Salvatore Pane

Tag: Pittsburgh

Vouched Presents Pittsburgh with Chris Lee, Salvatore Pane, Jeffrey Condran, and Sheryl St. Germain


Get psyched for the first ever Vouched Books event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Come to Remedy (5121 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201) from 7-9 on July 5th to hear readings from Chris Lee, Salvatore Pane, Jeffrey Condran, and Sheryl St. Germain. Buy books from Vouched. Then stay for another classic Remedy dance party.

Chris Lee is a writer and musician from West Virginia. His work has appeared in Pear Noir!, Necessary Fiction, and Flywheel Magazine.

Salvatore Pane is the author of the novel Last Call in the City of Bridges and the chapbook #KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction, The Collagist, Hobart, and many other venues. He is an assistant professor of English at the University of Indianapolis and can be reached at

Jeffrey Condran is the author of the forthcoming story collection, A Fingerprint Repeated. His work has been honored with several awards, including The Missouri Review’s 2010 William Peden Prize and Pushcart Prize nominations. He is an Assistant Professor of English at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and co-founder of Braddock Avenue Books.

Sheryl St. Germain currently directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at Chatham University where she also teaches poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has received several awards, including two NEA Fellowships, an NEH Fellowship, the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, the Ki Davis Award from the Aspen Writers Foundation, and most recently the William Faulkner Award for the personal essay. Her books include Going Home, The Mask of Medusa, Making Bread at Midnight, How Heavy the Breath of God, and The Journals of Scheherazade.


Edward James Olmos and the Next Big Thing


Cathy Day recently tagged me in The Next Big Thing, a series of blog entries where writers across the genres interview themselves and promote their books. Basically, I answered a bunch of e-mail chain questions. It’s come to this. Expect interviews from Tyler Gobble and Jay Varner next week.

What is the title of your novel?

Last Call in the City of Bridges.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

On one level, the book is about how modern twenty-somethings mediate loneliness by turning to virtual friends on Facebook and Twitter instead of seeking comfort from physical, flesh and blood people. I was living in Pittsburgh when I started writing the book—this was in the summer of 2009—and the majority of my friends suddenly and en masse moved away. We tried to keep in touch via Facebook, but I quickly found myself feeling more depressed as I “liked” their photos and made comments on their links. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling.

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary fiction? Humor? Coming of age? Pop culture? Maybe wacky literary pop culture infused coming of age fiction?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

You know Edward James Olmos? The dude who played Admiral Adama in Battlestar Galactica? The sixty-five year old actor made famous in Stand and Deliver and Selena? I have this weird fantasy for a film version of Last Call where Olmos plays every character kind of like the barbershop scene in Coming to America, or more accurately, Eddie Murphy’s less successful venture, The Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps. Olmos plays nerdy twenty-something protagonist Michael Bishop. Olmos in drag plays love interest/pastor’s daughter Ivy Chase. Olmos plays Michael’s dead best friend from high school. Olmos plays everybody. The soundtrack is completely culled from Busta Rhymes’ 1999 sci-fi epic Extinction Level Event: The Final World Front. I would definitely watch that if somebody made it.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The novel was published by Braddock Avenue Books, a fantastic independent press based out of Pittsburgh. It’s headed up by Jeff Condran and Robert Peluso, both amazing writers in their own right. My work is represented by Jenni Ferrari-Adler of the Union Literary Agency. She’s a great editor, and she’s been an absolute pleasure to work with.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I completed a “draft” of Last Call in about four months, but it was missing major characters and what eventually became the ending. It couldn’t be more different, and it took me about three years of editing for the book to become what it is now.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Man, this is ridiculous. Because if I say, “this book is a lot like The Great Gatsby,” I come off as a total douchebag. Instead, I think I’ll list some books that inspired Last Call: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth, The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon, and anything and everything Lorrie Moore has ever done.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Kanye West. A$AP Rocky. Patrick Ewing. Spider-Man. Spider-Ham. Spider-Man 2099. Spider-Ham 2099. The world in Super Mario Bros. 3 where everything is really big. All the levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 where Mario gets to ride around in a giant green boot.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Look. I’m the worst at trying to convince people to read my stuff. For a brief, terrifying couple of days I thought You Better Fucking Read This: A Novel was a good title for the book. So I don’t know. If you want to read a book about the internet, sex, booze, classic Nintendo games, relationships, Obama, Pittsburgh, Kanye West, religion, death, and finding your way in the world, this might be a book you enjoy.

