Salvatore Pane

Tag: Annalemma

Here’s Everything I’ve Recommended to Fiction Students So Far This Semester

So, I’m running this advanced fiction workshop and it’s all like woah. One thing I like to do in a classroom setting like this is meet individually with every student after they workshop. I remember very vividly going to see Tom Bailey and Gary Fincke in undergrad and how reassuring and empowering it was to know that writers I really respected were taking my work seriously (not that the students necessarily respect me in the same way I outright worshiped Tom and Gary). In my conferences, I always bring a marked up copy of their manuscript along with a one page note with strengths and prescription. But there’s also, usually, a note at the end with some writers and journals to read, and maybe even a few places to begin submitting to. At AWP, Amy Hempel said one of her favorite parts of running a workshop is putting an emerging writer with a published one, giving a young writer the book they absolutely have to read right this second. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job too, and I’ve kept track of what I’ve recommended so far.

Keep in mind, we read a lot of stuff in class. So I rarely touch on writers we’ve discussed ad nauseam like George Saunders or Lorrie Moore or Gary Shteyngart or Amelia Gray. Also, it’s only halfway through the semester. So there’s still a lot of time. Basically, what I’m trying to convey here, is this isn’t a list of the best writers for undergrads. It’s merely the group that this particular class needed to read at this particular moment. When there’s something lacking in student work that is absolutely nailed in a story collection or novel, students need to see that–in fact, there are a few writers on here I respect without actually enjoying their work. So, without further hand-wringing, here’s what I’ve recommended so far this semester.

Writers

Andre Dubus (5)
Ray Carver (4)
Wells Tower (4)
Alissa Nutting (2)
xTx (2)
Bobbie Ann Mason (2)
Emma Straub (2)
Sean Ennis (2)
Stewart O’ Nan (2)
Adam Levin
Michael Chabon
Trey Ellis
Tobias Wolff
Matt Bell
Don Lee
Ethel Rohan
Tina May Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips
Bret Easton Ellis
Jay McInerney
Douglas Coupland
Martin Amis
Cormac McCarthy
Joshua Ferris
A.M. Homes
Rick Moody
Jonathan Lethem
James Alan McPherson
Joyce Carol Oates
Deborah Eisenberg
Cathy Day
Richard Russo
Blake Butler
Miranda July
Aleksandar Hemon
Shane Jones
Jeanette Winterson
Philip Roth
Deborah Willis
ZZ Packer

Journals

The Fourth River (4)
Flatmancrooked (4)
FRiGG (2)
PANK (2)
Bluestem Magazine (2)
Weave (2)
The Emprise Review (2)
Metazen (2)
Hot Metal Bridge
Annalemma
Barrelhouse
Dark Sky
Fairy Tale Review
The Good Men Project
Wigleaf
elimae

Comics

Fables

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AWP 2011 Aftermath: Woah Now Hey Mr. Rager Mr. Rager Tell Me Where You’re Going Tell Us Where You’re Headed I’m Off On An Adventure Mr. Rager Tell Me Some Of Your Stories Tell Us Of Your Travels

AWP 2011 is over. Highlights, in no particular order, below.

1. Dancing in a group including xTx, Roxane Gay, my roommates Adam Reger and Robert Yune to the song “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight” by the Outfield at HTMLGiant’s Literature party amid a crowd of hip motherfuckers.

2. The Gary Shtenygart/Amy Hempel reading/convo. Shtenygart is so fucking funny in person. I want him to be my older brother.

3. During my Future of the Book Review panel with Emily Testa, Irina Reyn and Paul Morris, some dude totally called shit on us while walking up the aisle of the ballroom and sporting sunglasses.

4. I love Emma Straub. I met her. We talked a few times. She signed my copy of her book Other People We Married. Then one night I was returning to the hotel drunk and saw her chatting with some reasonable humans and I shouted, “Emma Straub knows!” She nodded. She knew.

5. At Recessions, I met Amber Sparks and while drinking a 20 ounce Bud Light explained Spider-Man’s wife’s miscarriage from the mid-nineties and the complexities of Pokemon cards.

