My poem, “There is a ghost,” is being published in a new anthology by Wingless Dreamer. Big thanks to Ruchi Acharya for taking it. You can pre-order it here.
I’ve come back to Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot after more than 20 years away. It’s a total pain in the ass to read. I’ve read his other big ones more recently and found them riveting. I suppose my problem with this one is I don’t find Petersburg’s interpersonal intrigues among its 19th-century elites as intriguing as I once did. I find them frustrating, like adolescents. Still, there’s something in The Idiot that makes me keep going, and it’s the Prince, who’s at the center of it all but who’s also the book’s main observer. He’s presented as the pure-of-heart innocent, “the idiot” who’s not really an idiot at all. What’s the most interesting to me now, after all this time away, is the insight into the Prince’s mind’s workings written sometimes across several pages. This is something that influenced me, and stayed with me for a few years after the initial reading, but I guess I’d forgotten. Now, it reappears like an old friend reminding me: You can go in-depth into a character’s consciousness, and it can be more interesting than the physical action around him.
Also I’m reminded of this masterpiece, maybe not as pure of heart:
I read an excerpt this morning on The Center for Fiction’s site. This looks to be a fascinating read. The Center is celebrating its release next week on the 20th.
In case you haven’t heard:
Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 18 (10am-6pm, rain or shine)
BKBF Children’s Day: Literary Celebration for Families and Children
Saturday September 17th (10am-4pm, rain or shine)
Full Week of Literary “Bookend” Events
September 12th – 18th
The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace.
AUTHORS INCLUDE Margaret Atwood, Margo Jefferson, Faith Erin Hicks, Russell Banks, Phoebe Gloeckner, Chester Brown, Salman Rushdie, Libba Bray, Stephanie Danler, Gayle Forman, Pete Hamill, Jacqueline Woodson, Angela Flournoy, Helen Garner, Karin Slaughter, Bruce Schneier, Rebecca Traister, Marjorie Liu, Sayed Kashua, Esmeralda Santiago, Thomas Frank, Ralph Nader, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Yusef Komunyakaa, Joyce Carol Oates, A.O. Scott, Hua Hsu, Rob Sheffield, Yoss, Jessica Valenti, Cecily von Ziegesar, Ocean Vuong, Ed Yong and hundreds more.
Sackett Street Writers Workshop
Moderated by: Julia Fierro
On the Docket:
Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of Here Comes the Sun(Norton/Liveright, July 2016), which received a starred Kirkus Review and was picked as one of the best books to read this summer and beyond by New York Times, NPR, BBC, BuzzFeed,Book Riot, Bookish, Miami Herald, Elle, O Magazine, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, Flavorwire, After Ellen,BookPage, Cosmopolitan, Brooklyn Magazine, among others.New York Times book reviewer, Jennifer Senior describes Here Comes the Sun as a “lithe, artfully-plotted debut.” Dennis-Benn has also been recently nominated for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Nicole’s work has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine, Electric Literature, Lenny Letter, Catapult, Red Rock Review, Kweli Literary Journal,Mosaic, Ebony, and the Feminist Wire. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, she lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.
Flynn Berry is a graduate of the Michener Center, Brown University, has been awarded a Yaddo residency, and is an alum of Sackett Street Writers. Under the Harrow is her first novel and will be published in Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and the UK. NPR’s Maureen Corrigan wrote a rave review of the novel for the Washington Post, “Enough with comparisons: Under the Harrow is such a superbly crafted psychological thriller, it deserves to be celebrated for its own singular excellence.” Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs, said of the book, “Once I started reading Under the Harrow, I couldn’t stop. It’s like Broadchurch written by Elena Ferrante. I’ve been telling all my friends to read it—the highest compliment. Flynn Berry is a deeply interesting writer.”
Taylor Larsen is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction writing. Taylor has taught fiction writing at Columbia University and the Sackett Street Writers Workshop, as well as literature courses for Pace University. Taylor is an author at Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for her novel, Stranger, Father, Beloved, which released in July of 2016. Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, Taylor currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband. “A mesmerizing, unsparing exploration of one man’s descent, told in subtle, precise language that is reminiscent at times of Raymond Carver, Haruki Murakami, and Carson McCullers, but entirely Larsen’s own creation; a wonderful debut.”–Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Kim Brooks’ first novel, The Houseguest, is now available from Counterpoint Press. Her memoir, Small Animals: A Memoir of Parenthood and Fear, will be published in 2017 by Flatiron Books/ Macmillan. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, One Story, Five Chapters and other journals and her essays have appeared in Salon, New York Magazine, and Buzzfeed. She lives in Chicago with her husband and children and teaches online workshops for Sackett Street Writers.
Julia Fierro is the author of the novel Cutting Teeth, published in 2014 and called “a comically energetic debut” by The New Yorker. Her next novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, will be published in June 2017. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she founded The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop in 2002, now a creative home to over 3,000 writers and named “New York City’s best writing class” by Time Out NY, L Magazine, and Brooklyn Magazine; and a “Top Alternative to MFA programs” by Poets & Writers. Workshops are offered throughout NYC and online. Her work has been published inPoets & Writers, Glamour, Psychology Today, and other publications, and she has been profiled in the L Magazine,Brooklyn Magazine, The Observer and The Economist. She lives in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
I don’t tend to read memoirs, but I picked this one up after having read excerpts from her previous book, Just Kids. I haven’t found a book that kept me this excited from beginning to end since maybe Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich, even though it didn’t quite deliver all the goods, but that’s another write-up I probably won’t get to.
