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Last Build Date: Tue, 16 May 2017 20:38:56 +0000


Carys Davies’ Brief Drama of the Soul

Tue, 16 May 2017 05:05:14 +0000

photo: Emily Atherton The Redemption of Galen Pike, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award-winning collection from Carys Davies, takes readers to a lot of different places. The title story is set in a Colorado frontier town, where a virtuous Quaker woman comes each day to the cell where a murderer awaits his execution; other stories [...]

Life Stories #90: Barbara Schoichet

Tue, 02 May 2017 17:07:13 +0000

Barbara Schoichet got hit with a triple whammy just before her fiftieth birthday—she lost her job at a movie studio in Los Angeles, her girlfriend left her, and then her mother died. Don't Think Twice is the story of how she pushed back against all that by learning to ride a motorcycle, then flying out to New York to buy a Harley Davidson and ride it back home across the country. Almost immediately, she got first-hand experience of the camaraderie that exists between Harley drivers, through random acts of kindness on the road... and that was something she wasn't entirely prepared for: "To be honest with you, I kinda had a death wish. I didn't care whether I came back. I just wanted to divert my mind from all that was going on in my life. And one of the best ways to divert grief is to focus on something else. I focused on staying alive. It's interesting, because I had a death wish, but I was really searching for a life wish. I mean, the great thing about this trip was all I had to think about was staying upright and getting to the next town I was going to stop at, and looking at every nook and cranny in the road, making sure I didn't hit something. It really healed me, because by the time I got back, I thought I could do anything."

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Peter LaSalle’s Pursuit of Borges

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 03:24:07 +0000

photo: Alex S. MacLean There’s some odd little moments in Peter LaSalle’s Sleeping Mask. And I’m not just thinking about the story where a man walks out of an airplane lavatory and slowly begins to realize he’s somehow wound up on an otherwise empty plane, still en route to… well, he’s not quite sure. There’s also [...]

Sonia Taitz’s American Dream

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:59:35 +0000

photo: H&H Photographers I first met Sonia Taitz back in 2012, when we recorded an episode of Life Stories to discuss her memoir, The Watchmaker’s Daughter. Since then, she’s been focusing on fiction, and her latest novel, Great with Child, actually explores some of the same psychological and emotional themes that she previously wrote about in [...]

Mike Barnes: A Room in the Dark

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 04:55:04 +0000

photo: Segbingway As I was reading the opening chapters of Mike Barnes’ The Adjustment League, I was reminded of the private eye novels I’d read in my formative years, real classic hardboiled stuff. Obviously, I knew that wasn’t accidental, but I could also see that wasn’t all there was to it—in addition to the surface familiarity [...]

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s “NYC Novel”

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:39:57 +0000

photo: Eric Tortora Plato It’s funny: I wouldn’t have thought of Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Harmless Like You as a “New York novel,” exactly, even though, as she concedes in the essay below, a good part of the novel is set there, nearly half a century in the past. Part of my thinking is that it’s such [...]

Read This: Five Came Back

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 20:33:37 +0000

(I originally wrote this review of Five Came Back when it came out in 2014, but the editor who assigned it to me didn’t know it had already been assigned to someone else. So I set it aside… But now that Netflix is about to unveil a documentary series based on the book, as well [...]

Deborah Willis: Misfits, Reapers, & Gothic

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 18:36:34 +0000

photo: Memotime Photograpy I love the weird moments in The Dark and Other Love Stories, the short story collection by Deborah Willis. The lonely guy who winds up letting the crow that flies into his apartment stay, the little boy in an Optimus Prime outfit whose father forces him to egg an empty house on Halloween, [...]

Mariana Enriquez: Robert Aickman’s Beautiful Uncertainty

Fri, 10 Mar 2017 06:58:04 +0000

photo: Nora Lezano As you read the stories in Mariana Enriquez’s Things We Lost in the Fire, you’ll start to feel an unnerving sensation at the back of your mind, sometimes poking its way to the surface. Stories like “The Dirty Kid” or “The Intoxicated Years” aren’t horror; they aren’t even particularly supernatural. But they’ll [...]

Life Stories #89: Jamie Brickhouse

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:30:40 +0000

I've known Jamie Brickhouse for a long time; in his former life as a book publicist, he was someone to whom I'd frequently reach out when I wanted to talk to... well, people like him in his current life as the author of Dangerous When Wet, "a memoir of booze, sex, and my mother," as the subtitle sums it up. So, among the many other things we talk about in this episode, we discuss how the publishing industry was a place where he was able to hide his alcoholism in plain sight for a long time—and, too, how knowing how hard it is to get attention for a good book didn't deter him from writing with an eye to publication. We also talk about his recent efforts converting a 271-page book into a sixty-minute solo theatrical show, as he's recently done for New York City's FRIGID Festival. So there's a lot of stories in the book that aren't in the show—and that, even in a slightly longer conversation than usual, we didn't get a chance to touch upon. You'll just have to read the book to find out about them!

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