Kind Words for H.V. Chao

January 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

H. V. Chao’s story “The Ark” placed in the Top 25 in Glimmer Train’s August 2013 Short Story Award for New Writers. Last time around, H.V. Chao placed in the Top 50 for Glimmer Train’s Best Start with “Jewel of the North,” so… getting closer! Congrats to all winners and placers!

Anne-Sylvie Homassel’s translation of H.V. Chao’s “Jewel of the North,” published in Le Visage Vert #19, got a nice comment from French spec fic critic and blogger Nebal, who called it “disconcerting… cryptic and quite precious, to say the least, but also rich in beautiful images and disturbing ideas.”

Editor, publisher, and writer D.F. Lewis reviews the entirety of Strange Tales IV (ed. Rosalie Parker) from Tartarus Press, story by story. Of H.V. Chao’s “The Recovery,” he says

“This is highly poetic, yet accessible, prose, as if TS Eliot and Lawrence Durrell collaborated one day from within ordered chaos upon this staggeringly rarefied story… It is a threnody of conversations and lovers’ trysts overheard by a Somerset Maugham but one wonders between who with whom, like listening at that famous wall with Pyramus and Thisbe, until we hear another disturbing story ending that I dare not hint at…”

Lewis, whose first novel was published at the age of 63 (2011), is the creator of Nemonymous, and is unique in recording his impressions for reviews in “gestalt real-time.”

Jean Ferry in Sentence 10

January 29th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Sentence, a little journal that could, has come back from the dead for a final hurrah. Reports of its demise have been somewhat, if not greatly, exaggerated. It did indeed go out of business, but now it’s back for one last stand, one more swing at the bleachers, a blaze of glory, an exhibition match… a tenth and final issue, before it takes a bow and it’s curtains forever! Don’t miss it! The final issue of the only journal dedicated to the prose poem, it features work by Jean Ferry as well as the estimable, peerless poet and editor G.C. Waldrep. Pick it up!

Only TWO Days Left to Give to Tweed’s

January 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Can it be that less than two days are left to give to


Well, what are you waiting for? Go save literature by giving to a new magazine!

Randy and Laura were the masterminds behind The Coffin Factory (the magazine for people who love books), which featured artists and writers representing over 30 countries and was sold in Barnes & Noble and bookstores nationwide. Now they’re setting out to publish Tweed’s: a boutique magazine of literature and art, designed for people who want a unique, deep-reading experience.

Tweed’s will be filled with captivating fiction, engaging interviews, and absorbing art, poetry, and informative essays. Everything you could ever want from a literary magazine will be woven together into a harmonious reading experience that has the focus of a journal and the beauty of a glossy.

Who’s already in Tweed’s? The first issue will bring you intimate conversations with Edwidge Danticat, John Freeman, and Sjón, with the full list of contributors to be revealed soon. Lots of goodies at their Indiegogo campaign for contributors!

Now Out: H.V. Chao in Strange Tales IV

January 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Cover artwork by Stephen J Clark of The Singing Garden

Cover artwork by Stephen J Clark of The Singing Garden

This fourth volume of strange tales from Tartarus Press presents fifteen new stories in the fields of fantasy, horror, decadence and the supernatural.

Christopher Harman’s ‘By Leaf and Thorn’ mines the not-to-be underestimated magick of the English countryside, while John Howard’s uneasy timeslip piece ‘You Promised You Would Walk’ is set in modern Berlin. Rebecca Lloyd’s ‘Gone to the Deep’ explores the Celtic sea-myths of the Scottish isles, while Rhys Hughes’ ‘The Secret Passage’ follows the architectural obsession of a would-be good son.

Matt Leyshon has his ne’er-do-well anti-hero escape to a Greek island in ‘The Amber Komboloi’, while Angela Slatter’s ‘The Badger Bride’ follows the adventures of her shape-shifting, grown-up fairy-tale characters. H.V. Chao’s ‘The Recovery’ details a writer’s decadent working holiday in the South of France, while in ‘Drowning in Air’, Andrew Hook’s protagonist visits an anxiety filled, post-war Japan.

More stories of the highest quality—by John Gaskin, Jason A. Wyckoff, Richard Hill, Alan McIntosh, V.H. Leslie, Mark Francis and Andrew Apter—contribute to a fascinating, rewarding, and sometimes bracing trip through the highways and byways of contemporary strange fiction.


  • ‘By Leaf and Thorn’ by Christopher Harman
  • ‘The Secret Passage’ by Rhys Hughes
  • ‘Gone to the Deep’ by Rebecca Lloyd
  • ‘You Promised You Would Walk’ by John Howard
  • ‘Forth’ by A.J. McIntosh
  • ‘Preservation’ by V.H. Leslie
  • ‘The Man Who Wore His Father’s Clothes’ by Andrew Apter
  • ‘The Badger Bride’ by Angela Slatter
  • ‘The Amber Komboloi’ by Matt Leyshon
  • ‘For a Last Spark of the Divine’ by Mark Francis
  • ‘The Recovery’ by H.V. Chao
  • ‘Drowning in Air’ by Andrew Hook
  • ‘The Homunculus in the Curio’ by Jason A. Wyckoff
  • ‘Time’ by Richard Hill
  • ‘The Memento Mori’ by John Gaskin

Strange Tales IV is a sewn hardback book of 252 pages with silk ribbon marker, decorated boards, head and tailbands, and d/w. Limited to 350 copies.

H.V. Chao in The Taipei Times

January 25th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Better late than never to the year-end best-of lists! H.V. Chao makes Bradley Winterton’s year-end roundup in The Taipei Times of notable literary titles: novels, nonfiction, and stories alike.

Finally, Thunkbook 1 surfaced this year, as the incarnation of the former Taiwan-based English-language literary magazine Pressed. In August, I found that the best item it contained was by H.V. Chao.

Winterton’s list looks like a lot of fascinating reading I will have to check out, including Edmund Trelawny Backhouse’s memoirs Decadence Mandchoue, about a homosexual English eccentric and talented linguist who gained access to the Forbidden City and became one of the Empress Dowager’s many lovers; Thai Stick by Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter; and The First Bohemians by art historian Vic Gatrell, on London’s 18th-century satiric cartoonists.

Michael Dirda reviews The Conductor by Jean Ferry

January 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The January 15th Washington Post sports Michael Dirda’s review of two Wakefield titles, Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales, translated by yours truly, and Pierre Mac Orlan’s A Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer, translated by Napoleon Jeffries.

The Pulitzer prize-winning Dirda is one of our country’s most perceptive and dedicated critics when it comes to fantastical work… and one of the few English speakers ever to write on Ferry outside of a ‘Pataphysics or Rousselian context. I had recourse to his essay “Frank Confessions” while composing my introduction to the Ferry collection, which I am immensely proud to state that Mr. Dirda qualifies as “excellent.” Calling Ferry’s very short stories “Scrumptious Petites Frites,” Mr. Dirda also says:

Big, ambitious works tend to get all the ink and attention, but smaller books, sometimes consisting of little more than charm and idiosyncrasy, are often the ones we come to love. I opened “The Conductor and Other Tales,” by Jean Ferry, and found myself, to use one of those no-no words among serious reviewers, enchanted. In tone and subject matter, these two dozen very short stories may remind you of Italo Calvino or Steven Millhauser at their most beguiling.

At the Portuguese Artists Colony: Victimless

January 21st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

My wife writer Nicole M. Taylor and I were guests of the Portuguese Artists Colony on Sunday, January 5, at San Francisco’s Make-Out Room, part of an event called Victimless.

Nicole was there because in November, she won their Live Writing competition, which works like this: Attendees vote on a prompt as they enter the show, and four writers write on the winning topic while the audience watches them sweat, swear, and get inspired. Each writer will read what he/she wrote, and the audience votes on which piece they’d like to see developed into a finished story/poem/rant to be read at the next performance.

I was there because I was one of this time’s Live Writers, along with Carolyn Cooke, Ira Marlowe, and Lori Savageau, who won. I didn’t do the household proud like Nicole, but I did get to listen to folky musical duo Girl Named T warble while I sweated, swore, and got somewhat inspired onstage.

Other readers that evening included Tom Barbash, Maisha Z. Johnson, and founder Caitlin Myer, who called on surprise guests to help her in a polyphonically staged reading of Ted Bundy in prison.

The Make-Out Room’s disco ball presided over all, almost undersea amidst the kelp forests of tinsel and silver ribbon. It was a festive and convivial occasion.

French Comics Article in Publishers Weekly

January 19th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Tireless comics agent Nicolas Grivel drops my name in his state-of-the-union on French comics in the U.S. at Publishers Weekly.

Nicolas, un grand merci!

Interview at Asymptote

January 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


The good folks at Asymptote were kind enough to kick off their new blog series of mini-interviews with translators—dubbed the “Lydia Davis” Questionnaire, in answer to the perennial “Proust Questionnaire”—with yours truly. Had a lot of fun.

Asymptote really is a terrific up-and-coming online mag for world lit.

Thanks, Asymptote!

Ferry All Around

January 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Jean Ferry’s The Conductor and Other Tales is picking up steam again after a holiday lull following its November release:

A book of crazily inventive short-prose narratives with the imaginative zeal of Borges or Breton – first published in France in 1950.

  • Gabriel Blackwell, erstwhile editor of The Collagist, excerpts a favorite bit at his site.
  • Look I Have Opinions weighs in on my translation of Ferry’s most famous story, “Le tigre urbain” as “The Society Tiger,” previously translated as “The Fashionable Tiger” and “The Urbane Tiger.”

I like “society tiger” as a translation of “tigre mondain.” I don’t know French well but “mondain” seems to come from a root meaning “the world” and to suggest high society. In contemporary English a fashionable tiger sounds like it means a well-dressed tiger, without connoting much about social class or status.

Sir, I concur.

I’ve made a page in the left sidebar for Ferry with info, quotes from reviews, and links to pieces available online. More, bigger Ferry news in the offing, but I must keep mum for the moment.

Where am I?

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