Smith’s book travels as much as she does, across continents, from New York, to Iceland, to Morocco, to Berlin, to Japan; from the West Village to Rockaway Beach; from the present to her time in Michigan raising a family with Fred “Sonic” Smith, former guitar player for the MC5 who died of heart failure in 1994. She mentions many of her favorite things in great detail—Arctic exploration, cafés, Japanese film, favorite authors whose works she’ll read in their entirety, it seems, references to lives of other artists. Memories of her late husband are the most engaging parts of the book, because they seem to me the most personal.
I was left with a renewed sense that the world is a place to explore, and there are many things to do, many things to be excited about, even when we lose people and places we love and move on to other things. These experiences might not necessarily be the same for me or for you as for Smith, but her book makes the world feel like a playground that we should all try to visit with the same sense of wonder and excitement she does.
This is happening 7pm at BookCourt, Monday June 27.
Join Sackett Street Writers Workshop and the Minorities in Publishing podcast for a discussion and Q&A with publishing professionals.
About the Event:
What exactly is the difference between marketing and publicity? Will my editor hate me if I need more time on edits? What will an agent expect when I sign with them? How do I query an agent? How do I even get my foot in the door of publishing? Questions like these along with many others will be tackled in “The Realities of Publishing” talk moderated by Jennifer Baker (creator of Minorities in Publishing, production editor) with Todd Hunter (editor, Atria Books), Ebony LaDelle (marketing manager, Simon & Schuster), Diana Pho (editor, Tor), Connor Goldsmith (literary agent, Fuse Literary Agency), and Stephanie Jimenez (associate publicist, Riverhead Books) on their experiences as well as what to expect as someone climbing the ranks in publishing or as a writer entering the business. A Q&A will be held after the panel and wine will be served.
On the Docket:
Sackett Street Writers Workshop founder Julia Fierro hosts a celebration for the book-releases of SSWW instructors and alums, and some of this year’s most anticipated and acclaimed novels and story collections.
Wine and words free and open to the public!
Tony Tulathimutte is the author of the novel Private Citizens. He has written for VICE, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, n+1, AGNI, Salon, Threepenny Review, and others. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received an O. Henry Award, a Truman Capote fellowship, a MacDowell Colony fellowship, and the Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award.
Lynn Steger Strong was born and raised in South Florida. She teaches at Columbia and Pratt and lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Rebecca Schiff graduated from Columbia University’s MFA program, where she received a Henfield Prize. Her stories have appeared in n+1, Electric Literature, The American Reader, Fence, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn.
Caroline Zancan is a graduate of Kenyon College and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Zancan is an editor at Henry Holt, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
Kaitlyn Greenidge received her MFA from Hunter College. She was a Bread Loaf scholar, a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Artist-in-Residence, a Johnson State College Visiting Emerging Writer and received a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature. Her work has appeared in Transition Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, Kweli Journal, the Believer, The Feminist Wire, At Length, Green Mountains Review and American Short Fiction. Originally from Boston, Kaitlyn now lives in Brooklyn and is a NY Writers Coalition Workshop Leader. Her debut novel is We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books).
Jessica Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups, food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. She graduated from Yale University with a concentration in fiction writing and wrote the restaurant review for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Food Whore is her first novel.
New Crown Heights reading series, from their FB page:
Hope you can join us for great lit and brews at the 4th edition of the Manhattanville Reading Series, a monthly happening for emerging writers at Crown Heights cafe Manhattanville Coffee.
April’s featured reader is innovative short fiction star and Electric Literature editor-in-chief Lincoln Michel (Upright Beasts). He’ll be joined by up-and-comers Kyle Lucia Wu (Joyland, The Rumpus), Annabel Graham (Atticus Review, Corium), and Julia Phillips (The Rumpus, The Brooklyn Quarterly).
Manhattanville is a sister series to Crown Heights’s long-running lit event, the Franklin Park Reading Series. If you’re interested in reading at an upcoming event, please send 3-5 pages of prose and a short bio to email@example.com. We’re seeking writers who’ve published work online or in print but haven’t yet released a book.
Manhattanville Reading Series
Tuesday, April 26, 7:30-9pm
167 Rogers Ave, at the corner of St. Johns
Brooklyn, NY 11216
More on our authors:
LINCOLN MICHEL is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature and the co-editor of Gigantic. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Oxford American, NOON, Tin House, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Believer, the New York Times Book Review, the Guardian, and elsewhere. He’s the author of Upright Beasts, a collection of short stories, and the co-editor of Gigantic Worlds, an anthology of science flash fiction.
KYLE LUCIA WU is a writer living in New York. She has an MFA in fiction from The New School. Her work has appeared in Joyland, The Rumpus, and Interview Magazine, among other places. She is the managing editor of Joyland.
ANNABEL GRAHAM is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer, filmmaker and artist. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in CutBank, Cosmonauts Avenue, Corium, and Atticus Review, among other places. Her essays and journalism have appeared in Autre, Surface, and Out of Order. A finalist for the 2015 Montana Prize in Fiction and the 2015 SLS-Disquiet Literary Prize, she is the assistant fiction editor of No Tokens.
JULIA PHILLIPS has published short stories in Crab Orchard Review, The Rumpus, The Brooklyn Quarterly, and the Antioch Review. A Fulbright grant recipient in Creative Writing, Pushcart Prize nominee, and finalist for the Glimmer Train Short-Story Award for New Writers, she lives in Crown Heights.