literary fiction

Like pens and knitting needles. I’m running because it would seem I’ve overextended myself, but it’s okay, because I’ve got an excellent support system.

After fiddling with my thesis, I have come to the conclusion that, for now, writing scenes in no particular order. That’s not usually how I “roll” (as the kids would say)–but it’s how I’m getting through this semester. Some things I’ve been reading, that you may like, too:

Ellen Gilchrist’s I, Rhoda Manning, Go Hunting With My Daddy is a moving collection of mostly connected short stories. Rhoda Manning narrates most of the stories–all the stories, whether having to do with Rhoda or not–are redeeming, hopeful and charming. I suggest reading it after the more depressing Strout to uplift the spirits that are sure to sink a bit upon the reading of Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Strout’s award-winning novel is well written, but I found it hard to follow at times. yeah, I get that Olive Kitteridge’s story is told from a bunch of people’s perspectives. Some of the stories are really great, too. My advice? If you’re a short story lover, like me, read it: think of it as a collection of stand-alones that happen to have some repeating roles in the stories. My favorite short was “Starving.” Just so you know.

Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina is a classic, some might say; and some may find it repulsive or too brash or, I don’t know, stereotypical. I found it to be none of these things. Well, Repulsive, in the sense that Bone leads a life full of tragedy–but Allison speaks the unspeakable with a clear, jaded voice of a young girl. She is not afraid to bring forth a flawed character and explore–and even celebrate–the flaw of humanity. Celebrate may not be the right word. But she shows that the will to live is a powerful thing, and that we can overcome so much: not because of faith, or even family–but we can overcome because it is the basest tenant of our hardwiring as humans.

I’ve been surfing the web between sentences here, so I’m sure my narrative is a bit disjointed. Apologies.

And about running with sharp objects: the sharpest object of all would be a word. Any word. Put them together, it’s a damned mighty sword… I’ve been running with a lot of words lately, and I’m learning that, when not handled well, they’re pretty weak (much like a butter knife). But when a word is sharp, and clear and solid: it’s like a well-polished sword. Now I just have to quit running with them before I impale myself.


Er. Literature-Lane. Not “lit” as in the slang “lit.” Umph. I’m reading as much as possible now that I’m grad-school-bound. I mean, it occurs to me that I’m really not that well-read. I was talking to a good friend on the phone the other night; a friend who, though not graduate-bound is intelligent and well-read. Most of our book-related conversations are peppered with his mentionings of must-reads and classics, famous (to the literate) names and so on–and my responses are always “who’s that?” or “what?” (only sometimes because of cell-phone malfunction). Perhaps I can turn a passable phrase, but I cannot attest to having absorbed the works that (should) impact my writing. I’ve read blurbs and blips, but said friend suggested that I read before the June residency–a good suggestion. I would really hate to be one of the youngest students in the program and exemplify my naivete in not knowing much at all about writing-stuffs.

You see, when I first applied to Goddard, the director of admissions recommended I be prepared, at least, for a rejection, given my young age and the inherent lack of experience that accompanies our twenties. Early twenties, at that. I fearlessly applied anyway, and the director of admissions called to personally welcome me. I relayed this to said friend and after a lengthy discussion of his name-dropping and my refrains “who’s that?” and “what book is that?” and he so kindly said, “you might want to read–people who go to grad school will know these things.”

That may sound harsh. But it’s totally true, and I know B says this only with my best interests at heart. I mean. I already told Stephen Dobyns that I didn’t know who he was, but I was glad I met him… Yes. I said that. To Dobyns. To his face. *God. I’m such a tool.* I blush to think I said that at nineteen and I would hate, at twenty-three, that I would make a different, but equally embarrassing, literary faux pas.

GOD. “Reading” does not even exist in my listed categories of tags. ‘Nuf said.

Today I opened my eyes and warbled jubilantly. Actually, I opened my eyes and said, “oh fuck, it’s already 7.00 a.m.??”  But nonetheless, I’ve been productive:

I will elaborate a bit on my NaNoWriMo novel, simply because my paranoid closed mouth really doesn’t get me far in the world of blogging, now does it? So, the title is tentatively _Balsam River Blues_ (I swear it feels as though it’s been used before…Google doesn’t recognize it, though…and Google is all-knowing, right?)  It’s set in a fictional Balsam River, not North Carolina. The main character is a boy named Tam who is dealing with the death of his 6 year old sister, Bitsy. He feels responsible and, being Literary Fiction, the plot is sort of loose and jiggly–but Tam and his 12-year-old sister Annabel are extremely vivid in my slightly askew imagination.
So I’ve taken notes and things are (sort of) falling into place. It’s fun. Mostly.
I’ve got foam boards and thumb tacks everywhere. It is a literary minefield and I’m not sure I’m ready for the battle, despite my ammunition. I mean, bullets and guns are great, if you know how to accurately fire the weapon. 
I will one day post pictures–I swear I will, but, you see, my camera is on my desk in the next room. I am currently sitting in front of a bookshelf and…well…you understand my dilemma, don’t you, dear reader? 
I also finished Nan’s scarf. I wore it for photo purposes. It’s soft and squishy and knit up super fast. That’s me. I am making an odd face. My eyes don’t normally bulge so. In fact, I think I am very normal most times. Nod and smile, dear reader.