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Radio Waves daily blog by Two Dollar Radio indie book publisher

This Week Roundup - 10/29/2021

This fall is starting to feel like a tornado. But not a gnarly apocalyptic Midwestern tornado of doom; more like a tornado of positive vibes that glisten like dew drops on blades of grass in the morning in the spring. So I figured what better time to fire up the Radio Waves blog communication machine and roundup all the latest happenings with our authors. Cause there's a lot going on that we don't want you to miss. So imagine it's a vibrant spring morning, you've got a fresh cup of coffee, and you've wandered into the yard barefoot and you can feel the dew and the soft earth underfoot. Those vibes. Behold:

  • "Rhythm and rhyme is maybe the most important thing to me when I'm writing. It’s part of hip hop culture, part of that music. I am a rapper myself, so when I'm writing, especially when I was writing 808s, I made the decision to take rhythm very seriously. I was counting syllables, even the essays and thinking about how many syllables are in a sentence in my essays. I definitely read everything out loud, multiple times. Again, being a rapper, coming from slam and spoken word was like my first real entry point into poetry. I've always felt what I write is meant to be heard, if not by me, at least, meant to be read out loud. I think once I started to understand that, I needed to write in a way that other people could read it, and still hear the rhythm without hearing my voice. I started to become much more selective with my word choice and what rhymes I made. There are certain rhymes that don't sound like it rhymes until you read it out loud, or unless you say it a certain way or put a stress a certain way. I spent a lot of time thinking about syllables, just syllables, masculine, feminine, slant, double rhyme, all those things, because it's important to me. It's fun, too, just fun." —Sean Avery Medlin, author of 808s and Otherworlds: Memories, Remixes, and Mythologies, interviewed by Joshua Bohnsack at Triquarterly
  • Sean Avery Medlin has several events coming up, including the below at Grand Ave Records in Phoenix. Check the calendar on their website for the full schedule.
  • And while we're talking about books and spoken word, how about you listen to one of the first audiobooks we've released at Two Dollar Radio: Sean Avery Medlin reading 808s and Otherworlds. It's available wherever you listen to audiobooks, but we recommend Libro.fm, where your purchase/stream can also support independent booksellers.

Here's what else is filling our brain-pan, non-Two Dollar Radio-related, this week.
What we're reading: Pity the Beast, a novel by Robin McLean, from And Other Stories, for bookclub at HQ (which you should join if you're around).

What we're listening to: "Friends," by Broncho. If there was one thing we needed after living through the past 18ish months, it's a song about friends. I made the kids blast this song twice through on the drive to the grocery.

What we're watching: Wu-Tang: An American Saga, on Hulu.

Sean Avery Medlin, book tour event

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Posted by Eric Obenauf on 29 October, 2021 1 comment |
Design of the Week | Skateboard Master

Isamu Yamamoto | Radio Waves

Take a moment to watch the pure magic of 17 year old Isamu Yamamoto freestyle skateboarding like a pavement ballerina.

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Posted by Brett Gregory on 05 August, 2020 0 comments |
Q+A with Dima Alzayat about Alligator and Other Stories

Alligator and Other Stories is haunting, spellbinding, and unforgettable, while marking Dima Alzayat’s arrival as a tremendously gifted new talent.

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Posted by Eric Obenauf on 25 May, 2020 0 comments |
On the Dial | Perfume Genius

Listen to Perfume Genius, and move your body. Set Fire to My Heart Immediately comes out from Matador Records May 15, 2020. 

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Posted by Molly Delaney on 30 March, 2020 1 comment |
Q+A with Tariq Shah about his debut Whiteout Conditions

With a poet’s sensibility, Shah navigates the murky responsibilities of adulthood, grief, toxic masculinity, and the tragedy of revenge in this haunting Midwestern noir.

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Posted by Eric Obenauf on 06 March, 2020 0 comments |
Design of the Week | Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones written accross the treeline, dividing the water and the sky!? COME ON!