6. One night later I had a similar conversation with Amber’s husband in the bathroom of Ireland’s Four Provinces.

7. Aubrey Hirsch and I repeatedly asking people if they were the html giant.

8. Seeing Steve Almond, Michael Czyzniejewski, Nicolle Elizabeth and all the Smokelong/Corium/Spindle readers read at the Black Squirrel which has all these 80’s Marvel comics on the walls.

9. Jennifer Sky arm wrestling Tao Lin.

10. I finally met Brian Oliu! We walked through the hotel and parted ways outside, and only later did I realize not once did we bring up Nintendo games as expected.

11. Watching Joel Coggins puke in an Arlington trash can.

12. Getting a Write Like a Motherfucker mug from Isaac Fitzgerald and the awesome Rumpus folks.

13. Chandler Chugg-a-lugg

14. The Annalemma/Pank/MLP reading. One of the funnest readings ever.

15. The Myth of Relevance Panel.

16. This e-mail from Lauren Becker received at 3:28 am:

Subject: pegleg?

Body: argh, matey! 🙂

17. Consuming a mass amount of beer every night for four straight days.

18. Proposing to a woman named Polaroid on the Literature Party dance floor after she literally told me she would be “the Alice Munro to your Charles Baxter.”

19. Convincing a woman at Literature Party, albeit briefly, that I was Sugar from the Rumpus. Called her sweetpea and everything.

20. Cathy Day mocking Steve Gillies for being 20 years older than me.

Guide to AWP 2011 Part 2: The Off-Site Events

Ok. You knew this was coming. In my first AWP 2011 post, I highlighted a ton of panels that I really hope to attend this year in DC. Now it’s time for the off-site events. For those of you unaware, these are usually readings hosted in bars by literary journals and presses and all kinds of interesting organizations. A lot of times these are more fun than the actual panels themselves because, hey, hey, you can drink (you’ll be surprised to discover how much more interesting a talk on post-modern liminal spaces sounds after a couple drinks). And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t first mention the off-site event I’ll be reading at along with a serious host of motherfuckers.

Thursday at 7:30PM

Annalemma, PANK, & Mud Luscious Present Divination in DC
Location: Ireland’s Four Provinces
Cost: FREE
Website:
Description: Kristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Gregory Sherl, Molly Gaudry, Steve Himmer, Jesse Bradley, Ben Brooks, Mel Bosworth, Sal Pane, Sasha Fletcher, Mary Miller, Ethel Rohan, Michael Stewart, Rob Roensch, Brian Oliu, Mathias Svalina, Matt Salesses, Amber Sparks

Do you see that lineup? HOW CAN YOU NOT COME TO THIS!?

So, now that the shameless self-promotion is out of the way, time for a round-up of AWP 2011 off-site events.

This is a visual representation of the Divination in DC event.

Wednesday

2011 Festival of Language
7:00PM-10:00PM
Location: The Black Squirrel
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/AWP-2011-Festival-of-Language-a-reading/110261148999292
Description: Original works will be read/performed by Debra Di Blasi, Lance Olsen, Kass Fleisher, Cris Mazza, Kirk Nesset, Michael Mejia, Duriel Estelle Harris, Steve Halle, Jeff Grieneisen, Jannee Baugher, Kate Dusenbery, Quintus Havis, Evan Nave, and Jane L. Carman. There will be food and beverages available for purchase upstairs at The Black Squirrel (http://www.blacksquirreldc.com/) only 0.76 miles from the Marriott Wardman Park. http://www.mapquest.com/?le=t&hk=7-I9EjF3r5&vs=h

It’s only a short walk from the convention, and my boy, Kirk Nesset, will be reading. Plus, it’s free. Check it.

