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
A very cool surprise today at the office: a beautiful broadside of the shortest story I've ever written, hand-printed and framed by Washington College's own Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby. Thanks too to student interns Ryan Manning and Aliya Merhi, and to Julia Armstrong for the ace hammer work, and especially to the students at Salem Hyde Elementary School who gave me the raw gold.
September 15, 2015, 6:32 p.m.Category: Short Stories
Really proud to have an excerpt from my new translation project, The Cousins (Las primas), by the nonagenarian Argentine genius Aurora Venturini, up at the PEN American Center website. There's also an essay I wrote about the book, its author, and the process of bringing the text into English. Many thanks to Wei-Ling Woo for good edits on both excerpt and essay.