Go tell it on the foothills: On December 15, 2013, Wiseblood Books will release its third original publication, A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills
, by Geoffrey Smagacz. Until December 14 you can pre-order a copy for only $11.00 and learn more about the author HERE
. Orders will ship on December 15.
As the Russian great Anton Chekov infamously noted, when a loaded rifle appears on page one, it absolutely must go off. In A Waste of Shame
Geoffrey Smagacz does not ignore this dramatic principle. Before the last page is turned, someone sadly pulls the trigger.
Smagacz debuts a short novel and an accompanying collection of short stories written in a vein that carries the blood of Hemingway, Wodehouse, West, and Sherwood Anderson. Enter a small town where tragedy collides with fish fry cooks, soap-opera addicts, and the convenient but strained friendships of youth. Minimalist through and through, this is literary fiction that scrupulously avoids being literary.
In M.A. Peterson's review
, forthcoming in the next edition of Dappled Things
magazine, he muses on one of Smagcz's greatest authorial gifts—the capacity to reckon with human depravity without indulging in despair or unjust judgment of character: Consider for a moment how readers might react to characters such as those we find in
A Waste of Shame after they've had such a prodigious helping of Jerry Springer. Will readers still be able to find in these characters the epitome of the human condition, or will they just see a bunch of hillbillies who need to stop drinking, smoking, and cheating on their wives? Will they still sympathize with our narrator, Kevin, or will they just want him to get off his rear and go back to college and get a real job? These are questions that Smagacz openly wrestles with.
FINALLY, WISEBLOOD BOOKS IS STILL CARRYING ON ITS FIRST OFFICIAL FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN, THE CULTURE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN.
LEARN MORE ABOUT US AND MAKE A DONATION HERE
. Since the start of our campaign we have forged a number of incredible partnerships with brilliant, generous people. We are poised to appear on a much broader map. Stay wide-eyed for more news, for new epiphanies, and thank you,
thank you so very much!
Joshua Hren, Ph.D.
Wiseblood Books www.wisebloodbooks.com firstname.lastname@example.org
In CALLISTA: A TALE OF THE THIRD CENTURY John Henry Newman brings the riches of his intellect and imagination to bear upon the the Roman colony of Sicca Veneria in North Africa, circa 250 A.D. Persecution is far from most Christians' living memory. Priests and bishops have grown lukewarm in matters of faith and preoccupied with matters of business. In celebration of the Roman millenium, Emperor Decius decrees that all citizens must pay homage to Rome by swearing by the genius of the Emperor and worshipping Jove. Against this backdrop Newman's novel dramatizes Pagan-Christian conflicts of great consequence through the interwoven fates of three main characters: Agellius, a Christian farmer of Roman descent; Caecilius Cyprianus, the persecuted Bishop of Carthage; and Callista, a Greek decorator of sculptures drawn to the Christian way. Together they must reckon with the most pressing problems of tolerance and exclusivity, conversion and martyrdom.
PURCHASE A COPY OF JOHN HENRY NEWMAN'S NOVEL
CALLISTA: A TALE OF THE THIRD CENTURY HERE
Author: Blaise Pascal
Translated by: W.F. Trotter
Introduction by: T.S. Eliot
Wiseblood Price: $9.00
Book Dimensions: 5x8
" 'The heart has reasons which the mind does not understand.' How often one has heard that quoted, and quoted often to the wrong purpose! For this is by no means an exaltation of the 'heart' over the 'head,' a defence of unreason. The heart, in Pascal's terminology, is itself truly rational if it is truly the heart. For him, in theological matters, which seemed to him much larger, more difficult, and more important than scientific matters, the whole personality is involved."
—From the Introduction by T.S. Eliot
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) left his Pensées incomplete at his death, but the meanings these "thoughts" contain continue to be resurrected. Herein he sets forth a defense of the Christian faith that directly incorporates skepticism and stoicism, that confronts infinity and nothingness, intuition and analysis, being and death, boredom and despair. Amidst all of these thoroughly modern problems lies Pascal's infamous wager: to have faith in God's existence or not.This Wiseblood Classic is available HERE and HERE for $9.00!
It is a perverted judgment that makes every one place himself above the rest of the world, and prefer his own good, and the continuance of his own good fortune and life, to that of the rest of the world!
Each one is all in all to himself; for he being dead, all is dead to him. Hence it comes that each believes himself to be all in all to everybody. We must not judge of nature by ourselves, but by it.
