K. M. Kaung’s BLACK RICE: Further Reading

So intense this year has been.  Self is just now picking up the threads of the various novels/novellas she began to read as long as a year ago.

Here’s an excerpt from Kyi May Kaung’s novella Black Rice.

She was a storyteller too, my mother, just like Uncle Kong and Aunt Anouk.  So I always knew that after her tenth failure at the Dufferin Hospital, she was so sad, she turned her face towards the wall, wishing she were dead, tears streaming from her eyes.  Even the jokes of my inebriated father, already tipsy at the afternoon visiting hour, could not make her smile.  Her tenth pregnancy had not ended in a miscarriage but in a live birth.  To keep the pregnancy, she lay in bed almost all the eight months, hardly moving.  On the advice of her doctor, she gave up sex with her husband.  She was so proud of carrying to term and of having a live birth.  And it was a boy, too, she told me.  She said his eyes and nose, and ears that stuck out, were just like mine.  Just like my father’s ears.

Kyi “has been writing fiction since she was a teenager in Rangoon, Burma, and her play Shaman was praised by Edward Albee.  She has won a Fulbright fellowship, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Award, the William Carlos Williams Award of the Academy of American Poets, and was a Pew Finalist in Fiction twice.  K. M. Kaung’s fiction has appeared in the Wild River Review, the Northern Virginia Review, the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine, and  in Himal Southasia.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

And the Strangest Twist of All!

Dear blog mistress’s novella, published last year by Vagabondage Press, has been shortlisted for Best Novella of 2013 by the Saboteur Awards!

Which are going to be handed out Saturday a week from today!

In a very cool town which just so happens to be Oxford, England!

And the par-tay will be in the cooler part of Oxford, which self understands is the northern part, in a place called JERICHO TAVERN!

And self really didn’t think she could make it, but suddenly she got a message from her friend Jenny Lewis who teaches at Oxford, who said, “Everyone here’s been talking about it.”

So then self has been kinda stunned, and part of her wants to go into full-on Pity Party Mode (Self has nothing to wear! She’s been re-cycling the same three pairs of jeans for a month!) but another part wants to say:  GET UP, WOMAN!  JUST — GET UP!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

New Links (to Self’s Most Recent Publications)

Today, self had some time on her hands, so she decided to add a few links to her Recent Publications page.  Here are the links to her five most recent published stories:

  • “Hollow” appeared in 5_trope, Issue # 27 (December 2013), edited by Doren Robbins
  • “Bridging” appeared in the October 31 issue of Waccamaw.
  • “Desire” appeared in Manila Noir, edited by Jessica Hagedorn, published by Akashic in June 2013.
  • Self’s novella, Jenalyn, about a mail-order bride, was published as an e-book by Vagabondage Press (Florida), January 2013.
  • A Dictionary of Devotions appeared in Word Riot, October 2012.

Stay tuned.

Stanford Creative Writing Program Stegner Updates, and Other Stuff

Two more rejections came in the mail today:  from The Bellevue Review (Self has friends who’ve been published here, that’s why she keeps trying) and from The Antioch Review.  For the very same story that, a couple of months ago, won her the nicest rejection ever, from Epoch:  made it to the final round!  She just has to grit her teeth and keep going.

As luck would have it, top of her Pile of Stuff is the newsletter of the Stanford English Department.  Self browses through, stops at the Lecturer and Stegner Updates:

Stegner Fellow NoViolet Bulawayo’s first novel, We Need New Names, was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  Stegner Fellow Austin Smith’s first collection of poems, Almanac, was selected by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets and was published in September 2013 by Princeton University Press.  Anthony Marra, a Jones Lecturer, had his first novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, long-listed for the National Book Award.

And there were a few people whose stories will be in the 2014 Pushcart Prize anthology, which means they beat out self, whose story “Magellan’s Mirror” was the sole Pushcart nominee from J Journal.  Self was proud about the nomination, because J Journal is just getting into this process.  Also, she doesn’t know how many other Filipino/Filipina writers got nominated for the Pushcart last year.  She’s willing to bet, not many.  She wonders which Filipino/Filipina got into the Pushcart 2014, along with those lucky Stegners.  Guess she’ll find out in a few months, duh.

