In order to devote more time to writing my novel, I've taken an extended break from social media. I haven't posted on Twitter and Facebook in two weeks. But that's not to say I'm completely off the grid: I'll admit to scrolling from time to time, and I've been more active on Instagram (it's an outlet and a pleasant distraction, but one that, for me, doesn't lend itself to endless, mindless staring).
I'm sure I'll have the occasional post in the next couple weeks; this isn't an endless break, just a small one, because I found myself thinking of all the time I spend gazing at a screen without any engagement. Of course, I'm still wasting time online, but it's easier to blink when browsing, say, ESPN or NPR for long stretches.
Being off social media means I haven't liked or shared my reading activity. I'm writing this to showcase some of the things I read this week that stuck with me.
1.) I finally read Juliet Escoria's BLACK CLOUD, a stunning collection of stories (with a linked theme of depression, addiction, and loneliness) published last year by Civil Coping Mechanisms. I've followed Juliet online for awhile, and the book had been on my to-read list ever since it came out. I snagged a copy at AWP and finally devoured it. Some highlights:
"The train comes but it has the wrong number on the front and I move myself to the middle of the platform, because suddenly I realize how beautiful it would be to jump. If there were swords in stones with the pricks facing outwards, I would surely hurl my heart at one, just to try it, just to say that I did. To see what it feels like to have something slice me open (85)."
"I wanted to stop speaking now, but I had already treaded too far. The words tumbled out of my mouth in ribbons, bitter and curling. I watched his eyes glaze over as I spoke. I watched his pupils turn into flat disks, dull and dry as paper (103)."
2.) The spring issue of Wyvern Lit was published this week. There are so many literary magazines out there, and Wyvern Editor-in-Chief Brent Rydin has done a stellar job of making each issue kill. Click here to browse the spring issue (including their first-ever inclusion of poetry!)
I made the story "Other Gods" by Emily Carpenter the Longform Fiction Pick of the Week. It's a stunningly crafted examination of weather, religion, and combinations thereof that lead to unexpected catastrophes:
"On the tenth of April, Our Heavenly Father sent a tornado that wiped out practically the whole town of Rosewood. Every family lost their home. The Murphys, Engels, Hillyers, Rathbuns, Randalls, Wyatts. Everybody. The grocery and the hardware store were smashed to pieces. The post office, the school, and the fire station—all gone too.
The only buildings left standing were the church, the armory, and my house. My house, praise the Lord, with me in it."
3.) I'm leaning toward making July a month devoted exclusively to my stack of literary magazines, but I started Issue 22.1 of Yemassee, co-edited by the stellar writer/reader Matt Fogarty. A poem by Rachel Mindell caught my eye right away with a terrific use of what is now my favorite word: "flutterfucked:"
...There's this good spot. We could just get
in any car. The miles would part their legs
for us headscarves all flutterfucked.
As it stands, I possess a near doctorate...
4.) And finally, something I should have written about a couple months ago. I'm super excited that Steve Karas' debut story collection, Kinda Sorta American Dream, is being published this fall by Tailwinds Press. I had the fortune to read this collection awhile back, and I'm thrilled it has found a home. Steve is one of the best short story writers and literary citizens around, and I can't wait to hold the book in its physical form. I'll update once there's a set publication date.
I'll do more updates, especially when I do my literary magazine project. I'm eager to read new and old journals that I've been collecting, and I'm sure there are plenty of brilliant pieces by writers with whom I'm unfamiliar, waiting to be discovered. Can't wait. And thank you for reading.