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Posted by Brett Gregory on 04 March, 2020 0 comments |
On the Dial | GRLwood

Scream along to songs like "I Hate My Mom" and "Bisexual"

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Posted by Molly Delaney on 17 February, 2020 0 comments |
Q+A with Masande Ntshanga about Triangulum

Masande Ntshanga, author of Triangulum (Two Dollar Radio, May 2019)

It was our great pleasure and privilege to publish in North America the debut novel by Masande Ntshanga, The Reactive, in 2016. Selected for inclusion in Poets & Writers 'First Fiction' annual, which profiles debut novelists, the author Naomi Jackson praised the work, saying that "with exquisite prose, formal innovation, and a masterful command of storytelling, Ntshanga illustrates how some young people navigated the dusk that followed the dawn of freedom in South Africa and humanizes the casualties of the Mbeki government's fatal policies on HIV & AIDS."

In the fall of 2016, we were also fortunate enough to bring Masande to the U.S., for events at the Brooklyn Book Festival and City Lights Bookstore, as well as many points in between. For the Midwest leg of the tour, we drove with Masande to events throughout Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, on a trip that proved to be exceptionally fun and surprising. In Davenport, Iowa, he read in an old town hall on the banks of the Mississippi River before two folksy American bands played. In Columbus, he spoke to the radio station WOSU about South Africa's strife and where his work fit within its history. And in Fairfield, we ate Ethiopian food at a YMCA dining hall with the author of Found Audio, N.J. Campbell. The experience of hosting Masande was one of the more memorable and enjoyable experiences of my 14-year publishing experience.

Now, I couldn't be more thrilled for the opportunity to publish Masande's ambitious and genre-bending second novel, Triangulum, a work that I've been describing to anyone who will listen as a South African 'Stand by Me' with maybe aliens. Following is a Q+A with Masande about the work.

 Q: Triangulum is a mystery, has elements of science fiction, and is also a coming-of-age story. Where did you begin, and was there anything that you ultimately left out?

Masande Ntshanga: It’s strange. I didn’t leave anything out, which is rare. Technically, I began with the coming-of-age story, but to be honest, how it really started was that, after my first novel, I became preoccupied with the idea of the three-act narrative. Obsessed, almost. That’s where the motif of the triangle came from. In my first book, as well as in stories I’d published before, I’d always viewed both its nature and predominance with suspicion. It sounds naïve, now, but I favoured narrative voice over what I felt was a contrived and limited narrative structure. That’s what mattered to me at the time: looser structure, ambiguity, a more accurate simulation of reality, etc. But fiction can never be reality in the end. Not the reality of the senses, anyway. It can only be fiction, and that’s a strength, not a weakness, I came to realize. Once I’d made peace with that—that the three-act narrative was a valuable literary device in its own right, with enough great stories in its repertoire—I began to wonder what it would look like if I tried to befriend it. Most of the novel’s structure and drive is derived from this preoccupation, including its use of mystery, science fiction, and coming-of-age. I wanted to explore the three-act narrative using three genres, and to see what emerged on the other side. These are the book’s formal preoccupations. In terms of content, once I got going, my preoccupation with narrative structure naturally grew into a preoccupation with memory and recollection—and with time; and this idea that the imagination could be a memory of the future. Mystery, then, became a choice because of its strong adherence to the element of discovery, and science-fiction because of its adherence to speculation. The former was provident in picking apart and exploring the past, and the latter was provident in imagining the future.

