Gary Lutz is notoriously unprolific and for good reason: the man puts a super-human amount of thought into each line of his prose. In his speech "The Sentence is a Lonely Place" he describes how he thinks about word choice and order: the shapes of the letters on the page, his preference for ending a sentence with a hard consonant sound unless there’s a reason to leave it intentionally open-ended. Given the intensely unusual grammar of his fiction, it’s either counter-intuitive or completely appropriate that he is also the co-author of Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference. I wasn’t entirely sure it was the same "Gary Lutz" until I saw that Ben Marcus’s novels were listed in an example of how to correctly use a colon. With copies of the first edition of Lutz’s out-of-print 2003 short story collection I Looked Alive currently priced at $175 on Amazon, Brooklyn Rail/Black Square Editions have kindly reprinted it for the rest of us. Alissa Nutting, author of Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, reviews.
Alissa Nutting’s collection of short stories Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls was selected Ben Marcus as the winner of the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. Both funny and experimental, each story in the collection is told by a woman stuck in an unpleasant job, such as zoo keeper, knife thrower, corpse smoker and even the rather unlikely human ant farm. Her story "Ice Melter" is a cocktail of diabetes, heroin chic and social anxiety. The collection is due out on October first.