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6.22.2016


Love Songs of the Revolution
BRONWYN MAULDIN


Historical Fiction
202 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978-1939987211
First Edition
Review Copy: Mobi ARC
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Available HERE
$14.00
Review by Al Kratz

Bronwyn Mauldin’s novel, Love Songs of the Revolution, is set in Lithuania during the summer of 1989 at the beginning of the revolution that eventually dissolved the Soviet Union. It’s framed as a memoir written by Martynas Kudirka, a loyal party member and official propaganda painter for the Lithuanian Communist government. He is thrown into a world of criminal and political mystery when he discovers his murdered wife’s body. In the chaos that ensues, he learns the secrets of his wife’s life and faces questions of his own life, as well.

6.20.2016


Why not?: Writing Bi Fiction and Being Bi
FRANCIS GIDEON


When I found out that my book, A Winter in Rome was nominated for the Bisexual Book Awards, I didn’t tell anyone.

Okay, not quite. I told my partner Travis (who had a dedication in A Winter in Rome), and I blogged about it online. But in my “real life” world, I didn’t utter a word to anyone. Not to my colleagues, not to my supervisor for my PhD, not to my writing class I was teaching—not even to my family. When I found out that the ceremony was in New York City, and I was invited to be a performer, I read the email and sighed.

6.19.2016


The Escort
CHRIS MIDDLEMAN


Dad & I paced back and forth in some
denominationally unfamiliar church’s lot,
staring at an idling Escort engine with eyes
like floodlights tripped by a neighbor’s cat

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.

6.17.2016


Waste
ANDREW F. SULLIVAN


Fiction  |  Novel
256 pages
Perfect-Bound Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1-938103-40-7
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback
Dzanc Books
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Available HERE
$15.95
Review by Eric Shonkwiler

Relentlessly depressing, depraved, dirty, disgusting. More d-words. Dig Dug. That last one is in there because Waste takes place in the 80s, and because Larkhill, Sullivan’s fictional stand-in for Oshawa, Canada, may as well be underground. Waste is, first and foremost, not your typical novel. It’s not your typical Pollock/Palahniuk shock-lit/grit-lit/meth noir, and it’s important to know that, to realize it, preferably before you read the book. Any number of readers could come away from this book without thinking, and they’d shelve the book as the one of the sadder, more ugly things they’ve ever laid eyes on.

6.09.2016


One True Loves
TAYLOR JENKINS REID

Fiction | Novel
352 pages
5.3” x 8.2” Paperback
Also available in ebook and audio formats
ISBN 978-1476776903
First Edition
Review Copy: Kindle Mobi
Washington Square Press
New York, New York, USA
Available HERE
$16.00
Review by Nicole Tone

Are our lives pre-determined? Is there one person we’re meant to be with? These are questions Taylor Jenkins Reid has been exploring in her novels over the past few years. Her most recent release, One True Loves, Reid explores not just the idea of “one true love” as the title suggests, but the idea that we live multiple lives within our own singular lifetime.

5.29.2016


The So-Called Sonnets
BRUCE McRAE

Poetry
84 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978-0-9792410-5-5
First Edition
Silenced Press
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Available HERE
$14
Review by Nicole Tone

Poetry, as with all things, can feel antiquated especially when following the traditional meters set forward by the Masters of our languages. Sonnets are supposed to follow a certain rhyming pattern, a certain number of beats per measure, as with any song. But in looking at tradition, and turning it on its head, great poets—contemporary Masters—are born. They don’t just write beautiful words but cut open their hearts and leave them to dry on the page. Bruce McRae’s The So-Called Sonnets does just this.

5.28.2016


The Situationist International: Art & Radical Politics
MARY JOYCE


During a fertile time for social change, the Situationist International aimed to bridge the gap between art and radical politics. As a group of artists and writers in 1960s Europe, the Situationists (or SI) achieved prominence during the French student protests through their writings and their penchant for public stunts. While the group never overcame the contradictions between the disparate natures of the artistic and the political, they combined satire, scandal, and performance to critique consumer society and the routine nature of everyday modern life—at a time when this approach was unusual and profoundly disruptive.

5.27.2016


A Conversation with Lavinia Ludlow
INTERVIEW BY LORI HETTLER



Staff Interviewer Lori Hettler sits down with LAVINIA LUDLOW, musician and writer born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her debut novel, alt.punk (2011), explored the ragged edge of art, society, and sanity, viciously skewering the politics of rebellion. Her sophomore novel, Single Stroke Seven (2016), explores the lives of independent artists coming of age in perilous economic conditions. Her short works have been published in Pear Noir!, Curbside Splendor Semi-Annual Journal, and Chicago Literati, and her indie lit reviews have appeared in Small Press Reviews, The Rumpus, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy Magazine, and American Book Review.