But self should stop focusing on the negative.

2013 has actually been one of her more triumphant years.

In January 2013, her first novella, Jenalyn, was published as an e-book by Vagabondage Press of Florida.

In June 2013, Manila Noir, which included a story of hers, was published by Akashic Books.

Waccamaw published a short story, “Bridging,” in October.

Her stories came “very close” with some big magazines.  In fact, most of her 2013 rejections were personal:  she either made it to the final round, or close to.

The most “fun” event she attended in 2013 was the Filipino International Book Festival in October, because she got to hear Luisa Igloria, Angela Narciso Torres, and many other Filipino and Filipino American writers read, and because she got to buy books from Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions.

Going to Miami was special, especially her visits to Zack’s University of Miami classes, the dinner at Evelina Galang’s house and just experiencing the all-around buzz from a city that seems almost like Space Age meets Skid Row (The food is fantastically W.O.W)

Son got his masters degree from Claremont, and self and The Man had a fun couple of days in southern California in May, during which The Man got to experience the delights of eating out with son and Jennie, while self cleared the decks for Episode 7 of Game of Thrones.  The trip south was The Man’s first visit to son since son began the Ph.D. program in Psychology, three years ago.  It was also our first driving trip down I-5 in perhaps 20 years.  And lo and behold, Harris Ranch was still alive and kicking.  So of course we had to stop, and we had to eat steak.

Then there were self’s visits to Magalang, Pampanga; to Bacolod; to Venice, Italy!

Oh. self suddenly recalls that this is the first winter without The Ancient One.  Bella passed away in October, after spending 18 years of her life with us.  Bella’s passing was a very long, slow, and patient decline, and she passed away lying in the hot sun on the deck, one day when The Man was at work, and self was flying back from Bacolod.  What a sharp contrast to Gracie’s passing, in 2009, which was horrible.  Just the most horrible, painful thing.

Bella’s doggie bed and dishes are still in the backyard because neither self nor The Man has the heart to put them away.  They’re covered with matted brown leaves.

Oh, 2013.

Stay tuned.

Novella, JENALYN, Reviewed in OUR OWN VOICE Issue 40

Self’s novella, Jenalyn, has a review in the latest issue of Our Own Voice.  Check it out!

Our Own Voice is a literary e-zine of Filipinos in the Diaspora.  It has been going for —  self would like to say a decade, but she isn’t quite sure.  Let’s just say, it’s been going for enough years to have acquired a form of recognition in the Filipino writing community, especially the Filipino American writing community.

*          *          *          *

Weather is finally as expected for summer.  Self does 5-5-5 running of sprinklers on front lawn.  Dry as tinder still.

*          *          *          *

World War Z is not a bad movie.  Self stayed fully awake, from first to last.  Which same cannot be said, alas, of Man of Steel.

Thank goodness World War Z action scenes involved nothing more special than hand-to-hand combat or military ammo vs. zombie heads.  She is really over CGI.  (Though she will still see any movie with Loki/Tom Hiddleston in it)  The scene in the previews of a toppling tower of human forms turns out to take place near Jerusalem.

SPOILER ALERT!  The Mossad is the only security agency in the entire world to not be caught flat-footed by zombie attack.  Mireille Enos (of The Killing, which has self riveted to television on Sunday nights — thank God it slipped in just as Game of Thrones ended, or self would be totally bereft this summer) plays The Wife.  She is more fierce than any mortal husband deserves.  But she has the worst timing because she places a call to Our Hero — right in the middle of a zombie attack.  Duh.  Our Hero forgot to place his phone on vibrate —  Ooops!  The call the notifies all Living Dead within a vicinity of two miles.  Which ends up causing the death of many brave marines, including one played by James Badge Dale (who looks very different from the skinny enlisted man he played in HBO’s The Pacific)  But Our Hero never once throws that unfortunate lapse in The Wife’s face.  In fact, he never mentions the incident.  He is just so happy to be married to Mireille Enos who he knows and who we all know will take exemplary care of The Family.  (If self had done that to The Man, she would be eating crow for the next two decades.  She’d be draped in manacles and hauled off to San Quentin)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

BLACK RICE, a novella by K. M. Kaung

It is soooo hawtt!

