2015: A Brief Revisit
Wow, the fifth year of doing the Beachies! This is truly an
honor. Plenty of individuals worked tirelessly this year. I am impressed by how
many people have been able to balance their art and their work, oftentimes
seemingly without sleep. For art is a difficult thing to keep up. Lots of
artists I know tend to live simple lives content with little but
producing their work free of worry.
Beach Sloth changed quite a bit this year too. 2015 saw
Beach Sloth start a few new projects, do more readings, and overall generally
move things in a different direction. Doing the same thing for several years
without a break can certainly wear a person down. I am pleased with how I was
able to ‘switch things up’ in 2015 while keeping Beach Sloth engaging to
myself. That means nothing particularly edgy happens on Beach Sloth’s hallowed
pages, it stays pretty much consistent with how the project started out, maybe
a little bit nicer than before.
2015 was the ‘settling down’ of Beach Sloth after several
years of continuous moves. Beach Sloth hopes that there will not be any further
moves for a few years to keep things ‘stable’. It is my hope and everyone
affiliated with Beach Sloth (and yes, that group may start to grow) that Beach
Sloth continues to be a place where good art is supported and snark is kept to
a minimum. Because the honest truth is people ought to support each other and
doing otherwise (tearing people down) seems to be the opposite extreme of Beach
There might be a bunch of people receiving Beachies who
might have received commendations elsewhere. There are others that probably few
have heard of and might know next to nothing about. Plenty of people
unfortunately have sent Beach Sloth stuff and Beach Sloth has not gotten to it.
Towards the end of 2015 Beach Sloth got a little better at ‘catching up’ but it
is still embarrassingly far behind in reviewing everything in that Beach Sloth
style. Sure, there’s always the phoning it in review where things are compared
to other things, various other writers are mentioned, literary movements
brought up, but that’s a rather boring way of doing things and certainly not
the idea that drives Beach Sloth’s extensive work.
Apologies to all those I have yet to read and have not read.
2015 was a busy, moving-centric year with slight periods of homelessness.
Hopefully 2016 will be an even more stable year. Here’s hoping.
The 2015 Beachie Awards
Best New Literary Magazine: The Shabby Doll Reader – full
disclosure I have met Lucy K Shaw multiple times as well as all of the Shabby
Doll Reader staff. However, before Shabby Doll was merely a well-curated
literary magazine. Now it is something more, the kind of thing that brightens
the first Sunday of my month, and whatever day I decide to publish the review
of said magazine. The amount of effort expended for this magazine is admirable
as is the inclusion of non-English speaking writers. It is a colossal
undertaking and how all the Shabby Doll Reader staff put it together every
month puts me, a mere sloth, to shame.
Best Albert Camus Tribute: Michael Seidlinger’s “The Strangest”
– I really liked this book and I almost didn’t get to read it until the end of
2015. That would have been a serious shame for it is an in-depth look at how
online personas function and slowly come to represent the psyche of a person.
Additionally it is a must-read for any Albert Camus “The Stranger” fan while
having a unique enough approach to make it its own entity unto itself. Michael
Seidlinger has been referred to as ‘the sickest of the fucks’ and he stays true
to that description with “The Strangest”.
Best New Faber Poet: Crispin Best – A few years ago I gave
Crispin Best a Beachie as “Best Crispin: Crispin Best” which he did not
consider a real award. It was. But in fairness, he’s now a Faber Poet and has
serious-ass responsibilities. Anybody familiar with his work will see this as
long overdue. Those in the UK might want to ‘check out’ his reading tour which
he’ll probably be going on. Crispin Best, this is a real award. I offer my apologies
for making fun of your last name. It was funny to me.
Best Reading Tour: Steve Roggenbuck – this guy, this guy did
over 120 live events over the year. No other poet tours that danged hard.
Basically every three days he had another event. His work ended up in the New
Museum in New York City (specifically his YouTube videos). He put out two books
(short stories and poetry collection). Honestly Steve Roggenbuck, after doing
so much, should probably take a nap in 2016. But no, in 2016 he’s going to
Europe to tour there. So basically Steve Roggenbuck will continue his frantic
Best Person Who Convinced Me to Actually Do a Reading Tour
Instead of Sitting inside Reading Books and Eating Cucumbers – Alexandra
Naughton messaged me asking if I wanted to do a tour with her and a few friends
in Philadelphia and New York. I ended up meeting some amazing people in
Philadelphia and see why it is called ‘the city of brotherly love’ because
literally everybody knows each other. Additionally others in New York City
suggested that I do a ‘curated reading series’ once a month or something
featuring writers I really like. I am not sure if I am going to do that but I
have a month or two to mull it over.
