You must believe me: I was as tired of all the Best of the Month/Year/Decade lists as everyone else. But then I found one with my name on it! Nate Brown over at The L Magazine decided that All Over was one of the 111 best books of the Aughts! Thank you, Nate and L, and Happy 2010 to you both.
December 30, 2009, 9:57 p.m.Category: Fiction Collections
Huge gaping thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts, which recently granted me one of their forty-odd 2010 Literature Fellowships in Creative Writing (Prose). It's pretty amazing company to be in--Barry Gifford and Adam Johnson and ZZ Packer also won this year, along with my friend and fellow Dzancer Mike Czyzniejewski. The book I pitched in my application will require more in the way of travel expenses than I could ever have afforded on my own, so again, thank you, NEA!
Allow me to posit that it is fun to talk about things that don't yet exist, like flying cars and justice and Issue 6.2 of The Cincinnati Review.
Let me further suggest that we now take the advice of Christ and consider that last item first.
Fiction by Micah Riecker and Kevin Wilson. Poetry by Sherman Alexie and William Logan and Chase Twichell. Nonfiction by Khaled Mattawa, and poetry reviews by Norman Finkelstein, and then of course the other things. The fiction reviews. There are at least two of them: one by Keith Lee Morris and one by Erin McGraw.
The issue in question also claims to have a fiction review by me. I shall not cavil with the 'by' part of those last four words, or the 'me' part, or the 'fiction' part. As for the sole remaining cavilable word, well, feel free to make the call yourself.
One thing I know surely: it was as much fun to put to paper as anything I've ever done, and many thanks to Nicola Mason and Michael Griffith for letting me play on their field. Flying cars and justice have got nothing on these folks.
I just now learned that McSweeney's is about to launch The Better of McSweeney's, Volume 2, with stories selected from Issues 11 through 20 of the Quarterly Concern, including work by most of my personal heroes: Stephen Millhauser, Chris Adrian, Stephen Elliott, Brian Evenson, Yannick Murphy, Tom Bissell and Tony D'Souza, among others.
The alley-oop you've been suspecting all along: it will also have a story of mine.
Asparagus spritzers for everyone!
September 26, 2009, 11:43 a.m.Category: Fiction Collections
Thanks to The Rome Review for tucking a poem of mine called "After Jazz" in amongst some really wonderful work by Blake Butler, George Singleton, Steve Almond and Kathleen Rooney, among others.
It is of course a pleasure to be very nearly anywhere: that is, to be. But to be in an anthology compiled by Lee K. Abbott and featuring, among many others, Michael Martone, Stephen Dixon and Terese Svoboda: that is a splendid thing. "Krazy" was first published in the likewise awesome Hot Metal Bridge back in 2007; Best of the Web is one of Dzanc's yearly endeavors, captained through 2009 by Nathan Leslie, by Matt Bell from here on out, and I thank all involved.
"Opium Magazine's signature competitive reading series comes to Syracuse: the pilot episode of LDM University will double as a pre-launch party for the magazine’s eighth print issue. The event, hosted by Opium founder Todd Zuniga, will feature 8-minute-or-less readings by Roy Kesey, Dan Roche, Mi Ditmar and Alexander Yates, all judged by Phil LaMarche, Christopher Kennedy, and Elizabeth Koch. Venue: Ambrosia. Date: Friday, June 5. Time: 7:30 p.m."
It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most important event of any kind that has ever occurred, except possibly that one thing that happened with the tractor. Remember that? That was nuts.
June 3, 2009, 2:16 p.m.Category: Litmags
An awfully nice thing: Darlin Neal and Scott Garson of Wigleaf have put together a list of their fifty favorite Very Short Fictions from the past year, and saw fit to include a piece of mine, "Flies," which originally appeared in Hobart. This tickles me, not in the bad sense where you can't breathe and then whiz down your own leg, but in the other sense, the good one.
Not that anyone has reason to care, but a thing about this story: it could just as well be called nonfiction. I mean that literally. Nothing in it didn't happen except the fantasy bits labeled truthfully as fantasy, plus also the fictional bits labeled truthfully within the story as fiction. That said, so much of the story is composed of those two elements that, sure, why not: fiction.
Or, no, hold on, how about:
Blobfiction, greenish, and transparent enough that inside it you can see the slowly dissolving hunks of nonfiction it just ate.
Yes, I like that just fine.
And here I sit, wearing my GCC t-shirt, drinking coffee from my GCC mug, thinking, Reading Swag is the best swag of all.
Many thanks to everyone at GCCs Batavia and Medina for turning Monday into such a good thing. Special thanks to my old friend Tracy Ford for causing the ball to begin rolling months ago, and for prodding it onward so consistently and well. And lastly, congratulations to the students: your questions were superb, and I thank you for them.
In his book The Other Lover, my friend Bruce Smith has a great poem called "Afterbody" where we get, among other things, this:
"...From the most meager
scraps of voice on the telephone--
a half tone or quarter tone--
he pieces the body together: widow's peak, collarbones,
pelvic tilt, lobes and clefts, the body cloned
from some pressures and inflections,
a stammered word, interference, aspiration."
And I say thee yea, Bruce Smith! Yeah, yea. By our diction shall we be known, shall make ourselves known, shall manifest our very lives aloud, and those of our characters, and thank you for saying so so clearly.
April 22, 2009, 8:57 a.m.Category: Poetry