Mike Young

Mike Young is the author of Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot Press), a story collection, and We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius Press), a poetry collection. He co-edits NOÖ Journal and runs Magic Helicopter Press. Find him online at http://mikeayoung.blogspot.com and outside in Northampton, MA.

what are you reading now

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, though I'm almost done. It's a romp of a book, with well written forays into several genres, and a sort of gleeful relish of each of those genres' cliches that I can really get behind. I think for some reason it's the book I "needed" to read right now: its antic world-building and its forthrightness about "having ideas" reminds me of what's earnest and entertaining about fiction.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Well, for the last two years or so, everybody and their uncle in Western Mass (where I live) has been having a go at Moby Dick, so I guess I should probably get on that mofo.

last book you finished in a single sitting

Motorman by David Ohle, on a bus from Western Mass to NYC. It's as good as everybody says. It reminded me of graffiti on still box cars, and maybe you look into one of the box cars and think you see some kind of weird spaceship, but you're already down the road, and everything in the past is retreating into your imagination.

book you borrowed and never returned

Recently it's Mark Anthony Jarman's Nineteen Knives, which my buddy Gene Kwak lent me in Boston and which he's not getting back anytime soon. This story collection is so good I want to start using the Anthony in the middle of my name too. Stories of woods and hockey and self-destruction and rhapsodic wheeze. All the nouns and verbs have an urge about them. There's a concern for the word that names rather than refers. And the word that nicknames rather than names, which is even better. Even better—to step away from the clinic of language—I feel in the presence of a great bamboozler, one who dazzles while reaching for pretzels.

if you could take a cross-country road trip with any literary character

Charles Portis's character Norwood from the novel of the same name. I think Norwood has the perfect combo of how-to and don't-care.

last reading you attended

Well, it's probably kind of gauche for my answer to be "my own reading har har," but I just read in Boston with Carolyn Zaikowski. She read about the Boston Molasses Disaster on the anniversary of the Molasses Disaster, which we didn't even realize. To celebrate, the world snowed huge heaps of brown sugar. Other than that, I'm going to see Betsy Wheeler and Lisa Olstein read "tonight" (I have no idea when this post will be up, but think of me, dear blog viewer, shivering in my kitchen and staring outside and convincing myself that yes, I am going to walk through all this sleet to a poetry reading, of course I am, no doubt about it, absolutely, yeah, sure, you betcha, come on Mike, it's important, I know it's cold, but you should go, it will be fun, you will see your friends, come on, if you don't go you're a bad person, you're a terrible person, you're a selfish sluice-dipper, what?, no I don't know what that means, I just mean you suck if you don't go to this, go to it, go to it, go to it, okay, good, I'm glad you're going, wasn't that easy).

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

Can't think of one, but one time I borrowed Sadie Plant's Zeros and Ones to impress a girl and ended up liking the book more than the girl!

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

This is a hard question, but maybe American Short Fiction. They always seem to really nail it. The other problem with this question is there are so many good online journals, which I don't need to subscribe to, but if I were someone forced to pay money for online journals, I would probably pay for elimae or Juked.

best thing you’ve read online recently

Lydia Davis's story "The Professor" about wanting to marry a cowboy. Here it is: http://www.salon.com/june97/mothers/short970620.html. It's from 1997, but I only read it yesterday.

most anticipated upcoming release

Ryan Call's The Weather Stations!

recommended reading list:

Five Books Whose Titles Only Have Three Letters That Would Probably Not Belong Together Anywhere Else Besides Inside This Cheesy List Concept, Which Is a Concept I Came Up With Only After Rejecting the Concept "Books That Have the Word Cheese in the Title" Because I Could Only Think of Linh Dinh's Some Kind of Cheese Orgy

- Bop by Maxine Chernoff

- Ray by Barry Hannah

- U.S.A. by John Dos Passos

- Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer

- Ark by Ronald Johnson


Ethel Rohan

I read and write and live. I get better and better at all three, mostly.

what are you reading now

Brian Evenson’s story collection, The Wavering Knife. It’s haunting, and horrific in parts, and I feel in the weathered hands of a master storyteller.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

It’s a long list. Near the top of that long list is definitely Crime and Punishment. It seems the Russian writers are to me what the Irish writers are to Yiyun Li.

last book you finished in a single sitting

I’m not sure I’ve ever done that, but the most recent book I feel I devoured more than read is a tie between Alissa Nutting’s Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls and Lindsay Hunter’s Daddy’s.

book you borrowed and never returned

Do not lend books to me. Do not lend anything to me. I am terrible at returning things. It’s not intentional, it’s just not a priority and I’m forgetful. Let’s see, I think the last book I borrowed and never returned would be Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent.

most treasured book in your collection

That’s like asking me which of my two daughters I favor. For the record, the answer to the latter is neither. They’re both fabulous. Back to books. Jesus what a question. Okay, if forced to answer on the threat of death, it’s a tie (don’t laugh) between John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany and Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights. Both books had a profound effect on me as a teenager. The passion, compassion, and imagination in these two books filled, flattened, and filled, and filled, flattened, and filled, my heart again and again.

favorite book from childhood

Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other [Fairy] Tales. If you don’t know these stories, read them. “The Happy Prince” still slices at me. Now you all know way too much about me.