Flannery O'Connor, President of the Board
Dear Friend of Good Literature,
The 20th century saw a remarkable renaissance in what critics call "faith-infused fiction" or “literature of belief”: Graham Greene, Muriel Spark and Evelyn Waugh in the UK; Leon Bloy, Francois Mauriac, and Bernanos in France; Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, and J.F. Powers in the United States—to name just a few giants. We love these writers, read them, and are deeply indebted to them (for goodness' sake, our press takes its name from Flannery's first novel
). Yet conversations about faith and culture have often wound dizzying circles around them, in part because many do not know where else to turn. In Paul Elie's New York Times
article "Has Fiction Lost its Faith?"
he asks “Where has the novel of belief gone?” For years we have been fast on the trail of an emerging "literature of belief”—consider, in addition to works published and championed by our better-known friends at Image
and Dappled Things,
just these few titles by Nick Ripatrazone
, Brian Jobe
, and Uwem Akpan
—and if our first year's publishing catalogue is any indication, the renaissance of literature by writers of faith is here
Rooted in the tradition of O'Connor and other “Golden Age” greats, Wiseblood Books is forging a new idiom in faith-fueled literature without shrinking into the "ghetto" of Christian culture. We publish works that find redemption in uncanny places and people; wrestle us from the tyranny of boredom; mock the pretensions of respectability; engage the hidden mysteries of the human heart, be they sources of either violence or courage; articulate faith and doubt in their incarnate complexity; and suffer through this world's trials without forfeiting hope. Within the first year of our existence we will have published six original works of fiction, including Micah Cawber's The Unfinished Life of N. ,
Amy Krohn's A Flower in the Heart of the Painting,
Holy Cross professor Lee Oser’s second novel, The Oracles Fell Silent,
Robert Vander Lugt's short story collection Sand, Smoke, Current,
and Geoffrey Smagacz's A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills (the first chapter of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize).
The 2014 publication calendar is expanding in production and genre: Elena Maria Vidal's historical novel The Paradise Tree
; F.J. Rocca's Master of Wednesday Night
; a cinematic play by Christopher Yates; and Charles Hughes' poetry collection Cave Art.
Launching and sustaining a small press requires a fortitude that borders on pigheaded stubbornness. It means countless late nights at the desk, as well as a dangerous willingness to take risks so that brilliant new books may be brought into being. While Wiseblood Books has so far been able to create and distribute rich, well-reviewed books on a tiny budget, your support will help keep us independent and vital. Our immediate goal is to raise $33,000 to support our efforts at reviving a literature that speaks to the soul in our time. Your gift will help us to remunerate the cover artists and bring aboard some of the best editors in the milieu, will help us to promote, print, and distribute both our original titles and our growing library of classics (including works by Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky, Plato and Cather, Henry James and Gogol). Supporting a small press is a gravity-defying kindness but it is also a sort of necessity
; without your donations
we will simply be unable to forge a timely yet enduring idiom in the literature of belief. Support us with a “Wiseblood Widow's Mite” of $5
; a “Wiseblood Wiseguy/gal” gift of $25
; a “Wiseblood Book Hound” gift of $50-99
; or a “Wiseblood Seraphim” gift of $100-$300
. Donors who give $333 (or more)
will be dignified with immense title of “Wiseblood Caesar”
and will receive the entire catalogue of Wiseblood originals. Remember, the culture you save may be your own.
The late James Laughlin’s publishing house, New Directions, is the standard at the moment for contemporary fiction. When you see ND on the spine, you know that you’re getting a solid work that is actively engaged with contemporary literary concerns. It is still too early to tell what will become of the upstart Wiseblood Books, but such a strong entry as this early on is a sign that it is heading in the right direction.
—From M.A. Peterson's review of Wiseblood Books' forthcoming
A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills
Excerpt from Karen Dahood's review of A Flower in the Heart of the Painting:
Amy Krohn’s sketches are regionalist, set in semi-rural Wisconsin, though one might say the uneasy evolution of the settler into the settled is the story everywhere in the United States. Krohn’s canvasses contain glimpses of life in small towns, in living rooms where church ladies perch lightly on borrowed sofas and chairs, in bedrooms where sisters share secrets, and in cars, where riders wish for escape, or long for the sight of home. These all-too familiar settings are energized by intruding thoughts, dangerous to a society that grasps so tightly to its belongings, its memories, and ways of doing things. A fresh breeze blows through. New ideas are toyed with. Different possibilities might almost be imagined. Ultimately, there is baggage. Click HERE to read in full Karen Dahood's fine review of Amy Krohn's still-fresh-from-the-press collection of stories: A Flower in the Heart of the Painting.
The rising tide of equality and freedom in America's burgeoning democracy . . . the inherently abstract and therefore often ambiguous quality of freedoms and equalities . . . the persistent presence of a seemingly archaic but ever-perceptive aristocratic perspective . . . With measure and complexity Henry James tackles all of the above in his tragic-comic political novel THE BOSTONIANS. The plot revolves around one of those triangles of desire so familiar in the great works of literature—from Stendhal to Dostoevsky, Katherine Anne Porter to Walker Percy. In THE BOSTONIANS we have Olive, a vehement bohemian humanitarian bent on bringing the young and talented Verena under her influence. Olive's wealth allows the impressionable Verena to become a star lecturer on the radical feminist lecture circuit. Enter Olive's cousin Basil, an ex-Confederate soldier from Mississippi come north to escape poverty and find good work. The "progressive" Olive and the "conservative" Basil vie for Verena amidst a panorama of activists, journalists, and eccentrics as James probes the psychological and political dilemmas of democracy with characteristic detail and acumen. This Wiseblood Classics edition includes excerpts from Tocqueville's DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA and James' ruminations on the American novelist, both of which that heighten the reader's attentiveness to problems of liberty and servitude, equality and difference. Purchase a copy HERE
Chapter XIV: The Trade Of Literature Democracy not only infuses a taste for letters among the trading classes, but introduces a trading spirit into literature. In aristocracies, readers are fastidious and few in number; in democracies, they are far more numerous and far less difficult to please. The consequence is, that among aristocratic nations, no one can hope to succeed without immense exertions, and that these exertions may bestow a great deal of fame, but can never earn much money; whilst among democratic nations, a writer may flatter himself that he will obtain at a cheap rate a meagre reputation and a large fortune. For this purpose he need not be admired; it is enough that he is liked. The ever-increasing crowd of readers, and their continual craving for something new, insure the sale of books which nobody much esteems.
