So here’s one cool thing (though not the only one, of course, since I also got married a few months back) that’s happened to me during the pandemic: Woodhall Press will be re-publishing How I’m Spending My Afterlife in just a few short months.
Pub date is currently set for September 7th, which I understand is the same date as the new Sally Rooney novel, a fact that will likely impact sales in no way whatsoever.
I’m just happy to be working with a press like Woodhall: they’re still new, growing quickly, and they’ve got a strong list already. And of course, the validation of having my self-published work—the one that just couldn’t quite snare an agent’s interest—noticed, appreciated, and reissued by a legit, traditional press is pretty damn sweet. When you self-pub, it’s easy to convince yourself your work’s not really any good, or that nobody will ever read it, or of any number of other confidence-sapping nabobs of negativism—but signing an actual publishing contract sure does help to snuff that nonsense right out.
(Not to crap on self-publishing or those who embrace it, of course. It just wasn’t for me.)
At the moment, it looks like the cover design (by the inimitable Luke Murphy) will be staying more or less the same, though there may be some tweaks around the margins and whatnot.
Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Thanks to everyone who came out to listen to all us writers last week. I’d never read there before, but it’s been a favorite local event of mine for the last several months. James always does a great job of putting it together. I had wanted to read something new but I couldn’t finish anything that I liked enough or was short enough, so I read an older piece, “Hugo,” which is in the collection I’m currently trying to place. Thanks again to everyone who came out, and I’ll see you at some lit literary event around town.
Some real folk blues here. Languid and ethereal, James’ high-pitched voice brings a powerfully mournful feel to the sparse arrangements (James accompanies himself on either guitar or piano; only one track features a sideman, Russ Savakus on bass). It’s the perfect record for a Sunday morning spent reflecting on – and probably regretting – those things you did the night before.
If this record feels like a live performance, that’s because it was more or less recorded like one. Many of the songs start out fragile but then build slowly, sometimes coming to a head with a crashing crescendo – but sometimes they don’t, and the tension just percolates a few minutes longer. The male-female vocal harmonies and the violin’s legato phrasing infuses the whole record with an inescapable feeling of loss. Deserves to be better known.
Released in 1984, this album would have been a lot better if it had been recorded four or five years earlier. Dreadful ’80s production techniques wash out most of the impact of a pretty solid, if not spectacular, collection of songs. It’s not just the synthesizers, though: it’s the backup singers, constantly inserting themselves where they don’t belong, who are the problem more than anything else. A more austere guitar / bass / drums / vocals approach would have done much to bring out the life of songs like “I Love You, Suzanne,” “My Friend George”—which still manages to bop along contentedly and stick in your head for a little while after the record’s over—or “Down at the Arcade,” a fun little closer. File this under “missed opportunities.”