Head on over to the Creative Loafing Atlanta page for purchase details.
Hey, kids. You can get your mitts on a story of mine ("Drone," a heartwarming tale of x-ray vision and bad decision making) in ebook form now for only a buck and change.
Head on over to the Creative Loafing Atlanta page for purchase details.
I'm pretty dang excited to announce that a story of mine, a circus tale called "Knockabout," has been accepted for publication by Gargoyle.
"Knockabout" has a long history. I think I started in it the fall of 2009 in Jim Grimsley's Advanced Fiction class. He urged us to write a single, near-novella sized short story for the semester. "Knockabout" was initially just shy of 30 pages (it's about 18 right now, but let's see if Gargoyle has any editing suggestions). It has three main characters and the story is told in a vignette style, each vignette from the perspective of a character (in a close third). At one point, faced with a narrative I felt I couldn't control, I remember at one point color coding each character's P.o.V., cutting them all out, and then taping all of each character's color-coded sections together in order to visually mark their "weight" in the piece. This is normal when you are desperate to make something work. Isn't it?
This was also the first time I engaged in research for a story. I read a few books on the history of circuses, and, since the story takes place on a specific day in Dustbowl era Oklahoma, I also read "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan. Turns out I still took plenty of liberties, even with all that research.
So, in other words, with all the effort and revisions (over 20), to have the piece in a place like Gargoyle is an honor. I'm humbled. Look for it in the summer of 2013.
Man, I fell into a hole for the past year. Sorry about that. Since starting this program, I’ve become aware just how difficult time management can be and what that does to ones work. These past two semesters have been pretty intense (and great). When you dedicate yourself to something as all-consuming as graduate school—at least, my experience thus far—you lose a bit of the bigger picture. At least I did, I think.
Our culture, mirrored as it always is by its business practices, is obsessed with metrics and how we, individually, are doing at any given time. Instead of profit margins and web analytic data, we’re concerned with more quotidian kinds of things: from how many calories eaten, or how many friends “liked” our comments on Facebook, to how much we make and spend as a signifier of our importance. We spend time thinking about how much time we spend and how wisely. So add the mild-to-extreme compulsion of writing to this broad cultural claim and it exacerbates and multiples that ledger effect: how many words can I get out a day, how many stories can I get published, how many books can I write. As a student, it’s both unnerving and powerfully seductive.
Or maybe this is just me. I think writers might begin as astute observers of minutiae: the shaky hands of a grandparent, the curl of cheap linoleum, the way the air in summer feels like your breathing in something lost and stupid from childhood. We look to these details to find exactly what we’re doing here. I’m going to take this image and try to understand it. I’m going to make something that is supposed to mean something to others.
I’m going to keep trying to do that, make meaningful things. I started something I hope will turn into a novel (my first). There’s a thesis I have to compile, that unsellable collection of short fiction that I love so dearly and fiercely it makes me no fun at parties.
Also, I’m trying, along with several friends, to give to the world another literary journal, something we’re calling Pinball, a project we’ve received funding and some great submissions for already. Stay tuned for it.
A quick recommendation: Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods is probably the drollest, funniest, and depressing book I’ve read in a long time. Pick it up. It’s great.
I wish you the best, dear reader. Courage. Courage and hugs.
One thing that always slows me down during moving is flipping through books. It serves as a nice breather from the constant shamble of moving, of boxing up, of cleaning, of planning, of counting the remaining pennies in the bank account. Often, I find moving is also a good time to contemplate how many books I buy and the abandon with which I buy them. Like the previous owner of this book, I don't even like Robert Frost. Some books, like this one, are books I buy because I think I should know something about the author and their work. I'm guilty of the "Oh, right. 'Stopping in the woods' or something. I remember that. I should know more shit about this dude"-style reasoning, as if I will win Cash Cab* because I know who wrote "Fire and Ice." Which I don't, because I sold my Robert Frost Reader.
Of course, it's not not a bad thing to buy books, explore unknown writers, and generally do that Reading Rainbow thing...
First: new story, “Temporary Fixes,” in the new issue of Palooka. Give it a whirl, if you’re so inclined. Many thanks to Jonathan and Nic for all their editorial assistance
Second: off to MFAland at North Carolina State University in a scant few days. Looking forward to working with the grad students and faculty there—the ones I’ve met have been awesome, in the Milton sense of the word.
So now: we are under heat waves, and I am surrounded by boxes. Rented trucks, long interstate voyages, fast food wrappers: I will know you all soon enough.
Also: possibly it’s been the heat (?) or perhaps my out-of-control Hoarders addiction, but this has been a sad, lonely blog of late. I intend to change that, even if it’s just posts about Hoarders.
“Hoarders and the Literary Dialectic: Pathways through the Pile” NEXT.
I'm this close to making this a Tumblr. You have been warned.
I bet Trent Reznor has a Tumblr. Betty White, too.
The book cover is all like, "Whatevs."
Peter Handke’s 1971 novel, Short Letter, Long Farewell, is a deadpan and irony-steeped travelogue, a treatise on the emptiness of American culture and the dislocation of the individual. Throughout the narrator wanders through an unromanticized version of America that is as rootless and rudderless as he. The novel's slight narrative thrust is provided by its thin plot—the narrator simultaneously runs away from, and right into the arms of, his estranged lover who may or may not want to kill him. Along the way, he travels across a stretch of the country with an old flame and her child. The most enjoyable moments of the book are in these scenes, where the group achieves a temporary harmony as an ad-hoc family, affording the narrowest glint of humanity the book sorely needs.
The ironic thing is that I intended to post more this year. Here's a picture of Dr. Dre to tide you over:
Maybe we can talk about reinvention and second chances next time.
So I won the Creative Loafing fiction contest for the 2nd year in a row, and I just got back from the big party. All the winners read, a band played, MothUp Atlanta performed. And I'm beat.
Thanks to everyone at Creative Loafing for the opportunity to share my work. And special thanks to my wife and all my friends for coming out and supporting me and all the other writers and performers.
It was an excellent time, and I'm honored, humbled, and off to bed