Tag: My Friends Write Things (page 1 of 2)

My Friends Write Things: Hurricanes and Hauntings

Fiction

  • Kingdom by the Sea” by Amy Parker – I was lucky enough to see an early draft of this story, a glorious, intense reimagining of Lolita. It’s like a literary vivisection, using scalpels historical, critical, fictional to slice away twitching layers of Humbert Humbert and extract a personal narrative for Dorothy Haze.
  • The Invention of Separate People” by Kevin Brockmeier – Kevin is one of our greatest living fantasists, and if you’ve never read him before it’s time to start. This story was originally published in Unstuck, and is about a world where people are themselves, yes, but also everyone else. Everyone is one person, until someone (everyone) begins to learn how to be separate.
  • Skin Suit” by Janalyn Guo – The main character is a lump of dark, amorphous matter that must wear taxidermied suits to appear human, but its parents are two planes of brilliant light, and it’s time for a family reunion.
  • Horror Story” by Carmen Machado – This time Carmen’s penned a creepy tale of crumbling relationships and haunted houses. Read it in the dark.
  • The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link – It’s a Kelly Link story. That should be all you need to know, but I’ll add that this story is Kelly’s take on space opera, and dedicated to Iain M. Banks.

Nonfiction

Poetry

My Friends Write Things: Many friends, many things

We need a word for the feeling of being unable to keep up with the art output of all one’s clever friends. Here’s a start. More to come.

Fiction

  • Inscape by Yaa Gyasi – Gifty, a middle-aged literary scholar, must start caring for her Ghanaian mother, who believes she has been tasked by god with writing the next books of the bible. An immigrant and person of lost faith, Gifty revisits a lifetime of identity struggles as she learns her mother anew.
  • Tobacconist by Anna Noyes – a short short about a family man who fantasizes about, and then fantasizes about not fantasizing about, the affections of a stranger.
  • Woman at Exhibition by E. Lily Yu – I heard Lily read this at ICFA. A woman becomes part of an ambiguous history when she is moved by compulsion to eat an Edward Hopper painting on display at the Whitney. A story about gender politics and relationships between artists.
  • Subduction by Paul M. Berger – Oliver has a memory that only goes back four weeks and a compulsion to visit areas of geological instability. The engraved wristwatch he was wearing said he was a hero, but he can’t remember why, so he pawned it. And littering the edges of his incomprehensible life are small things with big teeth that no one else seems to notice.
  • The Fisher Queen by Alyssa Wong – Lily is fifteen, a deckhand on a trawler, and too old to believe anymore the family legend that her mother was a fish. A beautifully written story of disillusionment.

Nonfiction

  • Unmasking the Glow by Alea Adigwame –Swirling and imagistic rumination on sex work and self regard. “I think, or, at least, like to think, that, at the substratum of my allure, rests an exhaustive knowledge of the contours of shame that permits me, ever increasingly, to revel in the lavishness of my imperfections, instead mincing them into everythingness with an analytical santoku. Self-compassion, I have learned, is communicable.”

Carmen Machado’s “O Adjunct! My Adjunct!”

I’ve often been asked lately whether I miss teaching. My standard answer is to say that I miss teaching very much, but I don’t miss all the things around teaching: the low pay, the lack of benefits, the constant feeling that I’m complicit in the adulteration of a once-great intellectual tradition. Which is all to say, I miss teaching, but not adjuncting. The work itself gave me profound satisfaction, but the working conditions were an affront to my pride. It was nothing like the vision of academia I received as an undergraduate; I went to a small liberal arts university which I’m not sure even had any adjunct professors. I certainly never had one. So while I now know the adjuncting experience from the faculty side, I have only my evaluations to suggest what it’s like for a student.

Carmen, though, has lived at both ends of the adjunct’s college classroom. She wrote about it for the New Yorker with exquisite clarity. Read about the pathology of placing students’ formative experiences in the hands of those with “great responsibility, precariously held.”

“O Adjunct! My Adjunct!” at the New Yorker.

My Friends Write Things: Pains Real and Imagined

As I’ve spent most of my reading time this year in books, I’ve gotten way behind on the things my brilliant friends have published digitally. So here’s a slice of 2015 writing worth  catching up on, with more to come.