An Office of One’s Own: Adjuncting

“At Trader Joe’s, Zelesnick stocked shelves and ran the register whenever he’d hear the bell ring, while still trying to teach as many courses as he could pick up at Duquesne. He also received benefits and higher wages than he was making teaching freshmen English composition and helping first-year students adjust from high school to college at Duquesne University. But Zelesnick describes himself as someone who ‘needs to teach’ so, unable to imagine himself not teaching, he left Trader Joe’s after a year to continue teaching at Duquesne and the University of Pittsburgh and writing poetry.”

Josh Zelesnick is my old roommate. Read about his efforts to unionize adjuncts in Pittsburgh.


BEHOLD! On Saturday, October 6th, 2012 AD, I will return to the state of my birth in anticipation of Braddock Avenue Book’s debut, my novel Last Call in the City of Bridges. Festivities begin at 7pm in the Unsmoke Art Gallery in Braddock, PA just a few minutes outside of Pittsburgh. There will be pizza. There will be doom. I will be joined by the terrifying writers Sean Thomas Dougherty and Sarah Leavens. My girlfriend will be there. My parents will be there. My publishers will be there. My friends will be there. Did I mention the pizza? THE END IS NIGH!

Literary readings (Sean Thomas Dougherty, Sarah Leavens, Sal Pane), art, homemade pizza. $7 at the door.

Please join us for our fourth annual Wood-Fired Words event in Braddock, PA. We will introduce our 2012-13 writers-in-residence and also celebrate Braddock Avenue Books, a new press based in Braddock.

The event will feature East End Book Exchange’s pop-up bookstore, art by Anna E. Mikolay, homemade pizza from the community pizza oven (with special chef appearance by Kevin Sousa), and more.

Pittsburgh Lit Events or My President is Black/My Prius is Blue

Guys. I just heard about this reading. It’s tonight. You should go!


AWESOME BOOKS Downtown Presents:

Killer Readings from Three Pittsburgh Writers:
Heather McNaugher, Carolyne Whelan, & Karen Lillis

Fiction & Poetry
Thursday, July 12

Awesome Books / Downtown location
929 Liberty Avenue

Three Pittsburgh writers read from their recent books:

Heather McNaugher, System of Hideouts (Main Street Rag, 2012).
Heather teaches poetry, nonfiction, and literature at Chatham
“In System of Hideouts, Heather McNaugher uses voices of elegy to
mourn the “self” that never was, the “self” that was, and the
possibilities of “self” not mentioned. This elegiac chorus is moving,
surprising in its tenderness. Yet in these smart, layered poems with
clear lines, the elegy itself proves to be a hideout, which straddles
the line of vulnerability and the lake of elation”~Jan Beatty

Carolyne Whelan, The Glossary of Tania Aebi (Finishing Line Press,
2011). A graduate of Chatham’s MFA writing program, Carolyne teaches
memoir and travel writing at CCAC.
“Carolyne Whelan’s The Glossary of Tania Aebi is a surrealistic ode to
heroism and loneliness. The vivid compact language evokes the wildness
and serenity of the sea, and we come away from this poem with
admiration for the bravery of Aebi, as well as for the skill of
Whelan’s rendering.”~Michael Simms

Karen Lillis, Watch the Doors as They Close (Spuyten Duyvil Novella
Series, 2012). Karen is the author of four books of fiction and
the creator of the website, Small Press Pitttsburgh.
“[Watch the Doors as They Close is] beautiful and poignant….One of
the finest pieces of independent contemporary literature of 2012,
Lillis has broken the mold of the classic New York City love
story.”—Lavinia Ludlow, The Nervous Breakdown

Dispatches From a Creative Writing Camp: SPORTS! COMICS!

For the third summer in a row, I’m teaching at the Young Writers Institute in Pittsburgh, a day camp for grade school and high school students who have elected to spend their time away from school learning about poems and stories. Before, I always taught at the grade school component which, although it involved serious writing, was also broken up with trips to the library, parks, and various tourist locations across Pittsburgh. This year I’m teaching in the high school version and really enjoying it. The day is broken up into a series of workshops which any student can sign up for. I teach one a day, and I’ve been experimenting with things that come from my own writing and other lectures/exercises I use with my college students.

