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6.18.2016


Forget Me / Hit Me / Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor
KATIE SCHMID


Poetry
42 pages
6” x 9” Perfect-Bound Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-0990903550
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback
Split Lip Press
Pennsylvania, USA
Available HERE
$10.00
Review by Do Nguyen Mai

Captivating in its surreal imagery, Katie Schmid’s tender, poignant writing in Forget Me / Hit Me / Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor invokes deep, slow-moving yet prevalent nostalgia for the American Midwest, pulling the sun below the evening horizon as the neighborhood’s children race home for dinner. Schmid’s poems are slow to punch, yet they build and build the same way rain fills a house—slowly but surely.

Forget Me / Hit Me / Let Me Drink Great Quantities of Clear, Evil Liquor begins by dragging readers to drown in both the pain and joy of remembering not only the past, but also such a place as the narrator’s memories of the Midwest.

4.23.2016


Four Fathers
DAVE HOUSLEY, BL PAWELEK, BEN TANZER, & TOM WILLIAMS

Fiction  |  Poetry
145 pages
8” x 8.8” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978-1-941462-00-3
First Edition
Cobalt Press
Baltimore, Maryland
Available HERE
$15.00
Review by Al Kratz

Four Fathers is an enjoyable collaboration of four writers: Dave Housley, BL Pawelek, Ben Tanzer, and Tom Williams. Each lends his unique voice to themes of fatherhood covering both the aspects of having a father and of being a father.

The collection has a couple of other unique design elements. It combines a variety of forms: Two conventionally sized short stories by Tom Williams, Ben Tanzer’s flash collection, a poetry collection by BL Pawelek, and Dave Housley’s piece is a novella. Other than the novella, all of the pieces were told through second-person point of view.

4.21.2016




Condominium
DANIEL FALATKO

Fiction  |  Novel
264 pages
5½” x 8½” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN: 978-1939987365
First Edition
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Available HERE
$14.99
Review by Al Kratz

Condominium, by Daniel Falatko, is a partly comedic and lighthearted, somewhat existential and dramatic, novel about a week in the life of a couple who move into their dream million-dollar high-rise condominium with its Brooklyn skyline view over the East River. The story alternates points of view and experience between Charles and Sarah as they navigate multiple issues with their new lifestyle, including struggles in their career, a strange new neighbor, challenging relationships with friends, and recreational drug usage.

4.11.2016


Autoplay
JULIE BABCOCK

Poetry
82 pages
5” x 8” perfect-bound trade paperback
First Edition
ISBN 978-0988201347
Review Copy: PDF
MG Press
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Available HERE
$12
Review by Julia Hy

I wish you could place an ear to a shell
inside an ocean that never spills
and hear me.
(“Being Right,” p. 18)

Julie Babcock delivers an intense range of depth throughout her poetry collection, Autoplay. You feel the need to revisit each poem as it seems like there is always another meaning hidden in its pauses and punctuation that you may have missed. In poems such as “Music Lesson Ohio,” she relates the state to a young girl practicing for her first violin recital. You can read this either as an homage to Ohio itself and her experiences growing up there, or as the tenseness and perseverance of a young girl. You may even read further into it and find yourself focusing on the theme of discipline and strength found in femininity. Each poem offers so much more than what you see at your first glance.

3.14.2016


Parade
MICHAEL GRAVES

Fiction | Novel
240 pages
6” x 9” Paperback
Also available in ebook formats
ISBN 978-1-937627-26-3
First Edition
Chelsea Station Editions
Available HERE
$9.99-$18.00
Review by Jonathan Harper

I met Michael Graves briefly at a book fair in Washington, D.C. This was several years ago, and I haven’t seen him since. I had just purchased a short story collection and was making small talk with two of the vendors I knew. Sitting to the side was a polite man with a boyish face who seemed to share my acquaintances. In an attempt to be as social as possible, I asked him if he were the new Lethe Press intern. Graciously, he smiled and said no, while my friends chuckled as if I had asked something very embarrassing. Only after I left did I realize that he was the author of the book I had just purchased right in front of him.

2.25.2016


The Blue Line
INGRID BETANCOURT

Fiction | Novel
368 pages
5.9” x 8.6” Hardcover
Also available in ebook and audio formats
ISBN 978-1594206580
First Edition
Review Copy: Hardcover
Penguin Press
City of Westminster, London; United States; and Canada
Available HERE
$27.00
Review by Nicole Tone

Told through a non-linear timeline, the reader is taken on a journey through Julia’s past and present and how her special gift—her ability to see into the future—simultaneously saved her life and, in a way, ended it. This book is not for the faint of heart; Betancourt goes into great detail about the truths of what it meant to live in Buenos Aires in the 1970s. For young Julia, this meant getting captured and tortured multiple times because she dared fight for what she thought was right. For modern day Julia, however, it is these very scars that would force Julia and Theo, with whom she’d been in love since she was fifteen, apart.

