Taking On Omniscience

It’s easy to understand why The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis is currently getting the hype that commercial and critical audiences seem to be virally and confusedly passing between one another—there’s a whole heck of a lot going on here.

In order to not lose myself in what certainly a better north / south / black / white / Diaspora / Jim Crow / historically-minded critic’s eye would pick up, I’m instead going to focus on several stylistic decisions Mathis has made, and whether or not these choices lend themselves to the topical complexity of what’s undoubtedly a time expansive, enormous novel. Continue reading Taking On Omniscience

Why You Should Move to L.A.

Geographies Collide: L.A. On the Hudson @ Bookcourt

I was drawn to Book Court’s Monday night event, “L.A. On the Hudson” because of the nod to a familiar geography.

These days, anything having to do with Los Angeles I want to swim in nostalgia about.

The grass is greener in your old backyard.

What I discovered was Jim Krusoe, American novelist, poet, and short story writer, honored by some of his former students/undying fans.

He looked to me like an old western hero: bushy, furrowed brow, unkempt beard, watery, all-knowing eyes. Continue reading Why You Should Move to L.A.

N+1 = Awesome

I had been putting off reading N+1 for so long that I almost had to hit myself over my own head with my copy as soon as I opened it.  Reading the Brooklyn based journal for the first time was like sitting down with a wiser version of myself, one who coaxes me from the future to be patient and thoughtful rather than energetic and reactive. Or, as David Foster Wallace might say, the magazine is an example of the best of modern writing, “sophisticated and colloquial – that is, high-level and complicated but at the same time intimate, sort of like a smart person is sitting right there talking to you…” (A Brief Interview with a Five-Draft Man). Continue reading N+1 = Awesome

A House of Work, A House of Warmth: An Evening With The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop

Having just moved to New York this fall, I’m super fresh to the New York writers’ community.  Finding good, true outlets for writing has been a major goal. However, there is so much this city has to offer, and at times knowing where to begin has felt straight up overwhelming. It is lucky, then, that my first assignment with Litwrap was to cover Sackett Street’s ongoing readings. Continue reading A House of Work, A House of Warmth: An Evening With The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop

How to Redeem a Sad, True Story

Being Flynn,
an adaptation of Nick Flynn’s memoir: Another Bullshit Night In Suck City.
Screening and QA with author and screenwriter @ BAM

Is it OK to write memoir even if the subject matter bums everyone out?  This is a good question for Nick Flynn, whose 2004 PEN/Martha Albrand award winning book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City chronicles his mother’s death, his father’s homelessness and his own bouts with drug and alcohol addiction. In the text, Flynn’s voice is so compelling that you hardly remember the question.  The writing is the writing of a poet, rhythmic and full of a driving life force gone direct from pen to page.  Watching the film, the question becomes more practical.  How can you justify all the warmth you find in your home when so many other people are left out in the cold? Continue reading How to Redeem a Sad, True Story

A Swift Kick in the Butt from Melissa Febos

In conversation with Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart from her home Brooklyn, Part II.  

On “The Personal is Political”: I’m teaching this class to these graduate students right now, and the premise of the class is ostensibly how to find the universal in the personal. I think that’s something people learning nonfiction are really worried about. They’re worried about being naval-gazing, they’re worried about memoir being self-centric because it has that reputation. Which I think is total bullshit. There are just as many self-centered naval-gazing novels as there are memoirs. It seems ludicrous to me, because how do you propose to get at the universal without rendering it in specifics? It would have no texture. Continue reading A Swift Kick in the Butt from Melissa Febos

6 tips and tricks to meet your writing goals

A few tips and techniques for sticking to those writing resolutions for 2013.

1.  Keep a Journal.   Don’t let the old thoughts of yesterday clutter up what you want to write today.

2.  Write on the go.  That tiny thought about your character that came to you on the subway stairs?  Get it down on paper lest it fly away before you hit the tracks.

3.  Calm your mind.  Meditation isn’t only for the monks.  We know you want to be the best writer since sliced bread but you must train your ego to stand down.

4.  Make friends and check in.  New friends with similar goals support changes in exercise routines so why not writing routines too?

5.  Read lots of book but one at a time.  This one’s up for debate but we have a theory: will getting to the end of other people’s books help us to get to the end of ours?

6.  Track your time.  The Pomodoro Technique suggests that we can do a good job with our tasks but only for twenty five minutes at a time.  Decide what you want to write in the next tomato and then set the clock and GO.