Book Reviewed

In this era of declining book review pages, getting your book reviewed can be pretty tough. So I feel lucky that my debut collection of short stories was recently reviewed in The Roanoke Times. The reviewer said some kind things about When You Find Us We Will Be Gone. My favorites being: “Each of the 12 stories in the collection combines to create a starkly ravaged landscape of castrated emotions as the various narrative voices suffer disconnection within disintegrating relationships” and “Linforth’s characters struggle with the failed promise of youth and the fear that life has somehow fallen short. Linforth’s settings are global and often unfamiliar, but the characters remind us of people we know well, even of ourselves.”

 

You can check you the whole review here and buy the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Alternatively, you can order it from your local bookstore.

The Rumpus

On Christmas day, the wonderful online publication The Rumpus published my review of the poetry collection Blitzkrieg.  Here’s the opening:

“Strangely, with the entire multimodal dazzle that adorns Blitzkrieg, the poems of John Gosslee exist in a vestigial nook, a calm ache of textual space blissfully unaware of the ripples created by its presence. This is not a criticism. Rather it is an attempted elucidation of the juxtaposition inherent in such an ambitious project. Less a book, and more a sensory experience, the collection comes paired with a soundtrack by the composer Taras Mashtalir and a movie by Thomas Agostino.”

Switchback

I have a new essay in the latest issue of Switchback.

Here’s the opening of “Narravitized”:

When I first started writing essays I wasn’t really writing essays. I barely knew what the term meant or what the parameters were for what I was attempting to accomplish. I was ten, though. Or perhaps eleven. I remember in history class we were given thick textbooks that had been at the school for generations. Scrawled across the pages were crude drawings of naked women: voluptuous, big-haired, dead-eyed—a kind of Playboy palimpsest. The teacher told us to ignore the graffiti and to focus on the words. We were studying the causes of the First World War; how all of those European countries could have converged into a destructive genesis, a beginning of war. The book told a story—albeit in the essay form—of Franz Ferdinand, train timetables, the Schlieffen Plan, jingoism, imperial dreams. History had been rendered into narrative. From where I sat in the classroom these weren’t competing theories of causality, but parts of the story—they added the drama.

A Sky Green and Fields Blue

I have a new story out at Hawaii Pacific Review. Here’s the opening:

A Sky Green and Fields Blue

At the doorway to the barracks, Shoshana saw snow fall into the darkness. Now and then the searchlights scanning the camp illuminated the flurry of white, reminding her of the soap flakes her mother used to wash her clothes. She lifted the gauze from her wrist and picked at the scabby flesh that had grown over the blue numbers. She was tired of the factory, of the endless repetition, of the soreness and the bruises, the grease under her fingernails, the bread and lard rations that made her vomit, and the latrines smeared with dark, liquid shit. Dafna, a Czech woman from Karlsbad, called her away from the door. Shoshana did not want to hear her words. She was tired of listening to the older women.

Story in Whiskey Island

One of my stories–a playful reworking of the contributor note form found in literary journals–has been published in the new issue of Whiskey Island. The issue (No. 62) is available to purchase here. The journal also features the fantastic work of work of Alissa Nutting, Nate Pritts, Russ Woods, and many others. Here’s a sample:

Contributors’ Notes

Carol Clemente teaches writing in the Chicago area where she lives with her two Bichon Frises, Dolores and Fu-Fu. She has published poems in The Paris Review, Crazyhorse, and Feminist Studies. She also has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

