Saturday, May 4, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Edited by Our Stories editor Justin Nicholes, Alien Sky was just released through Portland-based Another Sky Press.
The SF anthology pays small homage to Ray Bradbury (who passed away during the editing of the collection) and features the following writers:
Jarod K. Anderson, Ben Christensen, Jeremy Clymer, Doug Donnan, Robert C. J. Graves, Tom Howard, Gerry Huntman,Joe Jablonski, Paul Jessup, Georgina Kamsika, Brian Koscienski, Christian A. Larsen, Hunter Liguore, Joe Matar, Marshall Moore, Daniel Pearlman, Chris Pisano, T. Lloyd Reilly, Guy Salvidge, Derek Smith, Shane Ward, Chris White
Thursday, January 31, 2013
engaging novels, short story collections, and nonfiction written in
For this month, Our Stories editor Justin Nicholes's novel, River
Dragon Sky, is $1.99 for the Kindle ebook:
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Jennifer Haigh's novel Faith models nearly flawless storytelling.
With most of the action set in 2002, with the Catholic priest accusations in full swing, the novel follows the distressing accusations leveled toward Father Arthur Breen, told through the voice and first-person perspective of his half-sister, Sheila.
Haigh's writing is analytical and piercing, and the overall shape of the book and the way information is revealed carefully and vividly achieve poetic effects.
This is storytelling at its best: fiction that also forms serious thought.
Read this book.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Notable stories for this reader included "Brown Coast," "Retreat," and "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned."
In "Brown Coast," Bob Monroe's dad just dies, and he takes his uncle's advice and moves to a house that uncle now owns to fix it up, as well as to get away from marital tension. Images of sea life wonderfully and strangely convey character, and we end with a feeling of enlightened despair but also of knowledge. In "Retreat," the same kind of afterglow occurs, in which our point-of-view character realizes some deep-down flaw inside himself, and once again, wildlife helps to convey that realization that sheds light on a conflict with a younger brother.
The final story of the book, "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" will always remain in my mind, partly because of Tower's absolute gift for rendering the concrete detail. Beware: blood eagle.
Bravo to a fine collection of short stories here. This is an excellent book from a hell of a writer.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Elizabeth Kadetsky "A New Yorker in Melbourne: On Creative Nonfiction, a Conference, a Hired Bicycle" Brevity
A New Yorker in Melbourne: On Creative Nonfiction, a Conference, a Hired Bicycle," appears in Brevity and vividly describes the writer's reflections and experiences astride a bicycle in Melbourne.
"Perhaps it's my being a New Yorker that caused me to notice, first, about Melbourne, its rules."
The piece clarifies the writer's character, as well as two cityscapes, the NonfictioNow conference, and parallels between nonfiction writing and the making and breaking of rules.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Trace" appears in The Saint Ann's Review and presents a rich, subtle family relationship and conflict in which two sets of parents overhear talking about each other's kid and wonderfully try to defend their conceptions of how their children feel.
The dialogue comes across as witty, and it clarifies motivation and feeling while revealing character depth.
A very good read . . .
Sunday, November 4, 2012
article gives a case for Obama existing, not as a post-race American president, but as a post-Reconstruction black American president.
"The Jim Crow laws that marked the end of Reconstruction stayed put for at least 60 years. It would take a century before the contemporary civil rights movement restored the political and civil rights of blacks. Some historians argue that the United States did not actually become a democracy until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act."
"Restored" is a concept a lot of people forget about American history--since some historians at the time, especially after Jim Crow flouted earlier amendments, tried to forget as well as belittle.
The "white backlash" that crushed hopes of an interracially run American government just after the Civil War, historians say, is repeating itself today in America.
An important discussion for Americans to keep having.
Failure to Disappear: On Dennis Oppenheim" appears in the New England Review and meditates on an image of a moving, sometimes blurry hand before a black background.
Nadelson nicely likens the role of the viewer to a likewise enjoining role in life, after someone dies.
"Something clicked in my brain when Nate said that. Being about the work every day (or BATWED, for fun) is a suggestion I can get behind."
Claire Skinner's wonderful essay about the old edict of "write every day" is discussed and fretted over--replete with wonderful imagery, such as the dicing of celery.
Instead of WED, BATWED.
For all compulsive writers out there, heavy with guilt if you skip a day of hourly writing because of work or relationships or travel, this is a highly recommended read.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
"This was Chinyere Brown's nagging worry: that the upward trajectory of her own life as a successful African American woman was occurring in a society that in some ways resented it."
Though not in a literary magazine, this article in The Washington Post helped articulate changes that have happened in America after Obama was elected. Having voted absentee from China during that election in '08, when I voted for Obama, I wasn't aware until I returned to Ohio that summer how different things had already become. I was baffled; it was all so vocal and unfair.
Just months after he became President, commonplace vitriol--that Obama was secretly Muslim, "post-American," or not American at all--seemed everywhere . . . on TV, in people's posts, from family members who hadn't used to say racist things, at least around me, with anger visible on their faces.
