Saturday, January 1, 2022

2021 Readings, 2022 Goals

In keeping with the 2020 trend, my reading total was pretty sad, as you can tell. 

As always, it's about quality, not quantity, but surely I can surpass thirteen read books in 2022. To my credit, I did start so many more books, and I was invested in all of them, but working full-time, trying to rekindle my writing, and dealing with a pandemic on top of all that? I need to treat myself with more kindness. When I wrote my recap last January, I wrote two terse sentences, the weight of 2020 heavy. 

My writing goals are modest: I want to finish and polish three or four of the half-written essays I currently have open on my laptop, and perhaps pull together an essay collection. I'm still amazed at how I've shifted so dramatically to essays and creative nonfiction; I haven't written a piece of fiction since late 2019, which feels like a lifetime ago. 

I'm rambling, but generally happier than I've been in a long time, and while my goals are only half-concrete, I feel good about ending 2022 in a better place, both mentally and creatively. Happy New Year, y'all. <3

1.) Luster: a Novel by Raven Leilani 

 2.) Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith

3.) In the Dream House: a Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

4.) Outlawed: a Novel by Anna North

5.) Catrachos: Poems by Roy G. Guzman

6.) Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America by Julie DiCaro

7.) Bad Anatomy: Poems by Hannah Cohen (reread)

8.) Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green

9.) Whimsy: a Novella by Shannon McLeod

10.) Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses

11.) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

12.) Mexican Gothic: a Novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

13.) The Unreality of Memory: and Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert

Saturday, November 20, 2021

"To Be Fair: Life Lessons From Letterkenny" in Drunk Monkeys

 As per usual, dusting this space off when I have a new publication, and yeah, it's been awhile. My last one was way back in February 2020, the eve of the pandemic, with lots of upheaval, moving, and creative frustrations, dry spells along the way. 

However, I fell in love with the TV show Letterkenny, and the kind people at Drunk Monkeys let me write an essay about it for their glorious, varied tenth anniversary issue. It's a cornucopia of fiction, essays, poetry, and film/TV writing, and I'm honored to be a small part of it. Thank you to editor Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner and the Drunk Monkeys staff for putting together such a terrific journal. Not just this issue, but also the ones before, and the ones to come. 

You can read my essay here. It's a look at the show and how an absurd Canadian comedy represents what I wish were the ideals of Southern living. I hope you enjoy reading it, and I hope you spend time with the rest of the issue; you won't run out of things to read for a good while. 

Again, no promises about updating this space consistently. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll eventually upgrade to a big boy website. But this blog, thirteen years strong, was my foundation, and I'm keeping it active, even if it's just a resource for my own personal news. 

Stay safe, y'all. If you're out there. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

2020 Readings

2020 sucked. You know it. I know it. Here are the books I read this year. Annually, I do a detailed recap, and set 2021 goals, but since our goal is to merely make it to the end of this pandemic, I don't feel right with wide-eyed optimism.
1.) Trust Exercise: a Novel by Susan Choi

2.) The Sky Isn't Blue by Janice Lee

3.) Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

4.) American Dirt: a Novel by Jeanine Cummins

5.) My Year of Rest and Relaxation: a Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh

6.) And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges by Amber Sparks

7.) Anklet and Other Stories by Shome Dasgupta

8.) The Bonesetter's Daughter: a Novel by Amy Tan

9.) Weather: a Novel by Jenny Offill

10.) Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

11.) So We Can Glow: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith

12.) Our Alternate Universes by Rachel Tanner

13.) Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today by Rachel Vorona Cote

14.) We the Animals: a Novel by Justin Torres

15.) Now We Haunt This Home Together: Stories by Madeline Anthes

16.) Lakewood: a Novel by Megan Giddings

17.) The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban Heartland by Walter Thompson-Hernández

18.) Blacktop Wasteland: a Novel by S.A. Cosby

19.) All My Mother's Lovers: a Novel by Ilana Masad

Friday, February 7, 2020

"You Against You" in Hobart; "I Don't Want to Pry" in Pidgeonholes

Hey y'all.

