Reality TV Under the Microscope in Andrew Foster Altschul’s, “Deus Ex Machina”

We are thrilled to announce that One Story author Andrew Foster Altschul’s (Issue #62, “The Rules”) second novel, Deus Ex Machina (Counterpoint) has now officially hit bookstores.  Critics are gobbling up this “irreverently candid peek inside the entertainment industry”–Booklist. Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below, calls it “Searing, riveting, shockingly smart, and imbued on every page with a wicked sense of humor…The tragicomedy of our time;” Publishers Weekly writes, “Rarely has societal critique come with more mayhem…an anarchic assault on the dehumanizing power of media;” and Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances, says: “Deus Ex Machina manages simultaneously to be philosophical, absurd, kinda dirty, hilarious and, well, Real…Think Shakespeare’s The Tempest gone distressingly and wonderfully modern.”

For more information about the book, including tour dates, check out the author’s newly redesigned website. Or read more about Andrew and the making of Deus here in his recent PW profile.

On the Shortlist

We’re proud to announce that the following issues of One Story made the top “Notable” stories shortlists for the following anthologies:

Best American Short Stories 2010

Carrie Brown, “A Splendid Life,” One Story Issue #116.
Jennifer Haigh, “Desiderata,” One Story Issue #125
Joe Meno, “Children Are The Only Ones Who Blush,” One Story Issue #122
Seth Fried, “Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre,” One Story Issue #124

Best American Non-Required Reading 2010

Adin Bookbinder, “Meteorology,” One Story issue #117
James Hannaham, “Interupted Serenade,” One Story issue #121
Sheila Schwartz, “Finding Peace,” One Story issue #127

Jim Hanas’ Summer of (Free) E-book Love

One Story author Jim Hanas (issue #8, “The Cryerer”) is feeling generous in this summer heat! In anticipation of the fall release of his newest short story collection, Why They Cried (e-book, Joyland and ECW Press), he’s giving away FREE copies of his first e-book, Single, until Labor Day. Single contains two stories that will appear in Why They Cried, including “The Cryerer”. Hurry up and get your sneak preview of Hanas’ upcoming collection!

Visit his webpage to download Single in various electronic and print formats. Technology not your best of friends? Not to worry—you can call Jim at his very own support line: 347-WHY-THEY (347-949-8439) or email him using the link posted on the site.

SMU Press threatened with closing–writers unite to save them!

This just in from One Story author Bruce Machart. Please spread the word and help save SMU Press!!-HT
It’s long been hell to be a Texan with a conscience.  Sure, we have beautiful, wide, endless vistas, handsome sunsets, some mighty fine vittles, and let’s not forget the music, but we also have overzealous lethal injection, rampant fanatical conservatism, and a government that entrusts the public school textbook adoption decisions to bible-thumping folks who seek to revise history without consulting…well, history.  And now this:  Southern Methodist University has put one of the nation’s stalwart champions of literary fiction on the chopping block.  More than a dozen years ago, my teacher and mentor at Ohio State’s MFA program, acclaimed short story writer Lee K. Abbott, began loaning me collections of stories from, as he put it, “one hell of a university press from down your way.”  SMU Press, which publishes somewhere in the neighborhood of ten titles per year (I think), has been the first home of some remarkable writers over the years.  Off the top of my head, I can recall titles by Janet Peery, Brad Barkley, Debra Monroe, Tracy Daugherty, and a wonderful recent collection by David McGlynn.  So please, tell these folks who tell us “Don’t Mess with Texas” not to mess with the State of Literature in America.  The more letters we can get emailed to Kathryn Lang, the press’ senior editor, the more ammunition (and Texans respect ammunition, after all) she will have when she protests this unilateral decision at the next board meeting.  You needn’t write anything lengthy, but please write today!  Future collections of short stories depend upon it!
Here’s the article from the Dallas Morning News.
And here is Kathryn Lang’s email:
-Bruce Machart

Things we Like: Low Log, a discussion of headlines and life.

"Windmill" by Tisch Abelow

At One Story, we are consistently amazed by the talent contained on our editorial staff, in Brooklyn in general, and on some wine-soaked evenings, THE WORLD AT LARGE.  So, we were not suprised to hear of a new venture one of our illustrious editorial assistants Michael Pollock has undertaken.  He and his friends have launched a super cool website called Low Log.  Low Log is described as “dedicated to a discussion of all topics falling under the categories of headlines, life and art.”

What’s different about this site is its friendly layout and readability; its smart, down to earth commentary.  Refreshing at a time when everyone and their cat has a blog or a Twitter account.  Low Log’s layout makes it easy to jump from an article about a mother’s advice on cold weather to a discussion of the pros and cons of the Kindle.  As easy as, say, a frog jumps from log to log.  Is Low Log named after this propensity?  Do frogs even jump from log to log?  And, is Michael Pollock’s middle name really JACKSON, as he insists? 

Some questions will never be answered.  In the meantime, check out more information on this fun site, including how to submit your own work, at Low Log Submissions.

With Love and Squalor

J.D. Salinger died at the age of 91. There is already much speculation about the unpublished manuscripts that may be found at the reclusive author’s house in New Hampshire. This was the man, after all, who said in a 1974 interview: “Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure.” So who knows what he wrote and hid from the world. As for the work he did publish, much has been said about the iconic The Catcher in the Rye (a book that resonated with the thirteen-year-old me the way it continues to do with so many teenagers).

But I am especially indebted to Nine Stories. I read the book when I was fourteen and fell in love with short fiction. It made me want to write short stories. I’ve reread those stories countless times since and they still excite me as a reader. Oh, to write dialogue like Salinger did!

Charles McGrath summed up the stories’ appeal in The Times yesterday: “The stories were remarkable for their sharp social observation, their pitch-perfect dialogue (Mr. Salinger, who used italics almost as a form of musical notation, was a master not of literary speech but of speech as people actually spoke it) and the way they demolished whatever was left of the traditional architecture of the short story — the old structure of beginning, middle, end — for an architecture of emotion, in which a story could turn on a tiny alteration of mood or irony.”

As of this morning, Nine Stories was at #43 on Amazon’s bestseller list. Not bad for a book of short stories published in 1953.

I could go on, about how well Salinger’s books are selling since he died (just look at Amazon), about Salinger’s influence on the likes of Wes Anderson, or about how annoyed Mr. Salinger would probably be if he could see all the tweets and Facebook status updates devoted to him. But instead, I’ll just close with the famous last line of “For Esmé, With Love and Squalor”, a story that inspired many people to name their daughters Esmé (and inspired Lemony Snicket’s character, Esmé Squalor):

“You take a really sleepy man, Esmé, and he always stands a chance of again becoming a man with all his fac–with all his f-a-c-u-l-t-i-e-s intact.”

Story Prize Announces 2009 Finalists

The Story Prize — in its sixth year of honoring short story collections — just announced its 2009 finalists for the annual book award for short fiction. All three finalists are debut collections.

The finalists (drum roll, please):

In other Rooms, Other  Wonders

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

These eight connected stories set in southern Pakistan bring to life the world of an aging feudal landlord, his Western educated daughters, desperate and conniving servants, farm workers, corrupt judges, politicians, aristocrats, and foreigners. The author is a graduate from Yale Law School — this is definitely a book I need to read!

DriftDrift by Victoria Patterson

The wealthy enclave of Newport Beach, California, is the setting for thirteen stories, told with grace and compassion, that focus on characters who live on the margins, including waiters, waitresses, confused children of divorce, and a beautiful, brain-damaged skateboarder.

Everything Ravaged, Everything BurnedEverything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

Ambivalence, wrong-thinking, and confusion are the engines that drive these nine insightful, witty stories that culminate in a tale about marauding Vikings who turn out to be just like the misguided, contemporary American characters in the book. I have read Wells’ collection, and I adore his stories.

You can read more about the Story Prize and previous winners here. Winners will be announced on March 3.

Flash Fiction on Your Phone


For readers interested in both instant gratification and bite-size stories, One Story author Andrew Foster Altschul (issue #62, “The Rules”) has the perfect deal for you. He is the editor of and one of the authors taking part in Fivers: Flash Fiction for the Phone, along with Joshua Furst, Kaui Hart Hemmings, Anna North, and Lemony Snicket. Fivers is a new experiment in publishing, delivering a mini-anthology of five flash fiction pieces directly to all compatible mobile phone devices. If you would like to download the stories, visit the iTunes store or click here for more information. And if you like what you read, be sure to leave a nice comment either on our blog or the iTunes review page!

Banned Books Week 2009

Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week 2009 (September 26 – October 3) by picking up the most scandalous fiction imaginable: an illustrated story about gay penguins perhaps? One of the Harry Potter or Twilight series maybe? Or why not rediscover Holden Caulfield’s angst?

Each year there are hundreds of complaints from parents and patrons about the impropriety of school reading lists and books available in public libraries. According to some, sexuality, religious sentiment, violence, racism, et cetera warrant censorship. Fortunately, few books have actually been removed, but the challenges are numerous in all genres: children’s, young adult, comtemporary fiction, classics, even non-fiction guides for frightened prepubescent fifth-graders. Click here for a list of books challeged and banned in the past year.

Join NYC writer, editor, and musician Mike Edison tonight, Thursday, October 1 at 7:30 pm for his Second Annual Banned Book Party at Word bookstore in Brooklyn. Joining him will be special guests Richard Nash and Lizzie Skurnick for a discussion on recent obscenity trials, problematic teen lit, and much more. Then play to win in the “Name That Banned Book Contest” with music and readings from challenged and banned classics. Click here to Facebook RSVP.

Why it’s great (and terrible) to be a writer today.

more_than_it_hurts_you_lrgOne Story author Darin Strauss (issue # 15, “Smoking Inside”) has some thoughts on why it is great to be a writer, despite these desperate times, over at the Penguin Blog.

 “These are, as the whole world knows, tough days for literary fiction. And it’s never been the easiest career, even in boom times. Rejection. Financial uncertainty. Mean or dense critics. Good publishers that nevertheless have, at the end of each quarter, to answer to corporate bosses. Plus, the difficulty of composition. Blah blah blah. Everyone knows about this job, about the privations and snags of it.

But it’s wonderful, too.

…The best books do what no other art form can; that is, they make us inhabit the minds of other people. We may not like these peple sometimes, but we can’t help but gain a modicum of empathy if we see the world through the eyes of someone we don’t like. Being a reader, therefore, could just possibly make you a more sympathetic person. (I know if you subtracted, say, ten important books from my life – Anna Karenina, Lolita, American Pastoral, Herzog, others, others – I’d be lessened personally by the sacrifice.)”

To read the rest of the article, go here. And be sure to pick up Darin’s book, More Than It Hurts You, just out in paperback!