I thought it might be interesting to share some of my workshops here. Much of what I do in the classroom involves talking. I’m chatty. Below, there are three prompts about sports, but most of that hour long workshop was spent discussing why sports are so important to so many of us and why it’s so difficult to write about something so many people can relate to. I figure out what I think on a subject by talking, and the students who gravitate toward me the most do the same. This is all to say that I can never replicate an hour long workshop by posting prompts, and I hope you don’t judge me on these alone. That’s not the intent.

Dude. I just want to share some exercises and thoughts.

1. Writing About Sports: Nonfiction AND Fiction

A. Write about your most vivid experience playing a sport, organized or non-organized. Focus on the sights, smells, and sounds. Can you make your experience stand out for people who’ve gone through similar events?

B. Explain why your favorite team is your favorite team. What makes them special and unique? Why should anyone care what team you root for other than you? Should they care? Is it all basically the same anyway, or is there a fundamental difference between a Yankees and Pirates fan?

C. Write a fictionalized account of your favorite athlete. Do not put them in a familiar situation. What does it mean to be an athlete/celebrity if we’re putting them into scenarios we know have nothing to do with them? Can a totally fictionalized scenario about an athlete/celebrity shed light on who we perceive them to be?

2. How to Write a Comic: Superheroes and Origins


Note: This is an excerpt from an unpublished script written by myself and my longtime comics co-writer Mark Kleman.


Wide establishing shot of Snake Well. It’s a small 3 road town in the middle of the desert surrounded by a twenty-foot wall built from logs. In the center of the town is a a 4 story wooden tower vaguely resembling a rook chess piece. The buildings are are all reminiscent of the main streets in classic Western films like True Grit or The Searchers of Tombstone. There are a few wooden houses apart from the main roads and a tent city as well. The city is buzzing with haggard men and women milling about and tending to their horses. The sun hangs bright in the distance.

Snake Well, Texas – 1885

A covered wagon pulled by two side-by-side horses  approaches the reader slowly. Two men are sitting in the front bench of the wagon, and a third sits on a separate horse that trots alongside them. The reader cannot see inside the wagon. The men are dressed like cattle rustlers–worn cowboy hats and chaps, dust-covered and hungry. REGULATOR 1 (the man on the bench) is bearded, curly hair hanging down for his hat. REGULATOR 2 (the other man on the bench) looks young, no older than a teenager, a twinkle in his eyes. REGULATOR 3 (riding the horse) is paunchy.

Two guards sit atop a fortification on the gate in the wooden wall surrounding Snake Well. Both guards appear middle-aged, neither are particularly tough looking. They eye the approaching strangers suspiciously.

Guard 1

What do you want, strangers?

Regulator 3

We’s just looking for a place to stay and water our horses. On our way to California.

Guard 1

I got orders not to let any pass till the boss returns.

Close-up on the wagon. REGULATOR 2 has moved the curtain and now the reader can see a little bit (although not everything) inside. There is a sick woman–FEMALE REGULATOR–brunette with her hair in a bun dressed in a torn Victorian dress. She is coughing, holding a handkerchief to her mouth. REGULATOR 1 looks disgusted because the guards won’t let them in.


My wife’s sick with dysentery! Please, she just needs water!

Close up on the guards. GUARD 2 gives GUARD 1 a pleading look to do what is right. GUARD 1 looks put out.

Guard 1

Ah, hell. Open the gate.

A. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee used to work primarily in the nine panel grid, the most classic of sequential art structures. One of the major difficulties for writers in the comic business today is not being overly wordy and letting the art tell the story. This can be especially difficult for those of with a prose background. Today, can you write a one page, nine panel script using less than 15 words of dialogue or captions on any given panel? Remember, your descriptions can be as long as you want, just make sure you keep your panels clean of too many words. To get you started: a character in a New York City apartment looks out their window and is shocked to see…

B. You are now freed from the nine panel grid and may use as many or as few panels as necessary to tell your story. I’d like for you to now create your own superhero or villain and tell their origin. Think of how Spider-Man was born when puny Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider. Remember, origins don’t necessarily have to be long. Look at the Fantastic Four example above. Dr. Doom’s entire origin is given in five panels.


