Recently, on Twitter, Steve Himmer responded to my lament that Most Anticipated Books of ____ lists are often overflowing with BIG PUBLISHER books and uninspiring in their representation of small press/indie lit by saying that he said the same thing last year, to which a challenge was offered to him to create his own list, which he did. So, I want to take up that challenge. This is by no means an exhaustive list (things will catch my attention, I’m sure, later on, that I had no idea existed), and I’m sure it’s mostly reflective of my own biases, but at least it’s an attempt. Yeah? Okay, let’s go. I wanted to include literary nonfiction in this list, but I just am so sadly uninformed by what’s coming that I couldn’t do it justice. I’m eagerly hoping for new work by Brian Oliu (there’s a wrestling chapbook/collection I’m hoping makes itself known) and Eula Biss. It’s not a 2013 book, but Elena Passarello’s LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT is taunting me on my desk at home.
Fiction I’m Salivating About in 2013
Billie the Bull by xTx | Nephew
This one’s already hot off the presses – and I know some have already received it – but I’m ANTICIPATING my copy arriving, so that counts. Here’s what Dennis Cooper says about xTx: “xTx is the complete young literary god. Billie the Bull is mind-bogglingly and intricately superb down to its tiniest punctuation marks. To me, she’s about as great as it can get. Seriously, I’m awestruck.” That’s pretty much as great an endorsement as I can think of. xTx is doing some of the most killer stuff out there right now.
Mother Ghost by Casey Hannan | Tiny Hardcore Press
Another January 2013 release, I’m eagerly going to be mailbox-checking soon for this one. We at Sundog Lit published a killer story of his in the 1st issue, Viper Missing, and I cannot wait for this thing to melt my brain.
I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying by Matthew Salesses | Civil Coping Mechanisms | Feb. 2013
Here’s this from the CCM description: “I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, a novel in flash fiction, is a raw, honest look at parenting, commitment, morality, and the spaces that grow between and within us when we don’t know what to say.” Matthew’s work is so vibrant and heart-engaging and the stories in this novel will probably make you wish you could hang out with Matthew and know everything he knows. From the rest of CCM’s description: “In these 115 titled chapters, a man, who learns he has a 5-year-old son, is caught between the life he knows and a life he may not yet be ready for. This is a book that tears down the boundaries in relationships, sentences, origin and identity, no matter how quickly its narrator tries to build them up.” Cannot wait for this.
In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell | Soho Press | June 2013
Matt Bell’s work first hit my brain in 2010 with the release of How They Were Found, a brilliant collection of his short stories. I was a grad student at the time and his work was so different from the stuff I was reading at the time. I took to it instantly. When Cataclysm Baby was released in 2012 by Mud Luscious Press, I had read many of the stories it contained and quickly got that book as well. The arrival of this novel is one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year for me.
From the description on the Goodreads site: “In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods tells the story of a newly married couple who take up a lonely existence in the title’s mythical location. In this blank and barren plot far from the world they’ve known, they mean to start the family the unnamed husband wants so obsessively. But their every pregnancy fails, and as their grief swells, the husband─a hot-tempered and impatient fisherman and trapper─attempts to prove his dominion in other ways, emptying both the lake and the woods of their many beasts. As the years pass, the wife changes too, her suddenly powerful voice singing some new series of objects into being, including a threatening moon hung above their house, its doomed weight already slowly falling, bending their now-starless sky.”
How can you not want to read this?
Laura van den Berg’s The Isle of Youth, her 2nd short story collection, has me eagerly anticipating the end of a year that’s just started (it comes in November). Ever since I discovered her first collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, I’ve been a huge fan. Read just one story of hers and you’ll see why this thing is going to be a big deal.
Delaney Nolan’s Louisiana Maps, her chapbook and winner of Ropewalk Press’s 2012 chapbook contest, is going to kill it. Just read “How I Gonna Bare My Neck Outside in the Sweat-Scared Morning,” from Guernica to see why this author is just about (for me) the BIGGEST Next Big Thing around.
WARNING: Shameless self-promotion time. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that Justin Lawrence Daugherty’s [tentatively-titled] Whatever Don’t Drown Will Always Rise wasn’t one of my most anticipated books of the year. I wrote about it here. Ryan Werner and Passenger Side Books is putting this out there. I hope you’ll read it. Or, at least say, hey, that might be alright.
That’s a start. I wish I could add poetry, too, but that’s another area I’m sorely lacking. I hope, at the very least, this post can start a dialogue about what great NONFICTION and FICTION and POETRY you’re excited about this year.