Get lit

Aug 15, 2007 at 12:00 am

OK, so here's how it works, at least according to the passionately ranting Tim Dugdale, founder and publisher of Atomic Quill Press, who's spitting into his receiver on the other end of the line:

"There are more writers and fewer readers, and MFA creative writing programs are building a certain kind of writer telling a certain kind of story — this McSweeney's style of writing so big and so prolific, with emotionally saturated voices, like the literary equivalent of emo music. It's Douglas Coupland-type of writing, in which the quality is less important than the emotional pop culture connection to the reader."

Dugdale's right. It's like whatever's overly cloying gets edited, marketed and sold by the NYC publishing industry. Anything else often gets a great big "It's a go!" from a chipper, leggy editor, but gets redlined once it reaches the marketing department. Especially short stories. Attention, writers: There is no room in the big biz for short stories. There's no room for writers attempting to jerk the chain.

Your neighbor may have an alternative to the literary capitalist machine. A handful of indie and university publishers (many of whom are authors themselves) support the work of dedicated regional writers, for little or no profit. A long lineage in Detroit would include Detroit River Press, the Alternative Press, Broadside Press and others. These days, thanks to Mariela Griffor's Marick Press, Dennis Teichman's Past Tents Press, Dugdale's Atomic Quill, and Dan Wickett and Steve Gillis's Ann Arbor-based Dzanc Books, not to mention such literary journals as Dispatch Detroit and Jane Hoehner at the helm at Wayne State University Press, we have here a robust system for nurturing regional and local talent — and what queer, astonishing (read on for dead bunnies and a cowboy pile) talent it is. The publisher and writer work together, as compatriots for a cause, envisioning a book inside and out, from start to finish, realizing their contemporary-minded vision.

This Metro Times books issue focuses on local literary works of fiction and poetry in various stages of completion — a script written years ago, a novel-in-progress, books just published (and short-listed for national awards), and those coming out next year. We also offer a series of questions and answers with each author (published in their frank, thoughtful entirety online, along with a selection of reviews) and an interview by poet Peter Markus with Dennis Teichman. Feast your eyes, readers. If we've forgotten you, writer, in this package, please pen us a lovely letter. —Rebecca Mazzei

Pheasant Under Glass, Cignus ustus cantat,” from Carmina Detroit
by Dawn McDuffie

Excerpt from Ashes on the Water, a novel in progress
by Bill Harris

Excerpt from “Riding the Hubcap” from Voices of the Lost and Found
by Dorene O’Brien

Excerpt from first act of post trauma stress machine unit # three
by Ron Allen

Excerpt from the beginning of “Lift,” from Giraffes
by Steve Gillis

Listening to Jazz” from Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged
by Russell Thorburn

Blueprint of the Ruins,” from The Seed Thieves
by Robert Fanning

Excerpt from Wildness Lies in Wait
by Stirling Noh

Excerpt from The Welsh Girl
by Peter Ho Davies

Poem in Two Parts After Michael Palmer - for George Tysh
by Gregory Kiewiet

Excerpt from the beginning of Be Mine
by Laura Kasischke

The Stone on the Island” from The Dropped Hand
by Terry Blackhawk

Excerpt from “Cowboy Pile,” from The Women Were Leaving the Men
by Andy Mozina

Dreaming, Kashmir” from Folding a River
by Kawita Kandpal

Rebecca Mazzei is Metro Times arts and culture editor. Send comments to [email protected]