First Lines

These are the first lines of the eight stories in Death Don’t Have No Mercy, my most recent book, out now from Broken River. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’ve seen other people do it, and I guess I like it. I like seeing the lines away from their stories, even away from their titles. Maybe it’ll make you want to check out the book. Maybe it won’t. Probably I’m dumb. Have a good afternoon. I’m going to rest my big stupid head for a few hours. You can buy the book here or here if you didn’t blow all your money on a shitty sandwich made of processed foot cheese and horse kisses.

1. Calhoun wasn’t sure why he’d stolen the Walkman from the kid.
2. Yank Byrd addressed the letter to the editors of Broken Spoke and then typed: I hope like hell you’ll consider the enclosed story, “The Incredible Bright Life of the Snatch Pie Coeds.”
3. The poor box was pretty well-secured to the floor and it took a good push to get it loose.
4. “Don’t listen to them, Clip,” the old cut man said.
5. He had gone to the house in Phoenicia to clear his head.
6. Books got back in early March.
7. Mullen had returned to the old neighborhood for one reason: the last time he was home he’d hidden two thousand dollars in twenties in a shoebox in the crawlspace of his grandmother’s attic.
8. By the time I got to Coney Island, I’d started to worry that Uncle Harry wouldn’t be happy to see me.

Ideas for Reading Tonight

Oxford pals: I’m reading at Off Square Books at 5 tonight. Still trying to figure things out.

Ideas for reading:
1) wear “lucky” shoes
2) read a Michael Madsen poem to start
3) show them all my inventions
4) use the phrase “boner pies” at least five times
5) make a “connection” with other people who are dead inside
6) bring a small bag of garbage and go through it on stage
7) pretend my book is really heavy
8) lift everything around me that is kind of heavy
9) try to hide gas by making siren noises
10) get “whacked” on coffee
11) touch tongues with old guy in front row
12) talk about total loss of faith in God

Death in the World

I’m reading tomorrow at Off Square Books in Oxford. Signing starts at 5, reading at 5:30. I won’t go long and then we can head to the bar and get hammered flat as elephant shit. Folks who aren’t in Oxford: You can also get Death Don’t Have No Mercy online via Square Books.

Thanks to Lori Jakiela for inviting me to read at the Pitt-Greensburg Writers Festival and to Lori and Dave Newman for setting up the East End Book Exchange event. I had the best damn time. Hung out with and met some great folks and was honored as hell to read with Stewart O’Nan, Lori, Dave, and Bob Pajich. I’m sure folks had a swell time at AWP, but I was really glad to be in Pittsburgh with new pals.

Also, Record Store Day is Saturday. We’ve got a lot of great stuff going on at The End of All Music (where I work part-time). Don’t miss it.

Upcoming Readings

Really excited to be reading at the Pitt-Greensburg Writers Festival with Stewart O’Nan on Thursday and at the East End Book Exchange with Dave Newman, Lori Jakiela, and Bob Pajich on Saturday. Thanks to Lori for inviting me. Rege Behe interviewed me for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in advance of the events. Thanks, Rege.

I’m reading in Oxford at Off Square Books on Wednesday, April 15 at 5PM. To hell with Tax Day! Come hear me read about rotten people on the ropes. I won’t go long! 10-15 minutes tops! And then we can go get drunk!

Also, Noir at the Bar 2 is happening in Oxford on Wednesday, May 6th. 9PM at Proud Larry’s. Mary Miller! Lisa Howorth! Melissa Ginsburg! Chris Offutt! Tom Franklin! Ace Atkins! Jack Pendarvis! Derrick Harriell! Tyler Keith! Jedidiah Ayres! Jimmy Cajoleas! Me!

Lost Days

Been writing about the Holiday Cocktail Lounge for a long time. First a failed novel when I was 21 and then a bunch of short stories that never went anywhere. I wrote a long essay a few years ago and junked it because it was all over the place. When I found out the Holiday had reopened under new ownership a few weeks ago, I went back to the essay, cut about ten thousand words, and wrote a bunch of new stuff. Here it is at Medium.

Also, a lost conversation I had with one of my favorite bands, Water Liars, is up at No Depression.