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Viewing Blog: Emerging Writers Network, dated 6/2/2012
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No cool logos for this, though maybe I should ask somebody to make one. In the past couple of days the postman has been very nice, swinging by a few times to drop off a bunch of cool packages and envelopes.
Elsewhere, California (Counterpoint, 2012) by Dana Johnson in paperback form. This has blurbs of praise from TC Boyle, Mat Johnson, Danzy Senna, Aimee Bender and Michelle Hueven. This follows Dana's Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction winning Break Any Woman Down, which I really enjoyed, and in fact, a character from that collection is the protagonist of this novel. The description:
We first met Avery in Dana Johnson's Break Any Woman Down. As a young girl, she escaped the violent streets of Los Angeles, relocating to suburban West Covina. When her cousin Keith moves in, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery: to her studies at USC, to her career as an artist, and into her relationship with a wealty Italian in the Hollywood Hills. Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of African Americans across the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Wunderkind (Counterpoint, 2012), a paperback novel from Nikolai Grozni. I'm not familiar with Mr. Grozni but the description of Fifteen-year old Konstantin, a fantastic pianist, confined to the militaristic Music School for the Gifted in Bulgaria in the 80's sounds very interesting.
Dawn Raffel's memoir-in-objects, The Secret Life of Objects (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012) with art by Sean Evers. I've had the pleasure of reading a few of these short pieces prior to receiving the book and they're wonderful. I love the blurb from Priscilla Warner:
Dawn Raffel puts memories, people and secrets together like perfectly set gems in these shimmering stories, which are a delight to read. Every detail is exquisite, every character is beautifully observed, and every object becomes sacred in her kind, capable hands. I savored every word.
Weather Eye Open (University of California Press, 2005), a collection of poems by Sarah G
The fine folks at Absinthe have come back after a year or so hiatus to get their Festival of International Film & Writing back into what plans to be an annual affair.
Last night I was able to attend the writing portion of the first night's events, catching reading from Benjamin Paloff, Chris Tysh, and Dunya Mikhail, as well as a short q&a session afterward.
The event is held in Farmington, MI, at the Masonic Hall, and it was really a nice set-up. There were probably close to 50 people in attendance, which all three writers commented upon. Dwayne Hayes, founder of Absinthe Arts 21, the 501(c)3 (that's right folks, you can donate and see it become a tax deduction) created to promote and provide access to international art and writing, was the host and MC for the evening.
Paloff read from both a collection of poetry he'd translated (Lodgings: Selected Poems of Andrzej Sosnowski), but also from a just released book he'd translated (Transparency by Marek Biencyzk), which is a book length essay on, well, transparency. He compared Sosnowski's work to that of Ashberry, and read three of the poems and then the first section from the essay. Both were very interesting--I do believe I'll find myself ordering the essay.
Chris Tysh read next, maybe a dozen or so pages from what she's calling a transcreational effort. She's reworking French novels into verse--what she read from was based on a novel by Duras that she had reworked into verse couplets. It too was very interesting, both the description of the idea, and the writing itself.
Dunya Mikhail read three poems from her collection, The War Works Hard, and then noting that because Benjamin had told her he'd read her book, she would read some new work. She noted though that she wrote her poetry in Arabic, and did not consider her own translations to be the best translations of her own work--it was very interesting, she believes that when translating, one must be true to the work, but this is something she doesn't find herself very capable of doing when the original work is her own--it's her own, so she feels free to tweak when changing the language. But she ended up reading a few more of these new, uncollected poems, including reading the last one both in Arabic, and then in English, to give the audience a flavor of the different languages, the different rhythms, etc.
All three poets (and the MC) came across as very likeable and approachable and it seemed that the crowd all was enjoying what they'd come out to see. Were it not for surprise tickets to a Tiger/Yankee game this evening, I'd be back to see the reading froms Mariela Griffor, Anca Vlasopolos, and Jeffrey Angles this evening.
By the end of the month it's going to look like a whole bunch of authors wrote novellas titled "Definition." Jonathan Baumbach responded with what might be the most common definition, though for one of the first times I've seen, tagged on an explanation for it.
Each work suggests its own length. Distinctions
of content all have their exceptions. My own practice
is not to plot a book but to let it develop on its own from the
germinating idea that set it in motion. A novella is a short
fiction blossoming into something longer that is not quite
a novel. The basic difference between a novel and a short
story is that a novel is a longer work of prose fiction.
A novella is a work of prose fiction that is shorter than
a novel and longer than a short story. This may seem too
obvious to need to be said, but to complicate the issue
is ultimately to falsify.
I like that last sentence. I don't know that I completely agree with it, but I like the authority behind the way he said it.
Jonathan Baumbach is the author of fourteen books of fiction, including You, or The Invention of Memory; On The Way To My Father's Funeral: New and Selected Stories; B, A Novel; D-Tours; Separate Hours; Chez Charlotte and Emily; The Life and Times of Major Fiction; Reruns; Babble; and A Man to Conjure With. He has also published over ninety stories published in such places as Esquire, Open City, and Boulevard.
Baumbach, co-founder of The Fiction Collective in 1973, the first fiction writers cooperative in America, has seen his work widely praised. His short stories have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, The PEN / O.Henry Prize, and The Best of TriQuarterly. The New York Times Book Review referred to him in 2004 as "an underappreciated writer." He employs a masterfully dispassionate, fiercely intelligent narrative voice whose seeming objectivity is always a faltering front for secret passion and despair."
The paperback version of You, or the Invention of Memory, will be published by Dzanc Books (July 2012) and his next new book, Flight of Brothers, a novella and four stories, will be published by Dzanc Books (July 2013) as well. Many of his backlist titles are coming available through the summer of 2012 through Dzanc's rEprint Series.
Kyle Minor rarely thinks small. When asked if he could maybe let my readers know if there was a novella he would suggest they read, he opted to send me a list...of 100. One thing you'll note is that Kyle is modest and does not include his own novella, "A Day Meant to Do Less," which only was included in Best American Mystery Stories the year it was published. From Kyle:
One hundred novellas you should read, right away (in no particular order):
1. "The Old Forest," by Peter Taylor.
2. "One of Star Wars, One of Doom," by Lee K. Abbott
3. "The Age of Grief," by Jane Smiley
4. "Goodbye, Madagascar," by Jennifer Spiegel
5. "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
6. "Auslander," by Michelle Herman
7. Mitko, by Garth Greenwell
8. "All Through the House," by Christopher Coake
9. "The Palace Thief," by Ethan Canin
10. The Barracks Thief, by Tobias Wolff
11. "The Dew Breaker," by Edwidge Danticat
12. Street of Lost Footsteps, by Lyonel Trouillot
13. "The Beast God Forget to Invent," by Jim Harrison
14. Clown Girl, by Monica Drake
15. "The Womanizer," by Richard Ford
16. "The Bear," by William Faulkner
17. "The Talk Talked Between Worms," by Lee K. Abbott
18. "Gusev," by Anton Chekhov
19. "Fathers and Sons," by Ivan Turgenev
20. "The Death of Ivan Ilych," by Leo Tolstoy
21. "Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad
22. Steps, by Jerzy Koszinski
23. From Old Notebooks, by Evan Lavender-Smith
24. Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson
25. Indignation, by Philip Roth
26. Everyman, by Philip Roth
27. "Goodbye, Columbus," by Philip Roth
28. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. Seize the Day, by Saul Bellow
30. "Sonny's Blues," by James Baldwin
31. "Makedonija," by Miroslav Penkov