Best Real Estate Broker: Eric Baker – You can find the book
here. It is funny, really funny.
Best Email List: Josh Spilker – this guy works really hard
to send out emails. Plenty ought to check out his work outside of emails. He
has a few books out, runs review blogs, and is generally an affable
Best Wedding: Katya Delaney – One day someone messaged me on
Facebook asking if they could invite me to their wedding and what my address
would be. I never met them before. So of course I said yes. Several weeks later
I received an invitation in the mail. To avoid awkwardness, I met them a few
times in NYC before I actually went to their wedding in Florida. I promised to
blog about their Florida wedding. I did, quite obsessively. I strongly
encourage more people to invite me to their weddings. I dress well and am
cordial in real life. Additionally Katya also wrote a play that was quite
excellent and I hope to visit her at her new, undisclosed location.
Best Novel: My Body Would Be The Kindest of Strangers by
Fiona Helmsley – Wow, I loved this book. Everything about it worked for me. I
think I spent a few days engrossed in it, talking to my friends about it. This
book made me think a lot more about how society treats artists for better and
for worse. Additionally it made me completely re-evaluate my stance on Courtney
Love and listen to all three Hole albums from the 90s (haven’t gotten around to
their non-90s work, not sure if I will). So yeah, I strongly recommend it.
Best Debut Book: Lion Attack by Oliver Mol – this book was a
blast. Reading it made me feel less cold, like I had a better idea of
ultimately how I fit into the world. Not every book makes me feel that way.
Warm, funny, and surprisingly sweet this is the sort of thing I hope to see
more of. Oliver Mol’s work has gotten extensive coverage and it deserves every
bit of it.
Best Book about a Starfish: Seven Legged Starfish by C.A.
Mullins – this was a really surreal trip. I’m a fan of the bizarre sort of
thing and it doesn’t get much weirder than this. I remember thinking to myself
“damn” in a good way multiple times throughout the story. This is a trip but it
builds and actually transforms into a modern day Siddhartha but with a starfish
instead of a human being.
Best Chapbook Series: – Nostrovia! Press – I believe these
guys lost a Volva Station Wagon in the middle of Kansas and lived in a yurt in
Arizona. Yes, these are true statements. Strange, highly devoted to the written
word they put out a few absolutely astounding chapbooks this year. I enjoyed
all of them immensely. They are very dedicated to their writers, put out a lot
of wonderful things and generally subscribe to the ‘support each other’ ethos.
Beach Sloth is happy to know them digitally and hopes to meet them IRL next
time they are nearby.
Best Poetry Collection (1): Uptalk by Kimmy Walters – this
is what poetry is like when it is alive. Everything about this is yes. I still
have a few of the lines from this book stuck in my head.
Best Poetry Collection (2): Teen Surf Goth by Oscar D’Artois
– Easily the best title for anything and a sly wink to early WAVVES output
(wow, WAVVES is really bad now, right?) this book is pretty damned funny. I
chortled and guffawed at “Teen Surf Goth”. I will do it again and again because
that is how I am. Life is better with “Teen Surf Goth”.
Best Play about a Party House: The Party House by Olivia
Lilley – for a while Olivia Lilley and Eric Baker were competing about who
could sell the most real estate. Then Olivia Lilley gave up and wrote some
plays instead. It was for the best considering how intensely Eric Baker
believes in the real estate world. However, Olivia Lilley wrote a play,
semi-autobiographical, about her time living in a party house. This is a pretty
playful kind of play wilder than anything she’s written before. Indeed, it is a
grand play and those in the Chicago area are fortunate enough to have her.
Best Work: Soft Split by Szilvia Molnar – this is a
different kind of category. This was a beautiful work. I cannot classify it at
all it exists in its own universe. Lines of this are etched into my brain
forever. Powerful pure and perfect this moves literature into places I never
would have imagined before. Dark, weird, and cryptic I recommend that basically
anybody who can read this should read this.
Best Friend: you, dearest reader – thank you for being a
friend, for reading this up to this point. I decided not to do any sort of neat
and tidy conclusion. I hope that in 2016 I will have even more time to read as
2015 ended up being more chaotic and bureaucratic than I originally envisioned.
Anyone who feels like reaching out, offering feedback, pointing to things I
might have missed, can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I try my best to keep up to date with everything but unfortunately I am but a
singular entity, restricted by time. I hope this will change in the future.