Monday, August 27, 2012

Mike Heppner _The Man Talking Project_ Another Sky Press

Mike Heppner's collection of novellas, 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.


River Dragon Sky, a new novel

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Richard Bausch _Peace_ Knopf

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.


River Dragon Sky, a new novel

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.


River Dragon Skya new novel

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Why I Write" : David Rakoff

RIP, David.
(And thanks to Read Roll Show for the video find.)