Q: What were some of your polestars in terms of music, movies, or other books in crafting this story?
MN: This was meant to be an Easter Egg, but I can’t resist. Here’s a partial list:

Q: Did you feel any pressure on the heels of the success of The Reactive, which seemed to be a generation-defining novel in South Africa?
MN: The reception of my first novel is something I still have a great appreciation for, but to be honest, I didn’t feel any external pressure. I don’t really get to interact a lot with readers and other writers in general. I don’t have a fraternity or a school I belong to, so most of the time I’m on my own, with a single writer friend, or with non-writer friends, or artists in different mediums. I’ve had this novel in my head for a while now, and during that time, I only knew that I wanted to write a book that demonstrated the sum total of what I’d learnt about fiction, as well as one that was honest in its exploration of the questions I had about our past, present, and future. Usually, once I have the story together, form or structure is where I apply most of my reading. Things I’ve gathered from other writers. The novel, then, becomes a vehicle I use not only to satisfy a number of personal questions, but also whether or not I’ve understood what I’ve learnt about the form. And whether or not I’ve made something new of it – something singular and of my own.

Q: An early review of the book at Booklist compared Triangulum to 2666, which is one of my all-time favorite novels, so I was pretty tickled. While they’re extremely different, I’m curious whether you have read 2666 and see any similarities there?
MN: I actually haven’t read it, yet. After reading The Savage Detectives in graduate school, I decided to work chronologically through Bolano. I did read Amulet while writing, though, and now I’m more curious than ever about the opus. I admire his facility with voice and structure greatly.

Q: In addition to the elements of sci-fi, mystery, and coming-of-age stories, you also tackle issues of the environment, now and in the not-so-distant future. With South Africa experiencing severe water shortages last year, was that an inspiration for this aspect of the story?
MN: Definitely. I feel like the water crisis in South Africa is something I’ve grown up with; way before the shortages in Cape Town. I worried about it as a child, and I still do. It’s always been present as a threat in our region, and its inclusion as a feature in the book’s future was inevitable. For example, in 1982, five out of nine of the current provinces were declared drought disaster areas. Now the threat is rising again with climate change—a consequence of which is us seeing more dry periods now than we’ve had in the last thirty years. According to environmental scientists, global warming is predicted to double in the next 50 years, tripling the risk of drought. Of course, what this means for us is that our present water supply system is stressed and overwhelmed, since it was designed for a stable climate. And as it stands, it’s hard to tell whether or not the government will intervene in time.

Q: The history of Apartheid and the Homeland System, as well as the lingering effects of these systems of oppression, play a role in the book. You also imagine how corporate interests could potentially steer us back toward a similar structure. Is this something you believe is happening now, under our noses?
MN: To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised. My thinking is that where there’s a precedent, there’s a possibility. That’s what I admire the most about speculative fiction, I think. That the imagination can be posited as a form of recollection. Philip K. Dick is an example of this “prophetic recall," and so is Arthur C. Clarke. Like much of the world, South Africa finds itself at a crossroads, where the population is reconsidering whether or not capitalism is a viable economic system for its society. Those are the basics. The evidence against it is strong, but the powerful and comfortable disagree. It’s an ancient proposition, of course, and not without a home in sci-fi, where lots of narratives are premised on stratified societies like our own. In the novel, what I postulate is only a possibility, but most of it is drawn from past and present political currents. In other words, even though it’s an imagined, fabricated future, most of its elements can be traced back to our present moment and what ails it. Including us.


If you are a bookseller, librarian, or critic interested in receiving a review copy of Triangulum, click here.
To order a copy of Triangulum, click here.

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Posted by Eric Obenauf on 14 May, 2019 0 comments |
The Death Rattle of Culture | 1/18/19

What? No McRib?

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Posted by Molly Delaney on 18 January, 2019 0 comments |
Design of the Week | Tierra Whack

15 songs in 15 minutes


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Posted by Molly Delaney on 16 January, 2019 0 comments |

Hi there!

Two Dollar Radio is a family-run outfit founded in 2005 with the mission to reaffirm the cultural and artistic spirit of the publishing industry. We aim to do this by presenting bold works of literary merit, each book, individually and collectively, providing a sonic progression that we believe to be too loud to ignore. Check out the ABOUT US section to read more...

Radio Waves daily blog by Two Dollar Radio indie book publisher

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