Kanlaon’s First Book Salon: Featuring Tania Hershman, author of THE WHITE ROAD AND OTHER STORIES

For the past few months, Tania Hershman, founder and editor of the great literary website, The Short Review, has been doing a “virtual book tour,” visiting blogs around the world in conjunction with the launch of her first book, The White Road and Other Stories.  Self was deeply honored that she chose Kanlaon as one of her stops.  For the past day, self has been conducting  an illuminating conversation with Tania (who lives in Jerusalem, so there’s a bit of a time difference there!)  Below are my questions and her answers.  Enjoy!

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What attracts you to the short story form, and would you ever consider writing a novel?

I love the short story, for me a great story story is like a punch in the gut, it leaves you winded, reeling. It imprints itself on you not in spite of being short but because of its brevity. A novel can’t do what a short story does, and nor should it. I don’t believe in comparing short stories and novels any more than I would compare a poem and a film script. Yes, they are all made up of written words, but they are so different in form, in aspiration. I may write a novel, I may write a poem, or a screenplay. I can’t say now. It depends on the story and what the story demands.

Self-publishing is a huge industry now; Robert Frost’s first collection was self-published, as were a number of other poets and writers now in the ‘literary canon.’ Do you think this is the way a young, emerging writer should go?

To be honest, I don’t know much about self-publishing, who is doing it and where. We began a few months ago accepting self-published collections for review on The Short Review, understanding that in the current climate it is incredibly hard for a short story writer to find a publisher, but we also have several criteria, one of which is that some of the stories have been previously published. In other words, someone other than the writer has read them. I was very fortunate in finding a wonderful and dynamic independent  publisher, Salt,  who offered me a book deal, and there will always be the prestige associated with being paid (even a very small amount!) to publish a book rather than paying out the money yourself. I would advise a young emerging writer to send out his or her stories individually, to build up a “writing resume”, to spread their words, before they consider a collection. Whoever publishes it, a book is a lot of work!

How do you think writers will be affected by the current world-wide recession (in terms of getting emerging writers published, will there be more difficulty?)

Well, it’s never been easy. I don’t know much about economics but there are some who say that the current economic climate might make publishers more adventurous and less reliant on the whims of their sales teams, who knows?!

Has managing The Short Review helped your creativity?

Oh yes, most definitely! I read and read and read short stories, and not only that, I read them very closely when I review a book, and so I see what I love, what I don’t, and, more importantly, why. I have been introduced to so many amazing writers, and seeing what they do and how they do it gives me permission, in a sense, to try new things with my writing, to experiment outside the traditional frameworks. Read the rest of this entry »

Revelations (Why, Oh Why)

Self wants exceedingly to see “Valkyrie,” but husband says, “I wish they hadn’t cast Tom Cruise.  That just ruins it for me.”

Self inquires who hubby would have preferred in the role.  He replies, without hesitation:  “Ralph Fiennes.”

*   *   *

Yesterday, self was watching a show that seemed to be a British version of the Dog Whisperer:  “It’s Me or the Dog.” (##@@)  The case was this:  Little yappy Pomeranian kept nipping at her owner’s husband, who had not been able to approach his wife, not even for a quick hug, in over a year. British dog whisperer instructed the man’s wife to put the Pomeranian in her place.  How?  Start with the feeding.  She instructed the woman to fill the dog’s bowl per usual at feeding time, but not to allow the dog to eat.  Instead, the owner had to pick up the dog bowl and make like she was actually eating it.  She had to make sure the dog was watching her.  Only after a minute or so could she lower the bowl so the dog could eat.  This was apparently a method of establishing the owner’s primacy.  And a way to ensure that the animal would be much more amenable to training from then on (@@!!)

Self knew it, she knew it all along, dear blog readers!  Dearest Mum’s predilection for reaching over the table and helping herself to forkfuls of self’s food (even before self has had a chance to taste it) is simply a way for DM to exercise alpha-dog status.  But self is a person, not a dog.  Self resolves that from now on, she will refuse to part with her plate, in fact will guard it with her life from Dearest Mum’s wandering fork.

*   *  *  *

Goldilock‘s was empty last night at 6 p.m. (And, can anyone enlighten self as to why a Filipino bakery should have the name Goldilocks?  Isn’t it about time for the owners to find a new name?  Perhaps something like Tamis or Sarap or something?  And now that self has started on this thread, she wonders why a Japanese cream puff chain should have a name like Beard Papa.  Once again, I digress)

*  *  *  *

Everyone buys books during a recession:  lines were 10 deep at Barnes & Noble.

*  *  *  *

Self spent an entertaining 2 1/2 hours at uncle’s house in Daly City (delivered small fake tree, Christmas globe, basket of Christmas ornaments).  There she dared to muse out loud why Dearest Mum feels compelled to throw suitcases full of clothes from Loehman’s and Nordstrom’s Rack at self, every time she visits.  These clothes are meant for someone with the proportions of Paris Hilton; self has resolved to bring them all back with her to Manila and leave them there.  Aunt inquires why Dearest Mum does not just give self a thousand dollars and let her do her own shopping.  Self knows this will never happen.  Uncle agrees:  it is ridiculous. He advises self to haul the clothes over to the nearest Salvation Army.

How much self’s knowledge has expanded, in the last few days, dear blog readers!  Stay tuned.

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