Tag Archives: The Samoyed

Looking back / looking ahead

8 Dec

I can count on one hand how many publications I had this year, but it was a year full of tremendous personal highlights. Mainly: M. & I became parents in January! One day when I catch my breath I will write about that journey. There’s a lot to say, and I need a lot of childcare to get it done. 🙂

In February, Capra Review published my short story “The Samoyed.” Here’s an excerpt I like:

In a large glass case beside a tapestry where the beast was hunted and speared, the horn of a narwhal gleamed. “To prove the existence of unicorns, men would drag back these tusks from poor old narwhals. The horn of a unicorn would have remarkable curative qualities, they claimed, for anything from rheumatism to insomnia to impotence.” Robert and Jane walked on into other rooms. The docent’s voice trailed behind them. “You could grind it up into a powder.” Jane imagined sprinkling narwhal horn powder atop her head, imagined coarse, white sand falling through a shaft of sunlight, an iridescent shower of skittering grains.

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In June, Orion Magazine published my lyric essay “A Dill in Every Soup.” Following the medieval theme of the prior excerpt, here’s another excerpt I like:

“During the Middle Ages,” WebMD tells me, “people used dill to defend against witchcraft and enchantments.”

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Finally, in November, Scablands Books, based in Spokane, put out their beautiful anthology Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest, edited by Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller. I have two short fairy tales in this volume. Why not pick up a copy from Spokane’s Wishing Tree Books or Auntie’s? Here’s an excerpt from “Moss Child”:

A lace of bright lichen crept up her arms, chin, cheeks. The green crept from her limbs up the sides of the thickened tree trunks, under so much soft moss that the echoes of footsteps and animal sounds grew muffled in the gulch.

Another very bright spot of the year was chatting with Karen Russell at Hugo House’s Novel Nights. Here is Italo Calvino’s essay “Lightness,” which is a favorite of mine and which she brought up in conversation.

There’s much to look forward to in 2022. Among other things, I am especially hoping there will be a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5. In the meantime, I’m teaching a few virtual classes for Hugo House and Atlas Obscura, January-April, both over Zoom and in an asychronous format. Maybe I will make to AWP in Philadelphia in March? As that is Lanternfish Press‘s homebase, it would be sweet. Then in the fall Lanternfish Press will release my second novel. Huzzah! I also have a couple short publications in the pipeline, another lyric essay and a short story.

But before all that, I am turning back to revising my third novel and sinking deeper into Maggie O’Farrell’s beautiful and absorbing novel Hamnet. Hope you have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

“The Samoyed” in The Capra Review

1 Feb
The Unicorn Purifies Water (from the Unicorn Tapestries), 1495–1505, Met Cloisters

I’m happy to have new fiction in The Capra Review, and I love the art selected for the piece, The Unicorn Rests in a Garden, which is tangentially part of the story. (Just for fun, I chose a different unicorn piece for this blog post.) Other art mentioned in the story include Greco-Roman sculpture, Piet Mondrian’s abstractions, and Martha Graham’s choreography.

In a way, “The Samoyed” is a companion piece to my story “Old Boyfriends,” which appeared in Propeller Magazine in December 2013. Both stories started out as structural “imitations” of Chekhov stories, “Old Boyfriends” using “Gusev” as a starting point and “The Samoyed” using “The Lady with the Dog,” though I use the term imitation loosely. I wrote about that exercise here on my blog as well as for Ploughshares here. Anyway, here’s how “The Samoyed” begins:

“Modern art is fine for decor,” he said, popping a vodka-soaked olive into his mouth. “But I don’t find it meaningful.” His lips were full, his eyes a gelid blue, his jaw-line well-defined with a stubble that seemed to Jane too calculated.

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