Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading South Philly stories and Martin Amis

Martin Amis book of essaysWe’re in the middle of wading through the submissions for South Philly Fiction, a forthcoming collection of short stories highlighting South Philadelphia as a literary backdrop. There’s some real gems in the bunch, should be a good and surprisingly varied collection. We’ll start letting selected (and, unfortunately, rejected) authors know “soon.”

This editor has been alternating South Philly Fiction submissions with essays and articles by British novelist Martin Amis (favorite books include Time's Arrow and Dead Babies). Came across a quote, the conclusion of “Short Stories, From Scratch,” a 1983 article from the Observer newspaper about his experiences judging the Whitbread Price for short stories (reprinted in Visiting Mrs Nabokov and Other Excursions). It nicely captures the joy of reading submissions, even ones that won’t make it into the finished book:

For me the biggest surprise was how rarely I was bored by these fragments, how little I disliked the work, and how fixedly I followed every story to the end . . . often, certainly, it was human interest, not literary relish, that compelled. I was reminded how astonishingly intimate the business of fiction is, more intimate than anything that issues from the psychiatrist’s couch or even the lovers’ bed. You see the souled, pinned and wiggling on the wall. And you see a very personal view of South Philly, in all its gritty glory.

Well, maybe Amis didn’t write the last sentence, but it’s true. Check back here or visit phillyfiction.com for updates on the forthcoming book.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Phyllis Carol Agins website

Phyllis Carol Agins, who wrote the touching story "Black and White" in the first Philly Fiction, has a new writing website now online. "Black and White" told the story of Edward, son of a Jewish immigrant, selling postcards of Philly and reminiscing about his father's photography. Phyllis Carol AginsAgins is also the author of two novels, Suisan (a post-modern retelling of Snow White) and Never the Same River Twice, as well as numerous essays and short stories. Her website, phylliscarolagins.com, features excerpts from her work, some glowing reviews, photos, and other thoughts.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bad Poetry Slam

Philly Fiction editor Josh McIlvain and his wife Deborah Crocker, the combined force behind SmokeyScout Productions (inside knowledge: it's named after their cats, Smokey and Scout), are hosting a bad poetry slam on Wednesday, August 18 from 7-9PM at Quigs Pub on the third floor of Plays & Players Theater (1714 Delancey Street). Write some bad poetry (or dig out that high school journal you thought was oh so deep) and read it onstage (2-minute limit—--bad celebrity poetry also allowed) for the chance to win an extra-special secret prize!

The slam is part of an evening of fun, comedy, music, and beer ($2 lagers) to support Josh's bar tab and some diapers for their new baby a new SmokeyScout production set to run as part of the 2010 Philly Fringe. Boat Hole, another evening of outrageous short comedies by Josh McIlvain will be on stage Sept 15-18 at the Performance Garage (1515 Brandywine Street). Visit the Live Arts website for tickets and info. Entrance to the sneak peak party and poetry slam is $10 in advance (click to purchase) and at the door.

To win you'll have to beat this gem by fellow PF editor Christopher Munden:

To My Brown Eyed Baby Frog

Not ocean eyes yours,
blue and deep;
nor lake eyes,
calculating cold.
Your eyes are like a pond
muddy and opaque
your pupils are two tadpoles
whose tails were removed
before they grew legs.
You're my deformed, legless, brown-eyed baby frog.