It’s HERE! I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World by Jared Yates Sexton

Happy Book Birthday to Jared Yates Sexton’s I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World, his second collection from Split Lip.  We are thrilled to be able to put this weird + wonderful stories out into the world.


Here is a clip of Jared reading one of the stories, You Are But a Pilgrim Venturing to a Strange and Honest Land, originally published in Cleaver Magazine.

The book is now available through Split Lip (buy directly and support small presses) or Amazon, and you can save it and review it on Goodreads. Or if you’re a book reviewer for a blog or journal, we’d be happy to send you a .pdf or hard copy–just drop us a request:

Thank you for reading and supporting our authors and books! Keep an eye on our social media accounts all day long for a chance to win a I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World Leap Day Grab Bag, that includes a signed copy of the book, Split Lip swag, and other surprises.

Also: Jared will be on a panel at the upcoming Voices of the Middle West 2016 and at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles (w/ BULL and Split Lip at Table #233 and at our reading w/ Little Fiction/Big Truths). Be sure to shake his hand–and get his book if you haven’t yet.




Split Lip Monday Night Rumble, February 9

On Saturday, I reminded myself that I needed to write a Sunday Night Rumble post, but between a freelance deadline and my really terrible organization skills, I forgot.

So here we are, rumbling on a Monday night, which isn’t so bad because Mondays traditionally suck. But at least now you’ll have some great things to read.


New Issues

Hippocampus Magazine is a fairly new-ish destination for short creative non-fiction. Their new issue went live February 1st and includes a piece by yours truly (my first published CNF piece, so I feel like I’m allowed to humblebrag a bit).


Contributors Killin’ It

Jared Yates Sexton isn’t just a contributor–he’s also the author of Split Lip Press’s first full-length collection, The Hook and the Haymaker.  He has a great story over at Juked right now, and you can check out the first review of his collection over at Alternating Currents (thank you to Al Kratz for reading and seeing all the good in it that we saw).


Stories I Loved

Two Hurts by K Brattin  at Wigleaf

Tell Me What to Do by Kerry Cullen at Luna Luna Magazine (I may be a little biased, but still. Read it.)


Rumor has it that it’s National Pizza Day (I know that for some of you out there, it’s every day), and I have a couple pies on the way. Hope your evening is as delicious/fraught with heartburn/etc.


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:

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.




Jared Yates Sexton Signs Book Deal with Split Lip Press


Split Lip Press is privileged to announce it has signed a two-year, two-book deal with fiction rock star Jared Yates Sexton. The first of the two forthcoming titles, The Hook and the Haymaker, is scheduled to release January 15, 2015.

A perfect fit for Split Lip’s punk rock aesthetic, Sexton says of his first collection, An End to All Things (Atticus Books, 2012): “When I was younger I challenged myself to write things my family members would be uncomfortable reading, or things that could get me in hot water with people I knew.” Split Lip, a press unafraid of hot water in any manner, is exceedingly proud to have Sexton join its roster.

“Sexton defines Split Lip fiction,” says Editor-in-Chief J. Scott Bugher. “His dry wit and dark humor, how it colors his prose about life’s complications that are universal to all, led me to seek him out. There is no better way of putting it: If you want a clear understanding of the Split Lip brand, take a look at any story by Sexton. Notice the hints of Carver, McCarthy and Bukowski. The work has grit, and grit is Split Lip Press.”

Sexton joined Split Lip after J. Scott Bugher, a lifelong fan, recruited him heavily. Seeing all the press had to offer, Sexton’s reply was a very enthusiastic “yes.” Bugher, also publisher of Split Lip Magazine, was thrilled enough to have published Sexton’s short story, “Behold, I Come as a Thief” in the magazine’s January 2013 issue, then even more so when that story was selected as one of only four stories in Sundress Publication’s prestigious Best of the Net anthology. Now that he’ll be releasing two full books by the author, Bugher considers this deal “a milestone” for his company.

Split Lip Press is a discerning outlet seeking select titles that celebrate solid literary works. Stepping in to fill the industry void left by big wig publishers, Bugher is a leading figure in the literary scene as one who releases only the best-written fiction and poetry rather than young adult book franchises and murder-mysteries released by major publishing houses. Selectivity is a stringent affair for Split Lip Press when seeking manuscripts for book publication, and such selectivity is based on high standards for quality writing, which Sexton surpasses, and an author’s activity in the literary scene, a world that Sexton is very tapped into given his impressive publications, appearances at major literary events, and his memorable, animated readings.

The grounds for Split Lip’s high standards come down to this: Split Lip believes there are fans still hungry for new literary fiction and poetry, fans willing to comb small presses for the such. It is Split Lip’s mission to provide readers with books that shine brighter than the rest.

About Jared Yates Sexton:

After receiving his MFA at Southern Illinois University, Sexton moved on to teach writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and serve as managing editor for BULL: Men’s Fiction. In 2012, he landed a gig with the creative writing faculty at Georgia Southern University. Winning attention from editors worldwide, Sexton, along with his Best of the Net selection, has had work appear in publications like Salon, Southern Humanities Review, Hobart, PANK, and elsewhere. His stories have been nominated for a handful of Pushcarts, the Million Writers Award, and was a finalist for the New American Fiction Prize. His first book, An End To All Things, has been lauded by critics in Publisher’s Weekly, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Portland Book Review, among others. In short, Sexton is a force in the literary scene. He doesn’t throw punches in the dark; he knows his targets and lands a hard blow to each one with every swing of his bare-knuckled fist.

About Split Lip Press:

A former top Nashville session musician, J. Scott Bugher bases Split Lip Press on the modern music industry, where recording artists understand major label record deals are things of the past, which has triggered the rise of indie labels releasing the best music out there. Bugher feels like publishing is evolving similarly. “For some reason, writers have sat on manuscripts for up to a decade while paying up to thousands in reading and contest fees, hoping for a major book deal,” says Bugher. “Why hold onto a manuscript for that long and pay that much when you can partner with a determined and passionate small press?” Though Split Lip can only do so much, the bookmaker believes small press publishing is the new world order for the literary scene.

For more information on Jared Yates Sexton, visit

For more information on Split Lip Press, visit