Wigleaf Top 50!

Artwork by Philip Bond

Artwork by Philip Bond

Well. I am astounded and grateful that two of my stories were chosen by Matthew Salesses for the 2015 Wigleaf Top 50. Both stories, “Ripe” and “Tool” were published by Lauren Becker, editor of the wonderful Corium Magazine. I also thrilled that my story “The Children Called Him Yuck-Yuck” published by Ellen Parker in FRiGG, was chosen for the long list. I’m very honored to be among the fantastic writers on both lists.

Thanks so much to Selecting Editor, Matthew Salesses, as well as Series Editor, Marcelle Heath and all of her team of readers. And thanks, of course, to Scott Garson, editor of Wigleaf. This is a huge effort every year to recognize and showcase the best flash fiction published online. As Marcelle Heath says in her foreword:

Flash fiction opens up the page, becomes larger and more fluid, and gives back to us so that we can see what remains: vitality, provocation, enchantment.

Again, thanks so much. I had a few painful years of hardly writing at all. This and all the recognition my stories have received this past year mean the world to me.

My Favorite Reads of 2014

As usual, my favorite reads were published predominantly by small presses, written by writers unafraid of taking chances with their work:

I bookended the year with collections by the innovative Robert Vaughan: Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (blurbed, reviewed on Goodreads) and Addicts & Basements, also reviewed on Goodreads.

Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith, just a beautiful collection, I blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads and interviewed Leesa here on this blog!

I also read and blurbed Nancy Stohlman’s book Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories. Nancy is another original who performs her stories live as well as she writes them.

I read Avital Gad-Cykman’s chapbook recently released from Matter Press: Life In, Life Out, and reviewed it on Goodreads and interviewed Avital right here on this blog.

If I Would Leave Myself Behind: Stories by Lauren Becker, which I also talked about here.

Understories by Tim Horvath, which is terrific and I gave five stars to on Goodreads.

I read two Gay Degani books in 2014, her collection, Pomegranate Stories and her novel What Came Before, which I blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads. I also interviewed Gay right here and she has lots of smart things to say about writing in general.

Bald New World by Peter Tieryas, reviewed on Goodreads. This book was recently nominated for the Folio Prize in the UK.

Bones of an Inland Sea by Mary Akers, reviewed on Goodreads.

The Last Days of California by Mary Miller, reviewed on Goodreads.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, reviewed on Goodreads.

My Mother Was An Upright Piano by the talented and versatile writer of flash as well as longer works, Tania Hershman, reviewed on Goodreads.

Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp by Edward J. Rathke, reviewed on Goodreads.

Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann, this book was one of my favorite short story collections of 2014 and one of my favorites, ever…reviewed at The Lit Pub.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro, a great inspiration in 2014 and mentioned in various posts on this blog.

I reread The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (who incidentally drafted the novel in four weeks according to this article in The Guardian).

Understudies by Ravi Mangla, reviewed on Goodreads.

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Don’t Tease the Elephants by Jen Knox. blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads.

Quarry Light by Claudia Smith Chen, reviewed at The Lit Pub.

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. A fascinating, harrowing read.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp, another inspiring read, also mentioned a time or two on this very blog.

Smokelong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years 2003-2013, a book I contributed to and reviewed on Goodreads.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, reviewed on Goodreads. I loved this book so much I read it twice.

Some New Things: Interview with Brad Watson, Jeff Landon flash, & Lauren Becker's book…

Brad Watson is apparently a kindred spirit:

“I’m old-fashioned and believe that the writer’s only real job — day jobs aside — is to write, and to write the best work one is capable of writing. I’m happy to go out, give readings or talks, visit classes or clubs — when and if anyone is interested — but even that is pretty distracting, work-wise. It interrupts work you’ve inevitably already begun on something new. I don’t really believe anyone knows for sure, yet, whether or not using social media to promote yourself works all that well. Maybe it does in those rare cases when someone does or creates something that, as they say, “goes viral.” In any case, my personality is not a good fit with self-promotion.”

I, too, have always felt uncomfortable with self-promotion and don’t like spending too much time on social media because I resent the time it takes away from real life and writing…however! I’ve made wonderful contacts with other writers that I wouldn’t have without it and for that I’m forever grateful. Writing is a tough and lonely gig. Read the rest of Watson’s interview in Fiction Southeast. Watson is the author of Aliens in The Prime of Their Lives, a collection of short stories I really liked and recommend. watson book

I was thrilled to see new flash fiction by a favorite writer, Jeff Landon, in Wigleaf. It’s called “Bobs” and here is an excerpt:

“We drink bourbon and beer, gobble pizza puffs, and watch the slide show of our gone lives with Amy: Bad teeth Bob with Amy on the boardwalk, her hands in his hair gone now from the chemotherapy. We watch the pictures and we are kindred and moony and Bob.”

Anyway, go read the whole story and Jeff’s accompanying postcard here and you can read a whole bunch of Jeff’s stories in Truck Dance, his collection of stories published by Matter Press. If you’re a fan of and/or writer of flash fiction, I can’t recommend it enough. Jeff’s writing is like none other, beautiful, heartbreaking, and funny.truck dance

I recently read Lauren Becker’s novella + story collection, published by Curbside Splendor books, If I Would Leave Myself Behind and it’s fantastic. I highly recommend this smart, edgy, vulnerable, exquisitely written collection. Here’s a taste:

“Tuesdays are quiet. If you don’t make them louder, you invite the tiny, final earthquake that turns cracks to holes.You should remember that early Tuesday nights are different from late Saturdays and maybe go to bed instead. The fault line shifted when he left, right after, like always. Sometime in the night or morning, I emptied the condom I found in the trash and made it irrelevant.”

if i would leave myself behind

Lastly, I have sort of quietly begun offering my services giving editing suggestions and feedback for flash fiction. Are people interested in this? I am considering putting an actual page up on this blog with a form to fill out and everything, so it all looks legit and professional. Stay tuned and let me know if you’re interested! Thanks.

Reading & Books I'm Looking Forward To Reading

Doll PalaceSomehow I’ve been given the tremendous honor of reading an advance copy of Sara Lippmann’s forthcoming collection from Dock Street Press, DOLL PALACE. I’ve only just started, but, people, all I can say is…oh man. And here is just a sampling from the story, “The Last Resort”:

That was all it took. Phil rose up from the heat and left the water and ran for his son. His soles slapped the concrete. His body shook in the wintry air. He did not notice the cold. He ran. He drew in his elbows. He bowed his head. Like this, he ran, far away from the young one who touched the edge of his lip, the girl in the whirlpool making waves, the sweet flesh of a child whom he could almost hear whisper I love you.

I hope to write a full review when I’m finished. Releasing in September, the collection may be pre-ordered now from Dock Street Press.

if i would leave myself behindOh, Lauren Becker’s novella & story collection, IF I WOULD LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND, has just released from Chicago publisher, Curbside Splendor. I’m a fan of her writing and this book is right at the top of my ridiculously bloated to-read list.

Ethel Rohan has a short memoir out from e-book publisher Shebooks, OUT OF DUBLIN, that I’m eager to read. I’ve always admired Ethel’s fierce, brave, honest work.out of dublin

the book of laneyFurther out, I am so excited that my talented friend, Myfanwy Collins, has a new novel forthcoming in March, 2015, THE BOOK OF LANEY, from YA publisher, Lacewing Books–an imprint of Engine Books which published Myfanwy’s novel, ECHOLOCATION. This one promises to be just as stunning. UPDATE: THE BOOK OF LANEY IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM LACEWING BOOKS!!!

And Lindsay Hunter’s book, UGLY GIRLS, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Lindsay Hunter is that combination of brilliant and prolific that astounds me. And I’ve read her story “Summer Massacre” in the latest Denver Quarterly about a hundred times (okay, three times) and it’s beautiful and I’ll stop now before I start speaking in tongues.

And wow, aren’t all these covers gorgeous?

Books I've read, am reading…

I’m making some progress on my initial set of ten books to read. I listed ten so that I would not be so overwhelmed. I have strayed from this list since I made it, reading Sweet Talk by Stephanie Vaughn (it’s fantastic, I love her writing) and rereading Pride and Prejudice. When I finish these I’ll make a new list which will include Matt Bell’s Cataclysm Baby and Jac Jemc’s My Only Wife. Also, Jensen Beach’s book For Out of the Heart Proceed, which comes out in May. But I still feel overwhelmed. There are so many great books.

1. Shut Up/Look Pretty –Lauren Becker, Erin Fitzgerald, Kirsty Logan, Michelle Reale and Amber Sparks READ, loved, want to review, but damn if Len Kuntz didn’t write an amazing, thoughtful review here on his blog

2. The Last Repatriate –Matthew Salesses JUST STARTED

3. Wild –Cheryl Strayed

4. Birds of a Lesser Paradise –Megan Mayhew Bergman READ, it’s so good

5. Treasure Island!!! — Sara Levine

6. Betty Superman –Tiff Holland READ, SO good! Tiff Holland!

7. Threats: A Novel –Amelia Gray

8. Bluets –Maggie Nelson READ, gorgeous, still thinking of this one…

9. Girlchild — Tupelo Hassman

I can't keep up….

…with all the books I want to read. I feel I’m always falling behind. But lists. Lists are good. And I know I’ll buy new books and chapbooks at AWP. So here’s my list. I’ll read all of these and then I’ll make a new list and then it will feel less daunting.

1. Shut Up/Look Pretty –Lauren Becker, Erin Fitzgerald, Kirsty Logan, Michelle Reale and Amber Sparks

2. The Last Repatriate –Matthew Salesses

3. Wild –Cheryl Strayed

4. Birds of a Lesser Paradise –Megan Mayhew Bergman

5. Treasure Island!!! — Sara Levine

6. Betty Superman –Tiff Holland

7. Threats: A Novel –Amelia Gray

8. Bluets –Maggie Nelson

9. Girlchild — Tupelo Hassman

And all The Lit Pub titles. I mean, all of them.

Recently I read Richard Thomas’s Transubstantiate, my first ever neo-noir post-apocalyptic novel and it’s great and something I don’t have the skills for at all, so, admiration for that one. I also read Myfanwy Collins’ debut novel, Echolocation and it’s absolutely wonderful. I’ll say more about it, here, soon. I read Susan Tepper’s From the Uberplatzen: A Love Story, a tiny novel told in flashes and I’ll be interviewing her soon for Fictionaut, about one of the stories in the book.

What else? I’m currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I love it. It’s making me understand my quiet self so much more. There are apparently true benefits to the introverted style of being and this book feels important to me.

I’m also reading Snow Child, a debut novel by Eowyn Ivey and oh, I’m loving it. I seem particularly drawn to stories of people living in log cabins (i.e. Little House on the Prairie). The writing is beautiful and the story, sad and strange. Also, there’s lots of snow. (love the cover!)