Has racism in America actually gotten worse?
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
"Cotton batting, Styrofoam chips—there is no way to hide thighs in a bathing suit."
As classmates swim, banter, and sneak away for sex, Naomi's character is revealed through thoughts--of her own body's secrets, and of her own perceptive world of memories and feelings.
The narrative voice comes across as both perceptively playful and somber. This is an excellent story with a clear, rewarding, big-hearted narrative development.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Sam Anderson's piece "Junot Díaz Hates Writing Short Stories" appears in The New York Times. Anderson interviews Díaz about writing in general and about his new book of short stories, "This Is How You Lose Her."
What strikes me most is how the interview focuses on Díaz's relative slow speed at which he produces--albeit, at which he produces critically acclaimed works of fiction.
"This receptivity to all the possible sources of inspiration is what makes Díaz's work both so distinctively rich and, it seems to me, so difficult for him to write. It's like trying to distill the ocean down to a glass of water."
Díaz talks about writing, reading, knowing when you're reading to avoid, and other fascinating topics to anyone engaged in creative festivities.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
Boulevard, Stephen Dixon's story "Dead" begins with a rhythmic-tattoo repetition in the first-person narrator's mind. An aged writer, he's in the hospital, fears dying, and has already recounted the names of great artists--who have already died.
"Dreams, awake, there's always something to be afraid of."
Dream of (literary) lions, dragons, and swords amputating his arms below the elbow befuddle the hospitalized writer's thoughts.
At the end of the long-, single-paragraph story, the writer connects with a hospital tech who helps him, and he continues to list the names of dead writers.
Monday, August 27, 2012
The Man Talking Project, was recently released through Another Sky Press.
In part one, "Talking Man," a worried father preemptively discourages his ten-year-old boy from taking an art teacher's praise on a painting to heart. Meanwhile, the boy's mother makes her own struggle as she rattles away in the kitchen on strange dishes, distracted and perhaps longing for a kind of escape.
In part two, "Man," a partly fictionalized Mike Heppner earns a two-book deal, which seems to be a reward from countless days at novel writing until, gradually undeceived, he realizes the cold truth of large-scale publishing while, at the same time, his actions in marrying and taking care of an ill wife show deep empathy and humanity.
Part three, "Man Talking," pits a successful, professional writer with a struggling writer. The friendship, quirky and real, doesn't seem to help the novice, who while burning for the hope of writing something worthy and wonderful, loses the ability to sleep.
The final part of this "four-sided fiction" is called "Talking" and gives interview answers to friends and fellow writers who know Mike Heppner. The questions reveal some insight on publishing and writing.
This is a wonderful collection that anyone writing and trying to publish today needs to check out.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Richard Bausch's novel Peace exemplifies master storytelling.
Set during the Second World War, after the Italians have quit fighting and the Germans are apparently retreating, Corporal Marson, along with soldiers Asch and Joyner, bear witness to murder. This inciting incident in the novel haunts the characters; it tests and hollows them as they grapple with what it means for them not to have tried to stop it and not to have immediately reported it.
The rise, climax, and resolution of the novel concern Marson, Asch, and Joyner following an Italian civilian, whose wagon they dumped into the rain and who agrees to lead them up a hill, ostensibly for fear of being shot. The hill soon becomes a mountain, and the incessant rain becomes snow. With readers privy to Marson's point of view, the Italian guide sometimes reveals gestures and facial expressions that contradict his actions and call into question every word and action from him as he leads the Americans higher and higher--until they come upon a hill overlooking the Italian's town, where war-crime executions are taking place.
Betrayal, and Marson's loss and then redemption of a sense of essential humanness, follow.
Throughout, Bausch conveys characters masterfully. This is an example of one whole, perfect form of a novel, and Peace is an essential work concerning WWII.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Congratulations to Lyle Roebuck ~ long-listed in Carve Magazine's Raymond Carver Short Story Contest
Congratulations to Lyle Roebuck, whose story "A Prayer of Humble Access" made the long list in the recent Raymond Carver Short Story Contest at Carve Magazine.
As the magazine says, "[long-listed] stories were considered semi-finalists, read and reviewed by the editors. Appearing on this list means the story made it through at least 2 rounds of readings and was a strong contender to be a finalist."
Since we've worked with Lyle in the past here at Our Stories, here's a re-posting of a short Q&A we had with Lyle back in 2010:
Q: At Our Stories, we consider anyone we've ever workshopped a member of Our writing community, and when a writer later succeeds with that piece, well, we'd like to think of that as an indicator that we're doing something right. What did working with OS do for you and your work?
A: Good writing can only be improved through tireless revision and thoughtful editorial feedback; the latter is what Our Stories offers to those who submit. If, as a writer, you are open to considering objective criticism, your fiction will be better for it.
Q: What's next for you and your writing?
A: I'm sitting on a collection of about a dozen stories, plus a novel, all written over the past eight years. In 2011-12 I'm taking a sabbatical from my teaching job to travel and concentrate on writing.
Thanks for being part of our writing community.