Thursday

The Literati Gong Show
6:30PM
Location: Madam’s Organ Bar
Cost: FREE
Website: http://www.flatmancrooked.com/archives/8127
Description: Flatmancrooked with Dzanc Books, Featherproof Books, Hobart, and Barrelhouse present THE LITERATI GONG SHOW. The newest literary spectacle that promises to be huge hit and become an institution will be debuting at AWP 2011 in Washington DC. Ten contestants, all up-and-coming authors will perform anything but a straight reading for a panel of celebrity guest judges, all in hopes of avoiding The Gong, and taking home the top honors. This year’s guest judging panel includes Benjamin Percy, Pamela Houston, and Forrest Gander. Hosted by Flatmancrooked’s own Elijah M Jenkins.

Look. This shit is during the reading I’m participating in, so I won’t be in attendance. But this is a cool event with some great organizations. Try and hit both?

DOGZPLOT – JMWW – SENTENTIA – WIGLEAF Fiction Reading
7:00PM-10:00PM
Location: The Wonderland Ballroom (1101 Kenyon St. NW DC)
Cost: free
Website: http://thelookingglasslounge.com/wonderland/
Description: A night of fiction and poetry from contributors to Dogzplot, JMWW, Sententia, and Wigleaf. Writers include: Daniel Bailey, Shaindel Beers, Kim Chinquee, Jereme Dean, Greg Gerke, Mary Hamilton, Ben Loory, Robert Lopez, Kyle Minor, Meg Pokrass, Laura Ellen Scott, Peter Schwartz, Tyler Stoddard Smith, and Ben Tanzer. Hosted by: Bill Barr

Another one that conflicts with Divination, but hell if that isn’t a great lineup. I love those journals, and I’m a big fan of many of the writers included. Get yourself ready for some bar hopping during the 7 to 10 hours.

Sonora Review Turns 31: The Sexiest Party at AWP
10:30PM
Location: Madam’s Organ
Cost: Free
Website: http://sonorareview.com
Description: Sonora Review celebrates its 31st anniversary with a sexy marathon of readings at Madam’s Organ. No charge, but donations welcome. Readers include Kate Bernheimer, Kevin Canty, Nick Flynn, Joshua Furst, Michael Martone, D.A. Powell, Aurelie Sheehan, Ed Skoog, and Joshua Marie Wilkinson.

Sexiest party. Sonora Review. Nick Flynn. Michael Martone. Shit yeah.

Friday

FLORICANTO IN DC: A Multicultural Response Reading to SB 1070
6:00PM
Location: True Reformer Building, 1200 U Street NW, Washington, DC
Cost: $5 suggested. No one turned away
Website: http://literatiboricua.blogspot.com/2010/12/floricanto-in-dc-multicultural-reading.html
Description: Join us as over twenty poets lend their energy and language to a group reading in response to Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and in resistance to the atmosphere of national xenophobia under which the bill (and its emerging counterparts) were created. Confirmed readers include: Francisco X. Alarcon, Tara Betts, Sarah Browning, Regie Cabico, Carmen Catalayud, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Susan Deer Cloud, Martín Espada, Odilia Galvan Rodriguez, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Aracelis Girmay, Randall Horton, Juan Felipe Herrera, Dorianne Laux, Marilyn Nelson, Mark Nowak, Barbara Jane Reyes, Abel Salas, Sonia Sanchez, Craig Santos Perez, Hedy Trevino, Pam Ushuk, Dan Vera, Rich Villar, and Andre Yang. Co-sponsored and presented by the Acentos Foundation, Split This Rock, and the Poets Responding to SB 1070 Facebook group. Hosted by Oscar Bermeo.

This one’s for a great cause, people. Let’s show it some love.

A Poetry Reading presented by The Kenyon Review, Rescue Press and Monsters of Poetry Reading Series
7:30PM
Location: Asylum Bar, 2471 18th Street Washington, DC NW 20009
Cost: Free, or $2 dollar donation that includes entrance in raffle
Website: http://www.monstersofpoetry.org
Description: MONSTERS OF POETRY READING SERIES+ RESCUE PRESS + THE KENYON REVIEW present: JULIA STORY, ZACH SAVICH, SHANE MCCRAE, JESS LACHER, BECKA MARA MCCKAY, HANNAH SANGHEE PARK, DANIEL KHALASTCHI, CHRISTIE ANN REYNOLDS, KEVIN GONZALEZ, & ADAM FELL. A Reading @ Asylum Bar, 2471 18th Street Washington, DC NW 20009.7pm, Free…or $2 donation which gets you a raffle ticket for a raffle that includes signed books and chapbooks by the readers and presses.

