Category Archives: Writers

That’s Me In The Corner

That’s me in the spotlight small print.
I’ll be reading.
If you’re in the neighborhood, please come by to hold my hand listen. I’ll appreciate it. And I hear there will be wine. Lots of wine.

Peninsula Literary Series Presents
A Reading

Friday, January 27, 2012 — 7:00 p.m.
At Gallery House, 320 South California Avenue, Palo Alto
@ Birch Street, through Printer’s Inc. Cafe

Featuring: Brittany Perham, Casey FitzSimons,
and guest artist Wendy Fitzgerald

And presenting guest readers:
Teri Carter, Virginia Bellis, Jessica Hahn, and Richard Lawson

Authors will have books for sale at the reading. Donations of $5-10 gratefully accepted.

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About Featured Authors Casey FitzSimons and Brittany Perham 

Casey FitzSimons’ poetry appears in print and online in The Newport Review, Hobo Camp Review, EarthSpeak, The Prose-Poem Project, flashquake, Leveler, and others. She has been a finalist in the River Styx and Writecorner Press poetry competitions. She has collected her works annually in chapbooks, most recently No Longer Any Need (2011) and Altering the Lay of Land (2010). Casey taught art in San Francisco for many years, publishing her studio drawing book, Serious Drawing, with Prentice Hall, and reviewing many exhibitions for Artweek. She has a master’s degree in Fine Arts from San Jose State University.

Brittany Perham is the author of “The Curiosities” (Parlor Press 2012). Her recent work may be found in Southern Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Lo-Ball, Linebreak, and elsewhere. She is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow from 2009-2011. She is a founding member of the word/music project Nonstop Beautiful Ladies and she lives in San Francisco.

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If It’s Good Enough For George

In the February issue of Vanity Fair, my pal George gives his answers to the famous Proust Questionnaire.  Would you be surprised to learn his most treasured possession is a pen and a piece of paper?  That his hero of fiction is Atticus Finch?  That the thing he’d most like to change about himself would be to read more books?

Not a snarky answer in the bunch.  My George is all grown up.  And I admit he got me in the gut with his answer to “what would you change about your family?” when he said:  I’d make them young again.

He also surprised me.  His favorite writers are Mark Twain (I’d never have guess that one) and Paddy Chayefsky (who I had to Google).  Turns out Paddy is a playwright, screenwriter, and novelist; and the only person to have earned 3 solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay.  Paddy is a much respected and renowned American dramatist.

Paddy Chayefsky.  I love making these kinds of discoveries.

Now, of course, I can’t resist asking you a few questions.  Who knows what I might learn.  And I’ll play if you will.

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Favorite Writers and why (I’m limiting myself to 4, because you know this list could be looooooong):

William Styron — what style, not a wasted word in the place, with long flowing complex sentences I could read over and over again.

Joan Didion — particularly for her nonfiction, a structural genius who writes what she wants and doesn’t worry about what she’s not supposed to do.

Mary Karr — raw poetry in prose, most recognizable nonfiction voice in town.

Larry McMurtry — brilliant epic storyteller, creator of unusual and conflicted characters who drive seamless plots.

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Best last paragraph of a book:

Jane Smiley’s A THOUSAND ACRES
“And when I remember that world, I remember my dead young self, who left me something, too, which is her canning jar of poisoned sausage and the ability it confers, of remembering what you can’t imagine.  I can’t say that I forgive my father, but now I can imagine what he chose never to remember — the goad of an unthinkable urge, pricking him, pressing him, wrapping him in an impenetrable fog of self that must have seemed, when he wandered around the house at night after working and drinking, like the very darkness.  This is the gleaming obsidian shard I safeguard above all the others.”

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Favorite Writer You’ve Seen Speak in Person:  

Dorothy Allison.  Couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She read a little, but spent most of her time on stage just talking like a real person, seemingly off-the-cuff, not a note in sight, about her writing and reading life.  Her remarks were like listening to a great poet put their everyday life into a regular conversation.  About a year later, I saw her perform her famous (which I didn’t know at the time) monologue, Frog Fucking, at AWP in front of hundreds of people.  It was shocking and hilarious and devastating, and the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.

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Your turn ….

I Gotta Get Out More

Last night we went to a reading.

No, wait.  It wasn’t a reading.  It was a celebration, a celebration I figured would result in a reading.  Anyway, I heard about this non-reading over at SheWrites and off we went.

