Monday, 7 December 2009

Our Latest Title, due December 10th: The Movie by Bosley Gravel

Stewie A. Smithee lives in a small town ... but he thinks big.

Behind the counter of the local grocery store, he plans to break into the movie business by writing, directing, producing and filming his masterpiece Sci Fi flick, Cannibal Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space - versus - Doctor Clockwork and his Furious Plastic Surgeons of Doom. And the only thing small about that epic project is its budget.

The whole town - many promised starring roles - rallies round: Apart from the local police chief and his brother the judge, who'll stop at nothing to sabotage the shooting of the outrageous, sexy movie on their prim and peaceful patch.

And there are other major headaches for Stewie ... a cast of unruly friends, a morally-challenged cousin as his PA, and a luscious fiancée with a script of her own and a tough deadline: "Your film's in the can before our wedding day - or you're out of the picture!"

There's a whacky wisdom, an endearing innocence and a thrillingly encouraging message of optimism in Bosley Gravel's hilarious tale of dead-end, small-towners breaking all the rules and battling all the odds to earn their place in the big picture. In times of global gloom and doom, The Movie reminds us just how much can be achieved with a dream - and the sheer guts to chase it. Gravel's drum-tight prose make the pages turn at the rate of a smile-a-minute.

The Movie is the most indecent thing to ever disgrace the city of Podunk. It features lewd acts by paid sex workers and glorifies the occult. It encourages lascivious and lustful behavior between half naked, sexually confused women and the living dead. Even five minutes of this will turn moral folk's stomachs.

Sheriff Lyle McNutt. Podunk Observer 

The Poison Garden of Dorelia Jones by Valentine Williams

The garden of Dorelia Jones flourishes with strange poisonous plants - but her
mind is as full of poison as her garden. This venom permeates everything she does.
About to be made homeless and disinherited by her mother, Dorelia plots and schemes
to ensure her own survival and comfort. A marriage of convenience turns out to
be anything but for her unfortunate husband who has to suffer being ostracized
by his family and then haunted by Dorelia's murdered mother. Even an exorcism
fails to rid the house of the wickedness Dorelia has unleashed.

A Gothic fantasy, craftily plotted, about parasitic relationships, mushrooms,
and the power of suggestion.

The Blue Man Dreams the End of Time by Michael McIrvin

Sonny, a drunken convenience store clerk living uneasily in a relationship with
twin sisters, woke up naked and blue. Not sad, but actually blue from head to

A warped warning from a former CIA colleague? A message from a deranged hit
man that he and those he loves are marked for death? Or is his blueness a more
invidious omen?

Sonny's search for answers will lead him to a perverse reconciliation with
his former bloody role in geopolitics - and his destiny - on the bloody trail
to Chiapas.

Along the way he will befriend a people struggling to survive, reconsider the
nature of terrorism and the drug trade, and decipher an ancient Mayan vision
of the end of time.

He will also meet another former CIA operative who doubles as a jaguar shaman,
a Mayan holy man whose prophesies include Sonny, and a mysterious boy whose
role in his people's future is both mythic and deadly.

Sonny's flashbacks to his gore-stained government work in Mesoamerica, including
the act for which he was 'excommunicated', constitute proof of power's inhumanity,
but his darkest revelation is that violence and greed are the true mechanisms
of history.

Michael McIrvin's high-octane, intelligent novel is an immaculately researched,
powerful indictment of brutal counterintelligence, including torture and murder,
an exploration of how ends are achieved by a nation-state. This book is frighteningly

A new poetry title: Repulsion Thrust by Magdalena Ball

Exploring a new voice is at first alienating. A reader looks for clues. In poetry
the difficulties are greater than prose, not because poetry is harder, but because
it uses modes of explication that are individual, sometimes idiosyncratic. Magdalena
Ball here appears at full length, no longer the figure behind a beguiling chapbook
or the collaborator with other poets. The result is explosive.

The voice is the same but it is more insistent and the reader responds to what
was already known but never before shown to such advantage. In poetry the thin
line that divides the hermetic from the obvious is dangerous ground and not
all poets can tread there without destruction. Maggie is comfortable here and
not only treads but dances.

There is everywhere a kernel of hard reality at work. It often works deep below
the surface but it is always there - a relationship that has slipped from the
ideal, a scientific fact that is a capsule for experience, an event of intense
resonance. Although she is a skilled writer of prose, her poems show a different
sensibility. Her concern is with the details that support our experience but
which we pass over. To bring these to our attention is an act of originality
and it requires an obliquity of approach. What marvelous events are these that
we never see and how clever she is to bring them before us.

In certain backward areas and circles uninformed bullies have put forward stupid
legislation in an effort to coerce the general population. Here is the opening
of her poem on recent events in Texas and the efforts to impose creationism
on the Texas schools.

Pollyanna wants good intentions
calls separation of church and state
there's an irony
twisting words
down the sugar chute.

How she avoids the journalistic! She has lifted the acts of fools to a level
of art that enhances effectiveness. She finds unexpected centers and from them
can be just as deadly and accurate as the most Swiftian satire.

To talk about poetry is as hard as - meaningfully - to talk about music. There
is no substitute for the thing itself. Here is a sample, THE VISIBLE SPECTRUM:

A waving giant of flotsam
ducking and bowing

white light broken to spectral colours

my hand opens, grasps, and opens through you

fingers wide, then closes again

blinking desire