Tag Archives: Cheryl Strayed

Feeling the Love in Los Angeles

I had such a fantastic time in Los Angeles this past week for AWP. I want to thank Jamie Iredell for organizing and hosting the Future Tense anniversary reading at AWP. I also want to thank Justin Maurer for putting me up at his homestead again and for setting up the great Future Tense off-site reading at the Redwood Bar. And thanks to the Timberline Review folks for letting me share their table.

It was so fun to talk to so many people at the Future Tense table at the book fair and to sell SO MANY books as well. A lot of people said they thought the Future Tense anniversary panel/reading was their favorite and that they could feel the love in the room. It was such an honor to be in that room with Jamie, as well as Chelsea Martin, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Meredith Alling (and Chelsea Hodson in the audience) and to see a great turnout for it. I LOVE being a publisher and ushering these amazing people and books into the world, into peoples’ hands–into hearts and brains. I freakin’ love it! This year’s AWP left me feeling so inspired and appreciated. I appreciate you all back, so so much.

Here are pics of some of my AWP highlights.

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Beginning of the book fair on Thursday!

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Jamie Iredell, dapper southern gent and literary powerhouse

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I read a little bit from a few of the Future Tense chapbooks at the anniversary reading. And also gave out Spudnut doughnuts to the morning crowd.

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I went to see Wendy C. Ortiz get a Lulu Award and sat with these stars: Cheryl Strayed, Melissa Chadburn, and Lauren Eggert-Crowe

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Later, at the Standard Hotel rooftop party, there were pods with waterbeds in them. Wendy C. Ortiz gets comfortable.

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Here’s upcoming Future Tense author Meredith Alling and Wendy by the pool

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With Meredith in very uncomfortable chairs by the poolside

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Big crowds at the panels, like this one for the “Year of Magical Thinking” panel I was on. It wasn’t about Joan Didion. It was about the first year of your debut book’s life.

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Always fun to make Myriam Gurba laugh. She has the best laugh. And the best hair.

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Sean Kilpatrick owns the floor (and kicks a chair across the room) for the Dark Fucking Wizard reading Friday night.

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Awesome to see Brandi Wells also read for Dark Fucking Wizard.

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Meredith Alling reads about an ancient ham at the Dark Fucking Wizard reading.

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Awesome to see Monica Drake’s book on this Small Press Distribution display.

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And to see Ooligan Press captain Abbey Gaterud (the day before I saw old friend Kait Heacock, who they’re publishing later this year).

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Before going to AWP, I found one lone copy of Chelsea Hodson’s highly sought-after chapbook, Pity the Animal, and packed it with the rest of he books. On Friday, while taking a break from the table, Meredith Alling (salesperson of the month!) sold it to an excited fan for $50. I wanted to give the money to Chelsea, but she’s too dang sweet and generous to take it.

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Ran into Kattywompus Press’s Sammy Greenspan after spotting Leah Umansky’s books on display.

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Finally met the fabulous Ashley Perez in person

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I didn’t get a lot of time to wander around the book fair, but I did get a few breaks thanks to Jamie, Meredith, and Darkmouth Strikes Again author Jay Ponteri. Here are the much anticipated books I’ll be reading soon by Natalie Eilbert, Ben Mirov, Chelsea Martin, Melissa Broder, John Colasacco, and Lincoln Michel.

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Saturday night wrapped up with the 17 Television/Future Tense Books reading. Meredith Alling killed it again at the Redwood (one of the highlight of the whole trip was seeing her read THREE times in three days–good practice for her book readings later this year).

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One of my favorite writers, Zoë Ruiz, at the Redwood

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Thanks again for everyone who stopped by to say hi and check out the Future Tense stuff. We even officially sold out of our print run for May-Lan Tan’s Girly.

I’m not sure if I’ll be going next year or not. Washington D.C. is great but maybe too far away. We’ll wait and see. But for now, the L.A. AWP was such a good one and will be one to remember for a long time. Thanks again, my friends.

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Some sweet action coming up on the horizon…

I’ll be going to New York at the end of the month to attend Book Expo of America, which is the big convention the publishing industry has every year. I’ve gone a few times before in the past, mostly as part of my Powell’s job as an events coordinator. But this time I’m going to hang out with people at the Tin House booth (I’ll be signing review copies of my novel for booksellers on Saturday afternoon, June 1st at 2:00). I’ll also be doing a reading that night with Joseph Riippi, Dawn Raffel, and others at Polly Bresnick’s reading series at Unnameable Books. Please come say hello.

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Polly Bresnick!

Next month, I’ll have a story in Poets & Writers Magazine. I interviewed a bunch of writers and got their secrets on how to give a good reading. It was a fun story and I’m excited to get into this magazine that I’ve been reading for years.

And in October (a month before the novel!), I’ll be included in the Best American Essays 2013 anthology, edited by Cheryl Strayed. I’m extremely honored to be in this series. You could say I’m on top of the world right now.

