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Show Me Your Shelves: Michael J. Seidlinger

I’ve been lucky enough to meet outstanding people who are as obssesed with books as I am. Author/editor/Publisher/designer/madman Michael J Seidlinger is one of them. Seidlinger lives for books and talking literature with him is a pleasure, just like reading his work. I’ve sent him books and he’s sent me books, but I’d never seen his stacks. Here they are, along with some great answers.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

My name is Michael J Seidlinger and I have a problem with books. To be more specific, books have consumed my life. Life revolves around the sentence and making sure it leads me to the best narratives, the best ideas, and the best brand of liquor. I don’t know how to live without books flanking me from all sides. To be even more specific, I’m a writer (The Laughter of Strangers, My Pet Serial Killer, The Sky Conducting), publisher (Civil Coping Mechanisms), and designer (book design, typesetting, website design).

You edit, design covers, have great social media presence, acquire manuscripts, read a lot of books, write reviews, etc. However, you’re primarily a writer: how do you make sure that writing takes precedence over everything else?

I’m ruthless—I am my own worst enemy. I forge unrealistic goals and drink gallons of coffee to stay up late at night. It typically begins with a 2000 word goal for the day and gravitates towards content editing every couple of pages. I’ll often return to the day’s writing once or twice before being satisfied and, as a result, allowed to sleep. Writing becomes the item that determines whether or not I have made good use of the day. Actually, I’d say that there’s no such thing as a good day until I am able to hit that word count and know where the narrative is going in the days and weeks to follow. Probably sounds insane. Yeah, definitely sounds nuts. Well then, what’s next?

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I know you hate doing lists so…what are some of your favorite 2013 readings? 

I’m fine with lists. How about favorite 2013 books since I think readings are almost always a waste of time (I go only to hang out and mingle with friends).

Books I enjoyed in 2013 (random order):

Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson

No One Writes Back by Eunjin Jang

Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert

Damnation by Janice Lee

This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller

Happy Rock by Matthew Simmons

Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan

Taipei by Tao Lin

I Don’t Know I Said by Matthew Savoca

Fun Camp by Gabe Durham

Haute Surveillance by Johannes Goransson

Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr

The list goes on, seriously. These were merely a few books that showed up without too much trouble when I returned to my Goodreads profile. I feel like there are almost always a handful of books I should be reading instead of the one in my hands and yet I can’t help but continue looking around, trying to figure out what those books might be.

You keep some books and give others away. Why is that and what kind of books stay on your shelves?

I have a tendency to never stay in one place for too long, be it moving to a different state or merely relocating to a different building. This means I need to remain a minimalist. I don’t own anything I don’t need to be happy. I have a bed, a few pieces of furniture, clothes, a guitar, TV, some videogames, and tons of books. That’s it. Above all, the books take up the most space and, as a result, the inner minimalist in me abides by a rule:

If the book doesn’t floor me, it doesn’t earn a spot on the shelf.

Most of the time I keep my books in boxes due to a lack of space but you get the point. I keep only those books I’ll return to simply because the reading experience reminded me, once again, of the beauty of literature. Books like Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson, Post Office by Charles Bukowski, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, or, as you can tell in the picture I provided, Death on the Installment Plan by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.

What’s your last book about and why should we run and buy it?

Lazy Fascist Press published my latest this past November; it’s called “The Laughter of Strangers” and it pertains to a down-and-out professional boxer named Willem Floures facing the inevitability of aging. He is struggling to remain the current and “most noteworthy” version of himself. The book takes place in a world much like our own; it’s a world where fighting to win means fighting yourself. You must face the versions of yourself that chose differently. You fight to best yourself and, hopefully, be the version that is left standing when all is said and done. This is a story about the version that had it all and yet still wants more, Willem wants to keep fighting and is willing to do whatever it takes to do that, even if it means losing it all in the process.

You don’t have to read it. There are so many other books to choose from. But if you end up buying the book and, even better, end up enjoying it, I want you to know that you made this psychopath happy.

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Show Me Your Shelves: Michael Allen Rose

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I am Michael Allen Rose, author, musician and performance artist. I also make a mean baked Mac N’ Cheese. Books have been some of my best friends and means of seeing new worlds and perspectives since I was a kid. I was one of those weird kids who was just as happy sitting in my room reading as I was out playing with the neighborhood kids, if not happier.

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You read bizarro as well as everything else out there: what are some of your favorite non-bizarro reads?

Around the end of my undergrad college years, I got really heavily into the existentialists and absurdists: Camus, Sartre, Beckett, Kafka, Ionesco and the like. I remain a huge fan of that philosophy and literary style, but I’m also a huge fan of humor writing and pop-culture studies. Dark comedy is a great place between those sorts of authors and straight up comedy, which led me to Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore, Chuck Palahniuk, David Wong and a lot of the bizarro stuff as well.

You are a performer, stage man, madman; is it hard for you to sit down alone and write? Does music help?

Music is actually a huge part of writing for me. Most of the things I’ve written, I can point to the specific song that helped generate or refine the idea. This was especially true when I was concentrating more on playwriting. Entire works sprung from single songs that resonated with me in a certain way. As far as the writing being difficult, I think my main problem is a lack of focus. I start a million projects, but sitting down and doing the work of finishing them, though immensely satisfying, is difficult as hell. I’m thinking of asking hot women to tie me to the computer chair and make me write a certain number of words before they let me go. That… may be unreleated, however. Ahem.

