Andri Snǣr Magnason
Seven Stories Press, November 2012
320 pages

In the not-so-distant future, a team of Icelandic scientists has discovered the revolutionary science of birdwaves, opening up a world of massive, cordless, instantaneous communication. This future is presided over by LoveStar, the cultish leader of the company that bears his name. His empire includes LoveDeath, in which the dead are rocketed into the stratosphere and burned as shooting stars; inLove, which matches perfect mates based on their waves; and the iStar Mood Division, a marketing and publicity system that would make David Ogilvy weep. The story of LoveStar himself is pure tragedy:  the aging mogul who gains untold power only to realize he’s created a monstrous, corporate juggernaut. His realization, unfortunately, comes far too late to stop it.

Meanwhile, Indridi and Sigrid are in love. An all-encompassing, saccharine love. But in LoveStar, love has little to do with the actual people involved. It’s a calculation, a simple case of putting together two waves so they resonate perfectly. When Sigrid is calculated to someone else, she and Indridi must decide if they will stay together—or indeed, if they can stay together amid the onslaught of inLove, iStar, and LoveDeath forces who will ruin their lives to make the sale.Continue Reading

New Ploughshares Solo Published: Escape and Reverse by Chelsey Johnson

We’re excited to announce the publication of our fifth Ploughshares Solo: “Escape and Reverse” by Chelsey Johnson.  Our Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish long-form stories every month an a digital format.  Recent Ploughshares Solos include “Phoenix” (fiction) by Megan Mayhew Bergman and “All of Us, We All Are Arameans” (essay) by Eileen Pollack.

High school wrestler Jake Persson is living on vitamins and diet Mountain Dew as he fights to make weight at the height of championship season. In the small mining town in northern Minnesota’s Iron Range where Jake lives, this is the most exciting thing that has happened in years. During his last meet, Jake confronts his future and the unnerving sense that his own body and desires are starting to betray him. Chelsey Johnson writes a gripping story about hunger, control, and wrestling down desire.

Available for $0.99 on Kindle (borrow for free if you have Prime).

An excerpt from the story:

The gym fills quickly. As early as weigh-in, parents, friends, classmates, and random citizens of Quartzton start arriving to get a good spot in the bleachers. Continue Reading

THAT LIT, LIT LIFE (with global characteristics) 12 (of 14)

32 years away from the city of Melbourne and I return to find it in a different “Australia.” For one thing, all the restaurants downtown were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian or otherwise distinctly “Asian.” Hidden somewhere down one street was a Greek restaurant, reminding me that 32 years ago, I had been startled to learn that Melbourne then had one of the largest Greek diasporic populations in the world.

It gave “Thanksgiving” a new meaning, because I am witness to a sea change that rationalizes my globally characterized life, one that used to feel out of kilter with life (never mind the lit, lit life).

I’m at the Nonfiction Now! 2012 Writers conference from the University of Iowa, transplanted this year to RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology—the monarchy seems eternal despite this new Australian “face”). How do I get to RMIT, I asked Jose Dalisay, a keynoter from Manila, better known as Butch” the Pinoy Penman—his chronicle of his Melbourne visit is much more informative about the city than mine. Easy, he says, look for the green hat. 

Storey Hall, RMIT

Here it is, where most of the conference took place. In fact, Melbourne screams architects were here! with verve AND a viewpoint.Continue Reading

Fair Pay

Three things coincided recently.

1)  Jana Hunter, the singer for the band Lower Dens, recently wrote about her band’s relationship to streaming music services.

2) Scott Repass, Houston writer and saloon keeper, said in an article in the Houston Chronicle, “Our profit is actually made by a community. You know when you go into a bar that you could get that beer for half-price (at the grocery store) and drink at home. You’re coming because you want the community that bar is creating.”

3) I rented The Campaign from the Redbox machine installed in the lobby of my El stop for $1.30. My wife and I watched it, making it a 65 cent rental each.

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Literary Boroughs #30: Denver, CO

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the thirtieth post on Denver, Colorado, by Maggie Ferguson. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Denver boasts 300 sunny days a year, some of Jack Kerouac’s choice bars and bookstores, and a thriving Literary Borough. Last March, Denver hosted the 2012 Woman of the World Poetry Slam with Denver’s own Slam Nuba’s Dominique Ashaheed claiming the title.

Denver’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains and ski resorts enables locals to indulge in Winter Sports and hiking addictions. As a result, Denverites are athletic, and living at high altitude has quelled the average Denverite’s need for oxygen.