Meg Waite Clayton is a local author I’ve never heard of, and her event was held at Books Inc., an independent bookstore I’ve never heard of.  It turns out she was celebrating the paperback release of her last book — THE FOUR MRS. BRADWELLS — and Books Inc. was filled with her friends and supporters.  It was more cocktail party than reading, and since we weren’t really part of the group I introduced myself to Meg and we scurried out of the circle.  For the next half hour, my husband and I wandered around Books Inc. — such a great store! — wondering how in the world we didn’t know this place existed.

Meg did eventually take up the microphone to say a few words.  She thanked her family and friends, then she read a page or so of her book and took a couple questions while her husband served champagne, chocolates, and Bellinis.

The night wasn’t what I thought it would be, but …

I discovered a new writer and picked up her book.  If you haven’t heard of Meg Waite Clayton, check out her website — it’s one of the best author sites I’ve seen.  And while I don’t read much women’s fiction, I’m guessing this book will be perfect for my book club.

I also left Books Inc. with my first James Michener novel, because I’m jonesing for a big fat saga and ever since I saw THE DESCENDANTS over the holidays I’m obsessed with Hawaii.

And I had my first Bellini.

The Mill River Recluse

This weekend I’m reading Darcie Chan’s THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE.

On my iPad.

And you know I don’t like reading on my iPad.

But I came across this article about Ms. Chan and her book and I was hooked.  After years of trying, unsuccessfully, to get her first novel into the mainstream world of publishing, she’s now sold 400,000 self-published copies.  In today’s New York Times Book Review, THE MILL RIVER RECLUSE is #23 on their e-book best sellers list.

iPad reading or not, I’m enjoying this story a great deal.  Click on the book’s cover above to get your copy.  I promise it will be worth every penny of your 99 cents, and then some.

Click here for Darcie Chan’s website.  You can find her RedRoom interview here.

Top Reads of 2011

For the first time in years, I am all over this holiday season.  I’ve decorated my house, found a gorgeous new wreath for front door, and hung the stockings.  We’ve watched the first half of It’s A Wonderful Life.  The tree has been up for almost 48 hours and the puppy has not knocked it down or eaten the ornaments or been electrocuted by the lights.

As this year winds itself down, I’m taking a look back at my top reading pleasures of 2011.  Here they are, in no particular order:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In making my list I made some discoveries:

1.  I’m growing up.  My preferences have become less highbrow (what I’m supposed to read) and more about what I enjoy.

2.  I read far fewer books in 2011 than I thought I did.  I spent more time engrossed in author interviews and great, long essays.

3.  I tend to read and re-read my favorite authors.  I need to give the lesser-knowns more of a chance.

4.  I don’t like fiction as much as I used to.  In fact, I’m reading a National Book Award winner now and I feel manipulated.

5.  The memoir is not dead.  In fact, it’s barely got it’s sea legs.  Peoples’ real lives, and how they choose to make them into art, are endlessly fascinating.

What did you discover about your reading self?  Have any favorite books to share?

FTF

Shhhh.  This blog is still on holiday, but I have to thank those of you who gathered up to send me this.

God knows I love fountain pens, and if you could feel this one — this one! — in your hand and see the ink on the page …. pure writerly pleasure, that’s what it is.  My scribbles don’t look so scribbly.  Y’all are spoiling me.

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I’ve always felt my real teachers are other writers (all of you included), and I spent Friday and Satruday with a couple of favorites:  Joan Didion and Mary Karr.

Since I just read Didion’s BLUE NIGHTS, I watched her latest Charlie Rose interview.  I also fired up her clip with Charlie from 15 years ago, in 1996.  Watching the 2 back-to-back taught me much … and broke my heart.  If you’re feeling your inner student, you can find her master class here, along with a montage of other Writers On Writing.

If you’re working on a memoir and feeling sassy, or even if you just need to shore up your courage (and who doesn’t?), here’s the Mary Karr interview.

The two lines I needed to hear most today?

1.  After saying she threw away the first 2,000 pages (two thousand!) of her last memoir, LIT, the interviewer asked her why.  Her simple answer:  It was boring!

2.  Her advice to newer writers:  Never show your work to anyone unit you think it’s finished.

And now … I’m off to work toward FTF.

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* Comments for this post have been turned off.  Enjoy the rest of 2011.