Wednesday, January 28, 2009

required reading

I'm showing the wigleaf top 50 to my juniors to start the semester off. This is my 2nd time doing this. My students are enthusiastic about the form and technique on display, but they are not all on board with content, which is to be expected. They want The Funny. They want surrealism in heavier doses. They want Happy Sex if there's gonna be any sex at all.

But there was a lone voice complaining that the pieces were too literary, and that art was more important than honesty in the collection. I'm convinced the student was reacting to unfamiliar uses of compression and voice performance, or maybe the student resists lyric fiction in general, but we'll see. After class, I was delighted to discover Piers Marchant's "Deserve" just posted at WL. Piers' story is an example of a brief fiction that is rich, detailed, and unhurried. The entire arc is present, and the narrative unfolds with the measure and tension we come to expect from a longer, more conventional story. But more interestingly to me, Piers' story does what it does elegantly, without use of magicians or nostalgia for adolescence. It does feature the Sad Sex though.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How to be interesting.

abandon scholarship and creativity. Buy toys.

In other news, one of my stories has disappeared owing to the fact that Fiction Warehouse seems to have vaporized at last. "Name your next cat after a forgotten musician or a famous general" was precious and narcissistic, but the title was cool (Dean's title actually), and it did make it to the Story South notables list in 2004, even though it was too short to be eligible. It turns out I no longer have a copy of the story-that's how much faith I have in the web-so I pieced together a version out of rejection notices from Pindeldyboz and Smokelong. That's right, I save rejections, toss stories.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm Juked!!!

I'm in Juked with "Do you know what it means to miss"--this story comes from my New Orleans novel, and the timing is great since we are entering Mardi Gras season.

J. W. Wang at Juked is wonderfully kind, by the way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009


I went to work today, thinking it was one of those "no classes, but university offices will be open" kind of crappy compromises, only to find the department all locked up. Whee! Back home in my pjs and slippers toot sweet, chiweenie writing partner at my side.

2/3 of the household went to the inauguration concert yesterday, returning battered, bemused (owing to the Garth brooks factor), and giddy. Everyone is still in high spirits today, except possibly the neighbor up the street is flying the Confederate Battle flag version of the Georgia State flag. We have our MLK poster on the door, and we're flying one of two flags we own: a rainbow striped banner that reads "PACE" (friend brought it back from Italy. Given the Rick Warren factor, we figure this covers a lot of bases. Dean might go out and get a US flag today, just because we're feeling it. Our other flag was also a gift, but apparently the colors are pro-bondage or something. Dean uses that as a curtain in his office.

Friday, January 16, 2009

excitements, distractions

While I was gone I got word from Barrelhouse just who all was going to be in the next issue with me, the 'future' issue, and it's a great list but I don't think I can spill it. I guess it isn't strictly private information, but at the same time the news isn't mine to deliver. They do promise that the issue will be produced at the end of the month. so in the mean time I give you Newton and the incredibly creepy Mr. Punkinhead. Mr. P lost his squeaker some time ago, so now he just sort of pants when Newtie gnaws on him. Worse though: sometimes Mr. Punkinhead lands standing up.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

state of the union

It has been a harrowing week of workplace calamities/heroics and domestic terror. Judging by my facebook friends' miserable status updates, it has been rough for a lot of folks. One lesson I have learned:


1. Take it away from the person who pronounced it broken and berated you for not having a recent back-up of your novel draft.

2. Re-start.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

read in annoying sing-song voice

erlewine has a blo-og.
bet he's afraid of it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

tan and fat

So this was our desperation in Nassau--a freaking Starbucks, just to get net access. we're so sad.

Back home as of yesterday, great trip, crummy email backlog, including a gloomy message from Richard Peabody of Paycock Press--Gravity Dancers: More Fiction from Washington Area Women is still a 'go', but it's the 2nd to last project he has in the pipeline, given the state of the economy. We're looking at May/June, with a possible launch at Politics & Prose. Frankly, this is better news (for me, since I have a story in GD) than I expected, given the ambitious nature of the anthology series.

Peabody's depression contrasts sharply with that of Barry Graham's enthusiasm from a recent interview .

Recessions suck, but it does seem like there are opportunities for small, very flexible enterprises that aren't available in better times.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

forgot how I want to end it

happy new year! I did some writing on the New Orleans novel yesterday, only to discover that I have forgotten how I wanted to end it. My notes are no help either. We're off to the Bahamas this weekend, and I'm taking along Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn and possibly Benjamin Black's Christine Falls (if i can find it--misplaced upon purchase. probably packed away with the christmas junk). Maybe I can steal some ideas from one of those books. It'll be a nice confusion, writing about New Orleans in the Bahamas while reading stories set in Scotland and Ireland.