2.24.2016


Conspiracy of Beauty
CHRISTINA COLLINS

Poetry
38 pages
Perfect-Bound Trade Paperback
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback
Gertrude Press
Portland, Oregon, USA
Available HERE
$8.00
Review by Eric Shonkwiler

The best books, whether poetry or prose, teach the reader how to read the work. Christina Collins’ debut collection of poetry does just that, and more. Its lines are universal lessons, ones you could apply not only to Conspiracy, but to all poetry, to life. Collins seems acutely aware of this, opening the collection with “Primer”:

A well-placed

break is a little jewel. Your breath
catches in your throat. Here is
a beautiful metaphor, the jewel at your throat.

2.23.2016


Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac, Michigan
ROSIE FORREST

Fiction | Flash Fiction
56 pages
5.4” x 6.1” Letterpressed, side-stapled chapbook
ISBN 978-1-941628-01-0
First Edition
Review Copy: Chapbook
Rose Metal Press
Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
Available HERE
$12.00
Review by Leah Angstman

As a Michigan native, I was immediately intrigued by the title of this book. I’ve been to Cadillac, Michigan, and I know firsthand that there’s not a whole lot there worth inspiring a book. Yet, Midwestern-born Rosie Forrest captures the mood of it perfectly. ‘Ghost boxes,’ as it turns out, are what her protagonists call those empty box stores that swept into town, drove everything else out, then collapsed when we all realized they were just hanging out in the middle of nowhere, that we had to—ugh—drive to them, and that we could buy it all cheaper from Amazon, without leaving the couch.

2.19.2016


Not Dark Yet
BERIT ELLINGSEN

Fiction | Novel
216 pages
5&frac12” x 7&frac12” Perfect-Bound Trade Paperback
Also available in ebook format
ISBN 978-1-937512-35-4
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback ARC
Two Dollar Radio
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Available HERE
$15.99
Review by Eric Shonkwiler

Not Dark Yet is hazy. Its protagonist, Brandon Minamoto, is a nebulous, enigmatic, young man living in a remote mountain cabin in a not-exactly-disclosed location. He is there for solitude, at less of a crossroads in his life than having reached the point where the pavement ends. It is an unspecified number of years in the future—though one wouldn’t necessarily firmly state it’s “our” future at all; it could as easily be an alternate present—and global warming has wreaked a havoc just a few shades shy of apocalyptic. This haziness is double-edged, wielded well in some ways but sometimes causing the book to lag a little. Shifting early from Brandon’s present to key points in his past, it’s difficult to place just where the novel is headed, where Brandon is headed, and what exactly is important. However, this does not appear to be unintentional. Instead, the shifting, and eventually the triggered flashbacks, lend to the reader experiencing the same sort of malaise and subtle disorientation that we can assume Brandon is experiencing. The trouble is just one of calibration—which is off a pinch.

2.16.2016


Haints Stay
COLIN WINNETTE

Fiction  |  Novel
222 pages
5.1” x 7.8” Perfect-bound Trade Paperback with Deckle Edge
ISBN 978-1-9375123-2-3
First Edition
Two Dollar Radio
Columbus, Ohio
Available HERE
$16.00
Review by Justin Lawrence Daugherty

Just Meat and Blood and Bone:
A Review of Haints Stay

The American Western is mythology. It is a representation. It’s hard to say what is or is not a Western. After performing in Italy, Buffalo Bill Cody’s stories were translated into Italian and, even later, his exploits were used in service of Italian fascism and nationalism, a tool to promote imperialism. Whatever the West was, the fetishizing of the West has produced any number of approximations that are most likely apocryphal.

2.15.2016


Hangover Breakfasts
NATHAN GRAZIANO

Fiction  |  Short Fiction
36 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” letterpressed full-color heavystock cover; sewn binding
ISBN 978-1-937073-38-1
First Edition
Limited edition of 100 sewn in wraps; 26 lettered hardcover
Bottle of Smoke Press
Dover, Delaware
Available HERE
$8.00
Review by Al Kratz

Hangover Breakfasts, by Nathan Graziano, is a great chapbook of 26 connected and addicting flash pieces that tell the story of a group of friends in their twenties, primarily at a lake house, usually drinking or doing drugs, always trying to discover if there will be more to their lives.

It is part Walden with drugs replacing transcendentalism, part On the Road with reality replacing the ideal, and part Jesus’ Son with a lighter, safer tone.

1.26.2016


Fallen Land
TAYLOR BROWN

Fiction | Novel
288 pages
5.61” x 8.46” Hardcover
Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio formats
ISBN 978-1250077974
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback ARC
St. Martin’s Press
New York City, New York, USA
Available HERE
$12.99-$24.99
Review by Eric Shonkwiler

Taylor Brown’s Fallen Land is a story straight out of some of America’s darkest days. Set in the latter part of the Civil War, Fallen Land follows Callum, a young gunslinger working with a band of marauders, and Ava, the girl he rescues from the clutches of one of his comrades, only to have her fall into worse hands. Luckily, Callum is fast on his feet and even quicker with a revolver, and Ava and he are able to slip their literal and metaphorical nooses with the aid of Reiver, the best damn horse you ever saw. Shaking out with all their good fortune, though, is a healthy dose of the bad; with a bounty out on Callum’s head, his former friends are determined to ride him down, leaving Ava and him no choice but to head straight for the gaping maw that is Sherman’s March to the Sea, their only hope of protection.