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

No book comes to mind. Fadó, fadó, I did plant myself on a coffee table to impress someone.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Christ, stand me against a tree and throw knives. It’d be easier. I won’t name one. I will say that every writer should subscribe to at least one lit mag every year. They need us. We need them. In 2010, I subscribed to Ploughshares and I loved every issue. This year I hope to enter the Crazyhorse fiction contest and that includes a year’s subscription.

best thing you’ve read online recently

This is starting to feel painful. Roxane Gay’s blog, I Have Become Accustomed to Rejection, is always a fine read, not to mention her fiction. I just read Andy Roe’s “Where Shall We Meet?” over at Used Furniture Review and loved it. There’s a wealth of excellent writing online. I love that abundance and its accessibility. To hell with the naysayers, as writers and readers, we live in a great time.

most anticipated upcoming release

I recently read Bonnie Jo Campbell has another book forthcoming. I don’t have any details, but I look forward to that. I loved American Salvage.

recommended reading list:

From Some of the Most Recent Titles I've Read, My ALL SHOOK UP Recommended Reading List

- How They Were Found by Matt Bell

- Baby and Other Stories by Paula Bomer

- The Wavering Knife by Brian Evenson (currently reading)

- Words for Empty and Words for Full by Bob Hicok

- Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter

- Venus Drive by Sam Lipsyte

- Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting


Heather Fowler

Heather Fowler received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Short fiction is her love letter to the world. She has taught composition, literature, and writing-related courses at UCSD, California State University at Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College. Her stories have been published online and in print in the US, England, Australia, and India, as well as recently nominated for both the storySouth Million Writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net. She was Guest Editor for Zoetrope All-Story Extra in March and April of 2000. Fowler's story, "Slut," won third prize at the 2000 California Writer's Conference in Monterey. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, was recently featured at The Nervous Breakdown, poeticdiversity, and The Medulla Review, and elsewhere. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine. Her debut collection Suspended Heart is now available from Aqueous Books. Please visit her website at www.heatherfowlerwrites.com.

what are you reading now

The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God by Etgar Keret

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Metamorphoses by Ovid

last book you finished in a single sitting

The Cat in the Hat—hey, I have kids. Single sitting readings are hard. And yes, I read this to them, for them. I do get rather dramatic in my reading though and both expressed fear I would damage the spine. Otherwise, in adult titles, The Selected Poems of Federico García Lorca.

book you borrowed and never returned

Only one? I’m notoriously bad about returns.

if you could write yourself into any short story

Nabokov’s “Sounds.”

favorite book from childhood

Where the Sidewalk Ends—also, a beautifully written and illustrated version of Beauty and the Beast, which I still have and have taped the spine of, sharing it with both my step-daughter and my younger daughter, since it is so beautiful and I will not be parted from this, though cannot locate a newer copy.

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

I don’t do that. If they didn’t like me, they wouldn’t be in my house. :)

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

I read many online that don’t require subscriptions, mainly those where I see the work of talented friends appearing, since I don’t want to miss their work. I once subscribed to The New Yorker for a long, long time, but felt guilty that all I ever read was the short fiction and then promptly recycled. Now, I’m signed up for podcasts.

best thing you’ve read online recently

Far too much to quantify here. Lately, I’ve been loving the selections by Necessary Fiction. Night Train is always a good read. So many excellent journals—it’s hard to pinpoint one or two.

most anticipated upcoming release

I’ve been dying to read Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley. It has been released already, but my copy should be coming in the mail any day now—and I’ve been avidly harassing the mailman. He likes me. I think.

recommended reading list:

Timeless Books That Surprise and Quietly Astound

- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

- The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor

- The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov by Vladimir Nabokov

- A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes

- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

- Erotic Love Poems from India: Selections from the Amarushataka edited by Andrew Schelling

- The House of Breath by William Goyen

- Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

- Villette by Charlotte Bronte

- The Selected Poems of Federico García Lorca by Federico Garcia Lorca