Thursday, March 31, 2011

Faith and the Novelist

"So it took me a while to work up the nerve to write a novel. You need an extraordinary amount of faith I think to write one. It’s almost a religious endeavor. But I tried to keep in mind what Doctorow says about writing a novel being like driving at night in the fog: you can only see as far as your headlights. Once I resigned myself to the fact that it might be a colossal failure and that was okay, at least I’d die trying – then I managed to write one."

Eric Puchner, from a Rumpus interview

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Storybucket 2011

This is a very nice list, put together by Erin Fitzgerald (thanks Erin).

It features many wonderful writers (Mel Bosworth, Roxane Gay, xTx, Kathy Fish, Ethel Rohan, Ravi Mangla and Linsday Hunter, to name a few).

Someone was kind enough to give a nod to my story "This Is What It's Like," which appeared in Blip a while back.

There are lots of great stories listed, but I highly, highly recommend xTx's "Standoff." It'll knock your socks off, guaranteed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I got some amazingly good news about my novel: The Sun will be publishing an excerpt. (No details on when yet.)

This is a much-needed shot in the arm. It's a book -- called Believers -- that I've been working on for a long time (I won't go into the details; perhaps another post), and the past year I've been wrestling (unsuccessfully) with the structure.

Right before I got The Sun acceptance, I finally had a breakthrough. I finally figured some shit out. And I've made more progress in the past few months than I have in the past few years. (Additionally, I've sworn off working on short stories and flash pieces.)

So there's that, which is nice.

And also, more recently, there's this: a very small excerpt from Believers is now up at Wigleaf. It's called "The One You Don't Pick."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Opening Sentence of DFW's The Pale King...

... can be read here.

Jim Shepard

"I think fiction is all about the exercise of the empathetic imagination."

That's a Jim Shepard quote from a new Rumpus interview.

Jim Shepard is a great writer and a very nice man.

And he has a new collection of stories out, called You Think That's Bad.

Playing the Score

"Kurt Vonnegut once described literature as the only art in which the audience plays the score, and if that's a bit of a throwaway, it's also astute. Reading is an act of contemplation, perhaps the only act in which we allow ourselves to merge with the consciousness of another being."

-- David Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading

A while back I saw Ulin (former editor and now book critic of the L.A. Times) interviewed in San Diego. He mentioned the Vonnegut quote.

I've thought about the important/vital role of the reader in literature, but the idea of the reader "playing the score" really struck me.

It's true. Books bring so much to us, but we (as readers) also bring so much to them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writing and Parenting

I really enjoyed this essay (posted on Glimmer Train's website) by Lisa Catherine Harper.

It's about being a writer and being a parent -- two things I struggle with every day.

Here' s a taste:

"Russell Banks has said that literature 'teaches us what it means to be human.' Parenting can do this, too. In the Venn diagram of my life and my art, the two occupations overlap consistently, sometimes productively. Both writing and parenting demand stamina and discipline. Both demand honesty. Both demand that I confront conflict. Both call on me to be generous to myself and others. Both demand a sense of purpose, which on some days is the only thing that keeps me from despair. Both routinely stage my failure. In order to write or parent well I must show up, every day. I must be fully engaged in finding meaning (and sometimes beauty) in what Gertrude Stein calls the eternal present."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Photo from VAMP Reading

Here's a photo from last week's VAMP: Love Is for Suckers reading...


I have a little tiny something (called "Morning") in the new issue of Bluestem Magazine.

You can also hear me read the story. If you're so inclined.

Edited by the amazing Roxane Gay, the issue also features work by Tawnysha Greene, Len Kuntz, Gary Moshimer, Robert Swartwood and many others.