“The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed”

Self’s story, “The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed,” coming in Calyx Press’s 40th anniversary collection of prose and poetry, 2016.

And that is all self has to say right now, sorry for this extremely short post.

Stay tuned.

Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” Issue: Sometimes a Great Notion

It’s Saturday evening in Ireland and somewhere in Dublin a priest who’s known self since she was a little girl is dying.

The priest’s house is big and cold and the church right beside is empty.

But this story isn’t over yet. It’s still waiting for an ending. Strange to think it was only a few short weeks ago when she and the priest were drinking beer over Chinese food because he was so happy to see self; he told her last year he’d be dead before she got back to Ireland. Well, she proved him wrong.

One day, she’ll have to write a story about the time he and a fellow priest drove her all the way to Annaghmakerrig and how she learned what the Gaelic words lir and kill and dun mean. The priests spent the drive teasing her about possibly running into a banshee, the crying ghost woman.

Here’s one story that is finished and that self doesn’t mind sharing with you: Mirri Glasson-Darling’s “True North,” which is one of the nine stories in Crab Orchard Review’s “West Coast & Beyond” issue. The story is about the cold and about polar ice caps. Self doesn’t know why she, child of the tropics, born and raised in the Philippines, is so fascinated with cold climes. Sometimes she thinks the real reason she applied to Banff Writing Studio was that she began writing, last year, a story about polar bears.

In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP. At the Book Fair, she met Crab Orchard Review editor Allison Joseph. Here she is, Fierce and Fabulous:

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review (which included self's story in the West Coast & Beyond Issue), Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis.

Allison Joseph, Co-Editor of the Crab Orchard Review, Photographed at the 2015 AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis

And here’s an excerpt from Mirri Glasson-Darling’s story, “True North”:

I am a twenty-seven-year-old Midwestern, Caucasian male, floating on an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

It must be understood that this is not just a suicide.

The eventual results will be the same, but I find my death more of an unfortunate side-effect; you don’t come to the end of the world in order to better understand yourself — you come to step off the edge. All across history you have explorers heading out blindly in one direction or another, driven by riches, isolation, or general madness. A search for direction and something which cannot be satisfied, even if you circled the world twice over.

Throwing in a picture of Lake Louise in snowy Alberta:

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: May 2015

Glasson-Darling’s story is as fierce and unflinching as the landscape. Self has no words.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Announcing: The First Annual Margarita Donnelly Prize for Prose Writing (Deadline for Entries: Sept. 30, 2015)

Margarita Donnelly's Last AWP, Seattle 2014. Pictured: Margarita and Brenna Crotty, Calyx Senior Editor

Margarita Donnelly’s Last AWP, Seattle 2014. Pictured: Margarita and Brenna Crotty, Calyx Senior Editor

She was indomitable, that is all.

Met her first at: Bookstore in the Mission

Self read her story “Ginseng.”

Margarita went up to self afterwards and asked, “You got more like those?”

(Yes, sitting in a file cabinet; Four years past the Stanford University Creative Writing Program, and self was such a coward that she never sent the manuscript out:  WHEEE!)

What better way to honor her legacy than a prose contest? Calyx, the press Margarita co-founded, launched the Prize on July 1. Here’s the link to their website. The contest is open to both fiction and nonfiction.

  • Deadline for Entries: Sept. 30, 2015
  • Reading Fee:  $20 (check payable to Calyx)
  • Maximum Length of piece:  10,000 words

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Quote of the Day: From Self’s Short Story, “Lizard” Included in the Collection, GINSENG AND OTHER TALES FROM MANILA (Published in the U.S. by Calyx Press)

They must have been sitting there a long time. Her grandmother was leaning forward, saying something in a low, insistent voice, while Wito’s mother listened with bent head. Wito saw how intently her grandmother gazed at her mother, how there seemed to be something about her mother that kept drawing the older woman forward, so that it seemed she might reach out any moment and touch or, perhaps, hit her. Wito saw how her mother hung her head, and knew that she was crying. The back of her neck, covered with fine, black hair, looked narrow and exposed. Wito thought she caught the words shameful and waste, but then her grandmother saw her and broke off aprubtly.

When Wito went up to greet her grandmother, the old woman’s cheek felt dry, like parchment, whereas her mother’s cheek was soft and moist, and when Wito turned to leave, her mother softly said “no” and pulled her close. Her mother’s arms encircled her, forcing her to face her grandmother.

—  Marianne Villanueva, “Lizard,” included in The 100 Best Philippine Short Stories in English, Manila: Tahanan Books, edited by Isagani Cruz

The Story “Rufino” (from MAYOR OF THE ROSES, Self’s 2nd Collection)

Towards the end, he couldn’t wear any clothes. They had to cover him in banana leaves.

It was in July he died — I couldn’t believe it. A voice on the phone told me.

“Rufino died na.” It was my mother speaking. Naturally, she had to be the one to break the news.

I was staying in a friend’s house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the mornings, fog blanketed the hills. We heard the mournful mooing of invisible cows. One or another of us would look east, toward where we heard Neil Young had his ranch, wondering whether we’d catch a glimpse of his pink Cadillac that day.

*     *     *     *     *

Mayor of the Roses was published by Miami University Press in 2005. The press was known as publishers of the American Poetry Series. Self’s collection was the first book of fiction that Miami University Press ever published.

Heartfelt thanks to Brian Ascalon Roley for bringing the manuscript to the attention of the press and Keith Tuma.

The collection’s been taught at Bates College (Maine), Pampanga Agricultural College (Magalang, Philippines), Skyline College, and Stanford University.

One story, “Lenox Hill, December 1991,” was in the syllabus of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, in a course on Ethics and Medicine.

