Best of AWP 2016 (Love L.A.), Part 2

Awesomeness is a book fair.

A few people were saying the latest AWP book fair was too big, too spread out. But self doesn’t see it getting any smaller. And okay, she probably only saw 1/10 of the publishers who were there. But, still, fun times!

Okay, so Chris Hemsworth was NOT actually at the AWP Bookfair in Los Angeles, earlier this month. But, please, why would self ever shy away from including a fabulous hunk of eye candy like Chris? Are you crazes? He was on the cover of Angeleno magazine!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Best of AWP 2016 (Love L.A.), Part 1

Just look at all this literary goodness!

Self decided to give herself a pick-me-up after reading today’s New York Times. What better way than by reminding herself that — people, America is full of writers/artists/publishers who soldier on, no matter what the odds! And who manage to look like they’re having a great time while they’re at it! Without needing comb-overs!

Allison Joseph, Crab Orchard Review Panel, AWP 2016

One of the thrills of 2016 AWP in Los Angeles was participating in a Crab Orchard Review panel on the West Coast & Beyond Issue.

That issue was the final volume in a series that focused on different regions of America (Geography = destiny. At least, self wholeheartedly believes so).

Self read last, from her story “Crackers.” It’s about an American who goes AWOL in the “wild mountain fastness of the Philippines,” acquires three wives and fathers 27 children. As self was reading at the panel, she found herself less nervous than she expected to be. Hallelujah!

Afterwards, sighing with relief that she didn’t make too many out-and-out gaffes (such as mis-pronouncing words, which is the trouble with writing stories filled with words one normally doesn’t utter during conversation), self happened to mention to someone in the audience that she’d tried for a long time to get into Crab Orchard Review, and she was so proud to have actually made it. Allison Joseph said, without missing a beat, “Because we were waiting for that story.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Future Is

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FUTURE.

  • Share an image that represents the potential of things to come.

Self’s Nikon Coolpix decided to have a nervous breakdown. All of her pictures now have a top and bottom stripe. Nevertheless, here is a picture of a delightful meal that will soon be consumed:

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Nikon Coolpix Having a Breakdown: At Chez Mamie, Hanway Street

A book about to be published: Ooligan Press’s collaboration with Calyx, Memories Flow In Our Veins: 40 Years of Women’s Writings From Calyx:

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Hayley Wilson, Project Manager of the Calyx 40th Anniversary Anthology forthcoming from Ooligan Press: MEMORIES FLOW IN OUR VEINS

Finally, a photo of a young reader spotted at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles: Reading a book is an investment in the future:

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Time spent reading a book is never time wasted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Exhausted by AWP, Turning to Everlark

AWP Los Angeles was one heck of a ride.

It was huge. It was overwhelming. It was also a lot of fun.

Self is processing.

To help this process along, she is indulging in reading Everlark fan fiction. There was an Everlark fiction exchange recently (Indeed, Everlark shows no sign of fading, even after the end of the movie series, November 2015), and self contributed a prompt. The new fics have been slowly trickling in, oh joy.

Everlark is all love stories. All the time. Angst-y love stories.

Everlark falls apart. Again and again and again and again. And then there is a delicious, excruciatingly slow “growing back together” (the most loved Hunger Games trope)

Apropos of which, a quote from fellow Stanford Creative Writing Program alum Jeffrey Eugenides, in his introduction to the 2008 Harper anthology, My Mistress’s Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, From Chekhov to Munro:

A love story can never be about full possession . . . Love stories depend on disappointment, on unequal births and feuding families, on matrimonial boredom and at least one cold heart . . .  Love stories, nearly without exception, give love a bad name.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Candide Is Flogged In Time to Singing

Today, self wandered all over downtown Los Angeles, introduced herself to various editors and publishers, attended a Brian Roley panel, said hi to Keith Tuma and Amy Toland of Miami University Press, bought a T-shirt from Grist, told the editors of Painted Bride Quarterly that she had submitted a story for their themed issue on Monsters, bought the latest issue of Hotel Amerika (another gorgeous cover), stopped by Juked‘s booth, said hi to Nutschell at the UCLA Extension Writers Program booth, dropped by Crab Orchard Review, heard from Nikki of Squaw Fabulous Workshop 6, never got as far as Witness or Bellingham Review.

She met the American publisher of Elena Ferrante. She regrets not having bought copies of Ferrante’s work. She’ll return to the Book Fair tomorrow and buy at least one.

