Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feel the Heat

It's been blazingly hot in Southern California.

Yesterday I took Ethan to the beach. He dug a lot of sand and said this at one point:

"Waves, can we have some of your sand please? Thank you."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Short Fiction Series: October 9

If you happen to live in Southern California:

On Friday, October 9, I'll be the featured writer at the New Short Fiction Series. This is a long-running monthly series in Los Angeles. Actors read stories by a selected author.

Here are the details...

What: New Short Fiction Series presents Andy Roe's What I'm About to Do Now and Other Stories

When: Friday, October 9 @ 8 p.m. (box office opens at 7:30)

Beverly Hills Public Library, 44 Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills

Map/directions: Here

10 bucks (I promise to buy you a drink at some point in your lifetime if you come)

More info can also be found on the New Short Fiction Series website.

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Ikea, Stop the Verdana Madness!"

This article got sent around at work today.

There's an uproar because Ikea starting using the Verdana font in its catalogs and ads. People can get really passionate about fonts and such.

Will the Ban Comic Sans folks join the fight?

Check It Out: Matt Bell Interview

Steven McDermott interviews The Collagist editor Matt Bell over at the Storyglossia blog.

It's a lengthy, insightful interview.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Will This Story Please Be Quiet, Please?

The issue of stories and novels not selling for being "too quiet" came up a while back over at Literary Rejections on Display.

I’ve heard the same feedback about my story collection.

What does this mean? I’m assuming it means my stories:

  • Are more character-driven
  • Are more internal
  • Do not (usually) feature topical, timely, flashy subjects
  • Do not (again, usually) feature car chases and knife fights and/or bat fights

I suppose the preference for “loud” stories and novels (and films, too) is no doubt a sign of the times. Publishers want a book that will sell.

But where would we be without “quiet” stories and “quiet” writers? No Carver. No Grace Paley. No... who else?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing Advice From a Four-Year-Old

In the bathtub tonight...

Me: "So you know how Daddy is a writer and writes stories?"

Ethan: "No."

(Awkward pause #1.)

Me: "Oh. Well. It's kind of what I do, sometimes. And pretty soon there's going to be this reading, this, uh, event, where people -- actors -- are going to read my stories, in front of other people, in a big room. What do you think of that?"

Ethan: "Are they alien stories or singing stories?"

(Awkward pause #2.)

Me: "Uh, no. They're not. No alien or singing stories, I'm afraid."

Ethan: "They should be alien stories."

Me: "Good point. I'll rethink."

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Collagist

The debut issue of The Collagist, the online literary journal from Dzanc Books, is now live.

Quite the lineup: Chris Bachelder, Gordon Lish, Kevin Wilson, Kim Chinqee and more.

Tin House Summer Writers Workshop Video

I was lucky enough to attend the very first Tin House Summer Writers Workshop. I think it was five years ago. But I'm not sure.

I met some wonderful people, gained a lot of knowledge, and got the push I needed at the time. I came away thinking that I might be a writer after all.

The above video took me back. It features some amazing writers.

Tin House is also celebrating its tenth anniversary.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And Les Paul Will Blow Your Mind

The Swell Season's NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Man, I wished I worked at NPR so I could see all these concerts.

The latest is from The Swell Season. That would be
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Once fame.

They have a new album coming out, called Strict Joy, in late October.

I'm listening/watching as I write this and it's sounding/looking pretty great. According to some of the comments, the version of "When Your Mind's Made Up" (a highlight from Once) is amazing.

Early Saunders

Via The Elegant Variation: the first short story ever published by George Saunders (1986, the Northwest Review).

I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to doing that soon.

I did read this introduction to the story by Tobias Wolff.

Wolff recalls the time when he was wading through all the applications for Syracuse's graduate writing program and how Saunders' story immediately stood out:

"...over the past couple of weeks I have read many thousands of pages, some good, some impossible, most drearily competent and well-behaved, and I am bleary-eyed and bored and thinking of becoming a forest ranger, if they’ll have me.

"And then I pick up this story; or, more truly, I am picked up by this story and taken for a ride through antic dips and loop-the-loops and headlong plunges into the unexpected.
I haven’t read anything like it this year, nor, indeed, in all my years of reading applications. It went right to the top of the pile, and stayed there, and a few days later I was calling George Saunders with the offer of a fellowship. If memory serves, he was then living in Amarillo, Texas, playing guitar with a folk-country band, and doing maintenance at a motel for his keep. He took the proffer, bless his heart, and the rest is history."

