Tim Horvath

Tim Horvath is the author of Circulation, released by Sunnyoutside Press in 2009, and stories out or forthcoming in Conjunctions, Fiction, Puerto del Sol, Sleepingfish, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. His story "The Understory" was selected by Bill Henderson for the 2006 Raymond Carver Short Story Award, and he has received a Yaddo Fellowship. He teaches creative writing at Chester College of New England and Boston's Grub Street Writers, and will be an Associate Prose Editor for a new print journal of prose and photography, Camera Obscura, which opens for submissions in mid-October. His website is http://www.timhorvath.com/.

what are you reading now

I’m reading Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist and Bolaño’s 2666 and Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia.

last book to make you laugh out loud

I’m not a guffawer by temperament and by no means would call myself a giggler, but The Anthologist keeps making me snort with a slight undulation like I’m being tickled.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Anna Karenina. I really wish there was a theme park based on Russian novels and someone had lined up vacation plans for me there. That would force me to read it. It would be like a height requirement—you’d have to have read a certain number of pages. I could ride on the Dostoyevsky-coaster and the Turgenev carousel, but I’d be shit out of luck at the Tunnel of Tolstoy. I suppose there’s always a trip to St. Petersburg.

book you borrowed and never returned

I’m a terrible borrower of books. For someone who’s written a novella from the standpoint of a librarian, I have a pretty wretched track record when it comes to bringing things back. I think there’s something really profound about human nature that’s revealed in my propensity for taking things out and my not bringing them back. But I’m not sure what it is. It has something to do with dopamine. Taking away, the dopamine’s spurting out of my ears. Bringing back, it’s like a deficit. Why does my daughter like pulling stuff out but not cleaning it up? The objects weigh the same.

But to answer your question, I have the Betwixt and Between issue of Conjunctions borrowed from Donna. Sorry, Donna.

all-time favorite novella

Hmmm, maybe Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams. Or Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata. Hey, I have read some Tolstoy.…

last reading you attended

I saw Nicholson Baker read from The Anthologist. It was exciting in that I roadtripped it with my fiction class and we held workshop for a student story on the highway, successfully I might add. A surly toll-booth operator snarled “Take yer quarter!” and on the return trip she was waiting for us on the southbound side in a classic Seinfeld symmetry, this time cashing out. This context enhanced the reading somehow, the sort of marginalia Baker himself would’ve been attuned to, the drive intrinsic to the experience. Also, we sat right under hulking Baker, his voice dipping and thrumming like a singer of scat. Only afterward, seeing the text, did I realize how much shorter and more intimate his sentences have grown since The Mezzanine. I kind of feel like I’ve grown up with Baker, since my dad handed me The Mezz when it first came out, and I can remember identifying with it because I worked in one of those soulless offices down near Wall Street where there was naught to do but attend to every non-obvious detail of that alien landscape, how guys carried themselves while urinating and so forth, though hardly with Baker’s genius eye. Introducing myself to him after the reading, I made the mistake of saying, “Hey, I was down on Wall Street too, probably reading your book on my lunch hour.” So he signed my copy, “To a fellow Wall Streeter.” Ah, well.

weirdest dream involving a book or literary character

Okay, straight out of el dream journal:

I’m about to meet Jonathan Franzen. He’s got this device that lets him know how nervous the person meeting him is, like those radar signs that tell you your speed. He knows I’m shitting the proverbial pants. But he’s ready for me and has suggestions. One is that I could become “orthodox.” I nod. Another is that I could become better versed in history, and feel more grounded. I have no clue what he means, but I am relaxing. The third is that I could research people who are locked out of their houses and talk to them about what they are doing while locked out, and could sell this to The New Yorker. Now I’m holding up the line, and there’s a woman behind me. She tells me she likes my sneakers, and I look down and see that they’re subpar, really not fit to wear out, and then I realize she’s just trying to get me to haul my ass along so she can get her face-time with Franzen. I start to take off my sneakers just to stall and at this point Franzen raises his voice and yells, “That wasn’t one of my suggestions. WERE MY SUGGESTIONS NOT GOOD ENOUGH?” My urge is to say, “You’re not my dad,” but then I’m not so sure. I turn around to see if the woman is my mom, but she’s gone. Pan out and the whole thing has been at Sea World and the jellyfish are petitioning for brains and Franzen’s like, “Was this happening all along?” That’s it.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

Coffee table? Planting a book on a coffee table is like painting a bison on your walls to dazzle someone. Today’s coffee table is the book-based social networking site, like Goodreads. My Goodreads shelf is pretty authentic, but if I had a sub-shelf that was Books That I Put Out There To Maybe Just A Little Bit Try To Impress Someone, I’d fess up that maybe I’m not really reading Tournier’s The Ogre right now, even though it says I am. But I started it. Hence. Have I shown you my rendition of a bison?

