Monday, August 27, 2007

Charles Baxter

Charlie's coming to town Wordstock) in November, I'm so happy. I know I'll only get to see him for a minute or two, but hey, it's better than nothing. Do I sound smitten? You bet I am.

I workshopped with Charles Baxter last month at Tin House, and only now can I begin to talk about it. He began each day with a half hour craft lecture. I took notes, and typed them all up and I read and re-read them. Some of the information is in his newest book The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot.

It was a mixed group and Charlie was helpful and brilliant with all the stories and chapters, not just the ones that were obviously well-written and emotionally exciting. All of the work. ALL. Amazing.

Okay. Guess I really can't talk sensibly about working with Charlie yet. Oh wait, here's an example. During our private conference on my story I found myself talking about a line near the end just as if it were a published story, or a story by someone else. And I was excited by what I had found. And so was he.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

David Long's The Inhabited World in paperback

David Long's fine novel, The Inhabited World, is now out in paperback. I reviewed it on December 12 2006:

I finished reading The Inhabited World by David Long and I knew that it was going to be hard to find anything else to read. What could top this? A ghost story, a love story, great setting (the Pacific Northwest), sex, childhood, and suspense? And all in prose so clean and elegant that is is breathtaking. Why hasn't this book made all the bestseller charts? I have no idea. This is a darn good read. Strong begining, compelling middle, and perfect-o ending.

Here's the premise: dead guy gently haunts the house where he killed himself, and spies on the new owner, a woman who is escaping her addictive relationship with a married man.

Here's a sample of the prose:
"Day and night, he navigates around the house and yard, seeing what there is to see, taking stock. As often as he's made this circuit he's not sick of it; being sick of things is no longer in his repertoire - it's as if the exact site of boredom in his brain ahs been drilled out. When he reaches the property line, he stops. Why not keep walking, another step, shoe on gravel? But a force like gravity keeps him here - the farther he gets from the house, the weaker his resolve to leave it."

And there you have it, there the author neatly sets up the parameters of the haunting. Wow. I'm a fan (dancing and waving arms in air) okay, not really because actually I'm sitting here typing this so that you will trot right out and read this book.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grace Paley, RIP 1922-2007

Grace Paley has died. The stars are brighter, we are poorer.

Washington Post article

REA bio.

Paley was a poet and short story writer of the first order. If you haven't read her, now is the time. I suggest any of the stories in


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jack Straw Productions, Seattle

Jack Straw Productions
"is the Northwest's only non-profit multidisciplinary audio arts center. A community-based resource since 1962, we provide a production facility that is unlike any other in the region for local artists who work creatively with sound.

Jack Straw focuses on annual artist residencies through our Artist Support Program, our Writers Program, and our Gallery Residency Program; art and technology education for all ages; arts heritage partnerships; and radio production....

The Jack Straw Foundation was founded in 1962 by a group of educators, artists, and journalists with the goal of starting KRAB-FM, one of the first non-commercial radio stations in the country. The station's main purpose was to be a forum for the discussion and presentation of science, arts and public affairs programs...

Broadcasting from locales ranging from an old donut shop to an abandoned firehouse, KRAB struggled and thrived for twenty-two years. Its signature was unique and audacious programming.

The Jack Straw Foundation also started KBOO in Portland, Oregon."

I worked at KRAB Radio in the 1970s, cataloging the ethnic music collection. On index cards.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ogden Nash


Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.

from The Private Dining Room, Little, Brown, 1952