In democratic periods the public frequently treat authors as kings do their courtiers; they enrich, and they despise them. What more is needed by the venal souls which are born in courts, or which are worthy to live there? Democratic literature is always infested with a tribe of writers who look upon letters as a mere trade: and for some few great authors who adorn it you may reckon thousands of idea-mongers.
-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
[Editor's Note: Fascinating diagnosis from Tocqueville, as always. Perhaps we should substitute "authors/writers" for "celebrity actors and singers." Meanwhile, Wiseblood Books continues to bathe in gold shillings due to an "ever- increasing crowd of readers." Interpretation of above image: E-Books = a regular moshing Fortune]
WISEBLOOD BOOKS' NOVEMBER 1 RELEASE,
AMY KROHN'S A FLOWER IN THE HEART OF THE PAINTING ,
IS READY TO BE READ!
ORDER HERE FOR ONLY $11.00 OR ON AMAZON FOR $13.50 SMALL PRESS DISTRIBUTION RECENTLY WELCOMED WISEBLOOD BOOKS INTO ITS FOLD, SO SOON OUR ORIGINAL FICTION WILL BE AVAILABLE HERE.
With the release of award-winning author Amy Krohn's collection A Flower in the Heart of the Painting, Wiseblood Books moves from the Sub-Saharan African setting of our inaugural novel The Unfinished Life of N. (Oct. 1, 2013) to the rural heart of the Midwest. We also move away from The Unfinished Life of N.'s sometimes labyrinthine, ever-demanding prose that grows out of the tributary streams of Dostoevsky, Faulkner, O'Connor and Foster Wallace into the subtle landscapes of Krohn's careful, almost classical eloquence inherited from Tolstoi, Willa Cather, and Sarah Orne Jewett. A Flower in the Heart of the Painting is populated by a cast of quiet characters whose land and interior lives are brought into full relief. Krohn draws us into unassuming, ordinary dramas in order to reveal that, in spite of our best efforts to live compartmentalized, comfortable lives loosened from the transcendent, everything is at stake. The heart of the collection is “A Portrait of Happiness and Love,” a hundred page novella modeled after Tolstoi's short novel Family Happiness. In each story idealized marriages are tested, drained of false romanticism and yet, as Krohn's narrator notes, “What love we shared had suffered blows, and yet, bent and wounded, it grew upward, fiercer than before.”
Award-winning author Amy Krohn lives on a dairy farm in rural Wisconsin.
Advanced Praise for A Flower in the Heart of the Painting:
Amy Krohn's A Flower in the Heart of the Painting is a strongly cohesive, quietly intense collection of stories, graceful in every sense of the word. Her characters face a variety of situations, wrestling with some of the most challenging mysteries of romance and fulfilled love, family and faith, childhood and maturity. Yet uniting the stories is a firm focus on art--not as mere escape or ornament but as a life-changing, spirit-filled, identifying endeavor. Krohn writes beautifully, with delicately evocative language throughout, not to mention penetrating observation and psychological depth. A very fine debut.
-Professor David Graham, author of After Confession, Stutter Monk, and Greatest Hits.
Amy Krohn’s stories are carefully drawn portraits—life studies if you will—of ordinary men and women who inhabit the rural landscapes of Wisconsin. These are inward-turning stories, “Where the Meanings, are–” as Emily Dickinson says. Krohn renders her subjects and themes with delicate brush strokes, with the control and precision of a water colorist. These stories are acts of faith and hope. As one of her narrators says, “Isn’t art the act of creation, after all? As God speaks the world into existence, so the artist extracts her own world from an empty place.” She easily could be speaking of Amy Krohn's fiction.
—Thom Tammaro, editor, Inheriting the Land: Contemporary Voices from the Midwest and Imagining Home: Writing from the Midwest.
Read both of Amy Krohn's interviews—with the Ripon Commonwealth Press and Midwestern Gothic—to meet the author and enter the world of her fiction. Finally if you have not given Wiseblood Books a good old "like" on Facebook or subscribed to our weblog Notes From Underground, please do so in order to keep up with Wiseblood Books' Currents!
Thanks for Reading,
Joshua Hren, Ph.D.