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Conjunctions, sans doubt.

best thing you’ve read online recently

That would have to be Joshua Cohen’s “North Vain, Bluff” at Harp & Altar. It’s from a thing that I believe is finished—not sure when the whole thing’ll be released— called Two Great Russian Novels (there we go, back to that theme), all of which is to marvel at. If you know Cohen’s amazing Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, you already know him as an avalanche, but one of language and history and humor; here he is literal wintry action scenes in Alaska. Plus there’s a helicopter. I’m way more into it than, say, Michael Chabon’s Sitka Jewish homeland-relocation-noir.

most anticipated upcoming release

The English translation of Macedonio Fernández’s The Museum of Eterna’s Novel, slated for next year—a series of prologues to a book never written. He was Borges’s secret influence/foil/double/_____. He sounds as if he was less responsible than Borges, maybe, and thus got his work out into the world less and didn’t develop a career (Borges always considered himself a lucky imposter as went his own success; maybe he was thinking of Macedonio).

recommended reading list:

Peak Bagging the Mighty Montages

Even though the word “montage” derives etymologically from “mounting,” I’d like to take it a step back further and think of mountains, that when a story feels more like a collage than a straightforward narrative, it gives you that sense of adrenaline and liberation and perspective you might get leaping from mountain to mountain. So, here are books that make a few, but not too many, concessions to linearity or to consecutiveness, that squeeze white valleys onto the page in order to disrupt the reading experience—but also to propel you forward, and thus make it more like memory, more like the way I, at least, experience daily life/thought/the past.

- Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

- Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein

- The Barnum Museum by Steven Millhauser

- Speedboat by Renata Adler

- The Atlas by William T. Vollmann

- Doctor of Silence by Robert Kelly

- Mating by Norman Rush

- The Bathroom by Jean-Philippe Toussaint

Representative stories: Rick Moody’s “Demonology,” Heidi Julavits’s “Marry the One Who Gets There First,” David Means’s “Coitus,” Matt Bell’s “Ten Scenes from a Movie Called Mercy.”


John Dermot Woods

John Dermot Woods is the author of the novel The Complete Collection of people, places & things and the forthcoming comic chapbook The Remains (Doublecross). He writes stories and draws comics in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared in The Indiana Review, Hobart, 3rd Bed, Salt Hill, American Letters & Commentary, No Colony, Lamination Colony, and many other places. He edits the arts quarterly Action,Yes and organizes the online reading series Apostrophe Cast. He is a professor in the English Department at Nassau Community College on Long Island.

what are you reading now

Acme Novelty Library #19 by Chris Ware, Moby Dick by Melville, re-reading Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy, Lucky Hans and Other Merz Fairy Tales by Kurt Schwitters (with my daughter)

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Moby Dick

last book to make you laugh out loud

The Schwitters book is pretty hilarious.

book you borrowed and never returned

Nails by Lenny Dykstra (it's about his time on the Mets not as a stock trader)

if you could write yourself into any novel

Not really a novel, but I'd love to get into a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

favorite book cover design

I have a lot: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, Nadja by Breton (the Grove English translation), those new Penguin editions done by comics artists are pretty amazing; Adrian Tomine's best work is on covers.

most challenging book you’ve ever read

Excluding volumes of theory, Finnegan's Wake – doing it with a team and guide

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

American Letters & Commentary (but that could change each day – because there's a bunch I love – Hobart, Sleepingfish, No Colony, etc.)

best thing you’ve read online recently

"Summer of the Raccoon" by Rachel Yoder in the last Action,Yes – just reread it and it's even better than I remember when I published it a couple of months ago.

most anticipated upcoming release

Tsim Tsum by Sabrina Orah Mark (it might be available already)

recommended reading list:

Literary Highlights of the New York Mets

The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (Auster's dedication to the Mets is apparent in a lot of his work)

The Curious Case of Sidd Finch by George Plimpton (April Fool's joke turned novel)

Believeniks! by Jonathan Lethem and Christopher Sorrentino (this book is so esoteric, it took a name like Lethem's to get it published)

If at First by Keith Hernandez (the most distinguished writer on the list)

– Samuel Beckett's attendance at a Mets doubleheader in 1964 during his one trip to America (they won both games)

– "How's that, Umpire?" by P.G. Wodehouse (actually a cricket story, but when he wrote this, Wodehouse had moved to Long Island and had become an avid Mets fan)


Stefanie Freele

Stefanie Freele's short story collection Feeding Strays was just released by Lost Horse Press. She also has a new chapbook available through Bannock Street Books titled MOTEL. Recent and forthcoming work can be found in wonderful literary magazines like Glimmer Train, American Literary Review, Wigleaf, Night Train, Literary Mama, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, FRiGG, Dogzplot, and Hobart online. Stefanie has an MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts: Whidbey Writers Workshop. She is on the editorial staff of SmokeLong Quarterly and is also the Fiction Editor for the Los Angeles Review.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