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What book would you like to see turned into a musical?

I think Laura Lee Bahr’s Haunt would make a great stage production. I’d be interested to see a musical where the numbers were written somehow in second person. Do the characters sing about you while they sing to you? How does that work. Outside of that, I guess anything unconventional that would screw with the tropes of the american musical. Like a cookbook, or a pamphlet about the Illuminati that you get from some homeless dude on a street corner.

Tell us about your latest book and why we should get our paws on it immediately.

My latest release is Declension, which was put out as a super limited release on Dynatox Ministries. As of this writing there might be just a few left, literally. It’s an interesting one, as it was originally written as an experimental performance piece while I was in graduate school, and then recently re-worked into a piece of meta-fiction for this release. A very strange book, steeped in surrealist techniques. It’ll be interesting to see how people react. Other than that, I have a couple of things I’m working on. Hopefully this year will see the follow-up to Party Wolves in My Skull from Eraserhead Press, along with a few other things I have in the works. I should mention that a few anthologies and things I’ve been accepted into are coming out super soon, if they’re not already. The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction issue #11 has a new short story of mine in it, as well as the Bizarro Bizarro anthology from Bizarro Pulp Press and Witch! from Dynatox Ministries. My band Flood Damage is finally recording an album this winter as well. But you know how it goes. Artists are like sharks, if we’re not moving forward, we die. And if we’re not doing too much, we feel like it’s not enough.

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Show me your shelves: Justin Grimbol

This column is called Show me your shelves, but here at Bizarro Central, we do things differently. This week, we feature an author who agreed to show us his shelves and didn’t have any: Justin Grimbol. If you know Grimboli, you know this somehow makes perfect sense.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

My name is Justin Grimbol and I write books. But even if I didn’t write book, I would read them a lot. I love books. When I was young I read comics mainly. Underground shit. Love and Rockets. Ed The Happy Clown. But then, when I was about 21, I read Ham On Rye by Bukowski. I got obsessed with that weirdly warm and wild effect sentences have on my mind. I started reading nonstop. Now I hate comics. Too many pictures. Not enough words. Fuck comics. I write now. I write all the time. I write books and poems and stuff on Facebook. I can’t stop. It’s getting crazed.

I asked you to show me your shelves. You showed me a stack of books. What gives?

About ten years ago someone stole my car. I had so much shit in the trunk of that thing. I had hundreds of books and my entire wardrobe. I was devastated. It was Thanksgiving. I had to get home. I took the train, cause I had no fucking car. The train was packed. I cried in front of all these people and they were looking at me. Some people were looking at me like I was a crazy person. Some were looking at me with pure compassion. They didn’t know what had happened to me. Maybe I got my heart broken. Maybe a relative died. They didn’t know I was crying about a stolen car and clothes and books and DVDs. I got so mad at myself. I promised myself to never get so attached to things like that again. That weekend I got rid of all my comics, all my books, and all my DVDs. I enjoyed getting rid of all that stuff. It felt freeing.

So I buy lots of books. But I don’t keep them. I sell them to book stores or give them to friends. The stack in the photo is of what few books I keep. I call it THE SACRED STACK. I love the books in that stack. I love them too much. I can’t get rid of them.

 

What are some of your favorite books?

Most of my favorite books are in the stack. But there are some books that should be in the stack, that aren’t. HAM ON RYE should be in that stack. There should be more Mellick in the stack. Mellick has so many great books. He deserves a stack of his own, but I gave all my Mellicks to the kids in this rehab I used to work at.

I have a Kindle, so some of my favorite books are on that little gizmo. I love Prunty’s Fill The Grand Canyon and Live Forever. And Cameron Peirce’s Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island. And Sam Pink’s Person and Hurt Others. All those books should be in the stack. One day I will buy paperback copies of these books and they shall join THE SACRED STACK. But the stack can’t get too big though. I will have to get rid of some of THE STACK’S current residents.

Oh, I forgot! THERE’S ONE MORE BOOK THAT SHOULD BE IN THE STACK! Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan. That’s my new favorite book. I read it and the fucking thing blew my mind to little Grimbols that started dry humping each other. It’s so good. It’s not in the stack because I lent it to my dad. But it will be in the stack soon. SOON!

You like to write filthy stuff. What’s the filthiest books you’ve ever read?

The Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez. That book is crazed. So much sex. So much raw nasty goodness. Then there is Going Monstering by Edward Lee. That’s a different kind of filthy. That book made my soul and my body feel filthy. Like I needed to take a shower. With scolding hot water. And scrub myself down with sand paper. Anything to get clean again. It’s amazing but just wrong. Gutierrez is different. He makes me want to party and sweat and have clumsy-beautiful sex.

What’s your last book about and why should we run and buy it?

THE PARTY LORDS. It’s a rowdy little book. Its like Sixteen Candles dry humped Deliverance, or the Wrong Turn movies. It’s a funny book. But sappy at times, too. I grew up watching Fried Green Tomatoes over and over again. I’m a sappy guy. And that sappiness gets into everything. I can’t help it.