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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There’s a wonderful new review of Strategies Against Extinction up at Paste Magazine, the award-winning magazine of all pop culture goodness. Her review also touches on work by Kyle Minor and Matt Bell, two writers whose books you should pick up and read immediately. It’s great to read a view that puts your work in context with other contemporary writers: none of us write in a vacuum after all, and this review draws parallels between three story collections in a way that you might not initially recognize. (more…)
The good folks over at Storyville have periodically been adding in a few Top Ten stories from various writers: Alan Heathcock, Robin Black, Anthony Doerr, and several others. Surprisingly, they have not asked me for my top ten. Why? Probably because they have no idea who I am. Still!
When I sat down to write a top ten list of stories, I realized that this was a bit of a silly task. Most top ten lists of any kind, of course, are unsatisfying. The rankings of stories is never going to be a fully satisfying endeavor, even to myself, of what is “best.”
On the other hand, lists are kind of fun. (more…)
Last week, in my first blog post for this site, I wrote that it had been fourteen years since I wrote my first story. I was working on an introduction to myself, this site, my book, and I wrote that post fairly quickly without thinking a tremendous amount about all the details. I made sure my spelling was accurate, commas were in right place, and that was about it.
Since then, however, I’ve been thinking about those fourteen years.
In 1998, I was a junior at Ohio State. During my first two years in college, I kicked around various majors, but nothing really stuck. Everything was mildly interesting but nothing really jumped out. For fall quarter, I signed up for my classes months in advance, and apparent, sometime during the spring quarter, I thought “Intro to Writing Fiction” would be a good idea. (more…)
What on earth do I say in my first blog post? I might as well be honest: I have absolutely no idea. I imagine this is a common thought for many people when they sit down and write their first blog post for a new website, and perhaps others are just as honest about not having the first clue to what to say. Or maybe they are more clever than I am and just come up with something pitch perfect, and I’m making a big mistake by admitting otherwise.
Ah, well. So be it. I’m really happy that this site is live. I’m really happy there is a reason for it – my first collection of short stories is forthcoming – and that you’ve stopped by to read this post. Most other things that you might want to know can be found on other pages on this site – who I am, when the book’s coming out, what events and readings are scheduled (and where) – and there isn’t any reason to rehash any of that.
I guess it’s appropriate that my first book will be a collection of short stories. I wrote my first short story for an intro to writing fiction class that I enrolled in during my junior year at Ohio State. This class was taught by the fabulous Mary Tabor, a terrific writer herself, and we had to write one story for that class. We had to read John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, which referenced a ton of books that I have never heard of, let alone read. For Mary’s class, I wrote a story about an adult man, on the verge of being a new parent, visiting his incarcerated father. I don’t have a copy of this story (unless it is buried in a box of papers somewhere in my house, which is incredibly possible) and don’t remember much about it.
That was 1998. Now, fourteen years later (whoa!), a book of my stories is coming out. Wow. I mean, I just thought about this as I typed it. Fourteen years, from beginning to … well, the next beginning, I guess. I must be one stubborn dude to have kept at it this for fourteen years. And I must be a little nuts to think – hell, to know – that I have many more stories to tell for the foreseeable future.
Anyway. Like that story, whose title and characters I hardly remember, I had to start somewhere. Same with this. First blog post on this site. How about that? I have no idea what stories are coming next. And I’m really excited to not yet know.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye