Photo by Michael Podlasek Kent
Sea-creature-esque peeling paint in the Smith-9th train station -Photo by Michael Podlasek Kent
Flying over South America
Belgrano, Buenos Aires
I am beyond thrilled to announce that Lanternfish Press is publishing my debut novel, Dirty, in late 2017 or early 2018. Dirty is a magical realist work about a teenage runaway whose father is disappeared during Argentina’s Dirty War.
The seedlings of this book emerged long, long ago, in 2001. And I worked on the first draft in fits and starts for years until I decided an MFA at the University of Washington would help me get it done. Then, mid-way through the program in 2010, Michael and I managed to travel to Argentina. (There was a pitfall to super cheap plane tickets; I wrote about it for Airplane Reading.) At graduation, my thesis advisor David Bosworth compared the process of finishing a novel to the gestation of a whale. Fast forward to 2017. Not sure which beasts gestate for 15 years. But this labor of love will see the light of day!
Lanternfish is based in Philadelphia and makes gorgeous, genre-blurring books like Vikram Paralkar’s The Afflictions and Christopher Smith’s Salamanders of The Silk Road. The moment I read Lanternfish’s cred0, I knew it would be a good fit:
READ. READ VORACIOUSLY. READ WRITERS WHO DON’T LOOK LIKE YOU. READ FOREIGN WRITERS. READ DEAD WRITERS!
Writing is a conversation. It can offer people who lead wildly different lives a window on each other’s worlds. It can bridge gaps between cultures and gulfs in time, overcoming unbearable solitudes. We tend to click with writers who’ve grappled with many stories and whose work is informed by that broader perspective.
I am so delighted they agreed.
For The Los Angeles Review, I wrote about the debut fabulist novel Minnow, winner of the 2014 South Carolina First Novel Prize and published by Hub City Press. Here’s how the review begins:
Landscape reigns in Minnow, the fabulist debut novel by James McTeer II. Set in South Carolina Lowcountry, the story follows a small boy, Minnow, on his quest to find medicine for his dying father. A pharmacist sends him to a witch doctor who in turn sends the boy off on an impossible journey. In exchange for Dr. Crow’s medicine, he must penetrate wild marshlands, swamps, and pine jungles in search of the grave of Sorry George—a witch doctor who once cursed fifty-two men with a fatal, grisly fever, and “[e]ach one of them coughed up some bloody thing, like a little thing that might have been alive once.”
My bullet-point review of Julie Sarkissian’s debut novel Dear Lucy is up on the Ploughshares blog. Here’s how it begins:
Genre:literary fiction, debut.
Concerning: Lucy, a young woman whose different way of seeing and behaving has compelled her image-conscious, frustrated mother, Mum mum, to abandon her on a farm.
And: Samantha, a pregnant teenager on the same farm.
And: Missus and Mister, their caretakers. (And later, kidnappers of Samantha’s baby.)
And: two maybe-magical animals, namely, a talking baby chicken named Jennifer and a silent Yellow Eyed Dog.
In other news, I’ll be teaching at Richard Hugo House’s Write-O-Rama tomorrow. This will be the third time I’m pitching in for a fun day of mini-lessons and writing frenzies, with proceeds going to Hugo House. My mini-lesson will include reading Cynthia Ozick’s story “The Shawl” and thinking about how objects in fiction can take on tremendous power. Check out all the fabulous class descriptions here and come by tomorrow between 10 and 5!