Archive | June, 2012

The Furnace

26 Jun

ImageI’m thrilled to kick off a new quarterly reading series in Seattle called The Furnace and hosted by Corinne Manning. The series features one new prose writer at a time, and its mission is “to encourage innovative storytelling and a vibrant literary community.” I like to think of it as literary biodiversity.

The reading is Wednesday, August 1, 6-7 pm at Hollow Earth Radio’s performance space in the Central District. You should come!

Check out the series’s Facebook page and “like” it: http://www.facebook.com/thefurnaceseattle

End of the Story

15 Jun

My review of Liliana Heker’s The End of the Story, pitched as “the definitive novel of Argentina’s Dirty War,”  is up on the Ploughshares blog today. As with my review of Minuet for Guitar, I’m trying out a new form, composing a review-in-lists, rather than standard paragraphs. I think it’s a fun way of trying to break out of standard review patterns, but I’m curious to know what readers think. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know!

On a related note, Nikolai Grozni’s Wunderkind came out in paperback this week. Here‘s my review from October.

Titles of Novels I’ll Probably Never Write

8 Jun

I used to strong-arm my undergraduate students into thinking more about titles – not because I’m one for strong-arming, but because sometimes titles are a last minute concern, whereas I believe they’re essential to the writing process. It was important for expository writing students to focus their essays through thinking of apt titles, and it was important for fiction students to think about how a title can add sharpness and/or layers of meaning to a story. Donald Murray, a big teaching-of-writing guy, used to generate about 150 titles per piece. He allowed himself to be clumsy and awkward in order to find what was precise and just right. Whenever I told my students this, they would grip their notebooks in apprehension until I’d say, “we’re not going to generate 150 titles today, but we are going to generate 20.” They’d sigh with relief, then get antsy by the tenth prompt. Some were eager to share new titles at the end and others said, with arms crossed over their chests or with a twinkle in their eye, “My original title is still better.” In any case, keeping a list of titles to potentially write to, even if I never write the piece, is something I enjoy doing and find quite useful. That said, lately I’ve been collecting imaginary titles for novels that, in all likelihood, I won’t write. (I’m keeping titles of actual works-in-progress close to my chest for now.) Here are the imaginary titles:

The Sex Lives of Traffic Engineers

Young Jewish Men Arguing in Diners

The Sweat Pickle

The Fishmonger’s Uncle’s Tax Accountant

Hard Drinking Elsewhere

The Ghost of Obligation

The Ineffectual Perfectionist

People Alone in Cars Reading E-mail

Now you try!

%d bloggers like this: