Juked: “First Life” (Multiple Choice)

Drinker says, Negative outcomes. (How did Big ever make it to Academy? Slow as slow)

Sunlight and glass, prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

Drinker says, That’s the problem, right there. Hello? Dragon? Hey, Dragon?

Am so happy to have “First Life” in Juked this month (also self’s birthday month, Woot Hoot!).

Went live while self was in Ireland, hey good one.

Also love the tag: “multiple choice.”

It’s very amusing to go through all the pieces on the Juked website and try to figure out why they’re tagged the way they are. There’s a slyness involved in tagging. The best ones are brilliant.

Self got her novel-in-progress to a good 140 pages. She cut about 20 pages in the last week, so what’s left is pretty solid.

Bless FictionFeed.net for picking “First Life” as their Story of the Week and for tweeting about it:

http://www.fictionfeed.net/population-studies/

Self loves that the post on “First Life” is tagged Uncategorizable — BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA — and that there’s a sentence “love the names, by the way.”

Dear blog readers have no idea — NO IDEA — how hard it was for self to come up with those names, and here self will list them for you for your elucidation:

Dragon. Her. Big. Drinker. Lizard.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books Self Is Interested After Perusing The Guardian’s Summer “Text on the Beach” Issue, 23 July 2015

Self used to do this. A LOT. Post about books she was interested in reading after picking up a copy of The New York Times Book Review (which she used to subscribe to. Until last year), The New York Review of Books (which she also used to subscribe to), The New Yorker (which she still subscribes to, but hasn’t read in six months) and The Economist (which she no longer subscribes to)

Anyhoo, after that very lengthy introduction, here is self with The Guardian’s Summer Reading issue, and after going through the whole thing, self has culled just three books. She must be in some kind of slump?

Here are her three:

  • Grey, by E. L. James — What what what? Self actually read the first two pages in Hodges Figgis in Dublin. And what do you know, she liked it! But The Guardian review is so silly. “Come again, if you insist . . . ” Self still wants to read it.
  • My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante — “The first part of the Neapolitan trilogy in which almost nothing happens.” (OK, these reviews are one-note and boring. Sorry, Jim Crace, Reviewer. Self will read in spite of)
  • The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins — Let self dispense with the utterly dispensable: i.e., the review. And let’s just say, if this novel is indeed a riff on Gone, Girl, she likes. So “Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl, Girl On the Train” is a barrel of laughs.

Just for that, self is popping over to the London Review of Bookstore (Hey, last AWP Book Fair, in Minneapolis, she actually saw a table for the London Review of Books! She’s not sure if they’ve been coming every year, but this year was the first time she noticed them)

Side Note:  Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is in every bookstore window, all over Dublin and London. So happy for her. Promise to read the book, at least five years from now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Journey of Emigrant Women/ Csilla Tolday and Fil Campbell

Self visited Rostrevor because Csilla Toldy was performing in the Fiddlers Green Festival.

Csilla, a poet from Hungary, and Fil Campbell, a songwriter who grew up in Belleck, on the Donegal border, were telling stories.

Csilla came through the “green border” at 18.

Fil grew up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The two women came together, decided to tell their stories as layered narrative: Csilla’s poetry and short prose, Fil’s memoir and her folk songs. The result was a book, The Emigrant Women’s Tale (Lapwing Publications, Belfast, 2015) that comes with a CD.

Yesterday’s performance: What. An. Event. Self can’t even.

And it happened in Rostrevor.

The two women are amazing.

Rostrevor is amazing.

Also, and self didn’t know this before: C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast; Northern Ireland was his spiritual home.

In Rostrevor there is a trail called The Narnia Trail.

STEP INTO THE WARDROBE!

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

Start of The Narnia Trail, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland

How can one resist?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Live on Juked.com: Self’s “First Life”

The classroom of the future, according to self:

The first corollary: what is average is perfect.

Today I’m thick or something because thoughts are dark as dark.

I can hear Big arguing. He sits on Her’s other side. He’s telling Drinker, the formlessness. That’s what I mean.

Story’s live now on Juked.com.

Self does love these formless, voice-driven, futuristic imaginings that come more and more often since Ireland.

Maybe not such a surprise, for someone who adores Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker.

Stay tuned.

Half and Half: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The last two WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges have been really interesting. Last week’s was SYMBOL. This week’s is HALF AND HALF:  “. . .  try to focus solely on the visual plane of the photo.”

The prompt is from Ben Huberman, who included a shot of the imposing Devils Tower in Wyoming:

“There was rock, there was sky, and both were stunning.”

Here’s her first post on this week’s theme: three separate shots of special Irish places.

Inchicore, from the Blackhorse stop on the Luas

Inchicore, from the Blackhorse stop on the Luas Red Line

The Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, After a reading for the anthology LOST BETWEEN: WRITINGS ON DISPLACEMENT

The Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, After a reading for the anthology LOST BETWEEN: WRITINGS ON DISPLACEMENT

Saint Stephen's Green on Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Saint Stephen’s Green on Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Self loves the wide-angle of her Nikon Coolpix. That’s because, in fiction as well as in her photo-taking, she loves playing with perspective. Most of her favorite shots involve splitting a landscape in two.

And that, come to think of it, is also what happens in her writing: she likes working off contrasts, splitting a landscape into two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Matthew Park’s Illustration for “The Freeze”

Lately, self has been writing science fiction in the apocalyptic vein.