War and Peace – Will I read it? Maybe. Who knows. Perhaps when the world stands still and gives me a week or two off. And when it does, no, I won't do your laundry.

last book to make you laugh out loud

I think Russell Edson's The Song of Percival Peacock – which I'm not yet done with. It has made me laugh so many times I just can't believe it.

book you borrowed and never returned

Can't think of any. But, whoever borrowed Scott Poole's Hiding From Salesmen wouldja please give it back?

most treasured book in your collection

There isn't one. I have a "favorites shelf.” The left hand side of the shelf is most likely the most treasured bunch because they are fabulous books by authors I either know well, have met or have sent an e-mail to two to: Ray Vukcevich's Meet Me In the Moon Room, Barry Yourgrau's Wearing Dad's Head, Randall Brown's Mad to Live, Tania Hershman's The White Road, several by David Wagoner, Bruce Holland Rogers, Susan Zwinger.

There are also a bunch of authors I don't know personally, but would love to: Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn), Donald Barthelme (Sixty Stories), Cormac McCarthy (The Road). I need a bigger shelf.

secret crush on a writer or literary character

Some secrets are not meant to be told.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

I don't have a coffee table nor do I want one. People are usually impressed by how I dress. My mother describes my personal style as "Eccentric Camper." I've been known to wear flannel shirts, hiking boots and even the occasional bandana.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Too hard and painful of a decision. I love lit mags and I want to subscribe to tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of them.

best thing you’ve read online recently

Best? Oh, there is so much! Starting with Wigleaf's Top 50 and on. There is some fabulous writing online these days. I can't keep up with all of it.

recommended reading list:

Cool Sounding Small Press Books That Haven’t Yet Come Out, But I Know the Authors’ Work And They Are Damn Good, So Therefore I Will Preorder And So Should You

- In an Uncharted Country by Cliff Garstang (Press 53)

- Beasts and Violins by Caleb Barber (Red Hen Press)

- Rattlesnakes and The Moon by Darlin Neal (Press 53)

- Now Playing by Shellie Zacharia (Keyhole Press)

- The Book of Want by Daniel Olivas (University of Arizona Press)

- The Mansion of Happiness by Robin Ekiss (University of Georgia Press)


Laird Hunt

Laird Hunt is a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Currently on faculty at the University of Denver, he is the author, most recently, of Ray of the Star.

what are you reading now

The Skating Rink by Roberto Bolaño

Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong by Pierre Bayard

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Danzy Senna

classic you’ve been meaning to read

I’m not entirely sure Don DeLillo’s Underworld counts as a classic – perhaps a contemporary classic. And it’s actually a book I’ve been reading for 5 years. Every summer I say I’m going to finish it and every summer I read another 100 or 200 pp and put it back down. So this is not necessarily a classic book that I’ve been meaning to read.

last book you finished in a single sitting

Eunoia by Christian Bök

book you borrowed and never returned

Madison Smartt Bell’s Waiting for the End of the World. Borrowed a decade ago from an old writing friend Chris Baer and then we lost touch and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to give it back to him. It still sits on my shelf. Awaiting its rightful owner.

most treasured book in your collection

There are two:

A first edition, sans dust jacket, of The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien and The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald – My first U.S. edition copy is signed and has, tucked into its pages, both sides of the brief correspondence we had.

if you could write yourself into any novel

I would love to appear as one of the melancholic obsessives Sebald visits in The Rings of Saturn. I could sit gazing out of one window and he could sit opposite me gazing out of the other. A tea kettle would be bubbling away in the background. There would perhaps be the smell of something burning. A draft coming in through a crack in the window. A child could be sitting in a quiet corner drawing pictures of women with tornadoes in place of hair.


I would love to appear as one of the punctuation marks (maybe a semi-colon) in Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans.


As a character in the expendable chapters section of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch.

strangest book you’ve ever read

I believe that strangeness is the sine qua non of goodness in books. Life: A User’s Manual by Perec is a deeply strange book. So is Berg by Ann Quin. Moby Dick is extremely strange. It doesn’t get any weirder than Hamlet. Emily Dickinson’s selected poetry is really bizarre. Cane by Jean Toomer is strangeness squared.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

I once planted a copy of a writer’s book on a coffee table to impress him/her when they came over. My wife, noticing, raised her eyebrow, scooped it up and put it away.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Brick Magazine

best thing you’ve read online recently

The opening pages of Robert Lopez’s second novel Kamby Bolongo Mean River.

most anticipated upcoming release

Joanna Howard’s On the Winding Stair

recommended reading list:

Books I Teach Every Year Because I Dig Them So Much

- Gargantua by François Rabelais

- The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje

- Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire

- Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

- Persepolis (I) by Marjane Satrapi

- Cane by Jean Toomer

- Rose Mellie Rose, Hotel Splendid, or Forever Valley by Marie Redonnet

- Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar