First, at the beginning of July, Personville Press will release a free ebook sampler, Three Times Time containing three of Jack Matthews’ best short stories previously published in other volumes. It’s being released as a promotional sampler for readers who haven’t heard of Jack Matthews. I’ll keep you in suspense about which stories they are, but they should be released very soon.
Second, Personville Press will be republishing the play Interview with the Sphinx which Mr. Matthews first published in 1992. It’s a philosophical comedy based on the legend of the Sphinx character in Greek mythology. In this modern version, the Sphinx is being interviewed by a interviewer, as though she were just another Lady Gaga celebrity. She is a talkative, flirtatious and mysterious person who likes to talk about anything except the question being asked. The Sphinx speaks of ancient Greek times as though it were yesterday. She and the interviewer discuss all kinds of linguistic and philosophical questions, weaving contemporary and classical allusions together. As an added bonus, Sigmund Freud and Florence Nightingale make cameo appearances as a kind of “Greek chorus.”
Now here’s the fun part. Although Interview with the Sphinx makes for fun and cerebral reading, Personville Press will be producing an audio version of the play which will be released at approximately the same time as the ebook. The audio version should capture the lively wordplay and pyrotechnics from the script. (More). Both the ebook and audio play will be for sale separately and as part of a bundle. Both will be available in November.
Finally, there’s a backlog of ebooks that will probably be published before the year is over. That includes 4 new story collections of stories published in book form for the first time. Personville hasn’t finalized any deals yet, but I can say that I’ve read most of the completed manuscripts. They are all delightful. This includes:
- Soldier Boys, a series of stories about ordinary Civil War soldiers and how they confront life-and-death questions. Ironically, war itself is not so much the main subject of the book as how individuals deal with the insanity while trying to live a normal life…and ultimately how they make their peace with it. These are contemplative and even spiritual stories. They also reflect Matthew’s interest and fascination with the Civil War era (which we also see in Gambler’s Nephew).
- Abruptions is a collection of flash fiction or prose poems (under the pseudonym Matt Hughes). which Matthews has been writing over the last decade. These pieces fuse the lyrical/metaphysical/humorous/ with the mundane, yet these pieces remain accessible and are not simply “precious.”
- The Second Death of Edgar Allen Poe and other Stories is a Borgesian collection of stories, full of twists, plots and narrative tricks. The title story was one of the most fun pieces I’d read in a long time.
- Boxes of Time is a collection of stories written over the decades which have appeared in various literary magazines. They have a variety of different styles and themes and many different approaches to storytelling.
As I said, the 4 story collections haven’t been finalized, but they’re ready to go. At the moment, it’s hard to say which story collection will come out first. They are all important in their own way. If I were a betting man, I would say, Sphinx comes out by Thanksgiving, and at least two additional collections will be out by the beginning of 2013.
Finally, one final note about formatting. You may know that ebook formatting are changing for the better. Starting with Sphinx onward, people reading on the Kindle should see substantial improvements in layout and design (pretty much because the old Kindle format was atrocious). People reading the epub file should see some improvements too.