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Interview With Poet Cathy Linh Che

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James, 2014), the winner of the 2012 Kundiman Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from New York University and is the recipient of fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Hedgebrook, and Poets House. She currently teaches at NYU Poly and is Program Assistant for Readings/Workshops (East) at Poets & Writers.

Jennifer De Leon: What first brought you to poetry?

Cathy Linh Che: I would have to say that my parents brought me to poetry. Though neither one is a poet, my upbringing was filled with their stories. While sitting at the dinner table, my parents would tell me about their lives during the Vietnam War, the year in a refugee camp, their first years in the U.S. When I began writing, their voices demanded to be told. I couldn’t help but see their stories as fundamentally part of my own.Continue Reading

Books for Breakfast with David McCullough and 826 Boston

If you are a writer or reader currently in the Boston area, check out the upcoming fundraiser by the ever fabulous 826 Boston:

Sit down for breakfast with 826 Boston and two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian David McCullough to support 826 Boston’s free youth writing programs for Boston Public School students.

When: Tuesday, December 4, 2012, 8:00AM – 9:00AM

Where: WilmerHale, 60 State Street, 26th Floor, Boston, MA

Why: It’s for a good cause (826 Boston’s free youth writing programs), and it will be your most literary meal of the day!

RSVP and purchase your ticket here.  Or, for more information about ticket sales and sponsorship, contact Sara Skolnick at 617.442.5400 or

About David McCullough

David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history,” is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Mr. McCullough’s most recent book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, the number one New York Times best seller, has been called “dazzling,” “an epic of ideas . . . history to be savored.”  His previous work, 1776, has been acclaimed as “a classic,” while John Adams, published in 2001, remains one of the most praised and widely read American biographies of all time.

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Roundup: On Reading

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week we have posts on reading.

We’ve been doing a lot of roundups on aspects of writing, so I think it’s time we take a look at the other half of the Ploughshares equation: reading.  A literary magazine, after all, cannot survive without a healthy readership.  Also, at a reading last week at Emerson College, Tobias Wolff said “All the writers I know are voracious readers.”  So whether you are a reader, or a writer/reader, here are some posts on the state of reading.

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Following Tommy

Following Tommy
Bob Hartley
Cervena Barva Press, July 2012
104 pages

I was asked to review “Following Tommy” in part because I’m a Chicagoan. Bob Hartley’s first novel is set in the West side of the Windy City, and if anyone can recognize Chicagoness, tap into that essence and understand an author’s grilling and plating of said essence, it must be another Cubs fan.

Unfortunately, I have no idea what Chicagoness might be. It may not exist, and perhaps I’ve woefully misunderstood my assignment. “Review this book,” the book reviews editor said, and I heard “You, with your Midwestern-yet-refined urban sensibilities: you must know this thing, this center-warm, charred crusty outside thing, like a Chicago-style steak. Show us the way.”

I have few literary reference points, however, even if I’ve got the assignment correct. Chicago authors—the Hempels, Hemons, Burroughses, Andersons, Dicks, and Egans—are all writers I’ve either never read (Egan, Hempel, and Burroughs), or writers whose works most familiar to me have no Chicago scenery (Hemon’s Bosnia, Anderson’s Ohio, Phillip K Dick’s world of crippling depressive insanity). Saul Bellow’s in there too—never read Augie March—and I’ve heard him called the quintessential Chicago writer.

“Following Tommy” is my test kitchen, then. And like the ketchup you’ll never find on a Chicago hot dog, an absence caught my eye as I was walked through the west side of town, circa 1962: landmarks. Continue Reading

REDACTED: Experiences with Digital Americana’s Interactive Literary Magazine

This post was written by John Rodzvilla, Emerson College’s Electronic Publisher-in-Residence.

There has always been somewhat of an unrealized promise of interactivity with digital literature. It should be more than an enhanced experience of the print original, but still reflect the intentions of the artists. The Electronic Literature movement has tried to legitimize and broadcast new formats from a variety of different artists and authors that expand the experience of literature. Authors of interactive fiction and alternative reality games have also taken the idea of story to a more immersive and interactive level.  While these art forms are supported by a vibrant and active community, there the perennial question on monetization and distribution.

At the other end of the spectrum, trade literature has only just started to test the waters of enhanced content. For example, Michael Chabon’s latest novel, Telegraph Avenue has an enhanced digital edition that comes with an author interview, audio excerpts, a custom map of the locations within the novel, special designs from the artist Stainboy and an original theme song. The material is fun and enhances the reader’s experience, but it still controls the experience because, let’s face it, interactivity can be scary. The notion that authors should give up control of their world so that readers can interact and create new material is not something every wordsmith wants. There has always been this implicit relationship between artist/ writer and reader: I make. You buy and/ or experience.

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