Skinny Dipping

Hooray for Small Beer Press. We came across the tiny Northampton publishing house when Kelly Link and her astounding, bizarre, genre-waltzing second collection of short stories Magic for Beginners crossed our path. Small Beer puts out work that’s more literary than typical sci-fi or fantasy. More fantastical than literary fiction. And Word Up was thrilled to receive an email from Gavin Grant, the man behind Small Beer, and Link’s husband, announcing a new collection of short stories by Minneapolis writer and poet Alan DeNiro.

Like Link’s work, the stories in Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead, DeNiro’s debut, don’t slot comfortably into genre. Think Aimee Bender and China Miéville and George Saunders. Think authors who blur the surreal with the political with the emotional with the fantastic. In the title story, which was shortlisted for the O. Henry Award, an 18 year old kid in a suburb called Suddenly writes his college essay on debating whether to get gills to be with the girl he loves. “I was beginning to learn how a person’s mind could be like a nipple or an earlobe, how a person could fall in love with a person from what they say instead of how they look.” In “The Centaur,” a soldier’s leg is amputated and a fairy tale is sewed on in its stead. You can get the “fun size” edition of the collection here on DeNiro’s blog.

And tomorrow night, July 11, he’s reading at Porter Square Books at 7 pm with Theodora Goss. And Kelly Link will provide the introductions.

Across town in Brookline, another away-from-the-real reading is taking place tomorrow night. At 7 pm at Brookline Booksmith, Pagan Kennedy reads from her Confessions of a Memory Eater, a novel about a memory drug, identity, and whether it’s better to live in the present or past. You can read an interview did with Kennedy here.

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