This is Tom Fritz’s first published story. He divides his time between drinking espresso at Blue Bottle in Williamsburg and hatching Internet start-ups at his mom’s ranch house in Queens. She has a cat, Pringle, which he’s not allowed to pet. Though he sometimes secretly feeds her handfuls of gluten-free granola and occasionally tosses her a catnip mouse. He’s not sure what else he’s supposed to say here or which achievements he should note down. Sorry, I’m dropping the third-person shtick. I don’t know why you guys require it. But it’s creeping me out. It’s like this note is an obituary or something. I’m here, you know? Alive. Well, just about. I already admitted I live with my mom. It’s kind of a downer, especially on my love life. It’s been a while since I got laid. I’m twenty-three now, but back in college I was an A-grade bullshitter. On the steps of Alexander Library, I held court, often rapping lyrical speeches on the future of the Internet and handing out flyers that detailed my own social networking ideas, and directed people to visit my website. And, sure, I dated plenty of girls, usually hipster types who wrote poems on napkins and then used the corners to wipe the crust from their eyes. Man, that turned me on. I majored in Communication while my friends specialized in Fine Art or Architecture. Their classes were titled “Seventeenth-Century Nudes” and “Onanistic Spaces: A History of the Architectural Phallus.” Sounds cool now. Back then, I never wrote much—just essays on Marshall McLuhan and the lesbian scenes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even made the Dean’s List one semester. Recently, I’ve been looking for a way out. Maybe an M.F.A. Perhaps from Iowa, or somewhere corn grows like that. When I sent my story to the Tenure Quarterly Review, I thought a literary agent would read it, sign me up, get me a six-figure book deal. I mean that Chad Harbach landed sweet bank. So far, for me, this hasn’t been the case. Here’s the skinny: so my story is a glorified to-do list—a to-fuck really—and six months ago, the editors (Hi Gary! Hi Twyla!) emailed to say “Errands” had been accepted. Champagne-in-a-can followed. I tell you, it’s funny. I remember my ninth-grade English teacher, Mr. Hausman, berate me: “Tom, I’m not convinced you read Hamlet. In fact, I’m not sure you know who Shakespeare is and why he’s so important.” Well, old Hausman was right. I didn’t read Hamlet, but I did study Business Week and Forbes and think about how I could accumulate a Google-level fortune before I graduated college. Even though I went to Rutgers (my safety school), I knew I’d be headhunted by Silicon Valley. Post-college, when that didn’t happen, I fell into a gnarly funk. I hit the streets, zonked on Xanax, and looked for inspiration—something to let me know I should carry on living. Well, one cold morning outside the 42nd Street Library, I thought maybe I should have listened to Hausman and I checked out a North Face backpack’s worth of classic novels: Madame Bovary, The Stranger, Catcher in the Rye, etc. That’s how I ended up writing, and dreaming of literary conquest.

Michael Butler nominates Pringle for a Pushcart.

 

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New Story

I have a new story, “The Cowboys of Fukushima,” out this week in a newish online magazine–Swarm.

Here’s an excerpt:

We were told the cows had gone feral, that in the days after the accident they had broken free of the pen and disappeared into the surrounding hills. Government officials were spooked by the rumors of this wild herd, declaring that the cattle posed a radiation risk to the elderly civilians still living in the warehouse on the outskirts of the city. On first meeting Makoto Nishimura, the local representative, the three of us—McAlister, Doolin, and Ketchum—knew the problem was more than some radioactive cattle. We could see he feared the unknown.

Read the rest here.

 

 

New Essay

I have a new essay published in Squalorly today. Here’s a sample:

Scuttling through the undergrowth, examining the waxy green leaves of the rhododendron, seeing if the plants are an alien life-form masquerading as beings-of-this-world, I realize I am no botanist. I carry on, leather notebook in hand, and glare at the people on the asphalt loop. Young couples in matching maroon hoodies and blue jeans faded at the knee drink in the romance of the sweeping water. Fishermen kidding no one in camo, including the walleye and the pickerel frogs, stoop over the shoreline with their hands grasping straight rods. Their fingers fidget, missing the rifles secured in the parking lot. The pond looks deeper than my last visit—its belly swollen from the run-off. Around me the dampness of the melted frost has left a pungent smell in the earth, like discarded chewing tobacco. With a final glance at the water, I write reflection is an illusion and head deeper into the woods.

New Story Published

Today sees publication of one my recent stories, “Take It From Me, Kid, I’m a Clown.” Published by Lunch Ticket (Antioch’s MFA literary magazine), the story is available to read for free on the interwebs.

Here’s the opening:

“Listen kid, I know it’s your birthday and all, that you only turn ten once, and that this is your special day, but, come on, you’re crying over your balloon animal because you wanted a giraffe and you got an Irish Wolfhound, which you say looks retarded, and that I’m retarded; please, give me some respect here—even though I go by Bozo the Clown, I’m no bozo, just part of the franchise—this is my career, my profession…”

Ten Rules For Writing

Last fall in my fiction class we looked over the rules of several famous and successful writers in this Guardian article and came up with our own list of rules. Mine is below:

  1. Write for one hour a day. Minimum.
  2. Try not to make the story predictable. Surprise yourself.
  3. Create an ending where people say WTF!
  4. Write about something you know nothing.
  5. Read the books friends suggest. Don’t just say you will.
  6. Embody the dialogue. Make it authentic. Make it zip.
  7. Write things that are beyond your reach.
  8. Fail as a writer.
  9. Accept this and rewrite the goddamn thing.
  10. Value your classmates and your teacher.

 

Overall, I stuck to these rules quite rigorously and was able to write some strange and powerful fiction–different from my usual fare. During the semester we were not able to tell anybody our rules or mention that we had a covenant with the rest of the class. This, in hindsight, added a layers of secrecy and mystery to the proceedings, and, in some way, drew the class closer together.

So, now, I’m asking: what are your ten rules?