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The Samps Awards For Outstanding Literature

If you follow me on Goodreads or spy on me when I ride the Max to work, you know that I read a lot. Instead of doing an ordinary top ten kind of deal, I’ll pretend to give out some awards. Imagine it’s a foot tall, shiny gold, statue of me in a rocking chair with a book in one hand and a container of maple yogurt (with peanut butter M&Ms in it) in the other hand. And maybe I’m wearing a fuzzy cardigan or something. Kind of like this…

Also: replace racing form with The Listeners by Leni Zumas or something.

Also: replace racing form with The Listeners by Leni Zumas or something.

I’m linking my Goodreads reviews on some of these babies.

Crazy Poetry Is the Best Poetry Award: I read a lot of poetry in 2012. And lots of it was cray cray. From youngsters like Jenny Zhang and Gregory Sherl to a ton of old Russell Edson books I scored at work (it was a good year for finding used Edson rarities at Powell’s), poetry inspired me probably more than any kind of writing this year (besides of course, the creative nonfiction of Future Tense writers Shane Allison and Chloe Caldwell). But the most crazy goodness was found in Dan Magers’s Party Knife. Seeing him read at Bad Blood was also one of the highlights of the year. (Correction: I saw Dan at If Not For Kidnap. Geez, how many reading series can Portland have anyway!?)

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The Great Discovery Award: Recently my sharp eyes spotted a random late 80s-looking Knopf title while shelving lit books and I had the sneaking feeling that it was maybe something rare and cool. It was Campfires of the Dead, a short story collection by Peter Christopher. I did a quick Google search and found that he was an ex-Lish student. A quick read of some of the stories revealed some great sentences, so I snagged it! Looking forward to reading more of it. Unfortunately, Christopher died in 2008 of liver cancer and this was his only book.

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The New Obsession Award: The year before last I discovered Leonard Michaels and got all lovestruck with his works. This year, it was the poet Sharon Olds. I had no idea how great and intense (and sometimes explicit) her work is, but now I’m a superfan. Start off with The Gold Cell like I did. I read five of her books in 2012 and will probably read five more this year.

Worship the Sharon!

Worship the Sharon!

The Book I Wasn’t Sure About at First But Really Appreciate Now: I think while I was reading Zachary Schomburg’s latest, Fjords, I kept wanting it to get more sad or something, but Fjords has something else in mind. It has less interest in dwelling on matters of the heart and more gumption to just soak in a world of weirdness. I sort of held that against the book for some reason. But now I see that Schomburg (love the guy like a brother) was just stretching into a new direction and it’s just as amazing as anything he’s done. And it does have a lot of heart too.

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Best Odd Detour From What I Usually Read Award: I wanted to read a good coming-of-age novel and Chloe Caldwell convinced me to try Elizabeth Berg’s Joy School (from 1997). Apparently, she had read it when she was a teenager and was really into it. So I gave it a try and really liked it too. It has a funny voice and a quirky charm, not to mention an underlying sadness and a nice easy tone that anyone could love. I guess that’s why Elizabeth Berg is a bestselling author.

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The Lost in the Local Shuffle Award: Portland poet Leanne Grabel’s memoir, Brontosaurus, was overshadowed by the intensity of Lidia Yuknavitch’s Chronology of Water and the awesomeness of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, but damn–there’s some ultra-naked bravery going on in that book. The book has only been rated nine time on Goodreads? WTF!

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The Dusty Dust Jacket Awards: Of course, I didn’t get to read ALL the books I thought I would. You should see the stacks around this place! Some of the books I was really excited to get but still haven’t read much of yet: House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, The Sugar-Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner, The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson, and Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

Books I’m looking forward to reading in 2013: The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte, Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri, The Reenactments by Nick Flynn, Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan, and How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Oh–and hey: I’m reading at this cool event on January 12th. Come out and say hey!

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I had a great time at AWP this past week. There were so many people to see, meet, and say hello to that it’s really kind of an impossible mission to complete. Someone should make a video game out of it to inspire kids to become writers. It would be like: I have to make it to the Hobart table before they run out of magic juice (whiskey)…I have to make it to the Sun Magazine reading to see Cheryl Strayed and get 500 points…I have to find Lindsay Hunter and give her a high five…I have to avoid that dude with the long beard who keeps submitting manuscripts to me…I have to meet the guys from McSweeney’s and have a discussion about irony for 800 points and a bronze coin with Dave Eggers’s face on it…I have to try to remember who that guy is who wrote that poem I liked in that new lit journal…AAAAAARRRRRGGGH! I’ve been stabbed by Jamie Iredell!!

GAME OVER. (well, I imagine an AWP video game would be pretty close to that anyhow)

But AWP is also like a yearly class reunion made up mostly of your good friends and Internet celebrities.

Here are some of my AWP 2012 highlights in no particular order.

