It’s a pleasure to meet you.
The posts below chronicle my writing life from 2006-2010.
I won’t add more to this journal, but I will update the News and Projects page.
Nowadays, I can sometimes be found over at Bookbilly.
On Official Hiatus.
May return with important announcements…or when I figure out how to balance teaching a full load of classes with writing. Ha–that’s a good one.
We should support our local artists, whether they are writers, musicians, or painters. This is a sound philosophy, even if it is sometimes difficult to follow: we can only be so many places at once, afford so many babysitters, stay up late so many nights of the week. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. I want to support my friends’ band, but why are they playing at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday? That reading sounds great…let me find a sitter. However, we can read on our own time—how perfect! So buy some books and magazines and support your local artists. The following list will get you started.
For this post I’m focusing on our local writers and their works that have been published this year. What do I mean by local writer? I’m including those who currently live in Georgia, as well as those who have lived here in the past. Many writers have been to school and /or taught in Georgia, while many current Georgia writers have deep roots elsewhere.
Stephanie Perkins now resides in Asheville. I am super excited to read her debut YA novel, Anna and the French Kiss (Dutton) which comes out in December 2010. Her second book, Lola and the Boy Next Door is set to come out in the Fall of 2011. About Anna:
“Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book.”
— MAUREEN JOHNSON, NYT bestselling author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes and Scarlett Fever
“I’ve been waiting for more of Josh Russell’s NOLA since Yellow Jack, waiting patiently, most of the time, and now it’s paid off. This book flat out kicks ass in its New Orleansness but also in its humanness, a novel firing on all cylinders, amazing characters, killer details, lyrical language and a plot that keeps the pages turning. A book worth the wait and worth its salt, a novel to read and reread, to savor, to treasure.”
—Tom Franklin, author of Hell at the Breech and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Ben Spivey’s debut novel, Flowing in the Gossamer Fold, has received blurbs from Brian Evanson and Gary Lutz.
“Ben Spivey’s alluringly melodial debut novel of a marriage gone asunder unreels itself with the indisputable logic of dreams and delivers, along its phantasmagoric and dazing way, emotional clarities that feel entirely new.”
–Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive
Sonya McCoy Wilson published the “The Rigor Tree” in Diverse Voices Quarterly as well as “Brown Paper Bags” in TimBookTu (July 2010).
Karen Gentry’s story “Treasure Island,” which appeared originally in NÖO Jornal, has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 [Very] Short Fictions 2010.
John Holman’s story “Credentials” (which first appeared in Mississippi Review) has been reprinted in Fictionaut. Holman’s profile of the South’s best bird appears in the Oxford American‘s Best of the South 2010 (May ’10, Issue 69).
Josh Russell’s story “Young Woman Standing Before a Window” has been published in Epoch (Vol. 58, Number 3).
Dionne Irving’s story “Florida Lives” was a finalist for the Mid-American Review‘s 2009-2010 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award.
Cheryl Stiles has published a work of creative nonfiction, “Systems Failure,” in Southern Women’s Review. This essay is part of a book length manuscript of essays entitled On Nelson Street.
If you have additional news, corrections, or links you’d like me to add, please leave the information in the comments section of this post. Thanks for reading.
If you have any conferences (near Atlanta) to add to this list do let me know. Also, I’d like to hear about upcoming Reading Series for my next list.
SAMLA (South Atlantic Modern Language Association) is hosting its annual conference at the Loews Atlanta Hotel November 5-7. The theme is “The Interplay of Text an Image.” I was sad to see I’d missed the Eudora Welty Society’s call for papers for their panel titled “Text and Image in Losing Battles”: “From signs to photographs to letters to oral history, Eudora Welty employs layers of visual and verbal texts in her 1970 novel Losing Battles. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication of this novel, this session seeks papers that examine the interplay between
text and image in, arguably, Welty’s most complex novel.”
TYCA-SE (Two Year College Association, Southeast) is hosting its annual conference at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Decatur, March 3rd-5th, 2011.
The Georgia State University Graduate English Association is hosting its 11th annual New Voices conference October 7th-9th at GSU. This year’s title is New Voices 2010: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, which centers on the theme of humor and comedy.
I’ve gotten a surprising amount of reading done this month; it is only June 11th, thank goodness! I have huge anxiety about the summer months disappearing before I get anything done and I have to go back to full-time teaching in the fall. I’m coming to realize, as I always do, that my word count goals are unrealistic and that I have so much more to figure out about my characters’ temperaments, relationships, obsessions. When I’m stuck in a vague place, say the middle of This Novel, I take a break to read, to immerse myself in other stories.
I’m thinking about how to create and maintain a gothic atmosphere throughout This Novel, how to create darkness in a love story, how to balance desire and control in my characters’ relationships.
