January 5, 2016 3:58 pm | Tags: 2015, Reading | No Comments
Since 2009, I have kept track of every book that I read. The file name on my computer is “Books Read in 2009,” which is kind of funny, since it actually covers books I’ve read in each of the last six years, but I can’t be bothered to name it something different. I started doing this many years ago when the writer Matt Bell started posting the books that he read. Now, if I remember right, Matt read a LOT of books, way more than I did, and I was a little jealous that he could get through so many books in one calendar year. I’ve since learned to let go of such jealous, but I have continued to maintain the annual reading list. Why? Not really sure. I like tracking stuff?
Here’s a few notes before I get to the list:
May 8, 2014 8:00 am | Tags: John W. Evans, Kate Sweeney, Writing | No Comments
My friend, the author Kate Sweeney, whose new book American Afterlife has just been released, tagged me in a blog tour questionnaire. I asked her what the rules for this post are, and she wrote back “Rules?” I always like hearing that answer. Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, read Kate’s entry here. To play along, my job is to answer the four questions that Kate sent me, and then “tag” another author, link you in her/his direction, and the thread continues. So, without further ado, here are the four questions and my four answers:
April 10, 2014 7:00 am | Tags: Fiction, Kenyon Review | No Comments
In late 2012, shortly after my book came out, my story “Beauty in the Age of Chaos and Savagery” was accepted for publication by the Kenyon Review. As a litmag guy, getting a story in such a prestigious journal was tremendous validation of my writing, and I’m still a little incredulous to have work in KR. But. The story wasn’t accepted in the form I submitted it to the journal. Fiction editor Caitlin Horrocks had suggestions for me first. As an editor, I know what a big deal that is: very rarely have I written a writer back who has submitted to The Missouri Review and said “I have some specific macro edits for you”; even then, when a story is resubmitted, the odds are pretty slim that TMR will publish the piece. I listened closely to what Caitlin suggested, got right to work on it, and sent her my revision a few days later. Caitlin took it to David Lynn and, eighteen months later, the story is out in the world.
You can read Caitlin’s thoughts on the editorial process in her “Why We Chose It” essay, and listen to an audio file of me reading the piece, here on Kenyon Review’s website.
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April 7, 2014 4:44 pm | Tags: Mission Creek | No Comments
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog, and there isn’t really a particular reason why I have or have not. I haven’t willfully ignored putting new posts up, thinking about all the wonderful things I should be writing about and then hiding them from the public. Nor have I completely forgotten about the blog. When this site was designed, having a blog was something I wanted, and from time to time, the thought has entered my mind that I should write about a particular noteworthy item. (more…)
February 25, 2014 10:51 am | Tags: AWP | No Comments
One of my favorite events of the year, the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (here on out just “AWP”), kicks off next Wednesday. Each year, the conference is held around this time of year, somewhere between February to April, in a different city. Last year, the conference was in Boston, where I used to live, and will be in cities such as Chicago, DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and so forth, in the coming years. Every year, a slew of the literati attend: authors, teachers, graduate and undergraduate students, writing programs, literary centers, small presses, literary magazines and pretty much anything else you can think of that might be affiliated with such a great big event. This year, AWP is predicting roughly fourteen thousand people will be attending the conference.
I’ll be one of them. And here’s what I’m gonna do while I’m there. (more…)
January 2, 2014 7:00 am | Tags: 2013, Reading | No Comments
Since 2009, I have kept track of the books I’ve read. Like most readers, I have tried making lists of books I should read, or could read, or might read, or want to read, often only to abandon the plan halfway through it. In 2012, I tried to read all of Toni Morrison’s novels, and while I knocked out three of them (an awfully low number given that she’s written ten novels), I once again lost interest or got otherwise distracted and picked up something else.
This year I will once again come up with a plan, and this year, once again, I will wildly deviate from this plan. Hey, it happens. I haven’t entirely decided what that plan will be or look like, but I’m kicking around ideas.
What has been much better for me is to simply keep track of what I’ve read. Every time I finish a book, I add to the list which means, of course, that I see the list, and remember what I’ve recently read. This file on my laptop goes back to 2009, so I can see every book I’ve read for the past five years. Sorta interesting.
So here is my list of books that I read this past year. I’ve sprinkled in a little bit of commentary between the list, and added more extensive thoughts at the end.
