Fourteen Stories, None of Them are Yours by Luke B Goebel



Fourteen Stories, None of Them are Yours by Luke B. Goebel


In this dazzling debut about life after loss, Luke B. Goebel’s heart-hurt, ultra-adrenalized alter ego, H. Roc, leads us on a raucous RV romp across what’s left of postmodern America and beyond. Whether it’s gobbling magic cacti at a native ceremony in Northern California, burning bad manuscripts in a backyard bonfire in East Texas, or travelling at top speed to an infamous editor’s office in Manhattan (with a burnt-out barista and an illegal bald eagle as companions), scene by scene, story by story, Goebel plunges us into a madly original fictional realm characterized by heartbroken psychedelic cowboys on the brink––lonely men who wrestle wild dogs on cheap beaches and kick horses in the face to get ahead.



“I would call this, fey as it sounds, ‘American bard yawp,’ not so much concerned with what it means as whether I have stolen it or not, and I would hazard that this Luke Goebel feller, if we may pretend for a itty bit the word is not exactly pejorative, is ‘insane.’ We have here the fine coherence of the not-deliberately incoherent, a proud-standing mess, like a Faulkner mess. It’s after the ‘the giant American heart’ that Kerouac and Kesey were wafter in their Neal Cassidys, you have Burroughs and Bukoswki rants, Ashbery misconnections, Hannah whiskey whistling, and spinning up from it once in a while the fist of the perfectly put. If this is a work of non-fiction, it is a miracle that its author is alive. If it is fiction, it is the miracle. By my eye, it is not made up. It is received, has been done to its author, like a beating, and he is not unhappy at how he’s taken the beating.”

—Padgett Powell, Whiting Writers’ Award winner and author of Edisto and You & Me


“About twenty pages into Luke B. Goebel’s Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours, I realized I was reading with one hand holding my forehead and one balled at my waist, kind of clenched and gazing down into the paper, like a man soon to be converged upon. Goebel’s testimony comes on like that: engrossing, fanatical, full of private grief, and yet, at the same time, charismatic, tender, and intrepid, aglow with more spirit than most Americans have the right to wield.”

—Blake Butler, author of Nothing and Scorch Atlas


“I’m in love with language again, because Luke B. Goebel is not afraid to take us back through the gullet of loss into the chaos of words. Someone burns a manuscript in Texas; someone’s speed sets a life on fire; a heart is beaten nearly to death, the road itself is the trip, a man is decreated back to his animal past—better, beyond ego, beautiful, and look: there’s an American dreamscape left. There’s a reason to go on.”

—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase


“Luke may be one of the last few geniuses we have left in this life. I mean that. He’s a good boy with a lot of pain in his heart.”

—Scott McClanahan, author of Crapalachia and Hill William


“The protagonist of Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours doesn’t make it easy for us, channeling as he does Barry Hannah and Denis Johnson by way of Rick Bass and Dennis Hopper, and self-presenting as yet another damaged romantic who thinks it’s always time to play the cowboy, skating in and out of sense. He can’t see right, and he’s haunted by nearly everything. He’s trying to open up or shut himself down or at least get a hold of himself. He’s trying to make do with what he’s done, while he reminds us that we’re all, one way or another, in that position.”

—Jim Shepard, National Book Award finalist and author of the short story collections You Think That’s Bad and Like You’d Understand, Anyway


Purchasing Information

Publisher: Fiction Collective 2

Price: $16.95

Release date: September 15, 2014

ISBN-10: 1573661805

ISBN-13: 978-1573661805



Discussion Questions

1) Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours has an experimental form and structure. The narrator constantly invades the narratives and stories. Our narrator interrupts, adjusts, and reframes and interacts directly with the stories and the reader.  Does this formal experimentation challenge you in a productive way? Does this formal play bring you more alertly into the experience of the novel, making the reading experience more interactive, personal, intense, and immediate? Are there other fictions which you have read, that work in any sort of a similar form?