1. Seeing a killer line-up at the YesYes reading at Columbia, which included my pal Emily Kendal Frey and one of my favorite poets, Ben Mirov, whom I met for the first time. He was freaking great. He reads kind of like a loud robot (sorry, Ben, but it was AWESOME!) and I can’t wait for his next book from Octopus as well as this thing. Also reading that night was the surreal southern charmer Nate Slawson and the fantastic Mark Leidner, whose reading was the best I saw on the trip. His poem, Memoirs of a Secret Agent, was one of the weirdest and most entertaining things I’ve heard in a long time.

2. Chloe Caldwell’s book, Legs Get Led Astray, made its debut at the conference. CC and I hung out a lot and sold almost all of the copies we had of her book at the Future Tense table and at her readings. The book, which comes out officially next month on Future Tense, is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever edited. Here’s the happy author with one of our favorite people, Mark Cugini.

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3. I rented a car for Chicago. I guess I didn’t realize that it costs like $50 an hour to park in Chicago. Plus, the lady voice in the GPS would often send me on the wrong route, which made me lost and late to a few events. In hindsight though, I guess it was pretty entertaining to drive around aimlessly in a huge white Dodge Charger with Chloe Caldwell and Bryan Coffelt punching buttons on the GPS.

4. I snagged my contributor copy of the new Fairy Tale Review at their booth and chatted with the lovely weirdos, Alissa Nutting and Kate Bernheimer.

I'm all up in this beautiful thing.

5. Met some awesome folks for the first time like Molly Gaudry (The Lit Pub), Jimmy Chen (HTMLGIANT), Matthew Salesses (PANK), Joseph Riippi (“A Cloth House”), Jen Companik (Triquarterly), Zach Wilson (musician/writer whose couch I crashed on), Andrew Shuta (Spork Press), Gary Sheppard (Kitty Snacks), xTx (“Normally Special”), Marion Winik (Above Us Only Sky), Lily Hoang (HTMLGIANT), Sy Safransky (The Sun Magazine), and Sam Pink (“No Hellos Diet”).

6. Books! I didn’t really get a ton of books but I did get the following: Meat Heart by Melissa Broder, Treesisters by Joseph Riippi, a bunch of stuff from Spork Press, and an issue of Oxford American.

7. My friend, Joseph Lappie (who used to work with me at Powell’s back in the day, but now lives and does book arts in Iowa) gave me a stack of these beautiful mini-broadsides.  I’m trying to figure out how to distribute these to interested folks. If you want one, let me know. We’ll work out a deal.

Printed by the amazing Joseph Lappie. He's also printed work by Aaron Burch and Farrah Field recently.

8. I got to be on a pretty fun panel about chapbook publishing (specifically fiction chapbooks) and I got to do a fun reading with Adam Robinson, Vanessa Place, Amelia Gray, and special surprise guests, Chloe Caldwell and Blake Butler. Thanks to the Ear Eater folks for that awesomeness.

Thanks for reading, folks! I hope to make it to next year’s AWP as well–in Boston. The year after that it’ll be in Seattle. That means no rental car. Hallelujah!

 

When Did August Become the Busiest Month Ever?

This is one of the craziest Augusts I’ve had. It just seems like a ton of stuff was happening every week. Here were some of the highlights (and there’s still a couple of days left before September!):

B. Frayn and I had a long overdue dinner with the wonderful Cheryl Strayed and her husband, Brian Lindstrom.

Cheryl and B. on a hot August night

Went to the wedding of friend and Back Fence PDX co-babe, Melissa Lion.

Hung out with new Portland friends Leni Zumas and Luca Dipiero.

Read at the release party for the book, Nouns of Assemblage, with a bunch of other friends. I’m super happy to have a story in this killer book, published by my friend, Riley Michael Parker.

Read in Seattle with Lidia Yuknavitch and Kerry Cohen, then went out with pals Richard Chiem and Frances Dinger after.

Had some food and drink at the new Trader Vic’s with longtime friend from Chicago, Rob Christopher. (Psst: I didn’t really like Trader Vic’s)

Saw Ned Vizzini, Sabra Embury, and their baby at Powell’s and gave them a mini walking tour of Portland’s Pearl District.

Hosted a reading at Ampersand with Emily Kendal Frey, Sarah Bartlett, and Jamalieh Hailey.

Went to the big Plazm 20th anniversary party at Disjecta.

Played ping pong on the rooftop of Nancy Guppy’s Seattle condo (B. Frayn is the ping pong champ!).

Found the newest Future Tense acquisition (to be announced soon, for a summer 2012 release). And did some edits on other upcoming books.

Got to the revising, editing, and sequencing stage of the novel I’m working on.

Got a story accepted for the 2012 issue of The Fairy Tale Review.

I was interviewed a couple of times too. Including this one at Used Furniture Review.

Started getting ready for the Literary Death Match!

Also–I taught a flash memoir writing workshop, visited my son at his Youthcorps summer camp near Wenatchee, went to other friends’ readings, took my wife on some dates, paid rent on time, and went to the dentist!

ALSO ALSO– I made this list!

Talk to you in September!