I'm a little late posting these, but I was fortunate to have two new publications this week, working in new genres, and in two journals I've admired for many years.

Last Friday, my first personal essay went up at Hobart. It's called "You Against You" and examines mental health and life changes, filtered through viewings of the Rocky series. A deep thank you to editor Aaron Burch, who not only loved and accepted this, but has given me so many milestones over the years. He's given me my first fiction publication, my first print publication, and now my first piece of creative nonfiction.

And this past Wednesday, I placed "I Don't Want to Pry," my first prose poem, in the great journal Pidgeonholes. Thank you to Jennifer Todhunter and Dina Relles for seeing its potential, working with me through several edits, and championing this tiny but (hopefully) strong piece.

Hope you enjoy reading my work. The responses so far have blown me away. I'm grateful for the writing community, and I hope these publications are a springboard to new, more challenging creative outputs in 2020.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 Readings, 2020 Goals

Happy New Year! Yes, this blog is still active. Yes, I'm still active.

This year was very difficult for me, both personally and creatively. My writing faltered somewhat, but it's picking back up, and sadly, my TBR pile is basically the same. But I'm going into 2020 with cautious optimism. I usually start the year with defined reading goals and reflect on whether or not I made progress. I'm not doing that this year, even though 2020 starts a new decade, and there's hope in that deliciously even number. I'll be happy as long as I read more books and keep my selections diverse.

Hopefully I'll update this space more frequently. Here are the books I read in 2019. 41 total, down from 43 in 2018. If you want to know my thoughts about any of these titles, feel free to ask.

1.) Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

2.) How to Set Yourself on Fire by Julia Dixon Evans

3.) The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling

4.) They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us: Essays by Hanif Abdurraqib

5.) How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee

6.) Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

7.) The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang

8.) The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest For Earth's Ultimate Trophy by Paige Williams

9.) King of Joy by Richard Chiem

10.) Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

11.) The Future Is Here and Everything Must Be Destroyed: Poems by Colette Arrand

12.) You Only Get Letters From Jail by Jodi Angel (reread)

13.) Backswing: Stories by Aaron Burch (reread)

14.) Academy Gothic by James Tate Hill

15.) The Jordan Rules: The Inside Story of One Turbulent Season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls by Sam Smith

16.) Every Kiss a War: Stories by Leesa Cross-Smith (reread)

17.) Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir by T Kira Madden

18.) Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

19.) Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell

20.) Bluebird, Bluebird: a Novel by Attica Locke

21.) She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters by Robyn Ryle

22.) Mute by Shome Dasgupta

23.) The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making by Jared Yates Sexton

24.) Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek

25.) The Nickel Boys: a Novel by Colson Whitehead

26.) Biloxi: a Novel by Mary Miller

27.) The Book of X: a Novel by Sarah Rose Etter

28.) The Most Fun We Ever Had: a Novel by Claire Lombardo

29.) All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: a Novel by Bryn Greenwood

30.) Because I Wanted To Write You a Pop Song: Stories by Kara Vernor (reread)

31.) Inland: a Novel by Téa Obreht

32.) The Yellow House: a Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

33.) How We Fight For Our Lives: a Memoir by Saeed Jones

34.) The World Doesn't Require You: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott

35.) Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays by Leslie Jamison

36.) The Source of Self Regard: Select Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison

37.) The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay

38.) American Grief in Four Stages: Stories by Sadie Hoagland

39.) Ghosts of You: Stories by Cathy Ulrich

40.) Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow

41.) Breaking Into the Backcountry by Steve Edwards

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

"You Don't Get to Do This:" New Fiction in BULL Magazine

Hi there. I'm a couple days late posting this, but I have a new short story up in BULL Magazine. It's one of my longer stories (and maybe my longest published story to date? I'm not sure, but it's definitely in the top three). The title is "You Don't Get to Do This," and explores a variety of subjects, from impulses, desire, special needs parenting, and how we react to unhappiness.