September 12, 2013 2:45 pm | Tags: American Short Fiction, Cincinnati Bengals, Cormac McCarthy, Edith Wharton, Grace Paley | No Comments
The Cincinnati Bengals made it the Super Bowl in 1982 and 1989, falling to the San Francisco 49ers both times. I have no memory of the first loss, but I do remember the Bengals of the late 80’s, led by Boomer Esiason and Ickey Woods and the SWAT Team. It was a good time to be a Bengals fan. But since then, it’s been a bit of a rough run for the Bengals, who have been inept for almost two decades now, and have reached a point of mediocrity that continues to give fans false hope. (more…)
September 5, 2013 7:00 am | Tags: Interviews | No Comments
This week, writer Jeffrey Condran of Braddock Avenue Books, posted an interview with me about my collection, Strategies Against Extinction. It’s part of their Straight Talk interview series. Read the whole thing here.
There are questions about the style of the writing, how the stories were organized, sympathy for the characters, and the novella as a formal choice. I think it’s good but I’m biased: I know the guy being interviewed.
I also know the guy doing the interview. You can pre-order a copy of Jeff’s collection, A Fingerprint Repeated, which will be out from Press 53 next month. And/or snag a copy of the books available from Braddock Avenue, writers such as Aubrey Hirsch, Sal Pane, and Catherine Gammon.
Finally, today is my birthday. You should say, Happy Birthday! Or something like that …
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye
August 6, 2013 9:00 am | Tags: Creative Writing, The Missouri Review | No Comments
Yesterday on The Missouri Review blog, I wrote an essay called “10 Things Emerging Writers Should Learn.” These types of lists, usually dressed up as general advice, are ubiquitous and easy to find online, but I hope that this is found to be a little playful, a bit fun, while also making some good, simple points about what an emerging writer should do, both as a writer and as a literary citizen. It may be a small distinct, but my first inclination was not to use the word Learn but the word Know.
Learn is better. Too often, we assume that simply because we know something, and that knowledge is so ingrained in how we behave on a daily basis, everyone else should know it, too. It’s far too easy to forget that there was a time when we didn’t know anything. We knew less than nothing. If we even knew we knew nothing, that would be something. But we didn’t. So! Learn, however, is a word that suggest process and progress, that all of these things take time, and that we are, always, striving to discover more about the fine art of storytelling. No one has ever mastered it. No one ever sits in front of the page and fails to struggle.
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July 26, 2013 7:00 am | Tags: Chicago, Readings, Strategies Against Extinction | No Comments
This Sunday night at 7 pm, I’m reading with three other writers in the Sunday Salon Series in Chicago. A few months ago, I read in the Sunday Salon Series in NYC, and I’m sure this one will be just as much fun.
This reading is free and open to the public. You should attend! The event details are here. And if you don’t feel like clicking the link, Black Rock Pub is located at 3614 N. Damen in the Windy City, and the event is from 7 to 9 pm. We’ll read for about fifteen minutes per reader (there are four of us) and I’ll have copies of my book available for sale. My book comes with a free beer koozie. Yes, really! So you should definitely be there to snag a copy of the book and throw rotten fruit at me. Not necessarily in that order.
I’m reading with three other writers. Micki LeSueur is a freelance copywriter, writing fiction posing as non-fiction for major corporations and their advertising agencies. She writes fiction for her own amusement, and is the founder and host of Fictlicious, a live reading and music series, and its podcast series. LeSueur is also the president and founder of Coat Angels, a local not-for-profit providing warm winter coats for cold Chicago kids. Adam McOmber is the author of The White Forest (Touchstone 2012) and This New & Poisonous Air (BOA Editions 2011). His work has appeared recently in Conjunctions, The Fairy Tale Review and Third Coast. He is the associate editor of Hotel Amerika, a literary magazine at Columbia College Chicago where he also teaches literature and creative writing. Sandi Wisenberg is the author of The Sweetheart Is In, stories; Holocaust Girls, essays; and The Adventures of Cancer Bitch. In Chicago, she directs the MA/MFA in Creative Writing Program at Northwestern University. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Illinois Arts Council and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
Basically, this reading is going to be fantastic. Come join us! I’d love to see you there.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye