Friday, February 20, 2009


My essay "Winter in Tennessee" will appear in the "Lives" section of this Sunday's New York Times Magazine.  It's a little piece about a dead deer and a body of water and home ownership.  My wife is in there too.  And a pair of boots.  Basically, it's got everything you'd want in a compelling narrative.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Cortege & Age Hung Us Out to Dry

While in Chicago, I read two incredible short stories.  First, I read B.R. Smith's "The Cortege" in Mississippi Review and it was breathtakingly good.  A brother and sister search for their missing father and find him, with sad results.  Then, not an hour later, I read Ryan Call's "Age Hung Us Out to Dry" in Hobart and it was amazingly good.  A brother and sister search for their missing father and find him, with sad results.
And yet, the stories are vastly different, each writer doing complicated and wonderful things with this initial premise.  I admire both of these writers a lot, seek out their work when it is published, and I think these are my favorite stories I've read by them.  B.R. and Ryan, you should read each other's story.  You would like each other, I think.  If you become fast friends and start going to see baseball games together, try to remember to invite me every once in a while so I don't feel left out.

Back Home

I am back from AWP.  I enjoyed meeting some nice people.  I met Matt Bell and we talked for about a minute and a half.  I could tell in that ninety seconds that he was a nice person.  I met Aaron Burch and he was also very nice and I don't think it was because I was writing him a check for a Hobart subscription.  I shook Cliff Garstang's hand at the bookfair as he passed by me and then never saw him again.  I checked several times at the No Colony table for Blake Butler but never found him.  I stopped walking by because I didn't want to seem like a stalker.  I saw Molly Gaudry talking on her cell phone in the hotel but didn't want to interrupt, thinking I'd see her some other time.  Never saw her again.  Didn't see Amanda Nazario at all.  I did see Ryan and Christy Call and they could power the entire earth with their niceness.
Here is what I ate in Chicago: Half of a pepperoni and mushroom deep dish pizza at Gino's East; a wet Italian beef sandwich with hot peppers at Al's Beef; pad thai at My Thai; elk ragout poured over cheese fries at The Gage;  head cheese, pork belly, dozens of pickled items, duck & foie gras terrine, pork pie, and morteau sausage at The Publican.  This is everything that I ate.
When we got home from Chicago, after picking up Griff at my parents' house, we arrived at our cabin to discover that we had lost our housekey.  It was cold.  Griff was crying.  The doors and windows were all locked.  I had to act fast.  I kicked the door open.  One kick.  Like I was in a goddamned action movie.  The doorframe exploded into little splinters and we walked inside.  My wife was both scared and aroused by this act.  We found the housekey not five minutes later.  I am trying to teach myself how to reframe a doorway.  It's harder than it looks.
If I didn't see you at AWP, I am wishing that I saw you at AWP.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hills Like White Elephants: Matthew Derby

"In Make Dead mode, the frequency is so low that you can no longer hear the Gun as it fires--only the sound the enemy soldiers make as they sail through the air, limbs flapping like dense cloth."
from "The Sound Gun" by Matthew Derby

Monday, February 9, 2009


I'm heading to Chicago on Wednesday to attend the AWP conference.  This is the fourth time I've been to the AWP conference.  I am both excited and terrified.  I'll be spending most of my time at the bookfair, sitting behind the table for the Sewanee Writers' Conference, occasionally running around to all the other tables, buying lots of books and magazines.  I hope I'll see you there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hills Like White Elephants: Jenny Hanning

"And I was skinny, but there were other girls/Who wore their bones like corsets..."
-from "Known" by Jenny Hanning

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In an Uncharted Country

I'm happy to hear the great news that Cliff Garstang's collection of short stories, In an Uncharted Country, will be released this fall by Press 53.  Cliff is an amazingly versatile writer, able to move between flash fiction and longer works, writing equally evocative stories set in rural Virginia or China (all over the world, really).  And he's an incredibly nice person.  Congratulations, Cliff, and I look forward to reading the collection.

Corduroy Mtn.

I received my copy of Corduroy Mtn. a few weeks ago and I finally had the chance to read the entire issue and it's pretty amazing.  The care that went into the making of this journal makes me feel very lucky to be included.  The covers are each uniquely hand stamped.  There's a broadsheet of an Eric Amling poem that I've read several times and find something quotable each time.  There's work by heavyweights like Shane Jones, Blake Butler, Jac Jemc (between her piece in this issue and her ML Press story, I'm going to be looking out for her name in every journal I come across), and James Iredell.  Carl Annarummo also runs The Greying Ghost Press and the online version of Corduroy Mtn. that I've also enjoyed.  There are only 55 copies, so grab one while you have a chance.