1.20.2016


Redhead and the Slaughter King
MEGAN FALLEY

Poetry
120 Pages
5½” x 8½” Perfect-bound Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1938912450
First Edition
Reviewer Copy: Paperback
Write Bloody Publishing
Austin, Texas, USA
Available HERE
$15.00
Review by Cetoria Tomberlin

Megan Falley’s second full-length poetry collection, Redhead and the Slaughter King, is a tour-de-force in the exploration of the tangled nature of love—How family, friends, and lovers give and take the thing we seek the most, sometimes without explanation or cause.

1.19.2016


American Blues
EVAN GUILFORD-BLAKE

Fiction  |  Stories
220 pages
5” x 8” Perfect-bound trade paperback
Also available in eBook formats and hardcover
ISBN 978-1909374249
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback
Holland House Books
Available HERE
$14.99
Review by Laura Citino

In “Sonny’s Blues 1977,” the opening story in Evan Guilford-Blake’s collection, American Blues, a saxophonist at the end of his career finds himself running out of hope for a better tomorrow. His health is precarious, the gigs don’t come as steady as they used to, and he’s stuck in a past where he’s healthy, successful, and with the woman he always thought he’d grow old with:

1.16.2016


The 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Prose
WINNERS & SHORTLISTED FINALISTS

We here at Alternating Current feel that it is highly important to reward our authors with every possible chance for recognition of their fine crafts. We are pleased to announce the winners and finalist shortlist for The 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Prose, honoring the independent press’ best prose. The pieces are judged blindly by an external panel to determine the semifinalist longlist and then a finalist shortlist. The first place winner will be published in January, and the rest will follow, through December, with the winning pieces being published once per month throughout the year on The Current. First through fifth places are also published in a triennial print and ebook award anthology.


FIRST PLACE
Eric Shonkwiler
“For the Man after Me”

1.14.2016


Kinda Sorta American Dream
STEVE KARAS

Fiction  |  Novel
242 pages
5” x 8” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN: 978-0996717502
Review Copy: Paperback First Edition
Tailwinds Press
New York City, New York
Available HERE
$14.00
Review by Al Kratz

Toward the end of 2015 came one of my favorite books of the year, a short story collection called Kinda Sorta American Dream, written by Steve Karas. Of the fourteen stories, ranging in length from 2 pages to 50 pages, there wasn’t a story in the collection that I wasn’t grabbed by, or that had a character Karas failed to bring to life.

1.13.2016


2016Queen’s Ferry Best Small Fictions
NOMINATIONS

We here at Alternating Current feel that it is highly important to reward our authors with every possible chance for recognition of their fine crafts. We are pleased to announce that we have nominated our maximum of five pieces for the Best Small Fictions of 2016 Prize, and we wish these authors the best of luck in the award process.

1.11.2016


Little Sister Death
WILLIAM GAY

Fiction | Novel
224 pages
5.4” x 8.6” Hardcover
Also available in ebook and paperback formats
ISBN 978-1938103131
First Edition
Review Copy: Hardcover
Dzanc Books
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Available HERE
$9.99
Review by Eric Shonkwiler

I was deeply saddened to hear of William Gay’s passing, early in 2012. I’d enjoyed most of his work up to that point, and was looking forward to a novel, The Lost Country, which appeared to be caught in limbo, and seemed doomed to stay there once Gay died. I was cheered, then, to hear that Dzanc Books had acquired not only The Lost Country, but another novel, Little Sister Death.

1.10.2016


The 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry
WINNERS & SHORTLISTED FINALISTS

We here at Alternating Current feel that it is highly important to reward our authors with every possible chance for recognition of their fine crafts. We are pleased to announce the winners and finalist shortlist for The 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry, honoring the independent press’ best poems. The pieces are judged blindly by an external panel to determine the semifinalist longlist and then a finalist shortlist. The first place winner will be published in January, and the rest will follow, through December, with the winning poems being published once per month throughout the year on The Current. First through fifth places are also published in a triennial print and ebook award anthology.


FIRST PLACE
Sarah Ann Winn
“Baldwin Apples”

12.31.2015


Best Books of 2015: Alternating Current Staff Picks
FICTION REVIEWER: AL KRATZ

My “To Be Read” list is usually a few years behind, so I still have several 2015 books that I’m looking forward to reading, but these six stood out as my favorite releases of the year:

I have to go with a fellow Iowan writer for my first pick of the year. Descent, by Tim Johnston, is an exhilarating literary suspense novel about a family on vacation in Colorado, where their teenaged daughter is kidnapped while jogging with her younger brother. The novel covers the impact on all four members of the family and unwinds the mystery into an unpredictable, but perfectly logical, ending.