Books

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Communion: Stories


Available for pre-order from Black Lawrence Press

Purchase: Communion: Stories

“I don’t know that I’ve read a stranger, more unsettling book than TJ Beitelman’s Communion. And I mean that in the best way possible. At times Beitelman’s stories remind me of those of Raymond Carver, the characters here so often so far away from one another. Yet turn the page, and Beitelman pulls off a kind of lyrical magic, and I am reminded of the lush, surreal poems of WS Merwin. From the first cold bite of an orange to the final communion of blood and crab cake, these stories linger in the mouth, stay with you long after you finish.” — Joe Wilkins, author of The Mountain and the Fathers and When We Were Birds

“If O’Conner, Mattheissen, Danielewski, and Saunders got together to play Exquisite Corpse, they might produce something akin to Beitelman’s Communion but with the startling control of language of a poet. These twenty paired narrative artifacts are part flash, part poetry, part traditional short story, peeling layers of a world of grace, absurdity, and the long complicated effort to create meaning in the self and in relation to others in our familial and cultural constellations. Time, place, landscapes are all elements, but so, too, are the simple issues of the body, like our need for sustenance: a peeled orange, hand-made crab cakes, blood. Characters consecrate this living, our rituals, liturgies, survivals, re-enactments, and transmute the wounds that make us who we are.” — Laura McCullough, author of Jersey Mercy


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Americana


Now Available from Black Lawrence Press

Purchase: Americana

“In TJ Beitelman’s poems, “everything’s a powder / keg,” where everyday occurrences explode into expressions of joy and heartache. Americana begins with an examination of American icons and institutions, then moves out in widening circles to encompass everything from Greek myth to global politics. Here you’ll find strange bedfellows—Bogart and the Big Bang, Hank Aaron and Buddhism, Hezbollah and Frank O’Hara—drawn together by Beitelman’s nimble mind. Full of surprising turns and observations, Americana is a wide-eyed view of the extraordinary world around us, one most of us rarely have the capacity to see.” — Mark Neely, author of Dirty Bomb

“Beitelman’s Americana is a funhouse full of mirrors that reveal the comic, the tragic, the beautiful, and the grotesque of commonalities we can’t avoid: pop culture, politics, history. It is a funhouse where “truth and memory are mute” and the connections between, say, “Bela Lugosi and truck tires” are what guide us through spinning tunnels and illusions. And as we exit, its difficult to say what is more real: Beitelman’s mad rendering or the world that inspired it.” — Michele Battiste, author of Uprising


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John the Revelator


Now available from Black Lawrence Press

Purchase: John the Revelator

John the Revelator is a romping bildungsroman for the contemporary South: a boy in search of sacred text among archetypes and icons — hustlers, good ole boys, visionary hermits, convenience stores and Yoko Ono, a little Tom Sawyer, a little late Barry Hannah, Oliver Twist via Quentin Tarrantino.” — Lucy Corin, author of Everyday Psychokillers

“Believe me when I tell you I am writing this note on the Feast of the Epiphany witnessing this smorgasbord of eye-opening delectable dialects spread out in TJ Beitelman’s John the Revelator. The tongues with which Mr. Beitelman speaks are legion. Slick, studded, silky, budding with delight. This is a delicious mixed mash-up of texts, recovered from the electro-magnetic soup we can call the unconscious consciousness. Believe me! Who knew you were the operator standing by to receive this book’s urgent call?” — Michael Martone, author of Four for a Quarter


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Self-Helpless: A Misfit’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness


Now available from Outpost 19

Purchase: Self-Helpless: A Misfit’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

“I thought that if I could put it all down, that would be one way. And next the thought came to me that to leave all out would be another, and truer, way….But, forget as we will, something soon comes to stand in their place. Not the truth, perhaps, but — yourself.”— John Ashbery, from “The New Spirit”

“It’s probably not a coincidence that the rise of the memoir coincided with both a rise in general prurient curiosity about other people’s private lives and a rise in willingness to expose one’s own private life, manifested not only in radio and television talk shows and “reality shows” (the “reality” notwithstanding), but in cable news that has so much more time to fill that gossip about celebrities and “human interest” stories about noncelebrities became useful fodder, thus also a source of publicity for those who seek it.” — Cris Mazza, from “Too Much of Moi?” in The Writer’s Chronicle

