My story “More Like Home Than Home” is in the Emerald Issue of Fairy Tale Review. It is their 10th anniversary issue and Wizard of Oz-themed, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Oz. I’m really excited to be a part of this issue. Over the years, FTR sent me two of the nicest, most encouraging rejections ever, and I know each issue is put together with a lot of love and care. I literally cried with joy when I saw the acceptance email, which is also probably the nicest acceptance email I’ve ever gotten. Every time I felt cold or down this winter, I just whispered to myself “Fairy Tale Review” and all was better. Many thanks to Kate Bernheimer and Timothy Schaffert and the editorial staff of MFA students at University of Arizona. You can order a copy here or pick one up at AWP at booth K26 in the North Hall.
My latest book-review-in-bullet-points is up on the Ploughshares blog today. Here’s how it begins:
Genre: literary mystery
With reference to: Little House on the Prairie
And: immigrant lit & ethnic lit
And: restlessness vs. belonging
Also: Manifest Destiny & Utopia
This will be my last book review for the next little while as I gear up for a *new* series of blog posts on writing prompts using art, architecture, and a whole slew of other sources of inspiration. The first post goes live on Sunday and posts will appear every 2 or 3 weeks. Stay tuned!
In the spring, I’m teaching a new class at Richard Hugo House, Intro to the Fiction Workshop. Exciting! This 10-week class will lay out a solid foundation for students interested in workshopping their stories but who have never taken a workshop or who want to brush up on giving constructive criticism. Workshops can be intimidating at any level; this one will be both welcoming and rigorous. And fun! The class runs Thursday nights, 7:10-9:10 from 3/20-5-22. Registration opens 2/11 for Hugo House Members, and 2/18 for the general public. Scholarship applications are due 2/18.
I’m honored to have my short-short story “Sugar” included in the winter 2013 issue of Gastronomica, the “brainiest” of food magazines, also called “the New Yorker of food magazines”. The fairy tale-ish story is set in Pike Place Market and begins thus:
“He couldn’t stomach currants in his salad. She couldn’t stomach his not stomaching her currants.”
You can subscribe to the magazine here; if you have access to JSTOR, you can read individual articles here; you can also read my two-page story right over here:
“Sugar” in Gastronomica: Journal of Food and Culture, Vol. 13, No. 4, Winter 2013, Published by University of California Press.
My short story “Old Boyfriends” is in Propeller Magazine this week. Here’s how it starts:
It’s four p.m.: the sun is gone.
Sandra, a graduate student in archaeology, lurches forward with the bus along Avenue du Parc.
“This roof’s all bone,” Sandra says, rapping her knuckles to her skull.
Back in my MFA program at the University of Washington, I took two “creative writer as critical reader” classes (my favorite classes from the program) one after the other, in poetry with Heather McHugh
and then prose with David Bosworth
, my adviser. Heather brought in a translation
of Anton Chekhov’s story “Gusev
” that she’d been working on with Nikolai Popov, a prose-bone to throw at the small contingent of prosers in her class. At first, I bristled against the story, feeling disoriented in its dark, suffocating setting. But the ending was wonderful and the more I read it, the more I loved the whole thing. I loved seeing how the story opened up with Gusev sinking in the ocean among the sharks and the pilot fish and how the light in the sky shifted to green, to violet, to gold, to rose. In David’s class, we were invited to choose a short story that we wanted to study deeply and either imitate or take its structure and themes and write a story we’d already been wanting to write within that structure or launching off of it somehow. I chose the latter, among other things making Gusev’s ship into Sandra’s city bus and kind of letting the story take over from there. Dan DeWeese
, the editor of Propeller, had a couple wonderful suggestions that ultimately took the story away from the exercise and made me excited about the story all over again, since writing that first draft back in 2010.
I’m pleased to offer a third iteration of my writing with visual art class for Richard Hugo House at the Henry Art Gallery, now snappily-titled Visual Inspiration. Here’s the course description:
This class, which meets at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, will use visual art as a springboard for diving into prose writing. We’ll mine the inspiration of images to unearth new prose or add unexpected meaning and direction to works in progress. Students can search the Henry’s digital archive and request works from the permanent collection not currently on view. For even more creative percolation, we’ll read published works inspired by visual art. Exercises, readings, and discussions will cover the writing process, character, story, landscape (internal and external), and style. Students will have the option to workshop one short-short story or essay. Co-Presented with the Henry Art Gallery.
Class meets Thursday evenings 6-8 pm, January 30-March 13 (with no class on February 27 due to the AWP conference). General registration begins December 10, and the scholarship deadline is December 24. I’m excited to see what students do with “Sanctum,” the interactive installation now outside the Henry that draws on social media and surveillance technology, and I’m curious as always to see what gets pulled from the permanent collection and what new creative works spiral out from that.
Last night, I had a lovely time reading in Chelsea Kurnick’s YouTube-based reading series The Casserole. I read from my novel Dirty alongside Andrew Ladd, whose novel What Ends won the 2012 AWP award and will be published in January 2014 by New Issues Press and in August 2014 by Oneworld in the UK. As you’ll hear in the reading, Andrew’s writing is beautiful and the scope of his novel impressive and compelling. I’m looking forward to reading with him in person at our off-site event during the AWP conference in Seattle: Thursday, February 27, at 8 pm, at Eltana. Why Eltana? Well, Andrew and I met in a writing group in Montreal when we both attended McGill University. It’s nice to have a bit of Montreal in Seattle via the Montreal-style bagels of Eltana. Also, the space is lovely.
But, back to The Casserole. What a neat idea! Chelsea has also featured two other writer friends and co-conspirators of mine, Corinne Manning and Kristen Young. Corinne read a hilarious short story, “Professor M,” from her wonderful collection-in-progress. Watch for her forthcoming chapbook from Alice Blue Books‘ Shotgun Wedding Series, out later this fall, and read her gut-punching-beautiful novel excerpt in Drunken Boat. Kristen read an excerpt from her ambitious, layered novel Subduction, which is ultimately about “wanting more than we have, longing to belong, and choosing, only to lament our choices.” Watch for an excerpt in the December issue of City Arts Magazine.
Here’s the video from my reading with Andrew:
My latest bullet-point book review is up on the Ploughshares blog. I’m so glad Ross Ufberg of New Vessel Press reached out to me about Shemi Zarhin’s novel Some Day and brought to my attention this new publishing house focused on translating foreign literature into English. I’m big on linguistic and literary diversity, border-crossing and mind-opening, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from New Vessel.
I’m excited to be teaching a class on fairy tales at Corinne Manning’s Living Room Workshops. Mid-December is wonderful time for contemplating magic, especially fairy tale magic. Here’s the course description, with nitty gritty info below:
Explore magical realism and fairy tales with 3 teachers over the course of one weekend in this moveable feast of a writing workshop. Participants will move from house to house gaining craft skills, knowledge, and writing some “marvelous” fiction and exploring the memoir as fairy tale. Readings will include Brothers Grimm, Angela Carter, and Alyssa Nutting.
Each class will last 1.5 hours and will take place in Capitol Hill and the Central District on Saturday, ending in Greenwood on Sunday. Carpooling is encouraged. Course must be taken as a whole. No single class drop ins. To enroll please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tale: A Two-day Moveable (Writing) Feast
December 14- 15, Saturday and Sunday
Instructors: Corinne Manning, Anca Szilagyi, Anne Bean
Saturday: 1-2:30, 3-4:30 (Capitol Hill, Central District)
Sunday: 1-2:30 (Greenwood)