Friday! Friday! Friday! THE MONSTERS OF POETRY! Kenyon Review! Awwwwwwwwwww yeah!

Corium, Prick of the Spindle, and Smokelong Quarterly Reading
7:00PM-9:30PM
Location: The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan, 2427 18th St. NW, Washington, DC
Cost: Free
Website: http://smokelongquarterly.blogspot.com/2010/08/score-pots-smoke.html
Description: Readings by some of the best indie writers in the business, including: J. Bradley, Randall Brown, Mike Czyzniejewski, Nicolle Elizabeth, Heather Fowler, Scott Garson, Barry Graham, Joseph A. W. Quintela, Donna Vitucci, and more.

I love Corium. I love Smokelong. I love PotS. I love J. Bradley. I love Mike Czyzniejewski. I love Nicolle Elizabeth. See you at the Black Squirrel.

Saturday

M.L. Liebler, editor of Working Words and contributors Mark Nowak, Dorianne Laux, Richard Peabody, Bret Lott, and Caroline Maun
12:00PM
Location: Politics and Prose, 5015 Conn. Ave., NW, DC 20008
Cost: Free
Website: http://www.politics-prose.com/
Description: Please join M.L. Liebler and several contributors to the anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams (October 2010, Coffee House Press) as they read from this 2011 Michigan Notable Book of stories, poems, songs, and essays on the working class life.

Do you know about my penchant for all things working class (I hail from Scranton don’t forget)? Because I have a penchant for all things working class.

Gulf Tolls: A Poetry Reading in Tribute to the Gulf of Mexico and Surrounding Regions
5:00PM-7:00PM
Location: Poets and Busboys–14th and V Streets, NW
Cost: $5 suggested donation. None turned away.
Website: http://www.poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com
Description: Split This Rock (www.splitthisrock.org) and Poets for Living Waters [http://www.poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com] are partnering to offer a poetry tribute to the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding regions. Readers will include: Naomi Ayala, Ana Bozicevic, Nicole Cooley, Peter Cooley, Amy King, Brenda Hillman, Katherine Howell, Brenda Iijima, Jan Heller Levi, Gregory Pardlo, Lisa Pegram, Martha Serpas, Kevin Simmonds, Sandra Simmonds, Jonathan Skinner, Patricia Smith, Heidi Lynn Staples, Melissa Tuckey, and Anne Waldman. Please join us for a night of provocation and witness.

Yet another very worthy cause.

Sunday

Fiction Reading: Erika Dreifus
2:00PM
Location: National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R Street NW, Washington DC, 20009
Cost: Free
Website: http://nmajmh.org/
Description: Please join us for a reading and discussion featuring Erika Dreifus and her debut short-story collection, QUIET AMERICANS. Refreshments will be served.

I am a longtime fan of Erika Dreifus’ blog. Let’s support her book!


Success in the Digital Age

One of the many perennial essays that gets handed out to would-be writers is Ted Solotarff’s “Writing in the Cold: The First Ten Years”. It’s a harsh look at what even talented apprentice writers have to endure: toiling away in obscurity clinging to the desperate hope that their stories will get published (with no payment) in some small, yet respected, journal. That maybe one day if they work hard enough, and they’re lucky enough, that some agent will contact them, ready to take a risk. And above all, they have to hope that their writing is worth a damn, that when the call comes they’ll have something substantial to show even when a million voices (internal and external) tell the writer to give up, that they are of inferior stock, garbage, an abomination.

