of mind-bending flash fiction, edited by Aleathia Drehmer. Its 23rd monthly issue just came out, with the theme of “torture”. It includes flash from long-time AITPL contributor Timothy Gager and editor Jon Konrath.
Okay, we are ready to roll. The submissions have been trickling in, and we’re getting some good stuff. So, let’s get started.
For the month of April, we’re publishing flash twice a week: Mondays and Fridays. On the board, we’ve got stuff from John Sheppard, Rusty Barnes, Timothy Gager, Brittany Connolly, B F Moloney, Fiona Helmsley, Justin Bostian, Garrett Cook, and yours truly. There’s some awesome work coming out, so please stay tuned and check it out.
This month’s “publisher’s best friend” prize, an award I will hand out to the writer who does the most to make my life less of a huge pain in the ass, goes to Timothy Gager, who submitted three pieces a matter of minutes after I announced we were open.
We’re still looking for more great stuff, so please check out our submissions page and fire away. The hope is that we’ll get to daily posts, but that will involve much more incoming stuff (and maybe someone to help me read stuff – hint, hint.)
So, we are mad at work on the latest installment of Paragraph Line zine. Some great stories are coming in, and hopefully many more are on the way, so I encourage you to keep sending us quality stuff.
While you’re waiting on the first batch of fiction to come out, I thought I’d mention some of the stuff that’s come out by Paragraph Line Books since AITPL #13. All of this is Jon Konrath-related, but don’t worry, there will be plenty of non-Konrath fiction coming your way in 2012.
So, there are two new-new books:
Fistful of Pizza (PL-104) is a collection of nine stories by Jon Konrath. If you’re interested in a childhood friend that turned terrorist in an Islamic militant splinter faction of Amway, Richard Nixon’s commentary on his favorite Dokken album, or a movie review of Little Fockers, exploring the film’s BSDM-inspired pedophilia themes and parody of the Ben Hur chariot race, filmed with small breed dogs around a set designed like a 1970s Times Square filled with heroin addicts and pornographers, this book’s for you.
The Earworm Inception (PL-105) is another collection, this time with 20 pieces of flash fiction. It includes a Texas Governor who obsessively listens to Rebecca Black right before every state execution, a chainsaw factory that plays Ozzy Osbourne for its welding robots, an ex-girlfriend drunk-dialing from Kandahar, where she’s starting a Shakey’s Pizza restaurant chain, and an endless search to find the right mix of prescription medication to stop the memories of a bizarre past.
Two older books have also been re-released; the new editions have new covers and some small edits, but are available at a lower price, and are also on the Kindle for the first time:
Rumored to Exist (PL-103) is Jon Konrath’s classic 2002 novel. It’s a collection of 201 vignettes or flash fiction pieces, loosely tied together into a non-linear narrative about a protagonist attempting to find meaning in a bizarre near-future world. It’s a densely packed stew of ideas flashed together, morphing between dreams, emails, conversations, and action. It’s a novel in the style of Naked Lunch, written for today’s short-attention-span hypertextual world.
Summer Rain (PL-106) is Konrath’s first book, which is a creative nonfiction tale about a summer in the early 90s in a lazy midwestern college town. It’s a coming-of-age tale that explores depression, finding your place in life, early death metal music, the early days of the internet, and slumming it on a college campus.
Anyway, check out the books, and all of the back issues of Air in the Paragraph Line you can find here. Stay tuned, and get ready for more fiction here, starting in April.
Okay, we’re back.
A lot has gone down since Air in the Paragraph Line #13 came out back in 2010. I’ve published two new books and re-released another. The whole publishing industry has changed because of this Kindle thing. Four Loko has been banned in New York. Hot Tub Time Machine was released. I think a space shuttle blew up or got retired or something, but I wasn’t really paying that much attention.
I’ve been writing and sending out a lot of flash fiction, and I’ve had trouble finding really cool markets. There are some out there, but a lot of places publishing flash fiction are doing the same boring crap that made me start AITPL in the first place, except now it’s a thousand words long. I don’t want some story about an alcoholic college professor who has a distant wife. I want aliens, zombies, a cult devoted to bad Nic Cage movies that perform autopsies at the Kroger deli counter while obsessively listening to Bonnie Raitt records backwards.
So, let’s get this thing started. Here’s the deal:
- The name has changed. I used to call the zine Air in the Paragraph Line. This is being shortened to just Paragraph Line. Our imprint is still called Paragraph Line Books.
- Instead of publishing a big book every year or ten, we will be moving to online publication. That’s right, you’ll be able to come back to this very page for a new dose of your favorite writers, for free. This will be ongoing, and for now, I’m going to do it monthly. If I get enough stuff in, I’ll switch to weekly.
- If you still like to kill trees, do not despair. We’re going to take the best of the best from online, add some new exclusives and other fun stuff, and keep publishing anthology versions, starting with #14. These will be print-on-demand and will be as cheap as possible, and filled with tons of reading, just like the previous versions. We’ll also be doing Kindle e-book versions, too.
- In addition to longer stories like we’ve published in the past, we’ll also be taking and publishing flash fiction. That means intense bursts of story in under a thousand words, which is perfect for those of us with unmedicated and unchecked ADD.
- We now use Submittable (aka Submishmash) for submissions, so it’s easier than ever to send in stuff and keep track of it.
- In the times between new stuff, I’d like to do as much as possible to showcase writers and other publications. That means reviews, interviews, articles, and other good reading material you can use to waste time on your iPhone in the crapper.
So, readers, stay tuned, and help spread the word. Writers, I’m looking for stories and I’m offering a perfect opportunity for you to shamelessly self-promote your work elsewhere. Please click on the Submissions link to check out our guidelines and send in stories, or go to About Us to read more and get in touch.