May 17, 2009

Update on Old Friends

Back in the old days of 2004-2007, I happily made the acquaintance of some very good serious writers who were blogging as well as writing longer, more ambitious works. Two of them were Matt Bell and Josh Maday, young guys from Saginaw, Michigan, whose blog, Dancing on Fly Ash, offered readers a new 100-word story every day. It was an impressive exercise in fortitude, and a surprising percentage of the stories were gems. They crystallized moments of anxiety, fear, or unsettling comedy in the lives of people who were sometimes apparently like the people across the street and sometimes apparently other.

I've checked them out recently and both are still writing prolifically and well. Matt and Josh separately have been widely published in online fiction magazines and have won or been shortlisted or nominated for a number of prizes, including the Pushcart Prize for the best literature from small presses. Both have websites/blogs that are excellent portals for readers who'd like to find out what's hip in contemporary American fiction -- a subject I know little about, being innocently stuck in the premodern age. I feel like I'm taking a course in Contemporary Am Lit, when I click to Josh's or Matt's pages -- and in the good sense. On those sites you'll find reviews, excerpts, and interviews from the current literary scene, an arena filed with gifted, energetic writers you (and I) never heard of before.

On both Matt and Josh's sites you can find links to their published works and their colleagues'. Of particular interest are Matt's long story based on a 1940s news story, The Collectors, about two grown brothers in Manhattan whose obsessive hoarding -- disposophobia -- is a metaphor for the Beckettian despair at the core of many lives. On Josh's blog, Disseminating Josh Maday, you can find links to Kindle and pdf versions of Dancing on Fly Ash: One Hundred Word Stories, a best-of volume. These works deserve lots of readers.

That's one more reason I'm glad I'm back.

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