A review of Aimee Parkison’s The Petals of Your Eyes.

My (slightly delayed) contribution to the Wreckage of Reason II blog tour is here. Backstory: I met Aimee Parkison at AWP this year. She put together a panel on experimental women’s writing and invited a handful of people from the anthology to take part. I’d written a paper about the slipperiness of defining “experiment,” and she wrote a fascinating piece that defined experimentalism against mass market/genre literary production. If you know me at all, you know that I disagree emphatically with the elision of those two terms.  I believe that the devices used in so-called genre fiction are wildly useful, and not to be confused with market-based fiction (I agree with Brown’s distinction in this piece). I ended up throwing away half of my prepared remarks and speaking extemporaneously in response to Aimee’s piece. It was an invigorating Q & A session, and she was kind and forgiving of my spontaneous rant, and in the end she gave me a review copy of her book.

Backtracking a bit: I’d actually heard Aimee read the night before, as part of Starcherone’s offsite AWP reading (with Alissa Nutting, Brian Oliu, Cris Mazza, Andy Farkas, and a bunch of other authors whose work I follow). I’d very nearly bought her novel–picked it up, petted it covetously, set it back down sadly–but I’d already spent a horrifying amount of $ on books that day (much of it at the Starcherone table). So having a copy fall into my lap was…well, that’s the serendipity of AWP, which, for all its tradeshow pomp and circumstance, does have these fleeting bright moments of meeting other writers and expanding one’s reading list.

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Five months and several rereads of Aimee’s book later, I have a sort of review/meditation on it up at Entropy, the new blog launched by Janice Lee and Megan Milks (among others). If you’re looking for an excellent new literature/film/SF/fantasy/gaming blog, they’re the place to go. Very pleased to have work up on their site.

Blog revamp.

To state the obvious, there’s been a change of theme around this place.  My friend Benjamin Gemmel does digital art in his spare time and was willing to take on the project of making my sad blog a little less sad.  Girlwonders, new and improved, with 100% more Cthulhu!  Ben blogged about his process — he based the original concept on a few of my stories, let me weigh in on multiple drafts and was generally dreamy to work with.  We’ve been batting the header back and forth for a few months now, and I’m very pleased with the final result.  Thanks, Ben!

Never a day without pain.

I’ve stopped posting about my wrist and arm pain.  Partly because I was sick of my own whining.  Partly because I feared the professional repercussions of going on the job market while publicly “broken.”  But Cat Valente has as usual written the post that sums up what I’m feeling.  I’m doing better than a year ago, and much better than she is, from the sound of it.  But this week, when I’m grading 70+ essays by hand to help out a colleague who’s on leave thanks to recently becoming a father, after spending the morning reviewing, also by hand, a hundred or so compositions by incoming freshman so as to place them into an appropriate introductory writing course, well…I’m not getting much of my own writing done, and it kills me.  Every day I do what I can, and usually more — far more — than I should.  I return too many emails too conscientiously.  Every day it’s a battle between my desire to work, my ability to tolerate pain, and the sure knowledge that if I push myself too hard, I’ll shut down completely (which is what happened in June-July of 2013).  Braces help.  Dragon helps.   I’m beginning to understand that I’ll never be fully healed, and that the writing process that has produced my very best work is too brutal on my body to sustain over the arc of a career.  Slowly I’m piecing together a kinder, gentler, slower process.  It makes me want to scream.

My first Essay Daily post is live!

I’ve been reading Essay Daily for ages.  First discovered it through Nicole Walker, but I became an avid follower after putting Ander Monson’s Vanishing Point on my comprehensive exam list and falling in love with his fragmented style.  I never thought I’d someday be writing for them.  It’s is a review of Cris Mazza’s new memoir, Something Wrong with Her, with an interview to follow on Wednesday.  Happy reading!

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ETA: The interview is now live.