THIS WEEK’S TWO OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “MY LIFE WITH THE STARS,” BY TONY FLOOD AND “WHEN I WAS ALIVE,” BY C. CIMMONE, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
TITLE: MOVIEOLA! (note: all caps, with exclamation point.
AUTHOR: John Domini
EDITOR: Happy to salute Guy Intoci and Michelle Dotter, hardworking and sensitive. Publisher: Dzanc Books, Ann Arbor, MI & New York, NY. http://www.dzancbooks.org
SUMMAY: A linked series of stories (all previously published), this book takes you through a night at the movies — and not the Art-House, but the Mall-Plex.
The stories sample from blockbuster types: the rom-com, the action-adventure, the superhero and spy. The narratives, however, are still under construction, and so every storyline is an opportunity for some unimaginable twist. Motive and identity shift all over the place, offering both narrative and anti-narrative, while the stunted shoptalk of the Industry struggles to keep up.
The result is at once comical and moving, recalling Steve Erickson and Italo Calvino, part game and part celebration.
BACK STORY: A strange piece of work like this has a complex provenance, naturally. I can say I wrote the stories over ten years, and found magazine publication for them all. At the same time, naturally, I had other work, like a novel and a book of essays. But every now and then, one of these would bubble up, and I went with the impulse. When I had enough for a book, I revised all the stories with the whole in mind. As for other sources, deep and murky, I have a brief essay on that in Necessary Fiction, their “Research Notes” column. A fun read I hope: http://necessaryfiction.com/blog/ResearchNotesMOVIEOLA
WHY THIS TITLE? After I’d finished four or five of these pieces, the idea to combine them into a single text emerged from the dark recesses of, I don’t know, my artistic sensibility or something. With that came the title, full caps, exclamation, and all.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ THIS? A difficult question for any author, this one’s especially tough for us so-called “literary” guys. We’re more about meeting artistic challenges than finding an audience. That being the case, I guess anyone who appreciates such a challenge, the risk of storytelling outside the norms, ought to like MOVIEOLA! Also there’s humor here, sure, and a humorous critique of our culture’s money-mad superficiality. Some fine surprises, too — in particular the surprise of coming across a feeling person or two, an actual character, in this Funhouse.
REVIEW COMMENTS: Modestly as I can, I say, this book has done very well with reviewers. Lovely brief notices appeared in places like Vanity Fair and Chicago Triune. Three longer write-ups meant a lot to me:
In The Millions, J.C. Hallman hailed MOVIEOLA! as an “amplification” of Woody Allen and Nathanael West: “a new shriek for a new century:” http://www.themillions.com/2016/08/one-monster-replaces-another-on-john-dominis-movieola.html
Another appreciation, by John Madera in The Brooklyn Rail, called the book “a bravura performance” from “a writer producing his best work:” http://brooklynrail.org/2016/10/books/down-on-the-cutting-room-floor
Angie Jabine, in The Rumpus, called the stories “feverishly exuberant… both highly visual and incredibly verbal:” http://therumpus.net/2016/06/movieola-by-john-domini/
AUTHOR PROFILE & COMMENTS & CONTACT: Besides this book of stories, I have two others, still available both in print and electronic editions. I have three novels, also easy to find, and one under contract for 2018. A hefty selection of criticism appeared in 2014, and I have a chapbook of poetry too, and more. Awards have come in all genres, with fiction in Paris Review and non-fiction in The New York Times. My grants include an NEA Fellowship and an Iowa Major Artist Award. I’ve taught at Harvard, Northwestern, and elsewhere, and I make my home in Des Moines.
Actually, the best source for information about me or about my book — including interviews, videos, and more — is at my website, http://www.johndomini.com.
There you’ll also find my email, very simple, under “Contact John Domini.” I’m likewise easy to find on for Facebook, where I’m pretty active as well. I always enjoy hearing from thoughtful readers.
SAMPLE: All the stories were edited for the book, some less so and some more, but here’s one, “Players, Tawkers, Spawts,” as it appeared in good literary journal: http://www.conjunctions.com/webcon/domini11.htm
WHEE TO BUY: I always urge folks to patronize their local independent bookstore, and mine, here in Des Moines, is the lovely Beaverdale Books: http://www.beaverdalebooks.com/ Any indie that doesn’t have MOVIEOLA! in stock should be able to order it easily. But you can also use the IndieBound website: http://www.indiebound.org/ and the book is, of course, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The Price is $15.95.