Since 1917

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It’s #BannedBooksWeek and to commemorate it we are giving away copies of Henry Miller’s TROPIC OF CANCER and TROPIC OF CAPRICORN on our facebook page.  Join us in celebrating the freedom to read what we want to read, and also celebrating the people who have fought to keep it that way in the past, and especially the future.

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This hyperlapse tour of the Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas will make your head spin.

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"[Dan Stevens] wrote his thesis on the fin de siècle satire of Oscar Wilde and Will Self. “It was one of those things that seemed like a slightly left-of-field thing to do, and it turned out it was probably a bit too far left of field.”

"But it stood him in good stead in 2012, when the judges of the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most important fiction award, heard him opining about literature on the BBC and invited him to be a judge that year.

Hilary Mantel ended up winning for “Bring up the Bodies,” but Mr. Stevens’s championing of Mr. Self’s challenging, brilliant “Umbrella” helped elevate it to the shortlist. With some Cambridge friends, Mr. Stevens edits and contributes pieces to The Junket, an online literary quarterly.”

You learn something new every day! You go, Cousin Matthew!

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Various Paradigms



Various Paradigms is a column by Ann DeWitt about words, art, film, politics and poetics. The title is a tribute to conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner’s typographic texts.  Weiner once wrote, “Bits and Pieces Put Together To Present A Semblance of A Whole.”  This column hopes to follow in that tradition of engagement, intimacy and experiment.

Douglas A. Martin in Conversation with Darcey Steinke

“She was my teacher,” I say happily of Darcey Steinke.  That was 1999, and she had published three novels (Up Through the Water, Suicide Blonde, and Jesus Saves). In the time since then and that we have been a part of each other’s lives, she has produced three more books (Milk, the memoir Easter Everywhere, the forthcoming Sister Golden Hair).

Our first night of class, she said simply, clear-eyed, how you never knew what work of yours was going to take off. Later in the semester, just as frankly to someone’s objection to a story on grounds of “too sad,” she countered how if you couldn’t come to terms with the fact that life sometimes is, you might as well just pack it in. I remember, too, a fortuitous encounter with her in Chelsea, her daughter still in a stroller, and helping Darcey carry her up the steps of an art gallery. This year that same daughter starts Bard College.

Darcey has been connected in some way to almost everything good in my life.  She has blurbed me three times, and when asked if I would interview her on the occasion of her new novel out this October from Tin House Books, I rose to the occasion. Sister Golden Hair is her masterpiece.

In the spirit of Various Paradigms, what follows are “bits and pieces put together to create the semblance of a whole.” The topics following were suggested through both an excising and selecting of a many hours conversation (four? plus a stretch of a half-hour or so of recording discussing her desk’s origin, spirituality, and ritual in writing and the raising of a child, ex’s, etc., lost due to my fingers hitting the wrong button a martini or so in) and digressions on the back porch of Matthew’s on Main, Sullivan County, NY.

Thanks to Ann DeWitt for hosting this exchange.

—Douglas A. Martin


DOUGLAS MARTIN: Say it again?

DARCEY STEINKE: In a perfect world, it would be incorporated with religion more. The sort of moment filled with grace.

DM: A moment of coming into your power as a woman?

DS: It’s not a full gorgeous feeling but these little tiny feelings. You have to track them down.  That would be what my work is basically.

DM: Where have you been at in your life for each of your books?

DS: With my first book (Up Through the Water), I was trying to figure out how my desires for everything—for life, for sex—seemed so oversized.  Cooking, you’re getting turned on. Just walking, you’re getting turned on.  A woman’s desires versus the concerns of family, that continues throughout my books.  It was the year after my MFA.  I was twenty-six.

DM: You were still living in Roanoke? 

DS: And on the island in North Carolina where the book is set. Then I came to New York, and Suicide Blonde was my experience of how weird and creepy it seemed in ways.  I met my first husband. I was reading all the Semiotext(e) books.  I started to read more widely. I discovered Kathy Acker. I was reading Foucault. It seems embarrassing to say.

DM: No. The Care of the Self

DS: Yeah, I went through all that like a maniac. Leslie Dick, Tropic of Cancer, Genet.

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Filed under darcey steinke author interview believer magazine suicide blonde up through the water sister golden hair tropic of cancer