Man Booker longlist announced . . .
The deliciously subversive Paula Boemer’s novel, NINE MONTHS, coming soon from Soho. Soho, I should add, is cranking lately. They took Alex Shakar’s LUMINARIUM when the big trades had passed, and it ended up an LATimes Prize winner. J.R. Angelella’s ZOMBIE is getting some serious buzz, too. We featured Angelella over on The Nervous Breakdown, interviewed by the most hilarious guy I know, Tod Goldberg.
Speaking of cranking–Electric Literature follows up their Gaitskill novel excerpt with one from Joe Meno’s OFFICE GIRL. Meno is one of the best young writers in the country. He has that rare combination of being able to combine incredibly heightened, tender emotion with raw, blunt truth, so that the results are never schmaltzy, but also never fall prey to Ironic Detachment. He’s like Steve Almond, in that way, who is a master of writing emotionally without writing sentimentally. Like Stephen, too, now that I think of it. Maybe we should get Joe over here on The Rumpus.
Congrats to Elizabeth Buchanan on her new role as Fiction Editor over at JMWW.
Finding someone to run a literary magazine, either print or online, is harder than you’d think. A lot of cool, smart people want to work at lit mags, and do, but they want to do the fun stuff like select content and plan hip events. They don’t want to court donors, write hand-written thank-you notes, become grantwriting experts, do web design, or upload content at the speed of light that content changes these days. It’s hard to convince someone that they need to learn how to stalk distributors, memorize style manuals, and comparison shop printers when they’re not going to get paid for any of this. Easier, less time consuming jobs could give them health insurance. Working on a lit mag is fun, but running one is like having several full-time jobs in different industries, and still having to collect unemployment . . .
I’m trying to find a way, then, to articulate how crazily rewarding it is–how every single development in my professional life in a way ties back to my decade of running Other Voices magazine, and how it formed me and how I loved it. But I don’t know how to explain that other than to say it’s true. I think in the end it’s about relationships, but it must be more than that, because all work is ultimately about relationships. There’s some other kind of alchemy or magic that I don’t know how to express, quite.
One of my early writing mentors, Cris Mazza, recently wrote this piece, “Living in Parentheses,” for VIDA. Among other things, it’s about the “invisibility” of older female writers in an era of showy self-promotion that can resemble high school popularity contests. Cris and I have been discussing this issue for years. She’s a little older than I am, but I’m nothing resembling “young.” We have different dispositions, so our takes aren’t identical, but man, she makes some damn good points here.
Apparently some people thought Melissa Chadburn‘s Letters in the Mail was “too too,” and that she had overshared. My mother subscribes to Letters, so I tend to read all of them. I like the concept and I’ve thought they were all really good. Some were strange and complicated in fun, creative ways. Of all the ones I’ve read thus far, Melissa’s was my favorite. I’m not saying it was the “best” one. Just that I didn’t think it was “too” anything. My mother enjoyed it also. My mom is 80, and she’s lived through some shit. There was no “oversharing” in her generation, but there was everything that people of this generation overshare about. It strikes me that if someone doesn’t go in for occasional oversharing, subscribing to The Rumpus’ Letters in the Mail was maybe a goofy thing to do.
Now there’s Letters for Kids. That’s going to be cool.