Category Archives: update

New story in The White Review

A story from my linked collection, “The Bird Thing,” has just been published in The White Review and you can read it here! :D

I’ve been a huge fan of The White Review for years (César Aira! Lydia Davis!! Alvaro Enrigue!!! Esteemed alumni from my school like Jonathan Gibbs, KJ Orr and Rebecca Tamás!). So needless to say this is dead exciting.

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Medellín Fiesta del Libro / Book Festival

Thanks to a grant from my beloved host graduate school institution I got to spend the past three weeks in COLOMBIA, tierra de mi alma y corazón. I fly back tomorrow via Madrid... at least I won't have a 12-hour layover this time (!). I still have 40% of

Thanks to a grant from my beloved host graduate school institution I’ve had the opportunity to spend the past three weeks in COLOMBIA, tierra de mi alma y corazón, specifically in Medellín.

Fortunately some things in Colombia never change, like the Tintin sundae at Crepes and Waffles (beloved restaurant chain of many childhood birthday celebrations).

Fortunately some things in Colombia never change, like the Tintín sundae at Crepes and Waffles (beloved restaurant chain of many childhood birthday celebrations).

These Mr. Bean advertisements were definitely new for me though. AY QUE RICO indeed.

These Mr. Bean advertisements were definitely new for me though. AY QUE RICO indeed.

Besides eating ice cream and drinking Mr. Bean-endorsed tintos, my main purpose in Medellín was the following: to be present at a talk with Mexican writer Jorge F. Hernández about borders and short stories.

Besides eating ice cream and drinking Mr. Bean-endorsed tintos, my main purpose in Medellín was the following: to give a talk alongside Mexican writer Jorge F. Hernández about borders and short stories, for the Medellín Fiesta del Libro y Cultural (Book & Culture Festival).

This was an amazing event and I highly recommend for anybody to attend should they ever be in Medellín in September. There were talks by Colombian authors Evelio Rosero, Hector Abad and Pablo Montoya (among others), as well as Anne Mcclean (whose translations of Rosero I've enjoyed very much).

This was an amazing, extremely well-organized event. If you are ever in Medellín in September I highly recommend that you atttend. There were talks by authors like Evelio Rosero, Hector Abad and Pablo Montoya (among many, many others), as well as Anne Mclean (whose translations of Rosero I’ve enjoyed very much).

Best of all there were book stands set up EVERYWHERE. Comics books, used books, art books, Random House books, Penguin books, independent publisher books... this vampire-priest one in particular caught my eye ;)

Best of all there were book stands set up EVERYWHERE. Comics books, used books, art books, Random House books, Penguin books, independent publisher books… this vampire-priest one in particular caught my eye ;)

There was also great artwork and poster displays set up, which my terrible photography skills have completely failed to properly capture. Cortázar! Cervantes! García Márquez! All of the great ones and more! My sister got me a Franz Kafka mug which is basically, like, the best present for me that anybody could ever possibly get. I got a Borges bookmark for myself.

There were also tons of great artwork and poster displays set up, which my terrible photography skills have completely failed to properly capture. Cortázar! Cervantes! García Márquez! My sister got me a Franz Kafka mug which is basically, like, the best present for me that anybody could ever possibly get. I also treated myself to a Borges bookmark.

These displays were particularly striking: selected passages from Colombian novels, illustrated by artists in a glass display case. This one is of Evelio Rosero's Los Ejércitos (

These displays were particularly striking: selected passages from Colombian novels, illustrated by artists in a glass display case. This one is of Evelio Rosero’s Los Ejércitos (“The Armies,” a book that truly deserves its own post on this blog someday soon).

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I was also very moved by these displays, scenes of Colombian citizens confronting the legacy of the armed conflict. I believe these photographs were affiliated with Museo Casa de la Memoria, a museum of exhibits dealing with the civil war.

The talk itself went very well IMHO... :) As a Virgo on the introvert-extrovert spectrum I am not and never will be a huge fan of talking in front of large groups of people, but fortunately the atmosphere was very informal, which I very much appreciated. It was especially great to meet Jorge F. Hernández and the talk convener, Octavio Escobar. Really, really cool guys. Jorge especially had the audience in stitches :D Google 'em!

The talk itself went very well IMHO… :) As a Virgo on the introvert-extrovert spectrum I am not and never will be a huge fan of talking in front of large groups of people, but fortunately the atmosphere was very informal, which I very much appreciated. It was especially great to meet Jorge F. Hernández and the talk convener, Octavio Escobar. Really, really cool guys. Jorge especially had the audience in stitches :D Google ’em!

And now it's back to England tomorrow. Why does time go by so fast? Why does it go by so slow?

And now it’s back to England tomorrow, sadly without this copy of La broma infinita… I fly via Madrid… but at least I won’t have a 12-hour layover there this time, a truly godforsaken experience that I do not recommend. I also still have 40% of My Struggle: Volume 1 to finish on my kindle, and have just purchased A Little Life as backup, just in case.

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SALT’s Best British Short Stories 2015

I have two short stories–“Lucky,” originally published by Lighthouse, and “The Tourists,” published as a pamphlet by Daunt Books–included in Salt Publishing’s Best British Short Stories anthology. It’s edited by the epically great Nicholas Royle and other authors include Hilary Mantel, Helen Simpson, Jonathan Gibbs and KJ Orr. You can currently get it for 20% off (using code BBSS15) here or on Amazon. You can also read a review in the Guardian if you’re curious.

I also have a short story, “Lemon Pie,” in the just-released issue of Shooter Magazine. I worked for a long time on this story (it’s about aliens, Colombia and kidnapping, among other things) and was over the moon (to put it mildly) that Shooter Magazine gave it a home. I don’t know what I would do without publications like them, or Lighthouse and Daunt Books–places that make a point out of giving early-career writers a chance. Blessed be.

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Exciting news!

A short story I wrote last year for Lighthouse Literary Journal has been longlisted for a prize in the Sunday Times! Very exciting! I am dead chuffed, as they say here in in England (at least I THINK that’s something people say…). Or as they say in Colombia: ¡QUE EMOCIÓN!

You can read all 19 Short Story Award longlisted stories on The Sunday Times website. Among others, they include Yiyun Li (I’ve been a big fan for years), Colin Barrett (on my to-read list for ages) and Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a long-time fav). QUE ES ESTA LOCURA.

In other news (just to make this post a little more than here-is-the-thing), I went running today in rain that gradually turned into wet slushy snow and then back to rain again. It was intense. But I had to do it, ’cause I am running the Lisbon half-marathon in March. I’m looking forward to discovering the land of my Portuguese ancestors (although they mainly inhabited the Azores).

Also, here is the poem I posted today on my poem-a-day (um, more like every couple of days) blog, which I really liked:

Poem That Wants to Be Called the West Side Highway

(Samuel Amadon)
You can do the work just by starting it. You can
do whatever you want. A bill
is drafted on a train to Albany, or in a black
limousine. Like how one day I walked
the entire length of Manhattan, except I didn’t.
I didn’t finish. Not nearly. How could I?
Stopped as I was by the boat basin. These
credit cards fill with gin
and tonic. They pool with the stuff. Maybe
I get a little lost sometimes,
start thinking I went to Yale. Once I swam
to Governors Island, between the ferries
and freighters. It was like a job you should’ve seen
me quit. Maybe they looked for me. Maybe
it wasn’t someone else’s shift, and then
it was. Sometimes people are just turnstiles.
You have to tell them to keep
turning, keep turning into someone else. The rain
crashes across a cab, and the road
has filled. We’re waterborne. Or whatever
the word is for that little moment
when the heart lifts. Why don’t you devote
yourself the way you once did? It’s
an old answer, and an early
one. The alarm goes off for a while after it
stops. In your face in the bathroom
mirror. You play that little song to look at
your teeth. My teeth. They haven’t been cared for.
The class giggles at my age. This is
my hearing. The chances taken on a new face.

 

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January

I took a break from reading in January. Like Ross and Rachel in that one season of Friends, we needed some time apart, an “off” phase. I did read Hilary Mantel’s short story collection on the airplane, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, and loved it, especially this story. I just finished Jenny Offhill’s Dept. of Speculation, which I also loved. What an amazingly experimental, moving book, reminiscent of Renata Adler yet so, so, so much more emotionally involving for me. The break-up chapter which just consists of a page of “soscaredsoscared” typed over and over again is probably one of the most emotionally realistic things I’ve ever seen represented in fiction–a total Wow, have I ever been there moment. I am not there now, thank God (haha!). Where am I then? Carrying on in England. Reading Eliza Robertson’s Wallflowers and Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days and relishing both. I reread some Bolaño essays in Beyond Parentheses and particularly enjoyed “Our Guide to the Abyss”, specifically its definition of writerly courage and humor. That’s why I love reading Bolaño, I think–I feel like he provides me with a guide, a roadmap of sorts, of how to live a life. Emphasizing hardcore qualities like KINDNESS and EMPATHY and OPENNESS and LOVE OF LITERATURE. Characters like Leopold Bloom make me feel the same way (up to a point, haha). Why else should we read if not to find out how to live, right?

That’s all for now… but here are some winter wonderland photos from a recent all-too brief visit to Portland and Bend.

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This photo is from the Portland Art Museum, of an elephant being captured after rampaging in Washington. I really want to track down the newspaper story about this!!

