Tag Archives: New York City

“I Loved You in New York” in alice blue books’ SHOTGUN WEDDING, Vol. 4

14 Oct
Coney Island Beach July 4 by Jaime Haire

“Coney Island beach July 4” by Jaime Haire, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

My short story “I Loved You in New York” is being released as a chapbook in alice blue books’ fantastic series SHOTGUN WEDDING. It’s a story about cities (New York, Montreal, D.C.), bodies, relationships, history. It glances fleetingly at Coney Island, George Grosz, James Brown, and, uh, Marquis de Sade. This is the fourth volume of the SHOTGUN series, a special double issue which includes my dear friend and excellent poet Janie Elizabeth Miller, as well as Dennis James SweeneyLillian Ruth NickersonAmy Ratto Parks, Brian CooneyStephen Danos, Sarah Gallien, Will GallienEvelyn HamptonGraham Isaac, and Ashley Benson.

I’ll be reading an excerpt from the story at Vermilion on October 22 at 6 pm as part of the Seattle Lit Crawl–our event is called Quick & Dirty. The chapbooks will be available at Fred’s Wildlife Refuge during the after party’s mini-book fair. You can also pick up a copy at the Seattle Center during Short Run, a small press and comix expo, on October 31 11-6. I expect the Seattle Center on Halloween to be super fun! Finally, you can also snag a copy via Etsy.

Many thanks to Amber Nelson for giving this story from my in-progress collection MORE LIKE HOME THAN HOME a home.

Eight Million New Yorks, Thirteen Million Tokyos

22 Jun

716I like big cities and I cannot lie. They’ve fascinated me for a long time. Spike Lee, Woody Allen, Lena Dunham, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sapphire, and Betty Smith all have wildly different visions of New York City. Sometimes I feel apologetic for writing about New York, because of some perception that most writing about New York is stereotypical and/or because New York stories dominate the landscape and are therefore overdone.

But, having grown up in Brooklyn, it is impossible for me not to write about it. And, as with any piece of writing, of course, the deeper you dig into something, the more you unpack a city or character’s complexities, the farther away you get from tired old narratives. Write the story only you can write, advice I picked up at the Tin House Writers Conference, has been enormously valuable to me in moving forward with stories and novels and embracing my own peculiar vision. New York is the city I know best and the one I can endlessly burrow into.

New York is not, however, the only city that fascinates me, whose identity offers multitudes. I fell head over heels in love with Tokyo and can’t wait to get back there one day to walk its ancient alleys and zoom by its blinking towers. Reading 1Q84 after experiencing Tokyo made palpable the dreamy and unsettling alternate universes cities offer.

Working on my first novel, I swam in a pile of books set in Buenos Aires. Fiction, memoir, reportage, poems. Anything I could get my hands on, starting with Borges. Then I was fortunate enough to take the leap and visit. That city’s mix of architectural traditions (Spanish, English, French) creates the strange sensation of being in South America and Europe simultaneously. And the simultaneity feels more real because of my different encounters with the city through literature.

Chicago is a place close to my heart, but whose literature I’m less steeped in. I love how the El downtown feels like a mash up of the outer boroughs of New York with stately old Chicago buildings. I know Saul Bellow writes Chicago, and he’s been on my to-read list for quite some time, but I’m wondering about all the literary versions of Chicago. Other than say, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, also in my to-read pile.

I’m wondering, too, about the literary versions of Seattle. Truth Like the Sun, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and Blueprints from the Afterlife have been in my to-read pile for some time. Now that I’ve lived in Seattle for over five years, I may find myself writing about it too. That is, after I get through novels two and three. One day.

What are your favorite writers who have particular visions for the cities they write?

Audio Excerpt from “Dirty”

11 Jun

I’ve recorded a brief excerpt from the opening to my novel Dirty and uploaded it to SoundCloud. You can listen to it right here:

In case you missed it, an essay I wrote about my novel was featured in Airplane Reading.

F-train Scene

2 Aug

It smells like Port Authority when we get on the train at Jay Street-Borough Hall. We were waiting for 20 minutes after getting off the A to transfer to the F. A carefully-enunciated announcement warned we would have to get back on the A/C and switch trains at the dreaded Hoyt-Schemerhorn Station and an orange-vested MTA worker had been barking the same- “No F-train, no F-train- transfer to the G at Hoyt-Schmerhorn”- waving his arms and indicating we should move to the other side of the platform like a bunch of large-eyed, dumb cattle. No signs had been posted anywhere indicating the change of service (not that that’s so unusual) and people huff and scuffle.

Then, like a ghost, the F-train slips into the station, and all who’d waited on the platform roll their eyes and shake their heads. We get on and I sniff the air suspiciously. A woman (seated) with shaggy red hair and dirt streaked all over her face chatters about Chinese takeout to someone I can’t see. Had she been in a fire, I wonder? Why was her face covered in soot? M. and I find a seat nearby and I try not to stare. Just another New York night. But I can’t help it. She must’ve had the longest day.

Her eyes are made up. Despite the heat, she is in a black fur-lined coat, black pants, and black boots. The coat is open and she is wearing nothing underneath, revealing pale cleavage and tummy rolls. She is talking to no one (this much is now obvious).

Another woman, perpendicular to us with brown curls piled atop her head and black square-rim glasses, pulls on a thin sweater and apologizes to the man beside her for poking him with her sharp elbow.

“Cold?” he asks with a warm smile.

“Freezing.”

He says he is hot. She says she is envious. He touches the top of her arm, laughing lightly, saying he’s always too hot. She smiles upon the contact and I wonder whether she hasn’t flirted in years and whether she wants to sidle up to his overheatedness.

“Good night,” she says, getting off at Bergen Street. The man smiles to himself and gets off at the next stop.

The redhead in the fur coat remains on the train, ordering tuna salad from the banana at her ear. Then she puts the banana down and picks up a teddy bear in her lap (had this been her conversation partner all along?), and gives it tender kisses on the snout.

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