Yo. You may have heard that I have a novel forthcoming this fall from Braddock Avenue Books (Last Call in the City of Bridges) and a chapbook from NAP Magazine (#KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning). I’ll be doing a tour in support of both books, and although the dates and locations aren’t completely finalized, I figured now would be a good time to post some info. I’ll be updating this page constantly with new information and stops, but for now, this is what I have planned. If you want to set something up with me or suggest a reading, feel free to e-mail me.

Indianapolis, IN, September TBA: Reading with Amber Sparks and Lania Knight hosted by Vouched Books.

Pittsburgh, PA, November TBA: Reading hosted by Braddock Avenue Books.

Indianapolis, IN, November 16th: Reading with Matt Bell.

Scranton, PA, December 23rd: Reading hosted by Prose in Pubs at Jack’s Draft House.

Boston, MA, March TBA: Reading with Matt Bell, Eugene Cross, James Tadd Adcox, and Ashley Farmer hosted by DZANC, Braddock Avenue Books, and Tiny Hardcore Press.

Grand Forks, ND, Spring/Summer TBA: Reading hosted by the University of North Dakota.

Retro Video Game Finds

Now that I have a tenure track job and a forthcoming novel, I’ve decided to turn this blog into a tumblr about all the retro video games I find.

Ok. I’m not going that far, but I do think it might be fun if I document some of the games I find in my travels. Most people who know me in real life know I’m a huge retro game collector. I don’t much care for the new systems–I have a Wii that I mostly use for Netflix and occasionally NBA2K12–and instead prefer the games of my youth or earlier: the Nintendo Entertainment System and games where you go right and jump. I started collecting in 2004 and my ultimate goal is to own all 750 NES games. So far I’m a little over 200 mostly because I’ve dipped into collecting Super Nintendo, Atari 2600, Intellivision, and most recently, Sega Saturn games.

What most laypeople find relatively interesting about retro gaming is the way I go about finding them. I personally think buying them online is cheating and half the fun of the hobby is finding these things in the wild. That means flea markets, pawn shops, and thrift stores. You can find old games via retail outlets, but those are growing rarer and I try to avoid them because of the marked up prices. Nintendo games are not worth more than $5, and I do my best not to pay more than that.

Recently, I visited Chicago, Columbus, and Indianapolis. Here’s what I found along with a few things tracked down in Pittsburgh. Everything was purchased within the last two weeks.

I found these in an Exchange chain store in Chicago. They’re Super Famicon games–the Japanese Super Nintendo equivalent. Dragon Quest I & II, Dragon Quest V, and Dragon Quest VI. They’re text heavy and completely in Japanese and I have no way to play them, but at $5 a pop, I couldn’t pass them up–my friends Kevin and Katie were with me when I purchased these and when I told them they were completely impossible to play they just blinked at me; even the store clerk sassed me.

I also picked these up during AWP at a different retail store that had tons of retro games. I nabbed Wall Street Kid for 95 cents and A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Bloblonia for $2. I regret nothing.

These were total no brainers. Complete, in-box Intellivision games from the same Chicago retail store as above. Star Strike was $5 and Demon Attack was $2. The later is my favorite Intellivision game that I currently own, and the former was promoted by the Paris Review‘s George Plimpton.

I picked these up at the Exchange a few blocks away from my apartment. $2 each for Viper and Wrath of the Black Manta, common but fun games, and $5 for King of the Ring, a pretty uncommon, bordering on rare, late generation NES title. Plus it has Bret Hart on the cover.

Intellivision games are wildly overpriced, so I was ecstatic to find these three titles for $1 each at a retail store in Columbus, Ohio. BurgerTime is an all time favorite, and I’m curious to see what 1982 NBA action looks like on Intellivision. Tron Deadly Discs is the steal of the group, as I’ve seen it go complete, in-box for over $25. Plus, it yells at you. I have the Intellivision voice module and greatly look forward to being verbally abused by the Master Control Program.

Both of these gems cost $2. I picked up Marble Madness at the same Columbus store from above, and I found All Pro Basketball–developed by one of my favorite NES companies, Vic Tokai–at a flea market in Pittsburgh, Trader Jack’s.