This photo is from the Portland Art Museum, of an elephant being captured after rampaging in Washington. I really want to track down the newspaper story about this!!

Swedish pancakes!! AMAZING. More like doughnuts, really.

Swedish pancakes!! AMAZING. More like doughnuts, really.

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In the Portland airport, carpet memorabilia is already for sale.

 

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Update

I have ten books left to read in order to hit 100 books read in 2014. Can I do it??!

I don’t like to type about writing here but I managed to consolidate most of my Current Project work into two folders.

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Life is madness. Already psyched for 2015 but we’re not quite there yet…

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THE TOURISTS

My pamphlet with Daunt Books was released today!

It’s called “The Tourists,” it’s set in Colombia and here is the cover:

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You can get it here or on Amazon. Please consider checking it out; I’d be VERY honored… :)

Que emoción, no??!

And now here is a poem by Franz Wright (love the last line…):

Publication Date

One of the few pleasures of writing
is the thought of one’s book in the hands of a kind-hearted
intelligent person somewhere. I can’t remember what the
     others are right now.
I just noticed that it is my own private

National I Hate Myself and Want to Die Day
(which means the next day I will love my life
and want to live forever). The forecast calls
for a cold night in Boston all morning

and all afternoon. They say
tomorrow will be just like today,
only different. I’m in the cemetery now
at the edge of town, how did I get here?

A sparrow limps past on its little bone crutch saying
I am Federico Garcia Lorca
risen from the dead–
literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry.

 

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Head of the Year

The moon is dark tonight, a new
moon for a new year. It is
hollow and hungers to be full.
It is the black zero of beginning.

Now you must void yourself
of injuries, insults, incursions.
Go with empty hands to those
you have hurt and make amends.

It is not too late. It is early
and about to grow. Now
is the time to do what you
know you must and have feared
to begin. Your face is dark
too as you turn inward to face
yourself, the hidden twin of
all you must grow to be.

Forgive the dead year. Forgive
yourself. What will be wants
to push through your fingers.
The light you seek hides
in your belly. The light you
crave longs to stream from
your eyes. You are the moon
that will wax in new goodness.

–Marge Piercy

Anthologies invitation 2013-page-001

Turned in my MA dissertation two days ago, on my birthday. Commencing PhD countdown.

We’ve come a long way in the past couple of years…………

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New Story

I have a new story published at the Mad Scientist Journal about (appropriately enough), a mad scientist! It’s called “The Saddest Mad Scientist” and you can read it here. I am very sentimentally attached to this story, and I’m so happy that it’s found a good home.

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Therapy

Tonight I got to meet David Lodge and get him to sign my battered, much beloved copy of Therapy (a book on my Desert Island list).

I also got to tell him  “thank you for your work” and tell him about how I first read Therapy as a 12-year-old girl growing up in South America. “How extraordinary!” he exclaimed. His eyes got bigger and bigger as I told him that relating with the main character (someone I had absolutely NOTHING in common with) in a profoundly personal way was a big influence on me, because it helped me realize what fiction is capable of. On a subconscious level, reading that book made me think, If I can read a book about a middle-aged balding English screenwriter having a midlife crisis and see myself, then fiction can truly do ANYTHING.

While rehearsing my Elevator Speech in my head for meeting Lodge, I kept trying to figure out why I am so sentimentally attached to Therapy. I think I like it in the same way that I like Return of the Jedi: it appeared in my life when I was very young and at a very formative and meaningful point in my life, so even if it’s not GREAT and GENIUS, I am still hopelessly, fuzzily attached to its Ewoks.

I first picked Therapy randomly off the shelf when I was hobbling around the house with a knee injury from middle-school basketball. It felt like an eerie, terrifying twist of fate that a book I chose at RANDOM from my parents’ bookshelves featured a main character who not only suffered from knee problems (!!) but also from EXISTENTIAL ANGST (and didn’t we all have that when we were twelve?)

(Actually now that I think about it I must have been more like 14, which means that the inscription in the book is off by two years, but OH WELL).

I like David Lodge for the same reasons that I like Philip K. Dick and Anne Tyler, Tori Amos and Bruce Springsteen: I like their work ethic, and I like how their books/albums make me feel. Reading these authors, I feel… inspired. Safe. Comforted. And also like, I can do this. Don’t get me wrong, I have mad respect and love for the Junot Diazes of the world, the Harper Lees and Ralph Ellisons, the Marilynne Robinsons. But I don’t know if I can (…or if I want to…?) do what those aforementioned GREAT authors have done. I don’t know what I’m saying. I guess I just really like the long list of books that Lodge, Dick and Tyler (and Bolaño, and Onetti, and Aira) have in the bibliographies. I find it reassuring and hopeful. It makes me think, That is something I can do. I can do that.

Life, my friends, is very very good.

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