LORI HETTLER: Congratulations on the release of your sophomore novel, Single Stoke Seven! I get the feeling this release had you more nervous than when alt.punk dropped in 2011.
LAVINIA LUDLOW: This book took 6 years to go from a flash fiction narrative to a full-length hard copy book. I wrote it while editing alt.punk for publication back in 2011, and because of the extensive journey and re-writes, I didn’t want to fuck up something as important as the launch.

I also had a keen understanding of what I was unleashing into the world. This book is an honest reflection of my life and many of those I care about, and when it went public, I wanted to make sure I respected the content as much as possible. The global issues in this novel such as unemployment, eviction, poverty, hunger, and suffering for one’s art took down many of my friends, and at times, myself, in our twenties. Together, we flailed in the same sinking ship for years before realizing we had to make drastic changes to our thinking, approach, and bad habits in order to save ourselves.

5.25.2016


Furthermore
JOSH WARDRIP

The principal feature of Furthermore, and its claim to engineering genius, is the structure’s mechanism for autonomous development and expansion. Incredibly, the original complex occupied just one acre and remained thus for several years while founder J. L. Furthermore tested and refined his now-famous Theorem. Furthermore today encompasses cities, states, bodies of water, nations. Residents live in mostly identical units of seven hundred square feet, and while certain attributes can be modified to accommodate special needs (of the disabled, the elderly, or, perhaps, the eccentric), each apartment typically contains a lavatory, a kitchen, a sitting room, sleeping chambers, and an auxiliary space. At the tenant’s discretion, these areas may be demarcated by walls or arranged as an open-plan studio. Regardless of location, each residence has a large window offering a generous view of an urban or rural setting (or combination thereof). Outside light is provided by enormous lamps built into the ceiling. This light is calibrated to resemble natural sunlight, just as the sculpted landscapes appear nearly identical to the fields, streams, islands, and mountains one might find outside the structure. Perhaps better, even. While some contend that simulation impoverishes the soul, I prefer to think of Furthermore as an improvement upon the world, a triumph over the limits of what is given.

5.24.2016


Shelfie: An Ongoing Exploration of Bookshelves
MICHAEL LANDWEBER




Like most writers, my house is full of books. This particular collection miraculously arranged itself as I was considering this blog post. It could have many names. Books I Love. Books That Have Influenced My Work. Books That I Want to Hang out with My Books. Books You Should Read. Books That I Have Sadly but Inevitably Forgotten Many Details About. Books That I Want to Reread. Books That I Will Try to Write a Few Pithy Sentences about Explaining Why They Are Important to Me Though Whatever I Write Will Probably Be Inadequate.


5.23.2016


I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World
JARED YATES SEXTON


Fiction  |  Stories
188 pages
6” x 9” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978-0-9909035-6-7
First Edition
Split Lip Press
Available HERE
$16.00
Review by Al Kratz

Listen up, World. Jared Yates Sexton has something important to say about the state you’re in and your future. A reader might not always like what he has to say about the world, but, since Sexton is a great writer, the reader will likely love how he says it. The collection of stories that the author self-describes as weird and the publisher calls experimental, I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World invokes a mixture of contradictory emotional responses. It is a funny yet scary, brutally honest yet hyperbolic distortion of reality. It’s satire at its best.

5.21.2016


Hatnote: Listen to Wikipedia Being Updated
LORI SAMBOL BRODY

Hatnote, a project formed to promote Wikipedia, developed a program that turns every change made on Wikipedia into sound. The sound of bells represents additions, and the sound of string plucks represents deletions. The pitch indicates the size of the edits—the lower the note, the larger the edit made. On the website, as Wikipedia is edited, circles rise like ripples on a pond when a stone is thrown in, identifying the page being edited and whether the contributor is unregistered or an automated bot.

Listen here.

5.20.2016


The Ghost Network
CATIE DISABATO

Fiction  |  Novel
288 pages
5&frac12” x 7&frac12” perfect-bound trade paperback
eBook formats available
ISBN 978-1612194349
First Edition
Melville House
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Available HERE
$9.99-$13.56
Review by Leland Cheuk

Why are works about pop ephemera not considered literary? Perhaps MFA programs are brainwashing writers into tackling only what is ‘timeless,’ for the fear that work will become dated and easily forgotten. But what if a work is actually about one’s love of pop ephemera? Isn’t love timeless?

5.18.2016


A Conversation with Danny Judge
INTERVIEW BY LORI SAMBOL BRODY



DANNY JUDGE’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, Twisted Vine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Burningword, and The Portland Review, among many others. He is the founding Editor of The Indianola Review, a quarterly print journal, and lives in Indianola, Iowa (go figure), with his wife and son. Find him on Twitter at @dnyjudge.

Lori Sambol Brody talks to Danny Judge, writer and founder/Editor-in-Chief of The Indianola Review, for which Lori is also an assistant fiction editor.




LORI SAMBOL BRODY: Before we talk specifically about The Indianola Review, tell me a little bit about your background.
DANNY JUDGE: I guess everybody who finds his way into this business has to love literature, first and foremost. I’m one of those folks who went a different path after high school, installing furnaces for a few years before joining the Marine Corps in 2007, but I never lost the itch to write, or the love of reading. Finally, after marrying and having a son, I made the leap in 2013 and devoted myself wholeheartedly to writing. I was lucky to have the opportunity—not everyone has the G.I. Bill to pay for schooling or a wife with a nursing job to pick up the slack, I know. It was a challenge, especially starting a little later in life than most, but I devoted myself to the toughest and most demanding material I could find. I started with the classics and worked my way through them until I found Faulkner, who pulled me into this whole other world of literary possibilities—from there, I devoured Joyce, Woolf, Proust, Kafka, Nabokov, and Morrison. I was hooked from the beginning, and spent a possibly unhealthy amount of time reading, which has remained, to a lesser extent, a critical part of what I do with both my writing, and with the direction of The Indianola Review.

5.16.2016


Shelfie: An Ongoing Exploration of Bookshelves
LORI SAMBOL BRODY


Only one of my bookshelves is actually within the four walls of my house. Our walls are mostly windows, and there’s little space for tall bookshelves, so they’ve been relegated to an outbuilding, my husband’s office. Inside the house, my books are on two long shelves running half the length of the living room as a barrier between the stairwell and the room (Essentially, the books protect us from falling into the stairwell.). These are the books to read in the future, read recently (in the last couple of years), or taken from the tall bookshelves because I wanted them for comfort or reference. I used to sort them alphabetically by author, but I lost that organizational urge once I had kids. Here’s a portion of the shelves within the house:


5.15.2016


Frottage & Even as We Speak
MONA HOUGHTON

Fiction  |  Two Novellas
172 pages
6” x 9” Perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978-0984578221
First Edition
Review Copy: Paperback
What Books Press
Los Angeles, California, USA
Available HERE
$14.00
Review by Laura Citino

After the First World War ripped the continent to shreds, the artist Wassily Kandinsky made what many consider to be his most important works: his Kleine Welten, or “little worlds.” I’ve looked at a few of these in person, scattered as they are among the museums of the globe; they’re something to see. These prints are so named for Kandinsky’s belief that art depicted self-contained worlds, expressions of the cosmos in miniature. The prints themselves are beautiful and, of course, small: strokes of black, stipples of blue, abstract symbols that your mind easily arranges into oxygen, carbon, tree, animal, landscape. So much complexity, messy on the surface but with an undeniable internal logic. All in a print the size of your palm.

Mona Houghton’s two novellas, Frottage and Even as We Speak, work a similar magic. Though ostensibly taking place in the real world, both leave no doubt that the laws of that reality are skewed. Traumatic abuse, sudden tragedy, and insidious addictions have rendered these characters incapable of living in the world as we know it. They navigate these brave new realities with careful steps, their kleine Welten illustrated in rich, complex interiority.

5.14.2016


Our Judgment
K. ANDREW TURNER


Sit
down
look across the room
table
cups of coffee
stains of past
cups of coffee
or tea or water
or beer or wine
and
watch:
the woman
in a straw hat
read yesterday’s
last month’s
newspaper
then leave
with her shopping
basket;

5.01.2016


A Conversation with Lori Sambol Brody
SELF-INTERVIEW BY LORI SAMBOL BRODY



To usher in her stint as Monthly Guest Blog Editor on The Spark, a cranky LORI SAMBOL BRODY talks to a much nicer Lori Sambol Brody about writing. Lori lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and two daughters, and writes short stories, flash fiction, and sometimes creative nonfiction. Her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Little Fiction, The Rumpus, Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, WhiskeyPaper, and elsewhere. She’s currently working on a collection of linked short stories that she may finish ten years from now.

4.30.2016


Roleplaying as Live-Action Fan Fiction
MATT MAGELSSEN-GREEN


Roleplaying games are the result of authors trying to convince you to do live-action fan fiction for them. A group of friends gets together and acts out characters in a universe and setting that someone else created, but interpreted for their purposes. It’s a process that is so seemingly simple that it’s easy to ignore all the transformations that occur when half a dozen people sit down to kill some Orks. These transformations are powerful enough that some argue they transcend fan fiction and become something else, as Jennifer Grouling Cover does in her book, The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Role-Playing Games.