Archive for February, 2012

Walking toward Solstice, a new collection of poems by Anca Vlasopolos, will be launched locally at the Scarab Club on March 31st. Joining her in reading at the historic arts venue next to the Detroit Institute of Art will be Particia Abbott, author of Monkey Justice and Other Stories, and Caroline Maun, author of The Sleeping. I will read bits from either Fighters & Writers or Christmas Things – or perhaps from both. Olivia Ambrogio, who supplied photos for Walking toward Solstice (which has the same publisher as my essay collection), will also attend what should be a lively literary afternoon.


Here are the crucial details.


What: Book launch and multiple-author reading

Where: The Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth, Detroit, MI

When: Saturday, March 31, 2012, 2 to 4 pm

Why: For the love of literature

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In an essay for The Millions, Mark O’Connell looks at Martin Amis’s out-of-print Invasion of the Space Invaders and claims the novelist tried to distance himself from the 1982 book about video games. He says Amis “has been avoiding talking about ever since” it appeared. O’Connell quotes another journalist’s assertion, from a review of an Amis biography that never mentions Invasion, that “anything a writer disowns is of interest, particularly if it’s a frivolous thing and particularly if, like Amis, you take seriousness seriously.”

Several other websites took notice of O’Connell’s piece, and either echoed the idea that Amis would like to excise from his resume the guide to Pac Man and other arcade fixtures or expressed surprise that he ever wrote such thing at all. Beneath a headline declaring it not to be an item from The Onion, a post at Jacket Copy reports: “Martin Amis, the brilliant British novelist, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award for best first novel and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography, who has been longlisted and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, long ago wrote a how-to video game handbook.… With an introduction by Steven Speilberg [sic] – that Steven Spielberg. For reals.” The New Yorker’s Book Bench is similarly shocked by Spielberg’s contribution, and call’s the book an Amis “secret,” while Slate implies “the masterful English prose stylist” should be embarrassed by such a “gem.” An earlier Slate article calls it a “marvelous oddity in the Amis oeuvre.”

Yet if Amis wants no one to know about the book, he uses a strange tactic to conceal its existence. Anyone bothering to look at the lists of his works in the front of his books would see Invasion of the Space Invaders there alongside Money, The War against Cliché, London Fields, The Information and the rest.

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Recently I learned that soon I will no longer be Detroit’s sole Mongrel Empire Press author. The Norman, Oklahoma-based publisher, which issued my essay collection Fighters & Writers in 2010, plans to issue Walking into Solstice, poems by Anca Vlasopolos, this year.


As it happens, Vlasopolos was teaching at Wayne State University during my graduate studies days there, though I didn’t know her then. But since we have a city, a university and a publisher in common, we’ve discussed the obviously appropriate idea of holding joint readings. Some of her poems posted at The Stone Hobo and Beasts in a Populous City, with their images of bruises from punches and 24-caliber fists, suggest we have some thematic commonalities as well.


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