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In Vanessa Blakeslee’s debut novel, Juventud, lost love and family secrets are set against the backdrop of sociopolitical upheaval. The story follows Mercedes Martinez from the dangerous activist meetings of her youth to her search for connection in a world haunted by the conflicts of her past. I recently spoke with Blakeslee about the drug […]
I had the fortune of meeting Matthew Neill Null at the Jentel Foundation’s residency a couple autumns ago. Looking back, it’s a delight to realize that I was watching him go into his cabin to churn out the pages that would be become this fantastic novel, Honey from the Lion. We couldn’t lure him to […]
They are still touchstones for many women I meet; secret decoder rings of the bookish of a certain age.
Dryland launches today!
Recently, I found out just what that secret was: Calvert grew up with hoarder parents in an abandoned schoolhouse in super-rural Colorado, without plumbing or consistent electricity.
It’s a dangerous thing to play with, a story, when you put personal material in there, because you might not like the answer.
Bob Dylan said hearing Elvis Presley for the first time was like breaking out of jail. Walking into Sue Shapiro’s New School class was a little like that. She was passionate, effusive, and within minutes had extracted dark embarrassing moments from my past for her infamous first assignment: write about your most humiliating secret. I felt lucky to […]
Debut novelist Jennifer Pashley talks about serial killers, Tori Amos, and listening in this Q&A with her editor.
The Human Heart in Conflict with a Terrifying Mutated Version of Itself: An Interview with Lincoln Michel
Writers who came to mind while reading stories in Lincoln Michel’s debut collection Upright Beasts included Kit Reed (“Our Education”) and William Gay (“Little Girls by the Side of the Pool”) and Franz Kafka’s “Letter to His Father” (too many to neatly fit between these parentheses). That said, there are literary and extraliterary sensibilities here […]
A straight memoir relies on a story, on what happened. You can apply Freytag’s Triangle to its narrative — the exposition/rising action/climax/resolution we all learned in school. A memoir-in-essays relies on the gaps in the story.
I would love to spend the day of June 16, 1904 in Dublin, Ireland, looking over the shoulder of Leopold Bloom
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 […]