Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I saw Sean Lennon perform last night at the Bowery Ballroom, a small little club way downtown in Manhattan. He's touring to promote his new CD Friendly Fire, which is excellent. I was a little worried that his voice was all studio, and wouldn't hold up live. But I shouldn't have worried. He sounded great. He played rhythm guitar, but took the lead on the last song before the encore and played a hot solo. He talked a lot to the audience and was funny. It was his hometown crowd and many of his friends and family were there. He mentioned Yoko, but I didn't see her.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon!
12 stories. 12 dollars. $1 dollar a story.
Support the independent presses.
Join the rebellion.
Click here to read excerpts!
Then click on either the book cover above, or the Rebel Press logo below to go directly to the Amazon page.
Also available directly from Rebel Press.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Hardball: A Season in the Projects by Daniel Coyle.
If you need a baseball fix this winter, I heartily recommend Hardball. I found this gem on the discard shelf of my library, and picked it up for ten cents!
It chronicles a Little League team in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects during the summer of 1992. It's about more than just baseball, however. Author Daniel Coyle does an excellent job of weaving the personal lives with the baseball personas of the individual players. You get to know each player, his home life and personality, and how and why he came to join the team, the Kikuyus. The field is the players' escape from the reality of the projects' gang wars, murder, teen pregnancy, and broken families.
The book also discusses the politics that seep into the league, and the tension that arises between the original founder of the league (who is African-American and from Cabrini-Green), and the white coaches who volunteer their time to try and teach the kids baseball, as well as win their trust and friendship.
This is an old book, published in 1993. An excellent journalist, Coyle has since gone on to write a novel, and a book about Lance Armstrong, Lance Armstrong's War. You don't have to be a baseball fan to like Hardball. It's about society, and opportunity, and community. Pick it up.
A side note to Mr. Coyle: It's been nearly 15 years since you wrote this book. I'd love to see a follow-up, even if it's an article and not a full-length book. Where are the kids now? What are they doing? Who succeeded? Who succumbed to the lure of gang life? What has happened to the residents—and gangs—of Cabrini-Green, now that a new urban renewal is happening, and the old projects of the neighborhood are coming down?
Roof Whirl Away, by Tom Saunders, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Bloodlines, by Susan DiPlacido, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
On the Bridge, by T.J. Forrester, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Everything is Something to Somebody, by Marcus Grimm, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
Quiet, by Katrina Denza, Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction
nineleven, by Donald Capone, Stories From Sunset Hill
Friday, November 10, 2006
The Big Bam by Leigh Montville.
How do you go about writing a biography of one of the most famous and beloved people in American history? How do you convey what he accomplished, the exalted status Ruth attained? It's a tall task for a biographer. Leigh Montville was up for the job.
Babe Ruth was—and still is—larger than life. And it wasn't just hype and good PR. He earned it with his bat, his personality, his full throttle attack on life. He lived like a rock star thirty years before rock n' roll was even born. Montville does the job of conveying this by placing the reader squarely in Ruth's time. And not by over-describing the settings, or the fashion of the day. But with the little things, like the Babe getting a speeding ticking for doing 27 MPH! Or showing what went on during the train rides the Yankees took when they traveled to other American League cities. Or describing news events of the day, like Charles Lindbergh's successful flight across the Atlantic, and the crash of the stock market in 1929.
All the familiar territory is also covered: the Babe's time at St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys as a kid, coming up to the Red Sox as a pitcher at age 19, his trade to the Yankees, his homeruns, his called shot in the '32 World Series, his relationship with Lou Gehrig, his off-season barnstorming tours, his two marriages, his baseball tours around the world, his exit from baseball, his retirement, and eventually his death from cancer.
Ruth's personality, too, comes through, and not just the cartoon image many of us are familiar with: the over-eating, the over-drinking, the many women. His love of life, his sense of humor, his rebelliousness, and his heart also all come through. Ruth wasn't a phony. He was real. One classic moment in the book was a reprint of an interview with poet Carl Sandburg. Sandburg was out to knock Ruth down a peg, show how uneducated Ruth was. But it backfired. Ruth was a ballplayer—a great one—and never pretended to be anything more. He was a big kid who pulled himself up from nothing and conquered the world with his bat. That's why he was loved.
My only complaint (and this goes for many other baseball biographies): Why on earth wouldn't you print the career stats of the player at the end of the book? I had to keep looking on the internet when I wanted to see Ruth's stats. Hopefully they'll add it to the paperback version.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Fiction & Literature: Anthologies
Winner: Untangles: Stories & Poetry from the Women and Girls of WriteGirl, WriteGirl Publications, 0-9741251-4-8
Finalist: Rebellion: New Voices in Fiction, Rebel Press, 0-9786738-0-8
Finalist: Writing the Cross Culture, Fulcrum Publishing, 1-55591-541-8
USA Book News
AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon!
