Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michael Schulze "Cover Letter for The Cabin" ~ Xenith

Michael Schulze's story "Cover Letter for The Cabin" appears in Xenith and presents the worst possible cover letter an author could ever append to his novel submission.

The cover letter tells a strange--in a good way--absurd tale in which the narrative tone of voice feels real and honest enough to allow readers to slip into the fictive dream. Quirky, funny paragraphs abound, such as one that concerns rewriting in which the author tells the editors that there are exactly one hundred words.

At times, it's possible to get lost in passages concerning the current action, only to be reminded that, in fact, this is a cover letter for an obviously awful novel.

I've never read anything like it; check it out.


Ash Dogs, a novel

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jonathan Ames ~ forthcoming interview here at Our Stories!

Hello, fellow members of the Our Stories writing community.

We're extremely happy and excited to announce our upcoming interview with Jonathan Ames, whom Publisher's Weekly has called "a winning storyteller and a consummate, albeit exceedingly eccentric, entertainer."

Ames's novels include I Pass Like Night (for which Philip Roth praised Ames's "authentic voice of youthful suffering"), The Extra Man (now a major motion picture), and Wake Up, Sir!.

In addition to a number of other publications, including essay collections and comic memoirs, Ames was the creator and writer of the HBO-aired comedy series Bored to Death.

We'll have more on Jonathan Ames to come; until then, we highly recommend checking out the work of this very talented artist.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Peter D. Kramer "Permutations" ~ The Summerset Review

Peter D. Kramer's story "Permutations" appears in The Summerset Review and gives of the story of a mentally ill guy who's trying to get better. He visits Vassar to dwell on a life he might've had before dropping out, and to find a date.

Both the narrator (who introduces himself as Alex) and his girlfriend, Libby, have mental issues--chiefly depression, it seems, and OCD. Alex goes with Amanda, a woman he met at Vassar, for brunch, where he applies his shrink's advice for successful social interaction. Here, he articulates insight about his illness: "My trouble started there, in my insistence that the best fiction comes from stolen vignettes.Also obsession-laden descriptions of he and Amanda having sex masterfully convey character.

The story reads as vivid character analysis as well as meaningful social commentary.

Check it out. 


Ash Dogs, a novel

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Q&A with J. Caleb Winters, a new Fiction Reader here at Our Stories

J. Caleb Winters has work published or forthcoming in Camera Obscura, the HumanistGulf Stream, and Fiction Writers Review, and an interview with him can be found at Dark Sky Magazine. He earned his MFA in Fiction Writing from Boise State University and was Assistant Editor of the Idaho Review. He teaches Humanities at West Virginia University.

Besides teaching, J. Caleb Winters has worked as an apprentice electrician, a landscaper, a framing carpenter, and a house-painter, and he officiated three marriages during his time as a minister. He occasionally travels to Greece and frequently travels to Idaho. Along with Literary Fiction, he is deeply interested in Hellenistic Philosophy. 
Here's a Q & A we had with J. Caleb Winters. Enjoy!

OS: Could you tell everyone a little about your writing process? When, if ever, is a draft "done"?

J. Caleb Winters:  I tend to write in bursts--an hour here or there, and I find that if I'm diciplined enough to take advantage of my "free" time, I can get quite a bit of writing done.  I revise the same story over and over until I feel like it's done.  Then, I put that draft aside for a few months, so I can look at it again, with fresh eyes.  Issues with the story, that I couldn't see before, tend to become apparent to me if I give myself that distance from my work.  I repeat the process of revision and storing the draft away, and when I can return to a story, after months of not reading it, and the story doesn't reveal any flaws, then I start to get excited, because the story is getting close to "done."


: Could you share some thoughts about what you tend to look for in a work of fiction?

J. Caleb Winters:  I love stories that take risks--that fight against expectations and knock readers out of their comfort zones.  In a story, this can be accomplished in many ways.  Beautiful language, stylized dialogue, or an imaginative plot structure are all examples of ways a story can push boundaries.


OS: What's next for you and your writing?

J. Caleb Winters:  I'm begining to experiment with shorter peices.  I've been really influenced by Airships by Barry Hannah, and I love many of the shorter peices in that collection and how "big" they feel.  At the same time, I'm also expanding and pushing myself by working through the first draft of my novel.  It's a story about an absentee dad who falls in love with a married woman, whose husband is dying of liver disease.

Thanks for the interview. We're happy to have another dedicated writer here at Our Stories.