When my son and I made our first summer pilgrimage to the library, I came away with books by only one author: Joyce Carol Oates. I’d wanted to pick up some of Oates’ novels anyway, but the books I chose were also influenced by the fact that my son was standing there waiting, having already chosen eight children’s books, which he so patiently held in his little arms. So I grabbed what looked good, what I hadn’t already read; there was no time to browse. This month of June:
Each of these works has been wonderful. I forgot how quickly I could move through some novels (this must be Pynchon’s fault). First Love and Beasts had a great effect on me; I’ll give them their own post later, as I’m still thinking about the connections they have to one another. I grabbed The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis off of the New Titles shelf; I remember liking her in grad school and I have not been disappointed. I always look forward to Tin House. Tinkers was an impulse buy on Amazon; I was drawn in by the idea of the New England home the protagonist built himself, the idea of channeling the dead, and the Pulitzer win never hurts. One Amazon reviewer discusses a connection between Paul Harding and Marilynne Robinson, at Iowa. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I loved Robinson’s Housekeeping.
All of these Oates books are great ‘summer reads,’ whatever that seems to mean to people these days. Go read!
We made our first summer pilgrimage to the library. We got non-fiction books about tornadoes, Ancient Egypt, and knights. We chose several fiction books, but as I suspected the two Mo Willems books are the favorites. We love the Elephant and Piggie books.
Now we also love Knuffle Bunny.
Willems’ books can speak for themselves, so I won’t bother listing all of the honors and awards his works have received. Trust me: the praise is well-earned.
I’ve had several folks recommend I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I just saw a full-page ad for Stieg Larsson’s trilogy on the back of the latest issue of The New Yorker. It sounds like a lot of fun, and here’s an opinion on it that connects back to our earlier discussion of bad writing. Whenever this book becomes available at my library I’m going to check it out. It is currently at the top of the NYT Paperback Mass-market Fiction Bestsellers and Paperback Trade Fiction Bestsellers lists.
The Pregnant Widow, by Martin Amis, is another book getting plenty of publicity. There’s a review in the New York Times as well as an article at Salon that counters several critics: “Martin Amis’ New Novel: Why the Haters are Wrong.”
Great News: My friend Stephanie has many exciting things to share about her journey through publishing.
Good News: The first four chapters of This Novel are thoroughly revised and nearly polished: thirteen more chapters to go. I researched the heck out of 1945 and now I’m wondering—what was the most elitist champagne to be served in 1988? Any ideas? Give me your 80s memories.
Bad News: Georgia continues fall from grace, grace being the elevation granted by one tiny thread holding it up above Mississippi. I’m talking about education [sic].
This week I’ve added some words to This Novel. It is not a tremendous amount, but considering I’d set the project aside for several months and had to get back into it, I feel all right about it. The key to producing material is accepting that early drafts are UGLY and BAD. The key is revision: four-fold, five-fold, however long it takes, however many times a writer has to see (vision) things again.
I share Anne Lamott‘s essay “Shitty First Drafts,” from Bird by Bird, with my composition students, but I’m considering teaching it at the beginning of my literature classes as well. Too many students have the erroneous assumption that they can simply sit down and think for a minute and then type a three page literary analysis paper and be “done.” I try and build tasks of serious revision into our course schedule, but ultimately it is up to the student to give a shit or not. Lamott’s essay explains the necessity of bad first (and second) drafts and clearly articulates one of my most overused teacher phrases, “Writing IS thinking.” Lamott also examines the anxiety that surrounds writing, the anxiety to produce, to be good enough. So, is bad writing okay? Yes, it is a means to better writing, to revision. Is it okay to present it as a final product?–not so much, unless the purpose of said final product is to examine ‘badness,’ as does Steve Almond in his Bad Poetry Corner.
I read an article at Salon by Laura Miller, “Bad Writing: What is it Good for?” I appreciate Miller’s discussion of the abundance of crappy prose. The internet provides the perfect showcase. Miller takes various angles in discussing crappy prose, referencing a list of bad books and Steve Almond’s Bad Poetry Corner. The list of bad books from the American Book Review is tenuous, but I can get behind Almond’s pursuit. The key for the success of Almond’s site is that he already has a marked fan base; he has more than established himself, he is almost an ethos, a cause within cyberspace. One can either praise such self-promotion, which I do because I like his work, or one can find it trite and audacious. I find it fun. I, lacking a ‘platform’ and prurient exposure, should certainly shy away from trying to create any sort of medium out of the horrendous song lyrics and poems that my fifteen year old mind may have birthed. THAT needs to stay in the past. I will never claim to be a poet, probably because I am scarred from reading my teenage endeavors. No need to inflict that adolescent angst on my friends in cyberspace.
Bad writing is a necessary precursor to the good stuff. So, get thee bad writing down. And then, work it up again and again.