This blog is long dead. Please go to

26 July 2012

HTML Giant review of Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy

thanks to Sarah Heady [read the review here], who not only had the guts to read the book in the first place but was also able to engage its more alarming contents--"the blunt physicality of child rape"--while navigating with seeming ease China Cowboy's myriad formal experiments: "a network of dreams, self-delusions and mini-universes reveals itself through Nabokovian footnotes, appendices, crime reports, fake nonprofits (Cowboys Against Child Abuse), press releases for suspicious art galleries...."

As a result, Heady writes one of the best reviews of a Tarpaulin Sky Press title, like, ever.

Indeed we'd like to believe that Heady's pithy summation of Short's abilities is also an apt description generally of the work we publish, work in which the author "has expanded and fused the poetic and narrative fields, creating a zone where elegance and grace can gambol with the just-plain-fucked-up."

Early in her China Cowboy review, even Heady's synopsis sears:
A ring of hellfire encompasses La La from the moment of her birth, when the devil himself (“a white dark man”) wraps a searing-hot hand around the breech fetus’ calf and delivers her into the harsh world of Kowloon, 1977. La La’s parents make their living “taking the tourists to an alley stabbing them stealing their stuff,” and the child is used as a prop to gain victims’ trust. Early on, to cover up the odd claw-shaped birthmark on La La’s leg, her mother dresses her in “cowboy boots tube socks,” and Patsy Clone is born: La La’s country star alter ego, her ticket to America, where children “have their own rooms.”

Unfortunately, one of her family’s victims is an American ex-con/soybean farmer/child abductor who sticks around Hong Kong following the assault, and one day La La never comes home from school. Maybe Ren, a.k.a. Bill, a.k.a. William O’Rennessey, is really the devil incarnate, or maybe he’s just one of the devil’s many agents on a confused, globalized earth circa 1989. He is certainly an updated (and actually American) Humbert Humbert whose version of the coveted nymphet is called a “la la” (with a lower-case L). China Cowboy’s heroine is just one of many la las in the world, an unlucky abductee who’s bribable by sugary cereal, plastic microphones and flouncy skirts. And Ren is a man who will do anything the voices tell him—assuming aliases, squirreling away la las in remote corners of the country, wrestling with his own delusions of grandeur and multiple personalities. In China Cowboy, “Hell is red carpeted stairs lined with plastic runners smell of wicked shit”—a particularly cheap and Americanized evil. Ren “goes all the way inside,” and La La never comes out—smuggled through the port of San Francisco, sequestered in a shoddy Missouri cabin, serially raped and, finally, poisoned.
But, says Heady, "if this all sounds too hideous to be enjoyable," it's also important to note that
Short infuses the story with kitsch, humor and addictively playful language that balance out the heartbreak. The dark subject matter is made lighter by La La’s protective pantheon of American deities: “Loretta Lynn Patsy Cline Emmylou Harris beautiful cowgirls,” Clint Eastwood, Woody Guthrie. She complains: “In my sleep I am starring in Coal Miner’s Daughter. I am as convincing as Sissy Spacek except I am Chinese and just can’t help it. I can’t.”
"The Lovely Bones this ain’t," says Heady. Instead China Cowboy is
a satanically intricate narrative with seemingly infinite vantage points in space, time and sympathy. After all, Ren isn’t always evil and he’s 'not never the victim,' as Short admits in her acknowledgments.... [China Cowboy] is an account of trauma and the stories people tell themselves to survive, in the larger context of colonialism (1997 representing the British handover of Hong Kong) and cultural tensions between China and America....

Read the entirety of Sarah Heady's review at HTML Giant.

Read more about the book, read excerpts, and order via the official webpage for Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy.

19 July 2012

Coldfront Interview with Jenny Boully

Thanks to poet Erin Lyndal Martin.

Make-believe does not last forever, the page says. There is something waiting to replace, to consume, to lay a cloak over the days of play and make-believe. The dreaming life will be eradicated. Wendy grows up and dies. A love story does not develop. Death and decay await. The playroom is revealed as a crypt, the love bed a coffin....

Read the full interview here.

If you want to buy the book or read a big swath of excerpts while you decide, check out the official page for Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them.

09 July 2012

Tarpaulin Sky Summer Sale 2012!

Any two or more TSky Press paperbacks are now only $10 with flat-fee $2 shipping per book. That's right. You heard it here, $12 each, and our books are at your door in a matter of days. You won't find a better deal on our titles anywhere else. Forget Amazon. You'd have to rent out family members to afford to buy all our titles through that online beast. Instead, buy from the source and support indie lit while saving heaps of cash. Just use the drop down menu, place your order, and as you proceed to check out, you'll see the option to "Add special instructions to the seller." That's where you can tell us which titles you would like. 

That's all there is to it. You order. We ship. You read. And everyone's happy this summer.

Summer sale!

18 June 2012

Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy reviewed by Travis Macdonald at Fact-Simile

Cover design by Andrew Shuta.
Kim's is a "difficult" book, by any definition.

We like that.

China Cowboy is not a platform, a soundbite, a two-party system, monsters v. innocents....

Thus we are delighted to read Travis Macdonald's review on the Fact-Simile Editions blog, aptly titled "Confronting Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy."

Writes Macdonald:

Just like the book’s protagonist, La La, who “...wears all her clothes. Her boots. All three skirts. All the shirts. The panties, many of them...” China Cowboy by Kim Gek Lin Short is an expertly woven story told in tangled layers.

It is the story of an abduction or escape, a brutal love affair or abusive imprisonment, rise to fame or road to perdition, art installation or songbook retrospective. It is each of these things in turn or neither depending on the narrator in charge at any given moment.

Told in turn from the perspectives of each of the book’s primary characters (La La and Ren), China Cowboy is a successfully executed experiment in prosody that simultaneously braids and frays narrative timelines and expectations, bringing the reader to the brink of every sensory extreme and back again. The result is a darkly surreal adventure in perception that leaves one’s nerves exposed and moral fortitude shaken....

14 June 2012

PANK Magazine reviews Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them

Cover art by Noah Saterstrom.
We don't know how we missed this, but we are glad to have discovered Helen McClory's excellent review of Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them at PANK Magazine.

Writes McClory:

In this prose-poem hybrid, the texts of Peter Pan have been enmeshed, re-corded, and spun into a thickness of sensual detail and slippery cross-reference. Under Boully’s fingertips, Neverland has burst open like a sodden swollen root, spilling out cutlery, birds, bearskins, thimbles, peas, open windows, mermaid scales, pubic hair, damp pirate beards, and fairy dust, of course....

Read the entire review here.

Read more about, perhaps buy, Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them.

12 June 2012

Claire Hero's chapbook, Dollyland, reviewed by Megan Burns at Solid Quarter

Megan Burns's review of Claire Hero's Dollyland is filled with so many killer phrases and perceptions, the review would be worth reading even if Dollyland was just an idea rather than a physical book.

Here are just a few of our favorite sentences in Burns's review:

Claire Hero's newest collection Dollyland features 15 [prose] poems about that once dearly- beloved clone of clones, Dolly the Sheep, and if Dolly the Sheep opened a theme park, Hero could outfit the House of Horrors with verses such as these....

[Hero's] language rests hoofed and cloven as she takes us in hand to wander in the bones and muscles of that domesticated wilderness of the animal song....

...inhabiting the dark underbelly of a thing found first not in nature but in the lab.....

Science, religion, politics and belief came to the forefront in the unlikely form of a sheep, a wooly being through which we worked out our dark need to control and contain the shape of life and death....

Hero lets the wound stay open, she allows the reader to fall into the abyss, a bit terrible and also bitten down into the mouthfuls that she shoves in repeatedly. In this place, we are the beast, we are the faulty construction, we are the ones supplying the wool against the cold night and we are the ones choking on how much we swallow....

Click here to read the full review.

Click here to read more about, or purchase, Claire Hero's chapbook, Dollyland.

07 June 2012

Devil's Lake reviews Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown....

Not sure how we missed this, when it first went live in April, but Rebecca Hazelton published a great review of Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them.

Here's a snippet:
Peter and Wendy is [J.M.] Barrie’s novelization of a stage play, originally intended for adults but significantly altered for a child audience. The later Disney adaptation, Peter Pan, bears only a passing resemblance to the original story. Boully’s book retells the tale through the lens of memory, bringing the subtext of sexual and adulthood anxieties into the foreground. Tiger Lily, who competes for Peter’s attentions in the source text, is here even more overtly sexual, “her thong all encrusted with the little shells from the seashore…she doesn’t shave her pubes, and they’re all sticking out and out.” Wendy, who, as in the book, plays house with Peter in a kind of mock-marriage, wants a “marriage made more real” and is regularly associated with images of growing, pregnancy, and menstruation.

Also brought to the fore are the intentional and unintentional cruelties of Peter, about whom we are told: “this much is ever so real; this much isn't make-believe. Peter Pan can do a great deal in ten minutes. He can do a great deal to you. For example, he can put a little something inside of you, and you will carry that for the rest of your life..."

Read the rest of the Hazelton's review at Devil's Lake, published by the good folks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

And follow this link to read more about--perhaps even to purchase!--Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them.

05 June 2012

Peek inside the book: Free, online excerpts from Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy

Like what you see? Want more?
Save heaps by ordering direct:

$14 includes shipping in the U.S.
(vs. $16 + $3.99 at Amazon)
Add to Cart
or order by check

Read more at the TSky Press official webpage for Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy.

31 May 2012

Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy, now available from Tarpaulin Sky Press

ISBN: 9780982541685
Lyric Novel | 6"x8", 132 pp, pbk, June 2012
Cover design: Andrew Shuta

Save heaps by ordering direct:
$14 includes shipping in the U.S.
(vs. $16 + $3.99 at Amazon)
Add to Cart
or order by check

In the technicolor timewarp call Hell, Hong Kong, wannabe cowgirl La La is hellbent on realizing her dream to be a folk-singing sensation, even if it means surviving a dysfunctional relationship with her kidnapper, Ren, who is just hellbent. Ren thinks he’ll win, but La La, dead or alive, always wins.


"Heated and heartbreaking.... guiding us expertly over the bluegrass, bodies and Time Warps of Hell, child abuse, power and Country Music"—RAUAN KLASSNIK

“Moving between the explicit descriptions of the Marquis de Sade and the implicit ironies of Nabokov, these pieces are excruciatingly compelling, so infernal as they are related in languages variously pornographic and desperately, radically tender.... A bold, imaginative, timely work from a courageous and complex thinker." —HEIDI LYNN STAPLES 

"More hydra than hybrid, a slim monster sprouting new directions for form, narrative, culture, and identity."—CHRISTIAN TEBORDO

"La La and Ren are as searing as any characters I’ve encountered....”—CHRIS TONELLI

Read more, including excerpts, at the TSky Press official webpage for Kim Gek Lin Short's China Cowboy.

30 May 2012

Claire Hero's chapbook, Dollyland, now available from Tarpaulin Sky Press

Prose Poetry
5"x5", 32pp., saddle-stapled
Limited, numbered edition of 100 copies

$10 includes shipping in the US
Add to Cart
or order by check

from Dollyland :

making Dolly

Never was it a question of not. A beached beastscape, a great Cell agape – we entered it. We breached the teethy tunnel & what dumb light leads us we never. In & in & we dare not note what muck marks our hands, what holds us by the tongue. What turns us inward we know not, only that as we went the hold more holds & more until to draw limb from It grew harder still, until we melded our each to other, our me to we, & moved as muscles do, pulse by pulse. Into the vasty deep & deeper still we moved toward what the light might give. Not for eyes, this light, but as for mouth or blood, a feed, & we grew fat on it. We swelled on our stem, pearly & new – & if we rent the flesh that kept us? We birthed a newborn light, a blooded thing: the Hand within our hand, the Eye within our eye.

Read more at the TSky Press web page for Claire Hero's Dollyland


15 March 2012

Jenny Boully's not merely because reviewed at The Iowa Review

TaraShea Nesbit at The Iowa Review, on Jenny Boully's not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them:
A delightful extension of what readers already know about Peter and Wendy, but it's also much more than an extension. The work pushes form, language, narrative, theme, and point of view....
in a review complete with a shout-out to long-time Tarpaulin Sky artist and cover artist Noah Saterstrom:
The cover of the book is also a curious contribution to the book’s meaning: a multi-layered sketch of two children looking towards something that has been torn from sight...
Read the whole beauteous review at Iowa Review.

Read more about Jenny's book, and buy it, here.

06 March 2012

Winner: Johannes Göransson's entrance to a colonial pageant... (Well, sort of.)

TSky Press author Johannes Göransson wins top award at California Journal of Poetics!

And another award on top of that one!

Although it's not really Johannes winning the award so much, or even his book, entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate. But, rather, winning the awards are the blurbs by Blake Butler and Aaron Kunin:


“It would take a miracle to perform this pageant. For a start, you would have to reanimate Charlotte Brontë, Adolf Loos, and Ronald Reagan, and you would need an ungodly amount of wax. Most of the action is obscene, and therefore takes place offstage. The actors enter and report on scenes of spectacular violence that go on all the time every day. The audience is part of the spectacle too. We are all transformed into images somewhere in this script. At one point, all of Hollywood appears onstage in the form of dead horses, perhaps because Hollywood film continues to rely on narrative conventions that it exhausted long ago. The entire world also appears, played by a boy who, in a series of rapid costume changes, puts on increasingly pretty dresses.” — Aaron Kunin on Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate by Johannes Göransson (Tarpaulin Sky)


“I don’t know where else you could contract the plague in these words but by ten TVs at once. On the TVs play: Salo, the weather channel, 2x Fassbinder (any), Family Double Dare, ads for ground beef, blurry surgical recordings, porno, porno, Anger (all). . . . Burroughs and Genet and ‘Pac are dead. Long live Göransson.” — Blake Butler on Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate by Johannes Göransson (Tarpaulin Sky)