Robin Slick • Susan DiPlacido • Tom Saunders
Steve Hansen • Katrina Denza • Myfawny Collins
Marcus Grimm • T.J. Forrester • Grant Jarrett
Matt St. Amand • Tripp Reade • Donald Capone
Also available directly from the Rebel Press website:
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Agents believe mostly women read and buy fiction. Publishers believe mostly women read and buy fiction. Agents and publishers therefore only represent and publish women writers. OK, this may be a blanket statement—a stereotype. Or maybe not. Prove me wrong.
I go into Borders and look at the titles. Everything has become the same. One book is indistinguishable from the next. Chick-lit on the fiction tables, non-fiction about the Iraq war on the other table. As a reader, I want more of a choice. As a writer, I want the chance for other readers to have the opportunity to read my novel.
So, I now pose this question and challenge to agents and publishers: Is there no agent or publisher willing to take a chance on a comedy written by a male author that features a young 30-year old man as the lead character? Get off the bandwagon and break from the pack. Be a visionary. Believe that men will read fiction if given something they can relate to. Trust that women will read something different. Be a trendsetter, not a follower.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
The following is a review of my short story collection Stories From Sunset Hill by novelist Susan DiPlacido, reprinted here with her permission:
There are moments in life that define us, change us, affect us. They can be big, landmark occasions, or sometimes they're smaller, quieter moments of revelation, loss, or triumph. This is what Don Capone understands, and illustrates, so well in his debut collection of short stories, Stories From Sunset Hill.
Sometimes the moments come while fleeing in a hail of gunfire, or while getting teeth knocked out by a bare-knuckled punch. And sometimes the moments are much more mundane and happen while simply eating a yogurt, or rifling through your grandfather's long-boxed up belongings. But just because some of the moments are quieter or more introspective doesn't mean they aren't weighted as heavily with emotion or as fraught with tension.
In this collection, Capone navigates effortlessly from the high-octane, heavy action narrative to the whispery, introspective tales and manages to make them all resonate just as strongly.
The setting of Sunset Hill, New York serves as the connective tissue between the individual stories, and Capone indeed uses this to its full potential, making the neighborhood a supporting character, drawing on its history and lore, sometimes having a person from one story make a brief appearance in another, sometimes picking up on a small detail and using the imagery again. And the details are part of what's so good about all these stories. The characters and setting are vivid and knowable because there almost seems to be a blurring of fiction and reality at times, because the telling minutiae is so well captured.
In "Green Panties," we see a man's life spiral out of control with the appearance of a mysterious pair of underwear. While in "Raze," a small, seemingly meaningless change and upgrade in the neighborhood is just the impetus to give another resident a new hope. There are unexpected, clever and ironic twists in a few of the tales, while some are straightforward and heartfelt. And some, such as "nineeleven," are simply heartbreaking. Because while the geography contains all the people in the stories, it's still ultimately their connections to each other that matter, and how their pasts and futures weave together. A teenage pharmacy worker comes to this understanding in "The Midget of Gramatan Avenue," and the local "freak," whose own history is splintered, still manages to carry plenty of collected history.
Exceptionally well written, with plenty of humor, and characters that all feel more like real people rather than fictional constructs, Sunset Hill is a great place to swing by and visit, and Capone is an excellent tour guide.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
Rebellion—New Voices of Fiction
Chock full of Zoetrope writers, AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon!
Here is the lineup:
Matt St. Amand
Monday, August 14, 2006
With Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, first-time novelist Ellen Meister kicks some serious butt! Don't mistake this novel for chick lit; the humor, characters, and unpredictable plot twists kept the story unique and interesting to this (male) reader. It barrels along to its satisfying ending, and actually leaves you wanting more. (If you liked Tom Perrotta's Little Children, you'll like Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA.) I won't give you the run-down of the whole plot. Suffice to say, if you want to read a book that allows you to enter someone else's world, learn their wants and dreams, be privy to their inside jokes, and allows you to recognize a bit of yourself (or someone you know), then this novel is for you!
Order it now!
Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Rebellion—New Voices of Fiction
Thomas Jefferson said, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” We agree. Rebel Press is proud to present an alternative to the safe and familiar names put forth by the major publishers.
This anthology offers fiction that is off the beaten path, by authors who write for art’s sake, for the love of the craft, authors who aren’t afraid to extend the boundaries of the short story. Please enjoy these fresh new voices.
Join the rebellion.
Matt St. Amand
My short story collection Stories From Sunset Hill, includes 17 of my stories:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The recipe for this new anthology is simple: Sex, 50 stories, 1,000 words each, written by 50 authors from all over the globe. A scandalous fusion of literary traditions, See You Next Tuesday is the exclusive and hyper-unusual mishmash of never-seen sex-texts, exploring the inevitable and always poignant cross-sections of human existence and sexuality.
