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The story that you tell in your memoir, Wondering Who You Are, raises some questions about personhood and about identity. What do you think makes us who we are as people?
I’m going to cheat by imagining a three-on-three pickup basketball game.
Jerry Stahl: I’m kind of a binge writer. I used to wrestle with the question: Do I have no life because I write, or do I write because I have no life?
Would you say that borders are important to The Boatmaker more as symbols than as markers of particular geographies?
To provide a brief biographical sketch of Luke Goebel would be like putting a campfire in a cardboard box. Luke’s debut novel, Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours, plays with novel-as-memoir, the seriousness we attribute to biography, and the self-mythologizing of writers, predominantly white male American writers, from Twain to Hemingway to Kerouac. The […]
In 2010, I attended a rousing, weeklong workshop at the Sarah Lawrence Summer Writing Seminars with the illustrious Charles Baxter. We remained in touch. I sent him a children’s art book about faces I thought he would appreciate; he sent me a link to a hilarious South Park episode that related to my work. Periodically, […]
Andrew Ervin’s debut novel (Ed. Note-Out Today!), Burning Down George Orwell’s House, follows his critically lauded trio of novellas, Extraordinary Renditions. We chatted the old-fashioned way, by email rather than by Skype, and I’ve excluded the part of the conversation about the possibility of staging a revival of our sock-puppet theatre production of Sartre’s No […]
I was crying when I first met Maggie Nelson. I’d spent the night before reading Bluets in one sitting, and then reading it again, and then again, until it was morning and I was out of tears and out of cigarettes and the sun had crawled back up to the sky, a giant bright lid […]
I’ve known Brian DeLeeuw for the better part of two decades, though we’d likely crossed paths any number of times before actually meeting, since we grew up within a block of each other in Manhattan. We took creative writing courses together in college, and we followed similar post-graduation literary paths, getting MFAs from the same […]
Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Everyday, won the Ken Kesey Award for fiction at last night’s Oregon Book Awards. Huge congrats go out to Cari and her editor Meg Storey. Here are Cari and Meg in conversation just before the book’s publication in 2013.
I became aware in a single whiplash instant both that there existed an opera of Invisible Cities and that there was a Pulitzer Prize granted in music. I’m admitting this shamefacedly—how reflexively I free-associated “Pulitzer” with magazine articles and books, and now that I’m working on a novel about composers, it seems that much more myopic. But […]
As a journalism undergrad in Arizona, I signed up for an Intro to Poetry class, not really knowing what to expect—I was not Well Read. In high school, I developed a casual fondness for Charles Bukowski and read over the shoulder of the student with the scar on the back of his head—he did hallucinogenics […]
The poems in Jane Hirshfield’s The Beauty take measured steps across a wooden floor. Rolling between the real and the remembered, the interior and the exterior, The Beauty cuts to the heart of our shared existence.While I’ve always been a fan of the tenderness and mystery in Hirshfield’s work, there’s something about these new poems and essays that go even deeper. Released in tandem […]
Kathleen Ossip’s The Do-Over, her fourth book of poems, is a study in poetic crosshatching as it slashes moments of recollection and longing with that of inquiry and curiosity. The speaker functions as a character within her own life, a character in the life of long-lost relatives, (too old for her to remember), and a […]
As all good fictional characters should, the people of Katherine Heiny’s debut short story collection, Single, Carefree, Mellow, indulge in a lot of bad behavior. They sleep with their high school teachers and their married boyfriends and their girlfriends on the side. A lot of writers would use this behavior as an occasion for grand […]
In his acclaimed debut novel God Loves Haiti, Dimitry Elias Léger stitches together history, sociology, religion, politics and a love triangle—all in the shadow of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The story revolves around the spirited artist Natasha Roberts, her husband the President, and the love of her life, Alain Destiné, a youthful savvy businessman […]
What does it take to leave everything in your life behind? To dream of a future unencumbered by the past because you have abandoned your past and all the people in it? Catherine Lacey’s debut novel Nobody Is Ever Missing follows a young woman named Elyria as she hitchhikes through New Zealand after leaving her […]
After releasing two widely-acclaimed collections of stories—What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us in 2009 and The Isle of Youth in 2013—Laura van den Berg is releasing her first novel, Find Me, this month, to much anticipation and advanced praise. The novel tracks a fatal, memory-erasing epidemic that plagues the […]
Matt Burgess’s second novel Uncle Janice is set in Queens and tells the story of Janice Itwaru, a young undercover drug officer in the NYPD trying to make detective. As with his first book Dogfight, Burgess’s new novel is populated—stuffed, in the best possible way—with cops and drug-dealers, characters trying to get a leg up, […]
It may surprise you, as it did us, to learn that we citizens of the United States have not yet built ourselves a museum to honor our great writers. Luckily, The American Writers Museum aims to do just that in Chicago in 2016. In the meantime, artist Mia Funk is tasked with creating a group portrait […]
“The Boatmaker is a wonderful novel—wonderful as in spectacularly good and wonderful as in full of wonders.”
—John Casey, National Book Award-winning author of Spartina
Earlier today, we featured an interview with Dr. Malcolm E. O’Hagan, President of the American Writers Museum. In anticipation of the 2016 launch of that institution, artist Mia Funk has been tasked with creating a group portrait of great American writers. Starting next week on The Open Bar, Mia will share her sketches and […]
It may come as a surprise to you—it certainly did to us—but there is as yet no museum dedicated to writers in the United States. If all goes according to the plan of the board of The American Writers Museum, that will change by late 2016. In advance of the AWM opening in Chicago, artist […]
“Ferociously beautiful and courageous, Johnson’s intimate story sheds light on the perpetuation of violence against women.”
Steven Church’s fourth book of nonfiction, Ultrasonic: Essays, is a sublime meditation on the act of listening.