“The larger dynamic at work is the celebration of self…The implied message is that if it has to do with you, or your life, it’s important enough to tell someone. Publish it, record it…but for goodness sake share it…The assumption is that an audience of strangers will be somehow interested.” — Brian Williams, from “Enough About You” in Time


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In Order to Form a More Perfect Union


Now Available from Black Lawrence Press

Purchase: In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

“The reach of this exuberant and anguished book is potent, and made more so by the force of restraint. The subjects TJ Beitelman encounters here — beauty, love, sin, being, thought, felicity — are driven through the sieve of American culture, and out comes fragments, the leavings of what we were once instructed to value. Part of the edifice is gone, eroded, demeaned, cheapened, misused. At some point, however, the voice behind these deadpan yet lyrically fluid poems realizes how naïve it would be to reject outright the grace of descent, because that would erase the possibility of coming back. This is a book about coming back, coming back to being whole and wholly changed. And what a moving, intelligent, and measured book it is.” — Maurice Manning, author of The Common Man

“In Order to Form a More Perfect Union is a book obsessed with divisions…narrative ones, yes — love stories end in daggers, road trips end in cliffs…but also other sorts of fissures. When Beitelman writes the word half-hearted, he means not desultory but desperately searching (in material ranging pretty much from Homer to Hollywood) for the missing half.  And these breaks are, in his sensibility, “a blessed thing.” It is spectacular to watch his poems upend everything. In this book, the paint squeezes its artist from the tube. The facts are not to be believed, but you will ardently believe that they are facts.” — Darcie Dennigan, author of Corinna A-maying the Apocalypse

“Jam-packed with the materials of American history and culture, TJ Beitelman’s poems are wonders to behold, set loose and spinning across forms, eras, and landscapes. From hopeful new-dawn visions to dark Jeremiads to softly flowing elegies, they capture voices and ideas from the main stems of American thought, with a smart, questioning energy that’s remarkable to follow. The book ultimately leads to a rocketing road trip into American politics, music, and dreams unlike any other you’ll ever find — hilarious, mysterious, brilliant and absurd in all the right ways, just like the U.S.A.” — Jim Murphy, author of Heaven Overland


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Pilgrims: A Love Story


Winner of the 2008 Black River Chapbook Contest from Black Lawrence Press

Purchase: Pilgrims: A Love Story

“Jude Law and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘dusty and dry and alone,’ ‘their minds a certain kind of wild,’ light out for the territories in a red Edsel, in search of something, but find nothing, and so realize their only recourse is to ‘make a something of a nothing,’ specifically a something which can accommodate Las Vegas, candle tricks, Emily Dickinson, and a ghost town ‘shrine of We-Don’t-Know.’ Beitelman takes us on a pilgrimage both sensual and metaphysical, both comic and tragic, warning us against ‘shimmer, shine, and show’ while delivering us bushels of each.” — Joel Brouwer, author of And So

“Beitelman’s voice is sure as we navigate a roadmap between oasis and urban beehive, clarifications on loneliness, aloneness, and solitude. The ‘pilgrims’ in this sequence desire a fresh authenticity (of self and in relationship), but are finally left only to stare: ‘…There’s no one left but / You to watch You now’ amid the ‘shimmer, shine, and show.’ Mirrors. A disorienting existential pose surrounded by street-talk of the street-smart. Pilgrims: A Love Story draws the reader to the tough and simple sheen of language, and to its ever-questioning narrative. The old tale of ‘wait and see’ echoing once more.” — Katherine Soniat, author of A Shared Life


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Thirteen Curses (and Other Love Poems)


Winner of the 2008 National Chapbook Poetry Prize from Dream Horse Press

Purchase: Thirteen Curses (and Other Love Poems)

“Incantatory, Beitelman transmutes betrayal’s metals—its angers and devastations, its cries for vengeance and vindication—to a finer, rarer coin, marrying the apothegmatic punch of the curse to the sonnet’s synoptic concern. These are finally indispensible, unspendable reminders of poems’ powers to shape the world around them.” — Jake Adam York, author of A Murmering of Starlings

“TJ Beitelman becomes ‘Little Boy Britches // To Love’s reedy switch’ in his Thirteen Curses. These lacunae-like fragments, in their little meditations, mutter that ‘The earth is not round | But heart-shaped and broken’. It might be that upon reading this simple, honest, straightforward collection, the reader will recognize the ‘cello of our discontent’ described throughout and suddenly snap into the realization that ‘If the world were not round you would not be // on top of me.'” — C. J. Sage, author of Odyssea