Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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Signed copies of The Fugue for the holidays

The good folks at Chicago’s Volumes Bookcafe will ship a signed copy of The Fugue anywhere in the United States. Interested? Just click here and place your order directly with Volumes Bookcafe. You’ll be supporting a small press, an indie writer, a small business and an independent bookstore all in a single click. Proceeds from The Fugue also go toward the education of two beautiful children (mine).

Those of you who’ve read The Fugue know what an absorbing experience it is, and you certainly know someone in your life who’d like to take the trip. If you order before the 13th of December, I might even be able to personalize your order.

Besides The Fugue, Volumes is offering many titles signed by Chicago-area authors. They include Rebecca Makkai, Charles Finch, Megan Stielstra, Camille Bordas, Mary Robinette Kowal, Linday Hunter, Jac Jemc, Giano Cromley, Alex Higley, Melanie Benjamin, Deborah Shapiro, Nate Marshal, Maryse Meijer, Jamie Freveletti, Kevin Coval and others.

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Literature has always been a form of resistance. In the current climate, reading in order to have your point of view irrevocably changed is a radical act. Sharing literature is an act of radical love. Get out there and love.


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Algren reading lineup announced

Chicago friends, Volumes Bookcafe has announced the lineup for the September 17th reading celebrating the writing of Nelson Algren and the publication of Mary Wisniewski’s new biography of Algren. I am so excited and humbled to be reading beside these enormously talented people. Click on the names below for more info about these writers.

ROGER REEVES is an award winning poet and professor at UIC. He’s the winner of a Whiting Award and other honors.

LINDSAY HUNTER is the author of the novel Ugly Girls and the story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s. Her new novel, Eat Only When You’re Hungry, will be out next year.”

JAC JEMC is the author of The Grip of It, forthcoming from FSG Originals in 2017. Her first novel, My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books) was named one of Amazon’s best story collections of 2014. She edits nonfiction for Hobart and teaches writing at Loyola, Northeastern Illinois, and Lake Forest College.

JIM DAVIS is a graduate of Harvard University, Northwestern University, and Knox College. He reads for TriQuarterly and his work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, The Harvard Crimson, Poetry Daily, Midwest Quarterly, and California Journal of Poetics, among others. He has received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations and won many contests, including the Line Zero Poetry Prize. In addition to writing and painting, Jim is an international semi-professional American football player.

I hope to see you at this exciting event in the heart of Algren’s Wicker Park.

Here’s a look at the cover of Mary’s book:

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Photo courtesy of Chicago Review Press.

 


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Have I ever been this nervous?

(Ok…maybe I was more nervous when I learned my wife was pregnant.)

But yesterday I received the invitation to read from Nelson Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make at The Wicker Park and West Town Lit Fest. The reading and celebration will take place at Volumes Bookcafe in anticipation of the release of the new Nelson Algren biography. A list of other readers is being compiled, and I’ll publicize when I have more info.

To say I’m humbled is…

Um…yeah…

Obviously, my novel, The Fuguehas been compared to Nelson Algren’s work. Rick Kogan did it on WGN radio, expanding what a few reviewers have noticed. While I wasn’t channeling Algren while writing The Fugue—I’ve actually not read all of Algren’s books—what I’ve read has had a serious impact on my development as a writer.

City on the Make, a prose poem of less than 110 pages, was a punch-in-the-mouth catalyst in my life and career. I was 19 when I first came across it in a writing class at UIC taught by Mike Barrett. Algren’s bloody-knuckle, gilded paean first showed me Chicago as something besides the city where I happened to be living. I think it’s natural for creative people to wish to “get away” for something like “true inspiration”. Algren taught me to start looking around and understanding where I am, to wake up to it.

What struck me was how the language was tough and gentle all at once. Algren knew the hustler and the square equally well, identified with both, could inhabit both minds, and yet his final impact somehow transcends that polarity, sees the world from an elevated position. The poem begins not with any urban brawn but an ode to the prairie and Lake Michigan:

To the east were the moving waters as far as eye could follow. To the west a sea of grass as far as wind might reach.

Waters restlessly, with every motion, slipping out of used colors for new. So that each fresh wind off the lake washed the prairie grasses with used sea-colors: the prairie moved in the light like a secondhand sea. 

Those words, for me, placed Chicago in the natural world. They oriented me, helped me see there wasn’t any difference between a city and the country except for what our minds concocted. From that moment, I was seeing my city—and by extension, all cities—with a different set of eyes.

Unlike New York and Los Angeles, Chicago doesn’t have talent for glamour or glitz. The best we can do is provide ourselves with alleys where we throw our garbage, leave it (mostly) out of sight. But our segregation and corruption and frozen sidewalks and humid Augusts are right there in the open.

My grandfather lamented when the guy who used to renew his drivers license for a bottle of scotch ended up shitcanned. That brand of corruption worked perfectly well. Why ruin it?

It took me years to learn that, outside Chicago, you just needed to kiss your manager’s ass to get ahead. In Chicago it takes finesse to learn who the real player is; the boss is normally a stooge set up to take the fall when shit got real, as it inevitably would. So the stooge is sacked, apologies are made, a new stooge is hired and the hustle’s back on. In Chicago, everything is a front that’s out in the open. You are laundering money just by virtue of working in this city, and it happens whether your know it or not.

Algren knew this well…so so well. He also knew it was unusual, particular, worth a hundred pages. It’s true that the prose is mannered, sometimes awkward. But so is the city.

To get the chance to read from this little huge book, and only a few blocks from Algren’s home in Wicker Park, is going to be…yeah…I’m just elated.

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Wicker Park Fest, Day 2

So…today Chicago faces isolated thunderstorms and another +90 degree day. Yesterday a crowd of a few hundred stood before the main stage at Wicker Park Fest and sang Que Sera Sera along with a band, this while battleship-gray thunderheads approached. The sky opened. Lightning struck. Adults and children danced. It was beautiful.

Also, some came around Volumes Book Cafe to cool down, grab a drink, then purchase and have their copies of The Fugue signed. I spoke to readers from as far away as Germany and Puerto Rico (and Madison, Wisconsin…and Laredo, Texas…and Aurora, Illinois…and a town in Maine whose name I will never remember).

I’ll be at Volumes again today (er…at an indoor table). Come check out Chicago’s newest bookstore between points of festival frolic. 1474 N Milwaukee Avenue. There’s a chance I might sell out before 4:00, as we have a limited amount of copies left.

 

Come grab one of these copies before they’re gone

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What are people saying about The Fugue?

“Magisterial…like Dostoevsky…” (Chicago Tribune)

“A welcome addition to the bookshelf of Chicago authors…” (WGN Radio)

“A masterpiece of literary fiction…” (Centered on Books)


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Independent Bookstore Day: Volumes Book Cafe

I’m very happy to team up with Volumes Book Cafe to sell some books tomorrow afternoon. It’s Independent Bookstore Day, and Volumes is Chicago’s newest bookstore. I recently visited to take some pictures and just fell in love with the gorgeous space. It’s bright, uplifting, heavily caffeinated, and the shelves are stacked with great books. I was especially impressed with the extensive fiction collection.

Come tomorrow between 1:00-3:00 PM to meet me, buy a book and get it signed. If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Tribune called my novel, The Fugue, “magisterial,” and Centered on Books said it’s a “masterpiece of literary fiction.”

My publisher, Tortoise Books, will also be on hand to sell many of their titles.

Here are some impressions of Volumes:

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Next appearances: City Lit Books and Volumes

If you’ve not yet had a chance to hear me read, or you would like to buy a copy of my book from me personally, have it signed, this week is your chance.

I’ll be appearing at two of the best bookstores in America: City Lit Books in Logan Square, Chicago, and Volumes Book Cafe in Wicker Park, also Chicago.

At City Lit, I’ll be reading as part of the Logan Salon Series with the likes of Rachel Slotnick (the visual artist/poet responsible for the stunning mural near the Logan Square “L” stop), Mark Magoon and Ralph Hamilton.  I’m the only author of prose at this reading, so I’ll try to compliment these fine writers by reading a lyrical section of The Fugue, one I’ve never read in public before.

At Volumes, as part of Independent Bookstore Day, I’ll be selling copies of The Fugue between 1:00-3:00, and I’ll probably stick around afterwards to help support other writers. I’m very excited to team up with Volumes, about whom The Chicago Review of Books raved.

Except for a reading in May, these will be my last appearances in Chicago until the summer, as I’m going to Europe for a few weeks to shut my busy ass down.

Logan Salon Series: April 28, 6:30, City Lit Books, 2523 N Kedzie, Chicago

Independent Bookstore Day: April 30, 1:00-3:00, Volumes, 1474 N Milwaukee, Chicago

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Photo provided by Volumes.