Fiction

  • Descent” by Carmen Maria Machado – Newly Nebula-nominated author and all-around force of nature Carmen Machado, with a horror story about women haunted by death.
  • Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar – A story about the quiet magic of reaching your hand in your pocket and pulling out something you never put in, that’s also an extended metaphor for the act of making a piece of art and sending it out into the world. (Disclosure: I gave the author some advice that informed the scientific testing scenes in this story.)
  • And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” by Brooke Bolander – A pulpy, profane, bloodslicked story of cyborg assassins and data thieves who don’t give a damn about anything but each other. Like Battle Angel Alita and Ghost in the Shell got addled on bourbon, had a stumbling fuck in an alley, and couldn’t look one another in the eye the next day.

Nonfiction

  • A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity” by Carmen Maria Machado – Because she’s as adept with a personal essay as she is with a short story, here’s Carmen again, revealing that she was once an earnest, purity ring-wearing 13-year-old, and how she became the queer, sex-positive feminist she is now.
  • Kidhood (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall)” by Rebekah Frumkin – The latest installment in Rebekah’s continuing column for McSweeney’s about psychoactive pharmaceuticals, and the insider’s view of the cognition that makes doctors hand them out.
  • In Manila, Two Seasons, No Regrets” by Laurel Fantauzzo – A Modern Love article about falling into a relationship while traveling, the kind of relationship that’s everything it can be, but not everything you want it to be.
  • Reflections on a Dirty Dog” by Lisa Wells – A kaleidoscopic, hypnotic essay of suffering for the sake of experience, or for no reason whatsoever, on cross-country Greyhound bus trips.

Poetry

My Friends Write Things

Fiction

  • I Can See Right Through You” – Stop whatever you’re doing now, because Kelly Link has a new story out in McSweeeny’s. This one’s about celebrity, old relationships, and ghost stories. But you didn’t need to know that. All you needed to know is that there’s a new story to read by Kelly Link. That’s all anyone ever needs to know.

Nonfiction

  • The Abyss” – More from Rebekah Frumkin, this time writing for Granta about her experience working as seasonal labor in a haunted house. Also, have you been keeping up with her column in McSweeney’s? You should be! The latest installment, “I Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” is about her stint in a psychiatric ward in 2013.
  • Double Dare: Point Horror” – A new column from Meghan McCarron and Alice Sola Kim, in which they assign each other reading to review. In this first column they revisit a couple volumes of a classic tweenage horror series.
  • Checklist” – Genevieve Valentine with a caustic and heartbreaking and infuriating piece about the pressures brought to bear on rape victims.
  • Going Aboard” – Ben Shattuck took a trip on a recreation of a ship much like the one in Moby-Dick, and wrote about how time has altered the experience.
  • Tasers, Drones, and Cold Chicken: Inside the Multibillion-Dollar Business of Keeping Me Out of America” – Jose Orduna visits a border security expo and writes about it with powerful, deserved rage.

Poetry

Read My Clever Friends

I have many of them, and they just keep on writing things you should read. Also I’m instituting an new tag, My Friends Write Things, to link all these posts together. I’ve propagated it back through my archives, so clicking that will lead you to a trove of work from my most-loved people.

Fiction

  • The Husband Stitch” – Carmen Machado, one of the best fantasists writing today, in Granta with a gorgeous story inspired by Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
  • Mothers” – Carmen Machado again, because she is a force of nature. This time in Interfictions, with a story about two women in a broken relationship who make a baby. Carmen has put personal experience at the service of fiction with astonishing force and efficacy. You can read a little about the writing of this story on her blog.
  • Becoming” – Anna Noyes in Guernica with a story from the point of view of a chimpanzee being raised as a human. I was lucky enough to see an early draft of this memorable story in workshop, and am thrilled it’s found a home.
  • Quality of Descent” – Megan Kurashige in Lightspeed with a story about a man meeting a woman who definitely has wings, and may or may not be able to fly.
  • Ideal Head of a Woman” – Kelly Luce in Midnight Breakfast with a story about a museum employee who has an unusual relationship with a piece of sculpture.

Nonfiction

  • The Gospel of Paul” – Ariel Lewiton writing in the LA Review of Books with a profile of bookseller and new author Paul Ingram. In addition to being a gorgeous portrait of a fascinating man, this is also the best record of the culture of Iowa City that I’ve read.
  • Did Eastern Germany Experience an Economic Miracle?” – Ben Mauk writing in the New Yorker about regional economic variations in Germany 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Freedom to Fuck Up” – Thessaly La Force interviewing Merritt Tierce about her novel Love Me Back, discussing pregnancy, abortion, and sex in fiction.
  • Reconciliation” – Monica Byrne on the need for reconciliation between the United States and Iran, and how that can begin with connection between individuals. If you’re an American and her article makes you want to visit Iran yourself, she’s also written a how-to for U.S. citizens on her blog.

