Review: Essays and Fictions by Brad Phillips | 3:AM Magazine |21 January 2019

To go directly to my review of Essays and Fictions by Brad Phillips, at 3:AM Magazine, click here.

What I’d like to write about today, in my customary essay-on-publication-day, is an appreciation for the random chaos of literary Twitter.

To wit: IF

  • @tyrantbooks hadn’t tweeted on August 20th that there were advance review copies of this collection available, and IF
  • I hadn’t seen that tweet, I wouldn’t have thought: who is Brad Phillips, and IF
  • I didn’t own a copy of a 1950s book club edition of Crime and Punishment because I liked the cover, and IF
  • Gian at Tyrant hadn’t taken a chance and mailed me an ARC when I responded to his Tweet via email, and IF
  • Brad Phillips hadn’t hit me with a barrage of confessional Twitter DMs that were both endearing and suspect when I wondered what’s-afoot-when-someone-slips-on-a-Dostoevsky-dust-jacket, and IF
  • I wasn’t used to reading medleys of forms and styles thanks to my hours of flash fiction readership for Wigleaf, and IF
  • Joe, the reviews editor at 3:AM, wasn’t also willing to take a chance on me, then

…I would not have this review published in the astonishingly good magazine named for a sharp, cold hour: 3:AM. *angels singing*

So, thank you 3:AM. If you enjoy writing reviews, and have a chance to work with J. M. Schreiber (@roughghosts): do it. He’s a thoughtful editor and reader, who, being a memoirist himself, cares a good deal for essayists and their fair assessment. As reviewer + editor, he and I discussed my draft, down the margins back and forth, and I swear each time I opened Schreiber’s track-edits, I thought, Ah! so right!  accept-accept-accept. I had drafted this review with a New-Criticism mindset, meaning only to engage with the contents of the page before me. Joe said he didn’t understand why one would choose to do that. Then I wondered why I chose to do that, and I stopped being lazy and arbitrary. I worked harder. I researched more of Phillips’ articles and essays on art. I traveled to Brooklyn to hear Phillips read. Wherever I’d dropped “I” constructs into the draft, syntactical switcheroos flicked them out, screwing down sentences into more objective statements. I can’t thank Schreiber enough. I don’t know how we can’t see these clumsy, unmasking errors in our own work. Thank God for editors. I had originally opened the review with the observational descriptions of Phillips’ reading, but Mr. Schreiber suggested placing that section at the end. Shortly after, the review seemed just about right. What a wonderful editor. Thank you, @roughghosts.

The next person I’m thankful for is Brad Phillips, who is quite wry and very smart. Not only did I enjoy his collection, but the more I looked into his career, the more I liked his whole schtick, his whole positioning of himself in this world, his curious existence. Here he is, reading from Essays & Fictions:




FULL DISCLOSURE: I have submitted work to Tyrant Magazine and have in some combination withdrawn work or been declined. That has no bearing on my review. Writing reviews is how I learn about presses.

Here’s some random images: pics of the Brooklyn Tyrant reading, some dm screencaps, the original photo I tweeted that got Phillips’ attention.  Thanks for visiting here, and if you’re interested to know my thoughts about Essays and Fictions by Brad Phillips, then hop on over to 3:AM via this link.

Happy New Year.



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