Professional Idiot Chris Lee left his Nintendo 64 at my house last year, and I’m never giving it back. At Trader Jack’s, I haggled some bro eating a sandwich into giving me Perfect Dark and Wave Race 64 for a combined $4. Eat it, Chris Lee.

This is easily my best thrift store find–surpassing Double Dragon III for $1 in 2005–and my best system find ever–surpassing an Odyssey 3000 at Trader Jack’s for $6. I purchased this Sega Saturn with all the hook ups and a controller at Goodwill for $13. They clearly didn’t know what they had. Saturns can set you back $50 normally, and the clerk thought that a stack of Atari 2600 games would work on it. I MEAN COME ON.

The system has a broken watch battery inside, so every time I turn it on it asks me if it’s 1994–my girlfriend saw this and burst out laughing–but other than that, it works great.

Another steal at Trader Jack’s! I bought the turbo pad and multi-controller adapter for Saturn at $5 combined, and I found the regular pad in Columbus for $7. Now I can play Sega Saturn with five other friends. The only difficulty is finding a single other human being on earth who wants to play Sega Saturn in 2012.

Saturn games are pretty difficult to track down these days, but I managed some good deals. I found Dayton USA for $2 in Indianapolis and Fighting Vipers for $8 in the Dormont Exchange. Scud–based on a comic written by Community creator Dan Harmon–and The Hordea strategy adventure starring Kirk Cameron as a medieval servant named Chauncey–set me back $6 combined at Trader Jack’s.

NYC Lit Events or Y’all Gon Make Me Act A Fool/Up In Here/Up In Here

I like Patasola Press. A lot. It’s a thing now. I first became aware of them a few months ago at a Weave/Pear Noir!/Caper Literary Journal event here in Pittsburgh. Rae Bryant was reading from her awesome collection The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals which was published by Patasola. I’d read with Rae before at Remedy, and she introduced me to Lisa Marie Basile, who runs the press. A few months later, Lisa posted an open call on Facebook looking for editorial help, and I was very glad to join the team. I love the indie press, guys. I love the indie press.

Anyway, Patasola is throwing an event this weekend, and it totally bums me out that I’m not going to be able to go (mostly due to money, and mostly because it’s the same weekend as one of my fantasy football drafts… whatever, readers. I don’t care. Gosh). But you can go. You can go! Especially if you’re anywhere close to New York. I’m going to cease my blabbering here and just post the event details straight from Patasola. Check it out, and if you go, please let me know how it went.

The Poetry Society of New York (the founders of the New York Poetry Festival and The Poetry Brothel) and New York-based Patasola Press are teaming up to present an event of mythical proportions. Chimerical beasts, writers and poets alike will read you poetry and folklore.

Patasola Press will present and celebrate their Anthology of Mytholgy, Female Writers’ Anthology, Siren Series Chapbook writer T.M. De Vos and Rae Bryant’s PEN/Hemingway-nominated The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals.

Dress like your favorite mythical creature! Patasola Press authors will read their work and The Poetry Society of New York/The Poetry Brothel will read poetry and work of mythology. White wine as well as beer will be sold.

Patasola Press will also collection donations for their fundraising campaign:

Featured readers include, at this time:


Patasola’s Playground
Saturday, August 20th
Governors Island, Building 410A*

Directions and schedule of ferry here:

PGH Lit Events Or Take Hits From The ’80’s/Does It Sound So Crazy?

The Pittsburgh Noir launch event is happening tonight! I’m really excited about this book. For one thing, Pittsburgh is such an awesome setting (god knows I’ve used it enough), but I’m really most stoked about the authors. I’m a diehard Stewart O’Nan acolyte, and I’m very much a fan of poet and former Pitt MFA grad Terrance Hayes. And the indie lit world will be represented by everybody’s favorite Ohioan, Aubrey Hirsch.

The launch party starts tonight at Cantina (one of my favorite summertime bars; awesome outdoor seating and great Mexican food) down on Butler Street at 7 o’ clock. No cover. And there’s going to be a host of readers. It’s sponsored by the New Yinzer which has really stepped up its game filling the void left behind by Gist Street. Hope to see everybody there.