Monthly Archives: June 2014

3 blurbs and cover art

Received these 3 thoughtful and generous blurbs for my forthcoming book of stories (MadHat Press, 2015). And the cover art will be this painting of Tim Crowder’s. I am blessed and/or lucky.

As a child--Crowder 2

Plugs for As a Child: Stories

“Reading the stories in Corey Mesler’s marvelous new collection, As A Child, I try to figure out how he can so nimbly distill pathos into joy, fear and desire into sweet hilarity, and language itself into a vehicle of pure delight. Magic is the only explanation that comes to mind.”
Steve Stern, author of The Book of Mischief and the Jewish Book Award winner The Wedding Jester

“In As a Child: Stories, Corey Mesler is once again tender, inventive, and gently fearless. Mesler’s stories transport the reader to a land where nothing matters but the madly beating heart. Be prepared for what you never knew you knew, and hold on tight. It is all there.”
Meg Pokrass, author of Damn Sure Right

“Wise, raucous, straight-shooting, poignant, funny as all hell, and, at times, brutal and uplifting, the eclectic and electric collection of stories in Corey Mesler’s As a Child sucked me in and carried me away from the very first page. The vibrant, real-as-can-be characters and Mesler’s economic, evocative prose (my favorite kind) bring to mind that master of the gothic short story, Flannery O’Connor. I would have followed his characters into full-length novels. I certainly plan to follow Mesler into the pages of all his books to come.”
Jennifer Niven, author of Velva Jean Learns to Drive and American Blonde

One new poem

….here in Beetroot:

One new poem

…here in Sunlit:

Happy to share space with pals Valentina Cano, William Doreski and Peycho Kanev. Cover art by the precocious Baylee Badawy.

Two new poems

…here in the elegant Tinderbox Poetry Journal:

You have to click on each poem separately. And read some of the great poets, including Amy Gerstler, in whose company I have luckily landed.



They love me in Germany

This week, out of the blue, I received a package at the bookstore from Germany. Inside was an English language journal published in Heidelberg and inside that journal was a 13-page exegesis of my first novel, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue. The author of the piece sent it to me with a nice note praising the novel further. I am humbled and grateful for the attention. This is a distillation of the article. I know…it’s still a lot to read.

“Corey Mesler’s novel, Talk, is a dialogue novel, and it poses a challenge to the reader since it is divested of even the smallest narrative framing material such as inquit formulae or contextualizing comments. Speaker attributions have to be inferred from what is said and in which manner. What emerges is a tapestry of everyday verbal interactions that show the protagonist, a bookseller named Jim, in his dealings with friends, family and customers, and—as the story unfolds—with his newly found lover…
By using dialogue…the novel becomes a self-referential vehicle for Mesler’s own playful dialogue with his readers—for example, when he implicates himself in his main protagonist, who happens to have the same job and to be around the same age (a strategy reminiscent of Philip Roth’s fiction)…The novel also enters a dialogue with other, similar works of fiction and thus becomes dialogical in a metaphorical sense. And it seems to enter a dialogic relationship with its readers, offering them participatory spaces. The novel thus enacts on multiple levels what its protagonist Jim in the end calls ‘our pitiful attempts at connection.’
…Nicholson Baker’s novel Vox [is] a novel in which a man and a woman phone up a dating hotline and have lengthy conversations about sexual matters. In fact, the entire novel is almost exclusively a representation of that same conversation. In this regard, Mesler’s novel resembles Baker’s, at least in those parts where Jim meets his lover, Katya. The lovers’ illicit sex talk is highly suggestive even though it merely forms a verbal backdrop to erotic scenes the two fantasize about and only gradually come to act out more fully. Nothing really happens in the sense that they never have vaginal intercourse. Instead, they give each other massages, play strip poker and at some point even have oral sex. Nevertheless, dialogue in those love scenes becomes the ‘hottest medium of all’ (Baker) because it provides not only the characters, but also the readers with powerful mental images…
The characters in Mesler’s novel constantly reflect on the very nature of talk, its purposes and effects. They use what Rusch and Bateson called ‘meta-communication,’ i.e., those parts of communication that give a clue as to how utterances are to be interpreted. In other words, meta-communication shows that speakers, in the very process of speaking, reflect on how their conversation is going and, by commenting on it, try to adjust it…
The ending to the novel is quite remarkable in that it raises the theme of talk not only on a meta-linguistic but also on a meta-fictional level because everything that Jim says here to his unknown interlocutor is what Corey Mesler could be saying to his reading audience. Dialogue is what he presented to his readers, thus also flinging his novel into the ‘silence that surrounds us all.’
…The reflection on talk moves beyond the level of characters in Mesler’s novel as soon as one takes the book into hand. The pictures by Tim Crowder on the book’s covers already point to the novel’s overall theme and the problems of talk explored in the text. The front cover design shows a portrait of a person whose head is replaced by empty speech bubbles bulging out of this person’s shirt collar, with some of those bubbles already dropping down…The attempt at communicating in this picture is also the central theme of Mesler’s novel…
While Philip Roth plays with readers’ expectations because he initially presents his novel as autobiographical…but then refutes its factuality, Mesler moves in the opposite direction by immediately flagging the book as a work of fiction (‘a novel in dialogue’) only to then implicitly invite comparisons with his own real persona as known by or presented to his reading audience. In using postmodern strategies that make readers potentially conflate the author and character Mesler, in a way, presents his novel as both similar to and different from Roth’s fiction. It is thus dialogical in a metaphorical sense, foregrounding the way in which literary texts are intertextually linked with other texts…
Since the novel does not provide any narrational contextualizing material readers have to make inferences as to the backgrounds to the talk, speakers’ motivations and emotions, even as to the very question who is currently speaking to whom. In a sense, they become third-party interlocutors, engaging in the conversations alongside the actual characters of the novel. More explicit conversational spaces are offered to readers in Mesler’s meta-fictional games with the notion of talk. Not only do characters verbalize their thoughts on communicative problems and intricacies, Mesler himself seems to address us through intertextual cross-references and quasi-philosophical excursions, inviting us to draw certain connections…Ultimately, the novel epitomizes the ‘pitiful attempts at communication’ that humans undertake because they are dialogical and relational beings.”

Jarmila Mildorf, in Imaginary Dialogues in American Literature and Philosophy, Heidelberg, 2014

A new short story

….here at Potluck:

A funky little sci-fi horror story

….here at Dead Guns Press. Dig the groovy illustration.!Dr-Munichs-New-Man—Corey-Mesler-/c1ovl/133743E2-BE1E-4D0A-A5D0-276A5D0A9D0A