Poetry

Recent Writing by Friends of Mine

Nonfiction

Fiction

  • A Dismal Paradise” – Ashley Davidson with a story in Five Chapters that really stayed with me. It’s a gorgeous, subtle look at the complicated boundaries of humanity and infirmity. This is a favorite subject of mine, and Ashley has explored it with memorable grace.
  • We Are The Cloud” – Sam Miller in Lightspeed Magazine, with a science fiction story about the exploitation of orphan children that is, by turns, tender and brutal.
  • The Glass Bottle Trick” – Nalo Hopkinson in Fantasy Magazine with a new take on the Bluebeard story. I overdosed on retold folklore a few years ago and haven’t usually been able to enjoy it since, but perhaps I’ve gotten over it, because I liked this. Bit of a linked variables problem, though; I almost always like Nalo’s work.

Recent Writing by Friends of Mine

Nonfiction

  • “So This Is New York” – Another personal essay by Evan James, on his first trip to New York and how it doomed the relationship it was intended to strengthen. Includes passages such as, “The image of Martha Stewart gliding into the open-plan work area, trailed by a trotting Chow and two French bulldogs, peppering the air with profanity, made me smile. I still dreamed of working in magazines back then, and hoped to say “fuck” a lot in an editorial office of my own one day.” If you haven’t, also check out his previous Observer piece, “From Brooklyn to P-Town for Bear Week.”
  • “Live Nude Girls” – Genevieve Valentine wrote a crucial piece on the relentlessness of modern attacks on women, as evidenced by the recent attacks on women in the games industry and theft of personal pictures of celebrities. No one cuts to the heart of things quite like Genevieve does.
  • “The Next Generation” – Jonathan Gharrie with a personal essay on bonding with his father over Star Trek, and how the different installments mirror aspects of their lives.

Fiction

  • “Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” – Alice Sola Kim’s story in the current issue of Tin House (I have no idea how long it will be available online) about a trio of teenage Korean adoptees and what happens when they try to use magic to connect with the parents who gave them up. Stick-in-your-skull creepy and beautiful, like all of her stories are.
  • “Cimmeria: From the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology” – Theodora Goss with a Borges-inspired story in Lightspeed. I heard her read part of this at ICFA, and was enthralled. Glad it found a home in Lightspeed so I can learn how it ended.

Poetry

Recent Writing by Friends of Mine

Nonfiction:

Fiction:

  • “How to Get Back to the Forest” by Sofia Samatar – A visceral SF short story about the industrialization of education and those people who sometimes flash through your life with a bravery you’ll never match.
  • “History” by Thomas Gebremedhin – Thomas was one of a very few of my Iowa contemporaries with whom I never managed to share a workshop. So it was a delight to finally encounter his fiction in this lonely, lyrical little story.
  • “Stethoscope” by Ben Mauk – Ben I had workshop with many times, and this is one of the most memorable stories I’ve read in draft form. Seriously, it has stuck in my head for three years now. This is a long, free excerpt, with the full text available to subscribers to The Sun.

Recent Writing by Friends of Mine

My friends are talented and prolific! Look at their things!

NONFICTION:

  • Luxury Shopping, From The Other Side of the Register” – In December Carmen Machado wrote for the New Yorker about what it’s like to be working retail during the busiest shopping days of the year.
  • Bummed Out and Ugly” – Alice Sola Kim with a beautiful and personal remembrance of Philip K. Dick.
  • Crossroads and Coins: A Review of Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light” – Amal El-Mohtar writing for NPR, another quite personal piece. Having recently read the book myself, I can confirm that it is as delightful as Amal claims.
  • Scattered Leaves” – Ben Mauk writing for the New Yorker about the current practice of dismembering ancient manuscripts and selling individual pieces of them on eBay, as well as the long history of “book breaking.”
  • To Flip a Flop” – Also in the New Yorker, Elizabeth Weiss writes about the economics of the broadway show, using the example of the largely unsuccessful Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.

FICTION:

  • The Glitch” – Rebekah Frumkin shows off her talent for claustrophobic interiority and familiarity with 64-bit Zelda games in this story at Granta.
  • The Engineers” (pdf link) – Rebecca Rukeyser with a story in the Massachusetts Review of expatriate courtship in South Korea.