Brief Update

Interview, Random

I talked with Benjamin Johncock about his excellent debut novel, The Last Pilot, for Publishers Weekly. I highly recommend Ben’s book. It’s a great read.

Over at Barrelhouse, I took part in a panel piece on the FX comedy Louie. We got really into dissecting the narrative elements of the show, and we all admitted we’d go for the hot pour. UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: 6/6/15 Here’s the second half of the Louie panel discussion.

A Photo and a Title End Up on Buzzfeed


A funny little thing: A week ago, my photo ended up on Buzzfeed‘s post “33 Writers Share The Books That Inspired Them To Write.”

Backstory: While at AWP, I ran into Isaac, the editor at Buzzfeed Books and one of the nicest guys on the planet, about an hour before catching my airport shuttle. We were talking about, well, books, and he asked me to write down a title that helped shape me as a writer. “For a project,” he said. Off the top of my head, I thought of Where the Wild Things Are, which may seem like a strange choice, but it’s true. I think Wild Things, like the book There’s a Nightmare in My Closet, was one of the first children’s stories I remember that paired monsters with the concepts of empathy and emotion. Looking at my own writing today, I see that narrative thread constantly.

Anyway, he snapped a photo and it ended up on the website. Here’s a link to the piece. There are no names attached to the photos, but you can find me. Also, you may be able to spot some recognizable faces, like Will Chancellor and Julia Fierro, who both released acclaimed novels last year.

Intro to Lit Reading List


I’m teaching a section of Introduction to Literature this semester, and a few friends asked about my syllabus. While I’m not going to bore anyone with such a dry document, I am willing to post the class reading list here, in (more or less) the order we’re discussing the work.

  • Matthew Dickman, “Slow Dance”
  • Joyce Carol Oates, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
  • Marie Howe, “What the Living Do”
  • Ernest Hemingway, “The Killers”
  • Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
  • ZZ Packer, “Brownies”
  • Kathy Fish, “Shoebox”
  • Anton Chekhov, “Oysters”
  • Gray Jacobik, “Skirts”
  • Denis Johnson, “Emergency”
  • Edward P. Jones, “The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed”
  • Elizabeth Alexander, “Tina Green”
  • Mary Ruefle, “The Hand”
  • Abby Frucht, “The Empiricist”
  • Cynthia Ozick, “A Drugstore In Winter”
  • Raymond Carver, “Fever”
  • Robert Coover, “The Babysitter”
  • Richard Ford, “Rock Springs”
  • Haruki Murakami, “The Second Bakery Attack”
  • Jamaal May, “The Gun Joke”
  • James Salter, “Ahknilo”
  • Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell-Tale Heart”
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”
  • Shirley Jackson, “Pillar of Salt”
  • James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”
  • Lydia Davis, “Jury Duty,” “For Sixty Cents,” & “Traveling with Mother”
  • Richard Brautigan, “1/3, 1/3, 1/3”
  • Michael Oppenheimer, “Paring Knife”
  • William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”
  • Gary Gildner, “Fingers”
  • Randall Jarrell, “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”
  • Anton Chekhov, “Misery”
  • Douglas Glover, “The Poet Fishbein”
  • Ron Carlson, “Bigfoot Stole My Wife”
  • Zadie Smith, “You Are In Paradise”
  • Dick Allen, “To a Woman Half a World Away”
  • Donald Hall, “White Apples”
  • Emily Dickinson, “There’s a certain slant of light”
  • Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
  • William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”
  • Quim Monzo, “Praise”
  • George Saunders, “My Flamboyant Grandson”
  • Annie Dillard, “This Is the Life”
  • Anton Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”
  • Herman Melville, “Bartleby, the Scrivener”
  • Katherine Anne Porter, “Flowering Judas”
  • David Foster Wallace, “Consider the Lobster”
  • Brian Doyle, “Joyas Voladoras”
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”
  • Julio Cortazar, “Axolotl”
  • Aimee Bender, “The Rememberer”
  • Carlos Fuentes, “Chac-Mool”

There are a few other pieces, but they’re part of midterms/finals, and I don’t want anyone snooping around to receive an unfair advantage, so I’m not including them here.

The big list of what I read in 2014

Random, Uncategorized

As far as I can remember, these are the books I read (or re-read) this calendar year. Most are new; some are older.

Particular gems published in 2014 are in bold.

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Young Skins by Colin Barrett
  • Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
  • Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha
  • The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
  • Train Shots by Vanessa Blakeslee
  • Adventures in Immediate Unreality by Max Blecher
  • A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall by Will Chancellor
  • Man V Nature by Diane Cook
  • Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires by Julio Cortazar
  • Academy Street by Mary Costello
  • Every Kiss a War by Leesa Cross-Smith
  • Outline by Rachel Cusk
  • Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis
  • Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo
  • The Family Cannon by Halina Duraj
  • The Wilds by Julia Elliott
  • Together We Can Bury It by Kathy Fish
  • Dreaming Rodin by John Michael Flynn
  • When Mystical Creatures Attack! by Kathleen Founds
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • The Up-Down by Barry Gifford
  • Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook
  • After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Airships by Barry Hannah
  • Ray by Barry Hannah
  • The Big Seven by Jim Harrison
  • The Spark and the Drive by Wayne Harrison
  • The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
  • The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
  • If It Is Your Life by James Kelman
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Sleeping with Gypsies by Ginny MacKenzie
  • The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
  • I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
  • Birds of America by Lorrie Moore
  • The City Under the Skin by Geoff Nicholson
  • Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secrets by Ondjaki
  • Wouldn’t You Like to Know by Pamela Painter
  • Twenty-Something by Tatiana Ryckman
  • Skylight by Jose Saramago
  • By the Book by Diane Schoemperlen
  • Antigone by Sophocles
  • All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm
  • The Last Reader by David Toscana
  • The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya
  • The City Son by Samrat Upadhyay
  • The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg
  • The Least Cricket of Evening by Robert Vivian
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West  
  • Mobile Library by David Whitehouse
  • The Elusive Moth by Ingrid Winterbach
  • The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink