Notes, reviews, essays, fiction, personal marginalia
Saturday, January 1, 2022
2021 Readings, 2022 Goals
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 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
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
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
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
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
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