Binnie Kirshenbaum Discusses The Scenic Routes of Storytelling

In State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, the entry for New York is in the form of a short play by Jonathan Franzen. A few weeks back, at the PEN Cabaret, we saw a reading of this play in which the Empire State was portrayed by the magnificent Patricia Clarkson. If ever a play is written in which New York City requires personification, we nominate Binnie Kirshenbaum for the role. She may not be an actress, but she is Manhattan: wry without being jaded, warm without being fuzzy; possessing a personal style that is all her own and yet appropriate for every occasion. … Read More

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Superhero Sighting: Impossible Man

The Taqwacores is a novel that was photocopied, sold from the trunk of a car, and passed around in the DIY tradition of punk zines for at least five years before seeing formal publication from Soft Skull Press this past winter. It’s centered on Muslim punk youth culture in Buffalo, NY, and when readers came looking for the scene, ready to dive in like so many teenagers and so many music-based subcultures that have come before, they found it existed only in the mind of author Michael Muhammad Knight. So they began to form their own Islamic punk bands and the taqwacore movement moved from page to life. … Read More

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Fiction Fix: Big City Girls by Pasha Malla

We’ve been meaning to tell you about Pasha Malla‘s story collection, The Withdrawal Method, for a while now.It’s good and weird and a little imperfect in that way that writers sometimes are before they hit it exactly right and publish something that blows your mind. … Read More

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Big Brother Book Club: Buy Indie!

Before we begin, we’d like to point out that in this edition of the BBBC, links to purchase books go to Powell’s instead of Amazon. We don’t have a problem with the ‘zon – maybe we’ve mentioned our love for Kindle, blogger issues aside? — but they seem to be doing just fine, while independent bookstores are dropping like flies. We may love Kindle, but we also love bookstores and the people who run them, and they need our book buying dollars a hell of a lot more (plus e-books occasionally skimp on features, like Benji’s map of Sag Harbor). Yeah, we know Buy Indie Day was May 1st and that Powell’s is one of the most famous independent bookstores in the world, but we’re reminding you that there’s nothing wrong with buying indie every day, online or locally. On to the books, after the… Read More

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Fiction Fix: The Boy Who Cried Wolves by M. David Hornbuckle

The Fiction Fix is your weekly dose of short story. If that’s not your drug of choice, too bad: consider it medicine. Every week, we’ll scour the literary magazines you don’t have time to read, online and in print, and let you know where to find one story worth reading.

Oh my god, you guys, it’s National Short Story Month! [crickets] Yeah, for some reason this month gets a bit less love than National Poetry Month. Fortunately, this tragically neglected medium has us to bring you fun and excitement in the form of short fiction each week. Today we point to Fogged Clarity, a nascent online-only mag that is updated once a month [full disclosure: the Clarity was kind enough to publish the work of one of your fine Flavorpill writers a few months back. But you know we wouldn't be pimping this story, written by a person we don't know, if we didn't love it.]

Read on after the jump. … Read More

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Big Brother Book Club: Book Snob Edition

We saw greatness this week. A mom reading one of these Superman & Wonder Woman books, personalized and starring your child, out loud to her son during morning rush hour. Atlas Shrugged and House of Cards next to each other on the F train (which doesn’t even go to Wall Street). And on our way into the bagel shop the other day, we spotted “A Small Good Thing” on a page over a shoulder, and awkwardly circled around the table to see which Raymond Carver collection was in the reader’s hands — Cathedral. Much like last week’s Kindle dude, it took us a great deal of self-control not to sit down and regale him with our knowledge and love of Carver. And look at this new edition! So much prettier than the old ones, with drawings of people with vague faces and a blocky font that felt unforgivably ’80s.

More of our favorite books popping up in public after the jump. … Read More

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The Moth’s PEN World Voices Event in Miniature

At last week’s Moth event at Galapagos in Brooklyn, “You Say You Want a (R)evolution,” host Tom Shillue compared the uniforms of US soldiers and Afghanistan rebels to the stylings of Storm Troopers and Jedi knights from Star Wars. If that piques your interest, catch him tonight at The Green Room. Shillue also introduced each storyteller with his or her answer to the question “What is something you hope remains unchanged?” After the jump, we present the storytellers and their answers. Can you match them up? … Read More

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Big Brother Book Club: The Kindling

A few weeks back, we decided the time had come to take the Kindle out in public. We hadn’t seen any out there in the world yet, but damned if we were going to relegate it to the coffee table and keep dragging hardcovers around in the old shoulder bag. The only problem with this is that the Kindle, in this early-adoption stage, invites interruptions from strangers. “What is that?” “I’ve never seen one of those before.” “What are you doing?” … Read More

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Fiction Fix: I Have to Feel Halved by Gary Lutz

The Fiction Fix is your weekly dose of short story. If that’s not your drug of choice, too bad: consider it medicine. Every week, we’ll scour the literary magazines you don’t have time to read, online and in print, and let you know where to find one story worth reading.

NOON is a literary annual edited by Diane Williams, and the latest issue is the 10th. The magazine has been widely and highly praised for qualities that aren’t surprising to readers familiar with Williams’ work: the fiction is often brief, and its remarkable qualities are to be found on the sentence level rather than in the scope of the plot. Gary Lutz is no exception. Read more about the latest from NOON and Lutz after the jump.  … Read More

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Big Brother Book Club: What does that shirt and book combo say about you?

When we’re trolling the subways to check out what you’re reading, we’re also checking YOU out. Does your book suit your look? Because we love seeing folks who could not be more perfect for their books — like the older gentleman on the 1 train, in a tweed jacket and a baseball cap over his shaggy white hair absorbed in a library copy of How Fiction Works by James Wood. We want that guy to be our adopted grandpa. Incongruous fashion is just as much fun — yesterday we saw a girl with a Social Distortion hoodie and heavier black eyeliner than Lauren Conrad reading The Late Bloomer’s Revolution, by former New York Observer columnist Amy Cohen. … Read More

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