I'm proud to be one of the 50 authors in this collection. Look for my story "Like Herself." Order it at the website:
Better Non Sequitur
Friday, June 02, 2006
I am proud to be a part of the launch of a new small press—Rebel Press. They take Thomas Jefferson's words to heart, "A little rebellion now and then is a good thing." Click on the logo above and visit the website to get the full story.
I am the editor of Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, an anthology of some of my favorite writers:
Get a load of this list of authors included:
Matt St. Amand
and, uh hem, Donald Capone
My short story collection Stories From Sunset Hill, includes 17 of my stories:
These books will be available early Summer.
Join the Rebellion!
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life was accused by Random House of plagiarizing the work of their YA novelist Megan McCafferty. I read the 27-page report written by RH that highlights 45 similar passages between McCafferty’s books and Viswanathan’s debut novel. It’s hard to believe this was a case of “unconscious” plagiarism as Viswanathan claims.
Little, Brown gave Viswanathan a two book deal worth $500,000. That's half a million, folks! Incredible. There are SO many talented writers hawking novels right now, trying to get agents, trying to get published (myself included; if you need other names, I can give you plenty). But LB couldn’t resist the marketing angle of a 17-year old writer! And female at that, in this trendy world of popular chick-lit. It was a can’t miss deal. But it’s gone oh, so wrong. Now the movie rights, which were sold to DreamWorks, are up in the air. Just give the film money to McCafferty. Make a film of her novel. Cut Kaavya Viswanathan out of the deal totally. She shouldn’t profit anymore from her plagiarism.
I have an offer for you, Little, Brown & Company. I have a very funny comedic novel titled Into the Sunset that I promise is all original, and not cribbed from another writer. I will give it to you for half of what you paid your teen sensation. $250,000. Call me.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is a novel about three women who come together when Hollywood announces plans to shoot a movie in their children's schoolyard. Maddie Schein is an emotionally-needy ex-lawyer whose marriage is on the rocks. Brash Ruth Moss has it all except for one thing: her husband was left brain-damaged and sexually uninhibited from a stroke. Timid Lisa Slotnick wants nothing more than to fade into the scenery, but is thrust before the spotlight by her alcoholic mother, a singer whose career has failed.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Dear Me.(sic) Capone,
While your novel sounds interesting, Impetus doesn't publish mainstream
fiction--only serious literary fiction with a pop edge, that falls
in-between the mainstream and commercial presses.
So, my work isn't "serious" or "literary," but it is mainstream. Woo-hoo! That's what I've been trying to tell everyone else who rejected it!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Rob Saunders just wants to feel safe, but the world is a dangerous place.
What can you do to feel safe in a dangerous world? When Rob Saunders witnesses a young Japanese student commit suicide, he impulsively takes the folder she dropped as she threw herself under a tube train. He finds himself taking souvenirs from a series of tragic or threatening events, at the same time initiating an edgy affair with a work colleague. His behaviour becomes increasingly obsessive. The lines blur between witnessing, seeking out, and initiating tragedy. Things spiral out of control when he discovers a dead body while he's jogging in the woods. Stylistically bold, technically accomplished, this fast-paced pageturner explores the anxieties and survival strategies of a post-9/11 world.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
There has to be a compromise, an alternative. Some men still do read. According to SmallPress.org it is estimated “that 7,000-plus new publishers come into being every year. A conservative estimate of the small independents across the country: 50,000.” And “Barnes and Noble notes that purchases from the top 10 publishers declined to 46% from the 74% figure it had been three years back. The shift has been to independents, small publishers and university presses.” So if you’re a writer you can get your work out there, then work hard to promote it and sell it. Unless you’re looking for a 6-figure deal and a chance of ditching your day job, the small presses are the way to go. Or, better yet, why not start your own?
The large houses seem to lack daring and leadership. The only one who seems to have a daring bone in their body is Macmillan New Writing, who are set to launch the first wave of titles by new authors this April. I wish them luck.
The first small press I want to spotlight is called Contemporary Press. They are based in Brooklyn, NY, and sport the catchy phrase “Fuck Literature!” on their website. From their site:
“Contemporary Press is many things. It's modern, yet classic. It's world-weary, yet particularly American in its outlook. Most of all, it's an attempt to bring books back to a point where you'd want to read them. And you know who you are.
“When did it become so damn difficult to find a book with a plot that isn't a memoir, isn't written from the perspective of an 18th-century waif and isn't festooned with footnotes that denote nothing but the post-modern cleverness of the author?”
Check them out, buy their books, and submit your work.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Go check it out and submit a story for their Spring issue. As a writer, you can follow the journey of your story from submission to either acceptance or rejection. Not for the thin-of-skin, because there is a messageboard where the editors hash it out. They argue the merits of the story, decide whether it is good enough to be sent up the ladder to the next editor, with eventual publication and a $50 pay day at stake.
Can you touch the Monkey?
Note: my story "In Bloom" went through the TQR gauntlet, got spanked, and eventually crapped out at the end. But I lived to submit another day.