weekend reading

The Latin Quarter, Paris, France

In The Future Perfect, Susan Taylor Chehak (author of Rampage, Harmony, Smithereens, and many more) interviews John Irving (a man that likely needs no introduction, but just in case, he’s the author of The World According to Garp,  A Prayer for Owen Meany, Until I find you, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, and many more.) Chehak, a former student of Irving’s at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, engages Irving in discussion on his writing process, teaching writing (of which, he claims he doesn’t do,) his most recent novel, Avenue of Mysteries, and the HBO miniseries adaptation of The World According to Garp that he’s currently writing. John Irving is funny. [Guernica]

Lee Conell’s A Guide to Sirens is a short story about mermaids and bells. It is somewhat mythological (in a way that supposes reality in myth,) somewhat magical, and beautifully written. Frank, a tour guide on an island resort, tells the legend of a woman who tried to drown herself in the sea after realizing her mistake with a recent marriage. While submerged in the sea’s dark water, she hears the island’s long defunct monastery bells ringing. Assuming it a sign, she swims to shore and lives. But this time when he tells the story, on this particular tour, a young woman makes him question his own fable. [American Short Fiction]

The Most, by Etgar Keret (author of The Girl on the Fridge, The Nimrod Flipout, The Seven Good Years, and more) is a short short story about the fear of being ordinary, and then coming to terms with being ordinary. “The charter flight home was unpleasant. I knew my parents would still love me, but I was afraid of their disappointment when they found out what I always knew—that I was just like everyone else.” [Okey-Panky]

In Submission as Social Action, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo talks about the disparity between female and male publication in top literary journals. She co-founded the organization Women Who Submit as a way for female writers to come together, build a writing community, and feel empowered to submit their work. She states, “Women Who Submit is a group of women who submit work for publication because they refuse to be marginalized. Through the support of community and resources we seek empowerment and equality in our chosen professions as writers, editors, and publishers. But more than that, it represents a voice for all women who refuse to be intimidated or silenced.” [Lunch Ticket]

The Poem, Alice, Bewildered, by A. E. Stallings, is a lovely short poem about names, identity, and feeling alone. Here’s a line: “Deep in the wood where things escape their names,/ Her childish arm draped round the fawn’s soft neck/ (Her diffidence, its skittishness in check,/ Merged in the anonymity that tames),/ She knits her brow, but nothing now reclaims/ The syllables that meant herself.” [Virginia Quarterly Review]

The Four Horsemen of Gentrification, by Zain Khalid, is hilarious. It will make you roll your eyes and shake your head in solidarity over the absurdity of our modern condition. [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency]

The short story Punctures, by William VanDenBerg (author of Lake of Earth,) is about relationships and their demise. It’s about mania, mental health, arguments and art. Here’s a line: “The last time I saw him, he had flattened. What I’d previously regarded as separate behaviors (his ambition, his mania, his violence) had become one pillar of being. I’m sorry; I don’t have a word for it. I saw him all at once.” [Pank]




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