2) Why is there so much wildness and provocation in this book, incorrectness, and tension in the prose? Does the wildness in the book bring any realizations to you as a reader? What are the relationships between vulnerability and mad abandon in the work?

3) Some early praise of Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours hinted at this novel being in the traditions of large swaths of American literature—from Whitman to Kerouac, from John Ashberry to Dennis Johnson, from Bukowski to Burroughs, etc. How does the story (and spirit) of the novel, as well as the writing style, take part in the construction of the mythology of America and engage with past American Literary movements? Does the book make you feel differently about life in America now than when you began reading?

4) Is this a love story? How do you feel about the central relationship and romance at the core of the novel? How do you feel about the indirect way the romance is revealed and portrayed?

5) How do you think, say, a vagabond youth would like Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours? What might a young vagabond think of the novel?

6) What might a conservatively minded venture capitalist (redundant?) think of the book? Is this book for everyone/anyone?

7) Do you see a reason for the narrator’s defiance of socially acceptable terminologies? Do you think the narrator wants a better world for all people? Why is he talking the way he is talking, especially given the current movements in upper class sections of urban America to be much more sensitive and politically correct with language?

8) What does this book leave you with? What does it make you want to do after you have read it? How did it change you, or did it?


Luke B. Goebel’s Reading Recommendations

barry_hannah_300x462Barry Hannah, Airships: Now a contemporary classic short-story collection, this Southern Gothic breakaway collection gave Hannah his reputation for high-flying heart-broken Southern blotto stories of the greatest heart and form. Positioning himself and his personality into fictions both masterful and propulsive in narrative, working astounding voice into his sentences, our great Southern hero Barry Hannah gave the world a new allegiance to swear to, especially for young disenchanted readers looking for a new call to honesty and ranginess. This collection was the winner of Esquire Magazine’s Arnold Gingrich Short Fiction Award and the Pen/Malmoud Award. In these stories, Hannah takes on post-Vietnam America, the South, romance and its constant pricks and savaging, and the wild heart of America. His collection is one that keeps the reader going and going, as so few collections can—moving the reader from story to story in absolute astonishment and wonder and heart-swelling desire for more.


lidia y chronology_of_water_820_1350Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water: In this masterful memoir that was the Oregon Reader’s Award Winner for 2012, Lidia Yuknavitch unflinchingly creates a nontraditional story of loss, lostness, and redemption—on the way she takes apart and tears down the patriarchal, the late-capitalist, the misogynic and the taboo. Placing her life in the contexts of patterns, roles, history, society, defiant art, theory, and her unique place in a legacy of literary traditions, Lidia Yuknavitch executes such a powerfully raw and simultaneously polished and perfectly-wrought prose, that one cannot help but to read on hungrily, enviously, and amazedly at the courage, heart, and honor of a fully-rendered and actualized self so rare to encounter. Even more rare to encounter than a fully actualized self, is this person in the written form. Here is a hero and a fully-formed person who has rescued and formed herself from the person we all begin as, a person made by and for others, shaped by the violence and pressure of our origins and the events we survive. Lidia Yuknavitch’s story is so raw, powerful, and heartbreaking and healing that it seems almost impossible that this memoir is real, and yet it certainly is true and realer than most things we are lucky enough to encounter in life.


atticus lishAtticus Lish, Preparation for the Next Life: This is easy, as I already blurbed this book. Preparation for the Next Life is a masterwork. This book comes to terrify writers of the sort of Don Delillo, Eugene Marten (if one can remember their names after reading Atticus), and the multitudinous folderol of realism. Lish is a new master of heart and compassion and pure power. Here, now, is Atticus Lish: working such shock and awe, mixed with poetic holy grace, going from the lyric Chinese interiority of the heroine (Zou Lei), to the pure shell-shocked bodily muscle of an American sublime madman soldier (Skinner). Here’s a love story for the lovers—but also our first-great-American masterpiece of the new world qua terror, living in terror, the might of the glorious city of New York. I’m terrorized standing in the heroic shadow of our protagonist fellow, in the crazed-yet-controlled free-moving vastness of the styles of Atticus’s prose, of the magnificence, good God, what else can be said, sheer magnificence! This is the first book that terrorized me and flagellated me to standing, roaming about my house, not sleeping, declaring “My God, My God, he has done it!” Crafted with such power and grace, one can remember one’s first moments, gripped by the first book (for me it was Cuckoo’s Nest), which turned a person onto the possibilities of literature. Atticus Lish is head and neck and muscle and grace above the others–he’s written the first post-national American novel.


ryan ridge huntersRyan Ridge, Hunters and Gamblers and American Homes: Everything by Ridge is a wild combing mix of humor and heartache, in the style and spirit of Brautigan and Hannah and Vonnegut. Get yourself some Ridge, like a can of beer and a hot tray of T.V. dinners and settle in for a night spent with the almost unbearable humor and tragic madness of our alien mothercountry.



Luke B. Goebel is the recipient of the Ronald Sukenick Prize for Innovative Fiction and the Joan Scott Memorial Fiction Award. He earned a BA from the University of San Francisco and an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He worked as an editor with a NYC-based literary journal and independent publishing house. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Texas at Tyler. He was born in Ohio and grew up in Portland, Oregon.


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My Writing Process | 6.30.14

Rae Bryant

Sometimes you meet fellow creatives who are both brilliant and heartfelt, both accomplished and grounded. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of these fellow creatives whom I call friends, confidantes and truly gifted authors/poets. I recommend them to you highly, not only for the genius they put into the world but also for the way they put themselves into the world: Rosebud Ben-Oni, Cris Mazza, Vallie Lynn Watson, Michael Nye, Luke Goebel and my writing workshop group at Aspen Writers’ Summer Words workshop led by Andre Dubus III. Rosebud invited me to this party, and she’s asked me to answer a few questions on my process of writing. Heheh. But first, I want to introduce Rosebud Ben-Oni:

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013) and a CantoMundo Fellow. Her work appears in The American Poetry Review, Bayou, Arts & Letters, Puerto del Sol, The Feminist Wire, Dialogist, B O D Y, Lana Turner Journal, Slice Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. In 2010, her story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize in Camera Obscura. Please read more about Rosebud at rosebudbenoni.comShe is super-talented and she does good things at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. If you don’t know her then that’s only because you are lame. Don’t be lame. Check out her book and her site. @rosebudbenoni

Now, on the Process of Writing…

On what am I currently working?
A drug-infused cult ride through a McDonald’s, a chapel, addictions, more addictions, sex, drive-thru redemption and snake worshipping. It’s a novel. Or it might have been my last book tour. I’m a little groggy on the details.

How does your work differ from others’ works in the same genre? 
Richard Peabody described my writing as “akin to doing the tango with a succubus.” Frederick Barthelme said my words “point you, by what’s left out, to a spot on this good earth where the heart might flourish.” Which is to say my work will dance with you and suck at you and will urge you toward some lighter space outside the confines of your dark room. I like this. I value dark and intimate spaces. They are the best way to know yourself and the best way to search out the light, whether or not you ever find it. Makes no matter. It is the journey. This is what I look for in my reading and it’s what I endeavor to inflict on my characters. Why is this unique? I’ll tell you a secret. I am a dancer and a succubus.

Why do you write what you do?
I read to contemplate. I write for the same reason. Contemplation. I have no patience for readers or writers who wish to be led by the hand. If I’m not challenged intellectually and emotionally by what I’ve read or written, I’m bored. And there is nothing worse than a bored writer.

How does your writing process work? 
Penelope’s tapestry. I’ll weave it and unweave it. Then I’ll weave it and unweave it again. For twenty long years I’ll weave and unweave the damn thing until it is smarter than me and figures out a way to weave itself. At one point, or several, it will piss me off and I’ll start mixing metaphors and throwing lip curls and beer bottles at it and then I’ll break it all to pieces. A real Sid Vicious. In the morning I’ll build it up again and sit down and get to work.

