Joseph Torra
What’s So Funny
Pages: 136
ISBN: 9780983197508
Publication Date: January 2011

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Joe Torra is, with Daniel Bouchard and William Corbett, a co-founder of Pressed Wafer. Joe named the press after the title of a pamphlet of poems by John Wieners, Pressed Wafer.

August Letter to My Wife and Daughters is a chapbook length series of poems, an account of Joe’s trip to China to pick up his daughter Celeste Dan Torra. After the Chinese is a book of poems with a never-before-reproduced Franz Kline drawing on its cover courtesy of David McKee of the David McKee Gallery. A few copies of both books are still available.

As a novelist Torra hears a voice, lives with it and listens and in essence takes dictation. His My Ground Trilogysee his website—is where Torra began spinning out the solos that are unlike anything in contemporary American fiction.

Call Me Waiter is Torra in his own voice. It says “Fiction” on the back of the book but that was an error. This is a Faction of non-fiction novel, Torra’s twenty years of experience and bartender mediated by memory and improvisation. It is a very funny book. Joe’s restaurant colleague Deborah Hickey provided the cover photograph.

Torra lives in Somerville, Massachusetts where he set What’s So Funny, the story of a stand up comic. If it is true that death and tragedy are easy and comedy is hard, Torra gives a hint as to why. The novels last fifteen pages are among the most inspired Torra has written.

Three of Pressed Wafer’s designers have served Torra’s work. Daniel Bouchard designed August Letter to My Wife and Daughters; Cris Mattison designed After the Chinese and Call Me Waiter; and Michael Russem did the honors on What’s So Funny.