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JEF is alive and well! New books are coming soon!

Hi, everyone!

We are very sorry for the long time between announcements.  We had a difficult winter.  Our publisher, Eckhard Gerdes, was ill for several months with some mysterious malaise, and the judge of our Patchen Award competition, Jønathan Lyons, spent a long time in hospital, where he contracted c.diff, which led to a horror story that I won’t go into here because it could easily be made into a book about that incredible experience and all he has endured.  We are back, though, good as gold and ready to get going on the new publishing projects, of which we have many!

One of our most recent titles, Harold Jaffe’s brilliant collection Goosesteps, recently received a rave review in the American Book Review.  You can find information on the review at the Fiction International Facebook page, in an entry dated January 29.  Find it here.  American Book Review, long one of Eckhard’s personal favorites (he has a lifetime subscription!), can be found here.

In the months to come, we will be expanding the site a bit, and will be adding author pages to the site, so stay tuned for that.  Out authors will be able to post their events and forthcoming projects on them.

Our next two titles are in progress.  The amazing Yuriy Tarnawsky’s Literary Yoga, a collection of literary exercises that will delight both new and experienced writers of poetry, prose, and drama, will be out very soon.  The finishing touches are going into now.  And then, later, towards the fall, an anthology of essays on innovative literature, Experimental Literature:A Collection of Statements, edited by Jeffrey R. Di Leo and Warren Motte, will be released, and this is a deusy.  But I’d wager this collection, which features contributions by some of the most innovative writers of our era, including Carol Maso, Robert Coover, Brian Evenson, Vanessa Place, Rikki Ducornet, Michael Martone, and Anne Waldman, to mention only a few of the almost three dozen great writers who contributed to this, will go farther than any Duesenberg ever.   Details on both books will be coming soon!

The forthcoming year will also bring the long-awated 2017 Patchen-award winner by Richard Strauss, as well as books by Jim Meirose, Ryan Madej, and Denis Emorine.  And also stay tuned for new novels by JEF favorites James R. Hugunin and Frederick Mark Kramer.  And more is in the works!  This should be a great year for JEF.

The eagerly awaited announcement of the 2018 Patchen Award winner will soon be announced as well.  We would have made the announcement sooner, but, given Jønathan’s challenges, especially, I hope you can forgive the delay.  Eckhard felt changes judges midstream, so to speak, was unfair to all, so we waited for Jønathan (and Eckhard) to recover.

As always, feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or comments.  Eckhard can be reached at


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A new James Hugunin book! Discount extended through October!

Fiction. Art. Film. Q↔A: AN AUTO-INTERVIEW is, at heart, as its title suggests, an auto-interview by novelist and art and photography critic James R. Hugunin. It delves into the nature of his work, both literary and critical, and offers and discusses large excerpts from his major works. This is an excellent introduction to the genius of James R. Hugunin. This deluxe hardcover volume, as almost all of his are, is lavishly illustrated in full color.

About the Author

James Hugunin teaches the History of Photography and Contemporary Theory at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1983 he won the first Reva and David Logan Award for Distinguished New Writing in Photography. He is the author of A Survey of the Representation of Prisoners in the United States: Discipline and Photograph, The Prison Experience (1999), and Writing Pictures, Case Studies in Photographic Criticism, 1983- 2012 (2013), New Art Examiner Reviews: 1986 -93), and Afterimage: Critical Essays on Photography from the Journal Afterimage, 1977-88, all collections of his critical writings. He has also written several novels: Something is Crook in Middlebrook (2012), Elder PhysicsThe Wrong of Time: Stories from an Elder Home (2013), Case- X (taking us inside the mind of an academic undergoing treatment for salivary gland cancer), and Q↔A: AN AUTO-INTERVIEW (JEF Books, 2017). His current novel-in-progress, Finding Mememo, plays with the genres of academic writing, detective and sci-fi genres (forthcoming in 2017) as it critiques the suffusion of neoliberal economics into academia. In 2016, Hugunin was elected a member of Chicago’s Society of Midland Authors.

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Charles Hood’s Patchen-Award Winning “Mouth” now available!

Journal of Experimental Fiction Logo


Journal of Experimental Fiction announces 2016 Winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award Winner for the Innovative Novel!

AURORA, IL—July 9, 2017—The 2016 winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel is Charles Hood, of Palmdale, California, for his novel MOUTH, illustrated by painter and printmaker Christine Mugnolo.  This important book is now available from JEF Books!