Self, remember what you were moaning about only yesterday?  About how chilly it was inside the house?

Must you always need reminding:  BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR ???

Kyi’s novella, Black Rice, arrived in the mail today.  That was quick!  Self only ordered it on Tuesday!

The voice packs a punch.  The reader is immediately immersed in the narrator’s world, Burma during World War II:

. . .  The bricks in the old temples are held together by stucco cement mixed from nothing but lime, sand and boiled sticky rice.

Yet this rice-based cement has held the temples together for hundreds of years.  The monk and the nun fortune-tellers always say:  My name fits my skin color.  My skin color matches my name.  That is necessary for good luck and survival.  In our country these are necessities, like food and drink, like good health.  No one proves that better than the Old Man, Bright Sun himself.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

JENALYN, Self’s First Novella, Downloadable Now: Only $2.99 per Download!

And here’s the link, dear blog readers!

It’s very experimental storytelling.

And it’s available FREE for a very limited time  (NOT!  You waited too long!  Now you have to pay $2.99!)

If anyone is interested in reviewing Jenalyn or The Lost Language (more about this collection, below), please contact self so that she can send you review copies!

*     *     *     *

And here’s something else:  Because The Lost Language, self’s third collection of short stories, was published by a Philippine press, Anvil, it hasn’t been readily available here in the States.  Self has told many people that, if they should chance to be in the Philippines, they should drop by their local National Bookstore or Powerbooks and pick up a copy there.  That, or have a visiting relative bring over a copy.

But self has just discovered that Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions (L.A.-based long-time purveyor of Filipiniana) gets a monthly shipment of books from the Philippines, so if you want a copy, all you need to do is e-mail her at:

linda@philippineexpressions.com

She has a Paypal account.

When self’s first book, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, was published, it was Linda Nietes who organized the launch in L.A.  And she has done the same for untold numbers of Filipino and Filipino American writers.  Really, self cannot thank her enough!

Stay tuned.

Embarrassment of Riches: NYTBR, 18 September 2011

Here, dear blog readers, are the reviews self feels like saving after perusing the 18 September 2011 issue of The New York Times Book Review.  There are quite a number!

  1. Susann Cokal’s review of Leah Hager Cohen’s fourth novel, The Grief of Read the rest of this entry »

NYTBR 25 April 2010: Biography of Muriel Spark, New Crime Books

Books self is interested in reading after perusing the 25 April 2010 issue of The New York Times Book Review:

(1) After reading Charles McGrath’s review of Martin Stannard’s Muriel Spark: The Biography:

  • Martin Stannard’s Muriel Spark: The Biography
  • Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

(2) After reading Jacob Silverman’s review of Brad Watson’s new book Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories:

  • Brad Watson’s 2002 novel, a finalist for the National Book Award, The Heaven of Mercury
  • Brad Watson’s new book Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives: Stories

(3) After reading Marilyn Stasio’s “Crime” column, the following mysteries  (4 of 4, a record):

  • Jesse Kellerman’s “stunning” The Executor
  • Ariana Franklin’s A Murderous Procession
  • Declan Hughes’ City of Lost Girls, whose hero, the private eye Ed Loy, “has a strong work ethic, doesn’t take himself too seriously and has the wit to appreciate a good comic-book store.”
  • Peter May’s Freeze Frame, which brings the reader “back to the golden age of detective fiction, when stout men in club chairs puffed on after-dinner cigars as they pondered brain-teasing puzzles involving timetables and exotic poisons.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Favorite Books So Far, 2009

Has self already drawn up a list of the books she’s enjoyed reading, so far this year? She might have, but perhaps self is experiencing another of her senior moments.  If dear blog readers remember similar post, can someone tell her?

Let’s see, since January 1, self has read:

  • 15 novels (including several that should rightly be called “mysteries”)
  • 12 non-fiction books (a few of which could probably more rightly be referred to as “memoirs”)
  • 1 short story collection (George Saunders’ CivilwarLand in Bad Decline —  excellent!) and 1 novella collection (Jim Harrison’s The Summer He Didn’t Die —  also excellent!)

Let’s see, of the 15 novels self has read so far this year, her favorites have been:

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 675 other followers