The world without George Saunders writing and publishing fiction? I don't want to even think about it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hugeness of Heart

Ethel Rohan pointed out this super-fine interview with Jensen Whelan, Hobart’s Web Editor.

I loved this response, when asked what he looks for in submissions:

"I look first for hugeness of heart."

Speaking of Hobart's website: I'm happy to report that one of my stories will soon be showing up there.

It's something I wrote after reading Jorge Luis Borges' "Borges and I" again (and again). The story is called "Melcher and I."

Lego Spinal Tap

Story Time

This morning Ethan told me:

"Daddy, I wish I could show you a story you've never seen before."

(Bonus E. quote: As I was leaving for work, he was riding his bike in the backyard and blowing kisses and he said, "Look, I'm blowing kisses around the world.")

Henry Likes Bananas

Or should I say: mah-nan-nas...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

If I Lived in L.A.

I'd be going to the Hobart reading Monday night at Book Soup.

On the bill: Aaron Burch, Tod Goldberg, Alicia Gifford and Stefan Kiesbye.

Details here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

When Stories Attack

I've been working on this story that I plan to submit to a magazine that was nice enough to ask me to send them something.

It's a fairly new story, pretty short, about 1000 words, rejected a couple of times previously. I did some more work on it and thought I had it.

Then the past week I worked on it some more (a "final look" before submitting) and realized I didn't have it after all. The story has been kicking my ass on a nightly basis. That horrible revising and tweaking and tinkering that erodes confidence and makes you question why the hell you've been spending all this time on this really sucky story.

Then today, in between diaper changes and dancing with Henry and Celia to the Big Night soundtrack, something clicked, the story fell into place, I made a few more edits, and I think I have it again.

The past week of hair pulling was worth it and made the story better. I hope. We'll see.

Thought of the Day

This morning we were getting in the car to go to gym class and Ethan said this:

"I wish I could fly a kite in bed."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wired's Online Map of Pynchon's Los Angeles

See it here.

The map features places and locations from Pynchon's books, as well as from his personal life (like when he worked for Boeing after college, and the time he met and got high with Brian Wilson, who apparently didn't have much to say once the weed kicked in).

It also mentions Tommy's, which took me back to my high school years and many, many late-night trips to the famous L.A. burger joint (I'm assuming the map is calling out the original location on Rampart and Beverly). In Inherent Vice (see post below), when characters get the munchies they go to this "burger navel of the universe."

And here's what Mark Horowitz had to say about Pynchon's new novel: it's
"an homage to those bygone days [the 60s and early 70s], plus something no one expected from the notoriously private author: a semiautobiographical romp. Set in the twilight of the psychedelic '60s, Inherent Vice is stoner noir, a comic murder mystery starring a detective who—like stories of Pynchon himself—smokes bales of weed, obsesses over unseen conspiracies, and relishes bad TV. (The Big Lebowski meets The Big Sleep.) And if you map the novel against Pynchon's life in LA, it really does tie the whole room together."

(Anytime I come across a Big Lebowski reference I'm feeling good.)

Another Pynchon post, you say? Yes. To be honest, though, I don't think about Pynchon much anymore. I used to. But now I don't. And now I'm not so sure I remember what I used to think.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Inherent Vice Book Trailer -- Does Pynchon Finally Speak?

Behold: the book trailer for the new Thomas Pynchon novel Inherent Vice.

The scuttlebutt on the Internets is that the person doing the voiceover may or may not be the reclusive author himself.

The only thing to go by, I guess, would be to compare the voiceover bit he did on The Simpsons a few years ago.

I don't know. Sounds like it could be him to me. I like to think it's him. So it's him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Fatigue of a Four-Year-Old

Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the early signs of ennui. I don't know.

But here are a few Ethan quotes from this morning:

"I'm tired of getting older every day."

"I'm tired of eating."

Monday, August 3, 2009 Book Deal

Yes, it's true.

I knew about this a while ago because my wife was contacted by, asking for permission to use a photo she had submitted and which subsequently was posted on the site.

Look for the book in May 2010.

Saturday, August 1, 2009