She wrote a story called “The Freeze” which imagined a woman as the only survivor of a drastic temperature drop, who decides to abandon her home city of San Francisco and head south. Along the way, she encounters a band of teen-agers; they all somehow find each other while stumbling around in the dark. She joins their group. Keeping the Pacific Ocean to their right, the group heads for Mexico (What? You expected them to come up with a better plan? They’re all starving, freezing, and in semi-shock. Sorry, this was the best anyone could come up with)

The story’s been published on Bluestem (Spring 2015) but here’s the illustration Matthew Park did for self.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue (Spring 2015)

Where is self? She is here, right here:

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

Witness: The Trans/lation Issue, Launched at the AWP Book Fair in Minneapolis, April 2015

This issue of Witness features writing from around the world. And self is more than proud to be in the same issue as:

  • Dario Belleza (translated from the Italian by Peter Covino)
  • Arthur Rimbaud (translated from the French by Donald Revell)
  • Hossein M. Abkenar (translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili)
  • Christos Chartomatsidis (translated from the Bulgarian by Velina Minkoff, Rayna Rossenova, and Borislava Velkova)
  • Moniru Ravanipour (translated from the Persian by Shirindokht Nourmanesh and Moniru Ravanipour)
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard (translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett)
YAY! Self made it! She is here!

YAY! Self made it! She is here!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2666, and The Small Magazines That Deserve Your Attention

DSCN9077

At this point, self has to be realistic.  She has to own up to the fact that she will probably never get to p. 800 of Robert Bolaño’s masterwork. She’s been reading it for almost three months and has only gotten to p. 248. It is hardback, it is heavy. She borrowed it from the Redwood City Public Library ages and ages ago. It’s only the fourth book she’s read this year. For a while she was doing really well. January, in fact, was great.

Don’t get her wrong. Self loves Bolaño. She tore through The Savage Detectives in Bacolod, a few years ago. It made her go all elegiac over the Daku Balay (the Big House, you can see those posts if you enter the search item “Bacolod”). She did some of her best writing ever after reading that book.

Now, alas, the only discernible writing she’s produced since the start of the year is: one short story. (Nothing doing, she’s also written 40 chapters of fan fiction). Why why why?

This was supposed to be “her” year. The year she gets to:  Mendocino, Minneapolis, The Banff Writers Studio, and etc etc etc etc

Today, the writer Jill Widner gave her a shout-out after reading self’s story in the spring issue of Witness. Self did not know that Jill subscribed. Jill said that self’s story reminded her of something she had read in Ploughshares. Which was a compliment so vast it produced in self all kinds of feelz.

And further, today, self heard from Lillian Howan, a member of self’s San Francisco writers group. Lillian is editing a new magazine called Nimbus Cat. Nimbus Cat accepted a piece of hers for their inaugural issue, and it just so happened to come out today.

It is a tough and generous undertaking to start your own literary magazine. Lillian is a woman of many hats: mother, novelist, awesome friend. That she chooses to launch this venture is sheer crazy! But self means crazy in a “I-can’t-believe-how-awesome-and-generous-you-are” way.

Here are two other magazines that are small yet bountiful. Local Nomad is helmed by Jean Gier, who launched the Spring 2015 issue while negotiating a hectic move to Santa Cruz. Don’t ask self how.

And Elsewhere Lit is helmed by fabulous Nandini Dhar out of Miami, Florida. She teaches full-time, she just put out her chapbook, Lullabies are Barbed Wire Nations (exquisite), and yet she co-edits this magazine.

Let’s give these courageous women a big, big hand.

Finally, a magazine that has a big piece of her heart: Your Impossible Voice. Which just came out with Issue # 7. And has been doing more copies in print, which have been selling briskly.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Express Yourself: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

EXPRESS YOURSELF is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Since self is doing a residency at the Mendocino Art Center, she thought it would be a good idea to focus on the different forms of artistic expression practiced by her fellow artists-in-residence.

One of them, Mary Ellen Campbell, has a piece in this just-published anthology!

Mary Ellen is a multi-genre artist. Her mixed-media pieces are in the Mendocino Art Center Gallery.

Just Published! An Anthology by Child-Free Women of the 60s in their 60s

Just Published! An Anthology by Child-Free Women of the 60s in their 60s

And there are ceramic artists (like the two who live right next door to self: Mitch and Jessie)

Four artists share this studio in the Mendocino Art Center. These pots were created by Mitch Iburg, who hails from Iowa.

Four artists share this studio in the Mendocino Art Center. These pots were created by Mitch Iburg, who hails from Iowa.

As well as visual artists like Kim Thoman who don’t fall easily into any category (Well, neither does Mary Ellen). Self had dinner with Kim one night, and listening to Kim explain her process was like listening to self’s former Stanford Prof David Nivison discuss Zen Buddhism and the Tao of “Nothingness.” Brilliant. Just. Brilliant.

Visual Artist Kim Thoman's Studio at the Mendocino Art Center: Kim comes to Mendocino every January to work on her art.

Visual Artist Kim Thoman’s Studio at the Mendocino Art Center: Kim comes to Mendocino every January to work on her art.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CHINESE YANKEE, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

(Not a third-person post, for once!)

Many of the stories in my second collection, Mayor of the Roses, were shaped when I was in a writer’s group with Ruthanne Lum McCunn.

Lives diverge, self hasn’t seen Ruthanne for many years.

But, a month or so ago (first I typed “weeks ago” then decided to double-check the date on Ruthanne’s e-mail — time moves like a river oh me my), I got an e-mail saying she’d written a new book: Chinese Yankee, a True Story From the U.S. Civil War (Design Enterprises of San Francisco, $16)

Here’s something from the Hong Kong South China Morning Post:

Chinese Yankee is an extraordinary story that still resonates 150 years later. With her empathy for the central character and her engaging and accessible prose, McCunn is ideally qualified to tell the tale.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn is also the author of: Sole Survivor, God of Luck, The Moon Pearl, Thousand Pieces of Gold, Wooden Fish Songs, Chinese-American Stories, and Pie-Biter.

More about Chinese Yankee can be found here.

Stay tuned.

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