You can read the story here.

Thank you to editor Benjamin Drevlow for giving this work a home, and for an enjoyable path from acceptance to a beautiful publication.

This piece is part of my short story collection, which I'm in the processing of editing as we speak. Well, we're not actually speaking; and I'm writing this post, so that means I'm not actually working on my edits. You know what I mean. Don't look at me like that.

I hope you enjoy reading my work. The latest issue of BULL is full of great work, and I'm honored to be a tiny part of that collective.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Readings, 2019 Goals

Welcome to 2019, and welcome to my annual reading recap.

Here's what I wrote last year:

"For 2018, I want to double down on small press support, especially with so many eagerly anticipated titles forthcoming. I'm not going to make any grand, specific goals, because I'll undoubtedly fail, so I'll shoot for 60-70 books.

I have a Goodreads account, but I only use it to update my readings, not to rate or review titles, I'm going to do that more this year, but I feel uneasy with the horribly unscientific nature of the site, but I do know that ratings are helpful for small press writers. In lieu of ratings or playing favorites, the books that I've highlighted in bold spoke to me in various ways. You can call these my favorites, or merely strong highlights."

While I didn't make any "grand, specific goals," I did fall short of my 60-70 book goal, ending 2018 with 43 books read. And I said I'd use Goodreads more, but I went in the exact opposite direction: over the summer, I took a social media break, and in the process, I deleted my Goodreads account. There were a couple factors in this decision. One, Amazon. Two, Amazon. The company has owned Goodreads for a couple years now, and while its sometimes (sadly) the only option for some small presses, I just couldn't take the layout, the star ratings, the lists with no substance, the marketing gimmicks. What this means for me is I'll simply have to do better myself about supporting small presses, writers, and journals in ways outside Goodreads. I'm almost never on Facebook anymore, but I might have to take a "lesser of two evils" approach and use my Facebook more to highlight new books and writers I discover in 2019. I believe I do that well enough on Twitter, but I'll double down and make sure I do across multiple platforms, but breaks and gaps will happen.

2019 reading goals: the usual, right ones. Read more, support indie presses, and read diversely.

Happy New Year, y'all.

1.) A Childhood: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews

2.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

3.) Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

4.) Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

5.) How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon

6.) Bad Anatomy by Hannah Cohen

7.) The Border of Paradise by Esmé Weijun Wang

8.) The Science of Unvanishing Objects by Chloe N. Clark

9.) Eats of Eden by Tabitha Blankenbiller

10.) White Girls by Hilton Als

11.) Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

12.) Cult of Loretta by Kevin Maloney

13.) Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

14.) Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu

15.) Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

16.) We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

17.) So Sad Today by Melissa Broder

18.) This Will be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins

19.) Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

20.) How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister

21.) Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin

22.) Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin

23.) The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

24.) No Name in the Street by James Baldwin

25.) The Thibodaux Massacre by John DeSantis

26.) The Devil Finds Work by James Baldwin

27.) Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

28.) Redeployment by Phil Klay

29.) Tell Me If You're Lying by Sarah Sweeney

30.) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

31.) Southern Cryptozoology: A Field Guide to Beasts of the Southern Wild by Allie Marini

32.) The Girl & the Fox Pirate by Kate Gehan

33.) Hungry People by Tasha Coryell

34.) Feel Free by Zadie Smith

35.) The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

36.) Destroy All Monsters by Jeff Jackson

37.) Florida by Lauren Groff

38.) How to Sit by Tyrese Coleman

39.) Pretend We Live Here by Genevieve Hudson

40.) The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

41.) The Wrong Way to Save Your Life by Megan Stielstra

42.) Person by Sam Pink

43.) The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

2021 Readings, 2022 Goals

In keeping with the 2020 trend, my reading total was pretty sad, as you can tell.  As always, it's about quality, not quantity, but sure...