*How much of this self-interview is true?
Some of it. None of it. More. Or less. It doesn’t really matter what I say about myself as a writer. It makes no difference to the work. If you’re looking for writing advice or formulas, there are none. I mean, people will say things like write everyday (or whatever your rhythm is). And revision is the true art of writing. And they are correct. But most of it, the truly important pieces, you’ll have to work out for yourself along the way. Sorry. That’s the truth of it. Except for socks. I really like socks. I can’t wear shoes when I’m writing and if my feet are cold, I’m too distracted. Everything is lost in the discomfort of cold digits. So that’s my advice. Socks. Keep a pair of comfy socks nearby. They are your path to Pulitzer. I think. But I don’t now. I’m just writing. Oh. Oh. Actually. Here’s something Dubus (III) said in a workshop this last month, quoting Richard Bausch: “Dream dream dream.” Don’t overthink it when in the process of first putting words to paper. I like this. Dream it through. I think Dubus’ words were, “Dream it through, brother, dream it through.” He also meant sister.

Next week, Tune into Cris Mazza, Vallie Lynn Watson, Michael Nye and Luke Goebel…

Cris Mazza | Cris Mazza is the author of Something Wrong With Her, a hybrid memoir published by Jaded Ibis Press in 2014, a companion piece to Various Men Who Knew Us As Girls.  She has authored over a dozen other books, mostly novels and collections of short fiction. She is the winner of the Pen/Nelson Algren Award. Mazza now lives in the Midwest and is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois Chicago. @crismazzaauthor

Vallie Lynn Watson |  Vallie Lynn Watson is the author of the novel A River So Long (Luminis Books, 2012). Her work has appeared in dozens of literary magazines such as PANKdecomP magazinE, andGargoyle. She is an editor at New World Writing, formerly Mississippi Review online. Watson received her doctorate at the Center for Writers, the University of Southern Mississippi, and is teaching part-time in the Creative Writing and English departments at University of North Carolina Wilmington. In her spare time she is earning a hot air ballooning license. @vallielwatson

Michael Nye | Michael Nye is the author of Strategies Against Extinction, his debut short-story collection, was released from Queen’s Ferry Press in October 2012. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in BoulevardCincinnati Review, Crab Orchard ReviewKenyon ReviewNew SouthSou’wester, and South Dakota Review, among many others. His work has been a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in fiction and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is at work on new stories and a novel. He lives in the Midwest and works as the managing editor of The Missouri Review. @mpnye

Luke Goebel | Luke B. Goebel is a fiction writer living in Texas. His first novel, Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours, will be released in September of 2014 by FC2 as the latest winner of the Ronald Sukenick Prize for Innovative Fiction. 

And Then There Is Aspen…

 I must give a special shout-out to an amazing writing group at The Aspen Writers Summer Workshop this  June in Aspen, Colorado. A big thank you to Aspen Writer’s for bringing me out and a bow to Vannessa Hua, Alex Wilson, Cara Lopez Lee, Terry Dubow, Tom Bernard, Dennis Vaughn, Lija Fisher, Cristal Thomas, Kathy Conde and, of course, our truly spectacular leader, Andre Dubus III, who I now affectionately refer to as sensei. Also, it was a treat to meet Meg WolitzerMelissa Bank and Billy Collins.

Here we are…

And here is the bottle we shot and autographed after our last workshop story.

Rae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals (Patasola Press, 2011). Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris ReviewThe Missouri Review, McSweeney’s, Huffington Post, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications. Her intermedia has exhibited in New York, DC, Baltimore and Florence, Italy. She has won prizes and fellowships from Johns Hopkins, Aspen Writers Foundation, VCCA and Whidbey Writers and has been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, The &NOW Award and multiple times for the Pushcart award. Rae earned a Masters in Writing from Hopkins where she continues to teach creative writing and is founding editor of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. She also teaches and lectures in the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa and The Eckleburg Workshops. She is represented by Jennifer Carlson with Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. @raebryant | #mywritingprocess