Happy Birthday to The Hook and the Haymaker!

Happy official publication day to Jared Yates Sexton and his short story collection, The Hook and the Haymaker.


Click to Purchase

Want a little try-before-you-buy?  Check out these stories:

+ Maggie from Southern Humanities Review (Pushcart Prize nominee)

“Maggie was a widow of seven years, and every Sunday, her husband’s brother, Dick, dropped in to keep her company and play cards. She would fix a pot of spaghetti, Dick’s favorite, while he drank beer and told her about his week. He worked at the same mine where his brother had been killed, so he was careful with the details.”

+Coming Home from The Account

“There was some­thing won­der­ful about sit­ting down for roast and veg­eta­bles with the fam­ily, drink­ing a glass or two of wine, help­ing with the dishes, and then mak­ing up some excuse as to why I had to go back to the office—papers to grade, classes to prep—and then chok­ing the life out of the evening by crawl­ing bars with Macken­zie and her hot-tempered friends. It was the best of both worlds, the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of ice and fire that made my life so very enjoy­able.”

+ Listen to Jared read Punch-for-Punch from PANK Issue 10 (Then go buy it here.)


We hope you’ll support a talented author and our budding indie press by buying a copy for yourself and one for a friend (or two, if you have more than one friend who likes to read, and we really hope you do) and helping us spread the word.

What People Are Saying:

“Here he is, the successor to Jim Harrison, William Gay, Richard Ford, Jared Yates Sexton is a raw talent, the kind of writer that you need to tell your friends about, the kind of writer you envy and will follow to the ends of the earth. The Hook and The Haymaker is explosive, slicing through us like a literary scythe. His characters traipse through darkness with only the faintest hope of light on the other side, and Sexton leads them – and us – through it all with def precision. This blisteringly smart collection is destined to be an instant classic, and I hope others will rejoice in saying so too.”
– Robert James Russell
Author of Don’t Ask Me To Spell It Out and Sea of Trees

“Jared Yates Sexton lays down a strong confident hand in The Hook and The Haymaker. He is a writer most excellent at details, both huge and tiny – the monstrous wildfires and infinitesimal sparks that warm a life, a relationship, a heart. These stories are sturdy and meaty with smoky ribbons – a substantial collection on which to feast and fill. Delicious.”
– Leesa Cross-Smith
Author of Every Kiss A War

Congratulations, Jared! We couldn’t be prouder. This collection is killer.

Any press/interview/review queries, please email Scott Bugher: editor@splitlippress.com.


20 Questions with Jared Yates Sexton

We here at Split Lip are super stoked about our first full-length collection coming out this Thursday (tomorrow!), Jared Yates Sexton’s The Hook and the Haymaker. In anticipation of the book’s launch, we (well, Amanda, Split Lip Mag’s EIC) sat down with (well, emailed) Jared to talk to him about the book, his writing life, and some other random stuff.

I just finished Jared’s collection An End to All Things a couple weeks ago, and I’ve read a lot of the stories coming out in this newest collection online. I have been a huge fan of JYS’s writing since we were featured in the same magazine a year or so ago (shoutout to our friends at Buffalo Almanack!) and I was able to follow his work–which is no easy task considering how prolific he is (check his website if you don’t believe me).  He’s a master at realistic dialogue and subtle action. And his endings always slay me. The stories in his upcoming collection, especially, I think, highlight the extraordinary moments in seemingly ordinary lives. Seriously, even though I am admittedly biased, I can’t wait to have this book in my hands.

I asked Jared twenty questions, in honor of his book coming out soon–some serious, some not. He was a good sport…except for all the punting in questions 18 and 19.

20 Questions with Jared Yates Sexton, Author of The Hook and the Haymaker

Jared Yates Sexton1. Everyone always asks which story is your favorite, or which story is the most “you”, but I’m more curious: which story do you feel the most distance from? Or, I guess to ask it a different way, which one is most absent of autobiography?

That’d probably be “Maggie,” considering I don’t have a brother, dead or alive. However, I always had this strangely vivid picture in my head of a man standing in front of a mirror with another man’s razor and shaving his face. I’m not sure why that is, but for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by bathrooms and how it’s the one room of the house where we leave all of these intimate objects and things around to be discovered by people who have carte blanche and the time to explore. That got imagined maybe five or six years ago and I’ve started it, finished it, and came back to it too many times to count, but it’s always had some kind of pull.

2. What was the last book you read? 

A couple of days ago I just reread Freedom for the second time. It’s been useful for crafting language and tone for the novel I’m writing now. Before that was Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment and the last fiction book was Roth’s American Pastoral, which was a punch to the gut. Right now I’m reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk on the suggestion of a buddy of mine.

