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A racy new anthology - Alex Carrigan

Hope you enjoy this catch up with our Stories About Penises contributor Alex Carrigan. He's been busy reviewing books, and is also open for submissions for a new anthology called Please Welcome to the Stage…: A Drag Literary Anthology. xx guts


Critical Lockdown

By Alex Carrigan

It’s hard to believe that Stories About Penises was one of the last exciting things to happen to me before COVID-19. But, being locked in with no social obligations meant I could actually read again. Even more importantly, I got to devote more time to one of my growing interests: writing book reviews.


I had begun doing more reviews in 2019, but with the obliteration of my social obligations in 2020, I could read and write as much as I wanted. I found reviewing helped substitute a lot of my lost social interactions, especially since it gave me opportunities to interact with authors and readers of my reviews.


I got to meet fellow Stories About Penises contributor Thaddeus Rutkowski in San Antonio right before quarantine began and got the chance to review his new poetry collection Tricks of Light for Quail Bell Magazine. Kim Vodicka’s The Elvis Machine was one of the most audacious and hilarious poetry collections I read, to which I got the praise “it’s by a man!” from Vodicka when my review went up on Empty Mirror. Greg Mania’s Born to Be Public was one of the funniest memoirs I read in some time. My review, which was published in Lambda Literary Review, was partially quoted on the back cover of the paperback edition of the book, which was a major accomplishment for me as a reviewer.


Writing reviews became such a fun challenge for me to read books and to see what interpretations I found. Even getting to chat with authors when they found my review was enlightening, especially my chat with Aidan Martin after I reviewed Euphoric Recall.


Even the review I wrote of the absolute worst book I’ve read in years was fun for the challenge of figuring out how write a negative review, although I refuse to share it because it doesn’t deserve attention.


Probably the biggest surprise of my review spree is that I also decided to move from reviewing books to reviewing submissions. My friend Rachel Head (who helped with my Stories About Penises story) and I decided to solidify our friendship as a literary partnership, House of Lobsters Literary. We’re currently working on our first anthology, Please Welcome to the Stage…: A Drag Literary Anthology. We’re looking poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and artwork that celebrates the art of drag, however the author interprets “drag.” You can read our submission guidelines here for more information and can submit today.


Since 2019, I’ve published 43 reviews on 14 sites with three reviews awaiting publication at the time of this writing, including on two new sites. This project revitalized me as a writer and now I want to produce something that can hopefully inspire reviews and discussions once it is published. When that time comes, I look forward to seeing what people think of Please Welcome to the Stage…, and I can only hope they’re not as brutal as I was to The Book That Must Not Be Named.

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