She met a former UCLA Extension student, who took her to the Last Bookstore on Spring Street (where the unmistakable scent of weed wafted through the entrance), and asked if they carried E. L. James.

“Of course!” said the young woman at the cashier’s desk. She left her post, beckoning self to follow. In the section called EROTICA, the woman placed a copy of Grey in self’s hand.

Heavens to mergatroid!

Since self was already in that section, she decided to explore the shelves. And she ended up buying another book!

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From the Last Bookstore, 453 Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles

Actually, self has not been enthused with Candide. When she was back in her room, and read about his second or third flogging, she almost put the book down. But the next book on her reading list, The Merseault Investigation, is not at hand.

Trouble is, self never anticipated getting through The Death of Ivan Ilyich so fast. And not only that, she never expected to dislike The Death of Ivan Ilyich. And she never expected to be so impatient with Candide. But the only other book she has at the moment is Grey. Should she start reading that?

But no! She must give Candide a chance! Self can’t even!

She forced herself to resume reading Chapter Seven: How an Old Woman Took Care of Candide, and How He Recovered That Which He Loved.

“Eat, drink, sleep,” the old woman tells Candide, over and over.

“Who are you?” Candide kept asking her. “Who has inspired you with such kindness?”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Something Will Happen”

Excerpt from “At the Station,” a short story by Amos Kenan, translated from the Hebrew by Chaya Galai, included in the anthology 50 Stories From Israel, edited by Zisi Stavi:

The station stretches as far as the eye can see. I order a cup of coffee, light a cigarette. Passengers are rushing about, suitcases in hand. The engine whistles and emits steam. A crowd of people are waving handkerchiefs. The train jerks forward. An engine hisses. The train brakes with a squeal. The passengers descend, suitcases in hand. Small convoys of luggage carts push their way through the dense crowd. The passengers move towards the exit.

I suck in cigarette smoke, and wait. Something will happen. I think I may fall in love.

 

The Three Snake Leaves: A Fairy Tale Re-Told by Philip Pullman

Now the king had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she had one strange obsession. She had sworn an oath not to marry any man unless he promised to let himself be buried alive with her if she died first. “After all, if he really loves me,” she said, “why would he want to go on living?” And she said that she would do the same and be buried with him if he was the first to die.

Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, re-told by Philip Pullman

When a story begins like this, there is only ONE way it can go down:  The princess will die first.

Stay tuned.

Hanoch Bartov: “A Familiar Face,” translated by Riva Rubin

Reading (in addition to the Daniel Mason novel The Piano Tuner) the anthology 50 Stories From Israel, edited by Zisi Stavi.

Self is very much taken by the tone of the story by Hanoch Bartov. Here’s how it begins:

  • A few days earlier, I had returned from landscapes and climates that were the opposite of this headlong pacing in the dazzle of a Tel Aviv summer. Perhaps that is why I did not remember that I had never been to Yarmous’ office, which is where I was going in connection with the arbitration — postponed until my return — concerning the spiritual and financial insult suffered by my friend, the writer. It was only when I reached the corner of Ibn Gabirol and the street I was walking towards with such dizzy energy that I realized that the number of the building — 29, 17, or 37 — had been wiped from my memory, and that I had left my diary in the car.

Love it, just love it.

Regarding Travel Writing (And Self Sincerely Enjoyed Teaching It Last Weekend)

This past weekend, self taught her second travel writing workshop at the Mendocino Art Center, where she also taught last year.

It was an exciting weekend, with participants writing about Grenada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, New York City (just to name a few).

Self does really love teaching this workshop.

How else would she learn that Vegemite tastes like “dirty socks” or that New Zealand’s national candy is something called a chocolate fish? How else would she learn about Pascal’s pineapple lumps (in New Zealand) or about “contracepting elephants” or about “wild game sausage” or that there are hop-on/hop-off buses in Uganda? Or about the delayed reaction time to sand fly bites? Or about Burmese sunblocks made from ground tree bark?

Anyhoo, she used the Best American Travel Writing anthologies for prompts. The 2013 edition was edited by Elizabeth Gilbert and here’s what she says about travel writing in her introduction:

  1. There is no story in the world so marvelous that it cannot be told boringly.
  2. There is no story in the world so boring that it cannot be told marvelously.

Isn’t that such a neat quote?

Self’s next class at the Mendocino Art Center is:

ONE STORY SIX WAYS

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 6 -7, 2016
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Mendocino Art Center
Tuition: $200

To enroll online, go here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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