3. Name something/someone who might be a surprising (to readers) influence on your writing.

Stephen King. I grew up reading him at way too young of an age and I think that did me a ton of good. It basically gave me the green light to write anything I ever wanted, which is important. Not to mention, the guy’s a hell of a craftsman. Outside of him, probably Flannery O’Connor. She was brutal.

 4. How was putting together your second collection different than putting together the first?

The first collection was this thing that I looked up one day and suddenly there was a book. The stories all kind of hunkered around the same theme because it was written, primarily, during the Great Recession, meaning there were apocalypses aplenty. This one had a little bit of a different birth in that I’ve started writing a lot of different genres and styles, only my realistic fiction, I noticed, was centered around characters and their second and third and so on and so on chances. Or, men and women who want them, who’ve squandered them, who don’t even realize they’re possible. If the hub of the wheel with An End To All Things was environmental, then maybe this one was more incidental.

 5. What career would you choose other than writing/teaching/editing?

Sometimes I have these flights of fancy where I think I could start up a brewing company or learn to cook. Cooking’s a thing that, if I hadn’t have gone to get my MFA, I think I would’ve liked to have pursued, whether it was going into a program or just focusing on it more.

6. Any weird writing rituals—food or drink habits, meditations, readings, knuckle-cracking, pen selections?
I have to read. I tell students all the time that reading is fuel for the engine. I have to sit there and pick through sentences and hope that maybe I can pick up some inspiration or some kind of focus. When I was little, and used to bang away on this old sky-blue typewriter, I decided, for whatever reason, that whenever I wrote I’d have a bowl of white grapes on my desk. Needless to say, that was kind of dumb and probably had more to do with the grapes in the fridge at the time.

 7. Who would you to play you in a movie of the life and times of famous author Jared Yates Sexton?

I get told I favor Charlie Day sometimes, but I think that’s due to the beard.

 8. Follow-up: Who would play (Split Lip Press Editor) Scott Bugher?

This is an excellent question. There’s this guy who was in a Mad Max movie I saw one time who was a spitting image, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you the name.

9. A lot of the stories in your last book (An End to All Things) were apocalyptic, focused on the end of the world or the end of (cough) all things. Kinda dark. This collection is less dark, but would you say there is an overarching theme or focus? Or are they more connected by style?

I’ve already answered this question, but I think the one thing I could point to is that I’ve grown as a person since that book. It stands as a pretty good testament to what it’s like to be in a place of depression and hopelessness, both as a person and citizen, while this book’s got some more hope, some more solid ground beneath its feet. Nobody could mistake it as being overly optimistic, but the sun comes shining in every so often.

10. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Before I could read and write I used to write this gigantic, Star Wars-like space sagas where I drew these spaceships – usually just triangles pointing at each other from across the page – and would make up backgrounds for the pilots. Then I’d take markers and draw lasers blowing up the ships. If I remember, those battles got pretty hairy.

 11. What do you like about the short story form (vs. the novel, which you also write)?

The short story is such a beautiful little artifact in its own right. You get these glimpses into lives that allow the reader to fill in holes, visualize some of the more vivid details, and have these intense moments of connection. They’re little flings that are multi-faceted and passionate, but fleeting in certain ways. The novel’s exhaustive. A several decade-long relationship that twists, turns, and develops and falters. By the time you’re done with both you should feel changed, more in touch with yourself and the rest of humanity, but they take different routes getting there.

12. What do you find to be the hardest part of the writing life?

The self-doubt. There’s no getting around it either. Every artist I’ve ever met or studied has been plagued with it. Regardless of how something’s reviewed, revered, or how it sells, the doubt is still lingering there in the back of your head. Sometimes it’s your career or canon as a whole, others it’s every single, solitary word you write. There’s just no real way to overcome it in full. Not that I’ve ever come across, anyway.

13. Follow up: the best part?

The thing I tell students who are thinking about going into writing is this: it’s the worst thing you’ll ever do and the best. That’s just how it is. With all of the doubt and self-flagellation, there’s a wonderful opportunity to externally digest the meat and grit of existence. Everything I’ve ever suffered or gone through is available as fodder for the mill, and maybe if I meet it head on and work through it on the page, I’ll be able to heal, understand, and overcome in everyday life.

14. What do you do when you feel like you can’t write anything?

I don’t believe in blocks, truth be told. If I can’t write, usually it’s because I haven’t been reading or writing with regularity. If that’s the case, then I push forward. I grab something off the shelf that always inspires me and read. I make myself write some terribly stilted prose and hope eventually the motor will kick in. Worse than that? I walk away. Go for a walk. Listen to some music. Pray it’s only temporary.

