DUNCAN BIRMINGHAM is a writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles. His fiction has most recently appeared in Mystery Tribune, Juked, 7×7 and Joyland. He’s been a writer and producer on numerous TV shows including Maron (with Marc Maron) on IFC and Blunt Talk (from Jonathan Ames) on Starz. His short films have premiered at Sundance, AFI, GenArt and New York Film Festival. He can be found procrastinating on Twitter at @duncanbirm. His first book of short stories, The Cult in My Garage, (Maudlin House) was published in August.
LA writer Catie Disabato’s novels explore the complex terrain of millennial life with wit, candor, and high intelligence. Her latest, U Up?, out from Melville House, is about a woman named Eve who lives on the Eastside of Los Angeles, working online, hanging out in bars, drinking, fighting, searching for one friend while also grieving the loss of another. Eve also happens to be a psychic medium, and communicates with her dead friend via text message. The novel’s form is highly original, interspersing visual text messaging bubbles throughout the book.
SHANE JESSE CHRISTMASS is the author of The Sex Shops of Sherman Oaks (Amphetamine Sulphate, 2021), Latex, Texas (Self Fuck, 2021), Xerox Over Manhattan (Apocalypse Party, 2019), Belfie Hell (Inside The Castle, 2018), Yeezus In Furs (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018), Napalm Recipe: Volume One (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017), Police Force As A Corrupt Breeze (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2016) and Acid Shottas (The Ledatape Organisation, 2014). He was a member of the band Mattress Grave and is currently a member in Snake Milker.
At the same time everyone was pronouncing NYC dead, two local guys, separated by thousands of miles, were collaborating on a pair of singles that look for the square root of Captain Beefheart and the Ramones. With this follow-up to their buzzed-about 2020 debut, One Act Sonix, which got heavy airplay on WFMU, Vapor Vespers delivers the goods, right from your favorite late-night slice joint. Long-time Brooklyn Beat and now Hudson Valley scenester Sal Cataldi works the Robert Fripp guitars and Krautrock electronics; Bronx-born Mark Muro pines and opines on spoken word. I caught up with the pair last week via email, just as they were preparing to launch the new singles, complete with oddball videos comprised of found footage and various Ryan Trecartin-approved pixilations.
SAID SHAIYE is a Somali writer who calls Minneapolis home. He is an MFA Candidate & Graduate Instructor at the University of Minnesota. He has published essays and poems in Entropy, Diagram, 580 Split, Rigorous, Dreginald, and elsewhere. His debut book, Are You Borg Now?, was recently released by Really Serious Literature. It’s an experimental combination of poetry, self-interview, memoir, photography and Star Trek: Voyager appreciation.
No matter what your preferred artistic discipline is, odds are good that Los Angeles has contributed in a significant way to them. In his new book Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California, Matthew Specktor traces both his own history with the city in question and ventures into the lives of some of its most underrated chroniclers. Its blend of cultural commentary and memoir is never less than beguiling, and I talked with Specktor via email to get a better sense of how it all came about.
Alex DiFrancesco’s collection Transmutation abounds with moments of intimate revelation and transforming bodies. Jeanne Thornton’s novel Summer Fun draws inspiration from a legendary rock band and takes it to a wholly unexpected place. Both books are among the best I’ve read this year, and I chatted with both authors over Zoom one summer evening. The conversation covered a wide range of subjects — from pandemic coping mechanisms to the music of Tom Waits — and an edited version follows.
KRISTEN ARNETT is the author of With Teeth: A Novel (Riverhead Books, 2021) and the NYT bestselling debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019) which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in fiction. She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter‘s Literary Award in Fiction, has been a columnist for Literary Hub and is a current columnist for Catapult, and was a Spring 2020 Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute. Her work has appeared at The New York Times, The Cut, Oprah Magazine, Guernica, Buzzfeed, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere. Her next book (an untitled collection of short stories) will be published by Riverhead Books (Penguin Random House). She has a Masters in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and currently lives in Miami, Florida. You can find her on Twitter here.