Writers have been rethinking this essay ever since Solotarff’s death back in 2008. In the LA Times, Dani Shapiro grappled with the essay and how the publishing industry has undergone a sea change since its original publication back in the early ’80’s. Shapiro writes:

The creative writing industry of the mid-1980s now seems like a few mom-and-pop shops scattered on a highway lined with strip malls and mega-stores. Today’s young writers don’t peruse the dusty shelves of previous generations. Instead, they are besotted with the latest success stories: The 18-year-old who receives a million dollars for his first novel; the blogger who stumbles into a book deal; the graduate student who sets out to write a bestselling thriller — and did. The 5,000 students graduating each year from creative writing programs (not to mention the thousands more who attend literary festivals and conferences) do not include insecurity, rejection and disappointment in their plans. I see it in their faces: the almost evangelical belief in the possibility of the instant score. And why not? They are, after all, the product of a moment that doesn’t reward persistence, that doesn’t see the value in delaying recognition, that doesn’t trust in the process but only the outcome. As an acquaintance recently said to me: “So many crappy novels get published. Why not mine?” The emphasis is on publishing, not on creating. On being a writer, not on writing itself. The publishing industry — always the nerdy distant cousin of the rest of media — has the same blockbuster-or-bust mentality of television networks and movie studios. There now exist only two possibilities: immediate and large-scale success, or none at all. There is no time to write in the cold, much less for 10 years.(Shapiro)

There’s a lot of mine fields to be navigated here, the chief of which in my mind is Shapiro’s complete disregard of the literary brat pack of the 1980’s. Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, these were writers who seemingly appeared overnight with novel publications in their early twenties. I still remember a mentor of mine, Tom Bailey, discussing in class how he read Less Than Zero when it came out and seethed with jealousy and rage for weeks on end. Writers getting published at a young age doesn’t seem like a particularly new aspect of the literary industry, and in fact, seems to happen less and less because the major publishers can no longer spend the time developing a writer. If Andre Dubus emerged today with The Lieutenant, you can almost be sure he wouldn’t have gone on to become the celebrated master he’s seen as now. He would’ve been dropped from the majors into the world of the University Presses or be permanently saddled as a mid list writer (as an aside, check out this great article in Kirkus Reviews about the plight of the mid lister).

What I do find to be of particular interest in Shapiro’s essay is her speculation that this latest generation of writers is fundamentally different from those who came before. I’ll leave that one to the historians, but it may be relevant to take a look at some of the premiere literary upstarts of the last few years. Many of these journals (I’m talking smaller places like The Collagist, New York Tyrant, Annalemma, Dogzplot, etc. etc.) seem to have become the new training grounds for young writers. These journals publish work from established writers, but their stable of contributors is mostly comprised of the up-and-comers. And with comments enabled on the online stories, these writers are building communities and networks that are bubbling over and just beginning to get notice from the New York majors. Perhaps this is the writing in the cold Shapiro thinks is missing from the current literary community. It’s just not being done in places like The New England Review, it’s happening in online upstarts independent from the university.

However, there’s one more element crucial to this issue. Has the  definition of what success means for a writer changed in the ensuing years between “Writing in the Cold” and today? Joe Coscarelli recently wrote this piece in Gawker. Coscarelli writes:

Aspiring novelists are archaic. I know this because in four years of higher education, no one ever offered to show me a manuscript, but I’ve seen more blogs than bongs. The bearded, bespectacled Pavement fans… are unemployed or out of touch. Or dead. No one in their early twenties wants to be a music journalist—that would be absurd. These English majors want to be some super genius bloggers. (Coscarelli)

He goes onto discuss how that in a world obsessed with fame, those souls who in any other time would be drawn to the method of cultural production that is the modern novel (or even the music journalism of the 1990’s) are now obsessed with becoming bloggers or nebulous media personalities. Coscarelli thinks that our priorities have shifted, and on that account, I don’t think many people can argue. What is success for writers in the digital age? Is it publishing a book of stories with a small Midwestern press that only a sliver of the public will actually read, or is it maintaining a popular blog with a loyal readership in the upper-thousands (or maybe success means being Maud Newton who has an awesome blog AND a forthcoming novel)? I can’t really say, but what I take comfort in is that for some of us, the definition of writerly success is the same as it’s always been: publishing a superior novel of critical acclaim. Just look at the aforementioned literary journals and the Rise of the MFA Program. There are more people writing than ever before, and this is cause for celebration (even if the reading public is dwindling by the day).