Whatever else happens today, the world now has this in it: my translation of Pola Oloixarac's brilliant debut novel, Savage Theories. I hope you like it. With crazed thanks to Pola, and to Mark Doten and Bronwen Hruska of Soho Press.
GMU's Fall For The Book festival starts tomorrow, and it's pretty dang studded with stars and those in the making--Sandra Cisneros, Robert Bausch, Jen Percy, Lauren Groff, James McPherson, Idra Novey, Elena Passarello, and plenty more. I'll be reading from the WIP--might even read the part about the whip--on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the Sandy Spring Bank Tent, where, and the sponsors don't know this yet, I will actually be camping for the entire week. Come for the stories, stay for the S'mores.
This coming year, I'll be a visiting lecturer in the English Department at Washington College --a place that's been very good to me over the years. I'll also be the Fiction Editor for Cherry Tree, a top-drawer literary magazine they founded two years ago. Really looking forward to saddling up.
Very happy to see that A Manner of Being is now out in the world. It's an anthology of essays about mentors and mentees, edited by Jeff Parker and Annie Liontas, and the George Saunders essay alone is worth the price of admission. I also happen to have a short piece in there, looking at the surface irreverence and deep smarts that made Robert Day such a force for good at Washington College and the Rose O'Neill Literary House when I was a student there way back in the day.
Many thanks to Damyanti Biswas at Daily (W)rite for a great set of things to think on.
Readings can be such a mixed bag. Sometimes the writers are off their game, or don't prep well, or make unfortunate choices about what to read. Sometimes the venue is too loud or echoey or uncomfortable. But when the reader is someone whose work you love more than breathing, and the work read is new and vital, and the setting is gorgeous and full and acoustically blessed, wow--you get something a lot like grace.
It's always great to see an old story get new life. Many thanks to Tim Waldron and The Literary Review for bringing "Martin" back into the world, and to everyone at Quarterly West for getting it there in the first place.
I'm very sad to bring the news that the great Aurora Venturini has passed away. The world has lost a way of seeing itself that it very much needed. I'm currently in the midst of translating her terrific novel Las primas (The Cousins)--there's an excerpt up here at PEN America, along with an essay about how and why I fell so hard for this book--and the thought that her time with us is at an end--that we won't get any more of her dark, viciously funny, dry-eyed takes on the world--is just crushing me right now.
Washington College, where I'm currently the Writer-in-Residence, has been closed through Thanksgiving due to security concerns that are, more than anything, depressing as hell. As a means of addressing that depression, kind of, as well as the fact that my students and I lost a class period, I made a short video with a few thoughts on Maggie Nelson's amazing book Bluets, which we'd been scheduled to discuss. I'd apologize for its goofiness, but that's also part of the point.
Dear Lady at the Post Office Who Has Spent the Last Twelve Minutes Trying to Choose Exactly the Right Commemorative Stamps:
The line is now 9 people long. But don't let that affect you. This is the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life, so please, please, don't rush it.
September 28, 2015, 6:54 p.m.Category: Nonfiction