Mary Ruefle: From SELECTED POEMS

The last AWP conference was in Seattle. Self roomed with poet Luisa Igloria. When self is with writers from another genre, she loves to pick their brains. So, one day, Luisa and self happened to be strolling through the Book Fair, when she asked Luisa about her favorite poets, and since we just then happened to be passing a table selling Mary Ruefle, self stopped and purchased a copy of Mary Ruefle: Selected Poems. (Wave Books: Seattle and New York, 2010)

(Oh, did self ever mention to dear blog readers that she brought more poetry collections with her to Mendocino than fiction?)

Anyhoo, today self cracks open Ruefle’s Selected Poems (About time, too: the AWP conference was almost a year ago), and this is the very first poem:

Standing Furthest

All day I have done nothing.
To admonish me a few aspen
jostle beneath puny stars.
I suppose in a rainforest
a draft of hands brought in
the tubers for today, women
scratched their breasts in the sunlight
and smiled: someone somewhere
heard the gossip of exotic birds
and passed it on in the night,
to another, sleeping curled like an ear:
of all things standing furthest
from what is real, stand these trees
shaking with dispensable joy,
or those in their isolation
shading an extraordinary secret.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Memoir, Just Because

At that time, I had a very old car that was ready to give up the ghost. I wanted to win something, something big. I was tired of living off garlic fried rice and scrambled eggs, which was the only food I could afford for a long time, when I was new to America.

— the title piece of self’s collection, published in the Philippines by Anvil: The Lost Language

From Maureen Eppstein’s Chapbook EARTHWARD

It is Friday evening. There’s a kind of bustle in the studios of the Mendocino Art Center, an event happening tomorrow in the galleries.

Meanwhile, self sits snug in her room, with her bowl of take-out clam chowder from a small deli on Lansing Street.

She dropped by Maureen Eppstein’s place. Maureen is a big reason why self is here, now, in Mendocino. She used to live in Palo Alto and belonged to a group called the Waverley Poets. Even after she moved away, she and self kept in touch.

So, now, self is reading Maureen’s new chapbook, Earthward (Finishing Line Press, $14).

Self found out today that Maureen is from New Zealand. She used to be a reporter. She has at least six different kinds of tea in her kitchen. Her home has a purple front door.

Here’s the first poem in Earthward:

The Vixen

Because I could not mourn
my sister’s death, I wept
for the vixen bedded in grass
golden dappled as her fur.

I fetched a spade and buried her
there at the forest edge.
Already a faint sweetness of decay
suffused the air.

I called the vixen sister.
The word reverberated
like a struck bell whose many notes
come clearer as they fade.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Pile of Stuff: The New York Review of Books, 26 September 2013

Oh why oh why had self mis-laid this issue. Apparently it lay discarded in self’s clothes closet for over a year. And today is a busy busy Monday (Mondays always are), but she just can’t help perusing the issue. And it turns out, there are so many interesting reviews!

Without further ado, here are a couple of books reviewed in the 26 September 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books:

  • The Girl Who Loved Camellias: The Life and Legend of Marie Duplessis, by Julie Kavanagh (Knopf, $27.95)
  • The Lady of the Camellias, by Alexandre Dumas fils, translated from the French by Liesl Schillinger (Penguin, $16.00)
  • The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace, by Alexander Stille (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28.00)
  • The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson (Random House, $15.00)
  • Calcutta: Two Years in the City, by Amit Chaudhuri (Knopf, $25.95)
  • Subtle Bodies, by Norman Rush (Knopf, $26.95)
  • Mortals, by Norman Rush
  • Whites, by Norman Rush
  • The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: An Elusive World Wonder Traced, by Stephanie Dalley (Oxford University Press, $34.95)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

NYTBR Holiday Books Issue (2013)

Did self ever mention how humongous her PILE OF STUFF is? LOL. Self has no clue how it got that big.

Nevertheless, she is making inroads.

Today, she finally gets to the huge December 2013 issue of The New York Times Book Review.

It is, naturally, full of reviews of interesting books self wants to add to her reading list. And it has the annual “100 Notable Books List.” A couple of selections from that list:

Fiction

  1. Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin, $28.95)
  2. The Color Master: Stories, by Aimee Bender (Doubleday, $25.95)
  3. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra (Hogarth, $26)
  4. Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III (Norton, $25.95)
  5. Duplex, by Kathryn Davis (Graywolf, $24)
  6. The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride (Riverhead, $27.95)
  7. The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99)
  8. The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton (Little, Brown, $27)
  9. A Marker to Measure Drift, by Alexander Maksik (Knopf, $24.95)
  10. Submergence, by J. M. Ledgard (Coffee House, $15.95)
  11. Want Not, by Jonathan Miles (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26)
  12. Woke Up Lonely, by Fiona Maazel (Graywolf, $26)

Nonfiction

  1. The Barbarous Years, The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600 – 1675, by Bernard Bailyn (Knopf, $35)
  2. The Boy Detective: A New York Childhood, by Roger Rosenblatt (Ecco/HarperCollins, $19.99)
  3. The Faraway Nearby, by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, $25.95)
  4. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink (Crown, $27)
  5. A House in the Sky, by Amanda Lindhout (Scribner, $27)
  6. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, by Katy Butler (Scribner, $25)
  7. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, by Robert Kolker (Harper, $25.99)
  8. Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures, by Mary Ruefle (Wave Books, $25)
  9. Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, by Carla Kaplan (Harper, $28.99)
  10. Thank You for Your Service, by David Finkel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26)
  11. This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital, by Mark Leibovich (Blue Rider, $27.95)
  12. Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala (Knopf, $24)

There’s also:

  • The Most of Nora Ephron, a collection of her essays (Knopf, $35)
  • A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York, by Anjelica Huston (Scribner, $25)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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