15. You’ve been known to tell your own creative writing students (at Georgia Southern University) to write what terrifies them. What are your worst fears (Top 3)?

Top three really narrows it down. I think every writer is terrified that it will just stop. Because someday it will. Someday you and I will write our last piece and that will be the summation of everything we’ve ever done. That’s a powerful realization, a living death that’s almost impossible not to think about and almost impossible to function while thinking about.

With that, I think all artists are afraid they won’t ever truly be happy. The condition that allows writers to write their stories or poetry is the same condition that makes existence occasionally bleak and unbearable. There’s some kind of quiet hope that maybe someday this malaise will break completely and forever leave us be, but I’m not sure that’s the case.

And last, but not least: losing everyone I love.

16. Best piece of writing advice anyone’s ever given you? (or was it to write what terrifies you and you’re just recycling that because it’s great?)

 The story will tell you what to do. I heard my graduate advisor Beth Lordan say that in graduate school and I didn’t understand it until maybe four years ago.

17. Fine, I still want to know, even though you’ll probably get tired of answering this question: your favorite story in the collection?

That’s almost impossible to answer. I have favorites, but for varying reasons. I think the title piece is one of the lushest things I’ve written and it came from a marathon writing session one afternoon where everything broke the right way. “Yankee” (from Hobart)  was this thing that took me almost no time at all and arrived fully-formed and virtually perfect. And “Punch-For-Punch” (in PANK). I just like the hell out of that one.

 18. Who are some up-and-comers writing right now (and no, you can’t say me—that one’s obvious) who inspire you?

I’m going to punt on this one because it’s just going to turn into a list of the people I love. There are just so many writers who are hustling their asses off and getting words on the page that say more about existence than anything on our TVs, phones, commercials, or websites. And it’s not even close.

19. Online journal/s you get excited about reading (besides Split Lip, which would, again, be obvious)?

This falls into the same category, I think. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a journal online, or read one on a bookstand, where I didn’t find at least one thing that got me excited about writing.

20. What’s next for you in the literary world?

That’s a hell of a question in its own right. I don’t know. I’ve got another collection coming out from Split Lip next year – an experimental one called I Am The Oil Of The Engine Of The World – and a crime-novel forthcoming from New Pulp Press called Bring Me The Head of Yorkie Goodman. I’ve got another three novels finished and am working on another right now. It’s an exciting time, for sure, the future filled with book ideas for as far as the eye can see. Certainly better than the alternative.

Hell yes it is, JYS.

Thanks to Jared for taking time out of his super busy teaching/writing schedule to answer these inane questions. The Hook and the Haymaker will be available tomorrow, Thursday, January 15th, and we couldn’t be prouder to have him as part of the Split Lip family.




Welcome Our New Poetry Editors

We here at Split Lip Magazine are thrilled to introduce not just one, but two amazing new poetry editors to the rockstar team. They’ve already gotten to work at killing it, just like I knew they would, and I’m so thankful for their enthusiasm and some new blood to liven up this place.

Poetry Editor Christina Drill


Christina Drill is a writer and poet based out of Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Christina’s work focuses primarily on the adolescent experience and what it means to “grow up female” in America. Her chapbook NEW BOWS was published by Five/Quarterly in 2013, and her poems have been published in places like Word Riot, Dogzplot, CHEAP POP, and Two Serious Ladies. She currently works as a program coordinator for Girls Write Now. You can find her (occasionally) on Twitter @stidrill and at www.christinadrill.com.

Poetry Editor Tafisha A. Edwards


Tafisha A. Edwards is a Guyanese-Canadian poet who lives and works in Washington D.C, but can infrequently be found in New York City and certain other palmetto dotted cities on the Eastern Seaboard. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Bodega Magazine, The Little Patuxent Review, Fledgling Rag and Stylus among other journals. She is a Cave Canem fellow, a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Jiminéz-Porter Writers’ House and a former educator at the American Poetry Museum, where she taught poetry to primary school children. She has received scholarships to the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, The Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference and Cave Canem. She is currently penning her first collection of poetry, Confusing the Wind and has read the entirety of the A Song of Ice and Fire series to date, which is an accomplishment she feels is great enough to share. You can find her on Twitter at: @ThePetiteTaff.

I couldn’t be more excited to have these amazing women/poets on board. Please welcome them warmly by sending your best poetry submissions our way! (The free reading period is now open.)

Happy New Year! So many good things ahead in 2015 for Split Lip, both the magazine and the press. We can’t wait to share them all with you!