In his encomium for the award, contest judge Derek Pell stated,

Having never been invited to judge a literary award, I am humbled by this opportunity—especially since it honors the name of one of my favorite writers. Indeed, I’ve admired Kenneth Patchen since I first read his novel THE JOURNAL OF ALBION MOONLIGHT as a teenager. The nominated manuscripts were all of high caliber, and my choice does not reflect negatively on the other entries. But this year’s selection – MOUTH – resonated deeply.  Please note, I do not come from an academic background so I will not indulge in theoretical mumbo-jumbo here, just the subjective facts as best I can report them. Briefly, my criterion for judging the manuscripts was to ask myself a series of simple questions: Does the work seem familiar, something I’ve encountered before? (No.) Is the writer’s voice unique and does it carry the reader through to the end. (Yes.) Is the text experimental in the best sense of that word, i.e. is it readable, yet never predictable. (Yes.) Does the text contain a story at its core (Yes.) Was I compelled to highlight passages and share them with others?  (Yes.) Was there anything in the manuscript I’d have edited out?  (No.) And finally…Is this a text I will want to read again? (Yes.)  The writer (whose name at this writing is still unknown to me) has a unique voice and style. Sentences are sometimes fragmented on edge of abstraction, then sharp, staccato, poetic and lyrical. It is clear from the opening passages that the writer is at the wheel and in total control. I did not know where I was being taken, but I was excited to be going on this ride. The story is absorbing on several levels. It’s a tale told in the voices of two women, Chica and Bela. The former is the main narrative voice — her text appearing at the top of each page, while Bela’s appears at the bottom (usually only a sentence or two.) Bela is also credited as the illustrator whose portraits of Chica appear interspersed throughout. Pages contain a large white space separating the two voices. For me, this area represents what is alluded to but not revealed in the text, either backstory or undescribed events in the present narrative. The reader is invited to fill this space, imagining all that is hidden. Bela, a museum curator, asks Chica to accompany her on a trip from London to the Soviet Union – Siberia — in search of buried mammoth tusks and bones. We discover that the women are lovers poised at the entrance to a fragile relationship.  The narrative reveals enigmatic snippets of Chica’s broken past, her physical (and psychic) injuries (a broken jaw); her relationship with her father; and gnawing feelings of inadequacy, of being ugly and undesirable. The prehistoric bones are metaphoric talismans as Chica is searching within herself and exploring the connection to her own injuries: Deep inside, the bones hurt, benthic connections of ache and groan. On the outside, though, the skin is numb but supple and yet you still can’t smile—the muscles have been cut, plus nothing connects up anymore. Your brain sends messages in English but your lips, chin, sides of your face, they speak Urdu. They are singing their own song and not listening. They don’t need you anymore. The writer manages to uncover raw, visceral emotions, digging  below the surface of the relationship and, ultimately, reaches the marrow. MOUTH is an unconventional love story — at turns surreal, dreamlike, and extraordinarily moving. I can’t wait to see it in print and to read it again.

MOUTH was chosen as the winner of the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel over many other worthy candidates for the exceptional craft and originality with which it is written as well as for its deep sympathy for the human condition, both qualities epitomized by Kenneth Patchen himself.

CHARLES HOOD teaches English in the Mojave Desert and is a Research Fellow at the Center for Art and Environment in Reno.

His honors include a National Endowment of the Humanities award, a Fulbright in Ethnopoetics, and artist-in-residencies with the Annenberg Center in Santa Monica, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Playa Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. His book about Antarctica, South x South, won the Hollis Summers prize from Ohio University Press. MOUTH is his tenth book.

He has been a dishwasher, a factory worker, and a nature guide in Africa. In a brief and intense descent into the addiction of birding, Hood reached 5,000 species on his world list before he took the cure and stopped counting. Current book projects include a people’s guide to architecture of Los Angeles, a survey of urban nature, poetry about all the moons of the Solar System, and a field guide to mammals.

Painter and printmaker CHRISTINE MUGNOLO is a doctoral candidate in Visual Studies at UC Irvine. Her previous art degrees are from Princeton, the University of Connecticut, Indiana University, and the Courtauld Institute, London. The plates for Mouth come from a series of pastel self-portraits based on recovery from surgery; they were the initial inspiration for this story. Christine Mugnolo’s art explores relationships and the ever-fascinating rituals of human behavior, from nerds to toddlers to the strange schools of people swimming past the viewing portals of an aquarium. At present she is working on a large, multi-panel watercolor map tracing the flow of water in California. MOUTH will be her third published book.

After a hiatus, THE KENNETH PATCHEN AWARD was revived in 2012.  In the 1990s, The Kenneth Patchen Prize for Literature was a much-coveted prize administered by Pig Iron Press of Youngstown, Ohio, in honor of famous experimental fiction author, proletarian poet, and Ohio native Kenneth Patchen.  Beginning in 2012, the Award was reinstituted as the Kenneth Patchen Award for the Innovative Novel, and will honor the most innovative novel submitted during the previous calendar year.   KENNETH PATCHEN is celebrated for being among the greatest innovators of American fiction, incorporating strategies of concretism, asemic writing, digression, and verbal juxtaposition into his writing long before such strategies were popularized during the height of American postmodernist experimentation in the 1970s.  His three great innovative novels, Sleepers Awake, The Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer and The Journal of Albion Moonlight, have long been a benchmark for beats, postmodernists, and innovators of all ilks, inspiring younger writers on to greater significance and innovation in their own work.


Founded in 1986, The Journal of Experimental Fiction is the English language’s pre-eminent source for innovative fiction.

Contact: Eckhard Gerdes, editor & publisher,



2015 – Kate Horsley – Between the Legs

2014 – Bob Sawatzki – Return to Circa ‘96

2013 – Moore Bowen – Oppression for the Heaven of It

2012 – Carolyn Chun – How to Break Article Noun