Monday, April 30, 2007

Hilary Mantel

"I have sat, at the moment of purest heartbreak, in mental agony, and put my thoughts on paper, and then I have taken those thoughts and allocated them to one of my characters, largely for comic effect."


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Margot Livesey

"Looking at other nineteenth century novels - Wuthering Heights,
Dracula, The Woman in White
- I discovered a startling number of
inter-locking narrators, diaries found in locked boxes, death-bed
confessions and, of course, letters. These authors knew that their
incredible tales needed authenticating and they approached their
readers like a prosecutor a jury, bombarding us with testimonials from
expert witnesses.

In this century such devices have fallen out of fashion but not because we have become more credulous as readers. If anything, our credulity has declined and we are liable to read a letter in fiction as yet more fiction....

Not only have we grown wary of devices but we have decided to privilege memory over imagination, or so it seems to me."


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rebecca McClanahan

There's a fine interview with Rebecca online at The Kenyon Review. Rebecca teaches in the Queens MFA program in North Carolina, and I learned so much from her. Here's a chunk of the interview:

RM: Memoir (be it essay-length or book-length) is the most difficult genre I’ve ever worked in—

NZ: How so? Sorry to interrupt; I’m just surprised by your answer.

RM: Probably because it requires the most destruction, particularly in the early stages of the draft. One has to destroy—or at least deconstruct—what happened before one can make a text out of that happening. Steven Harvey says it better in his essay “The Art of Self”: “Only the text, shed of ourselves and hammered into shape, can redeem us. The enemy of the text, then, is what happened....What happened may matter to us, but it is lost on us if we do not transform it into art.”

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fiction on Demand

Fiction on Demand is a good place to buy literary mags, and to find out how much postage you are going to need to send out that new short story. Check out the Submission Calculator.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Writers on Writing podcasts

Did everyone else already know about this? I must have been standing behind the door when the list went out. Anyhoo, here's the link for Writers on Writing.

Some of the delights are Alice Hoffman & Sigrid Nunez, Wendy Lesser & Aimee Liu, Ron Carlson & Barry Kibrick, Kris Rainer Dart & Diane Middlebrook, Michael Datcher & Francine Prose, Chitra Divakaruni, Ginger Strand & TC Boyle.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Katie Ford & Jean Thompson at Reed, Thursday April 26, 8pm

from the website:

Visiting assistant professor at Reed, Katie Ford grew up in Portland and holds degrees from Whitman College, Harvard University, and The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is the author of Deposition, published by Graywolf Press. She is poetry editor of the New Orleans Review and is on-leave from Loyola University, New Orleans, where she has lived and taught since 2003.

Jean Thompson, visiting professor at Reed, is the author of four novels, most recently City Boy (Simon and Schuster, 2004), and three collections of short fiction, including Who Do You Love (Harcourt, 1999), a finalist for the National Book Award. Thompson has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has taught writing at the University of Illinois, San Francisco State University, Wichita State University, the Warren Wilson College M.F.A. program, and Northwestern University.

8 p.m., Psychology 105.

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Collegium Musicum & Reed Chorus, Sunday April 22, 7:30pm

This concert at Reed in Kaul is free.

from the website:

"Isn't it Romantic?" part two, includes Brahms' Zigeunerlieder (Gypsy Songs), Op. 103, performed by the Reed Chorus with pianist Dewey Kim. The Collegium Musicum sings 19th-century choral pieces by a variety of German and English composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Stanford, Parry, and Sullivan. Both groups are directed by Virginia Hancock; student conductor Wil Horsley and pianist Jamie Barton also participate.

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Sherman Alexie at Wonder Ballroom on Friday, April 27

Sherman Alexie will be reading along with music played by the Third Angle New Music Ensemble. Tickets are $25-$30. The Wonder Ballroom is at 128 NE Russell. I do so wish he were reading alone.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jane Gardam

Every novelist knows the urge to burst out with what they're up to and learns that only a fool does so. This isn't because ideas get stolen (though they do( but because the idea for a novel,when dropped into conversation sounds so banal...'A novel about a pop group? Really? A novel about a group of ageing men? In Wales? A novel about biting into a little cake? Three volumes of it? Taking about a year to read?'

The Agony and the Ego: The Art and Strategy of Fiction Writing Explored, edited by Clare Boylan, Penguin, 1993


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tax day

my friend Robin in Chapel Hill sent this:

The local bar was so sure that its bartender was the
strongest man around that they offered a standing
$1000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until
all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to
a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of
juice out would win the money.

Many people had tried over time (weightlifters,
longshoremen, etc.) but nobody could do it. One day
this scrawny little man came into the bar, wearing
thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny
squeaky voice "I'd like to try the bet." After the
laughter had died down, the bartender said OK, grabbed
a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the
wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man.

But the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as
the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six
drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the
bartender paid the $1000, and asked the little man,
"What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a
weightlifter, what?"

The man replied, "I'm an IRS Agent."


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lucille Clifton

Homage to My Hips

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
pretty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Ogden Nash


Who wants my jellyfish?
I'm not sellyfish!

Parents Keep Out: Elderly Poems for Youngerly Readers, 1933


Friday, April 06, 2007

Rose City Used Book Fair, May 4-5, 2007

I'm marking it on my calendar already.

Rose City Used Book Fair
1315 SE 20th

from the website:

An unpretentious book fair

1000s of books from Independent Booksellers

& Used Books

& Bargain Books

& Collectible Books

& Prints

& Ephemera

& Seminars

& Book Appraisals

Admission: $2 or $1 + 1 can of food for the Oregon Food Bank

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

books for newcomers to the NW

Are you considering moving to Portland, Seattle, Eugene, Sequim, Astoria, or Ilwaco? Then check out this guidebook.

Here's a sample, from the Planning section for Newcomers:

Two Weeks Before Leaving
Read Sometimes a Great Notion.
Increase caffeine intake by 50%.
Increase NPR intake by 50%.
Order waterproof, breathable rain gear.

One Week Before Leaving
Begin drinking caffeine at night.
Hug a tree.
Read Stihl catalog.
Take shower with your clothes on to acclimate yourself.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Time Capsule

You can enter a date in the Time Capsule and see what was happening then, which is how I know that the top books for 1949 included King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. One book each for children, adolescents, and grownups.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Knitting Classes at Mabel's Cafe & Knittery

The knitting class lineup at Mabel's is stellar. I'm particularly interested in the Saturday Smorgasbord of Knitting Skills, actually called Skills Smorgasbord. Offerings include Cabling, Two Socks on Two Circulars, Intarsia, Magic Loop, Gauge & Blocking, Beginning to End (casting on & off) and other subjects. $20 for one workshop (2 hours) or for $60 you get 4 workshops. So of course, I have signed up for four. All taught by Eva, from whom I learned Stranded Colorwork.

Mabel's is my local yarn parlour, wool emporium, what is known in the trade as my LYS (Local Yarn Store). I like the selection of yarn, which includes Bartlett, Frog Creek, Manos, Debbie Bliss and Cascade. I like the friendly and knowledgeable staff, heck I just plain like the atmosphere.

One of my favorite treats, when I have been very very good, is to settle down at Mabel's with a latte or beer, and knit and chat. Lots of friendly knitters and friends of knitters drop in, and there is always good conversation about the art treasures of Florence, or how to become a Registered Midwife, or how to fix the crooked thumb on a mitten.

Writing is a solitary business; it's nice to get out and talk about something else, and it's good to be able to create something tangible. Right now I have sock fever, so that's what I have OTN (on the needles) as well as the beginning of a vest.