Magnificent and well-earned news: Ron Currie, Jr.'s God is Dead has won The New York Public Library’s 2008 Young Lions Fiction Award. I'd call Ron an old friend, but if he's young enough to have won that award, I guess that won't quite do.
I've been hearing the rumors for a few weeks now, and it looks like they're true: according to Crossing the Border, the venerable litmag Ontario Review is shutting down after thirty-four years of good work. Joyce Carol Oates and her husband Raymond Smith were the bituminous coal on which it ran, and with his passing, I guess she just decided the time had come.
I submitted to the magazine fairly regularly for a number of years, and finally gave up--made my peace with the fact that my work wasn't much of a fit for their project. And it was, in all honesty, something of a relief not to get any more of what surely must have been the smallest, bluest rejection notices on this planet. Did they really have to be so small? And so blue? I could have lived with one or the other, but...
Sure, I bitch a bit now, but the fact is, anybody who keeps a litmag alive for three decades and change, who publishes the work of Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Donald Barthelme, Saul Bellow, Pinckney Benedict, Joseph Brodsky, Hayden Carruth, Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, Rita Dove, Margaret Drabble, Stuart Dybek, Carlos Fuentes, Tess Gallagher, Albert Goldbarth, Nadine Gordimer, Eaman Grennan, Donald Hall, Ted Hughes, Maxine Kumin, Doris Lessing, Alistair MacLeod, W. S. Merwin, Mary Morris, Gloria Naylor, Philip Roth, Gary Soto, Elizabeth Spencer, William Stafford, Mark Strand, Melanie Rae Thon, Chase Twichell, John Updike, Robert Penn Warren, C. K. Williams and Charles Wright, and of hundreds if not thousands of less well-known but equally worthy workers in the trade, well, they're more than all right by me.
April 27, 2008, 8:57 p.m.Category: Short Stories
A very short piece called "Flies" just went live on Hobart, one of my favorite litmags, as part of their annual Baseball Issue. Many thanks to old friend John Slootweg for gifting me the nut of this story... thirty years ago? Or nearly so. And while you're there, spend some time with Jim Ruland and Andrew Ervin--great pieces, both.
April 21, 2008, 12 a.m.Category: Short Stories
Steve Morison's kind profile (partly about me, partly about Zhang Lijia, all in the context of the Beijing expat writers scene) just showed up in Poets & Writers. This kind of thing is Morison's forte--he's also done articles about Kabul and Tangiers (if I remember right, he was the last known person to interview Paul Bowles), and was in Myanmar researching something similar when the typhoon hit.