Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Soup and Salad: Ben Percy Goes All In, Cinthia Ritchie Runs and Weeps, 5 Under 35 Do a Happy Dance, Lydia Davis Gets Knee-Deep in "Bovary," Justin Cronin Talks Craft

On today's menu:

1.  Continuing the Benjamin Percy lovefest* at The Quivering Pen, here's a great essay he wrote for the latest Glimmer Train bulletin: "All In."
I put all my chips on the table.  I went all in.  The story "Refresh, Refresh" was a game-changer for me, not only because of its success, but because it changed my approach to writing.  Now I never hold back.  I dynamite the vault and let all my treasure pour out.  Every story is an "all in" story.

And if you haven't already read his earlier essay in Poets & Writers on the revision process, then click thee there posthaste.

2. Alaska writer Cinthia Ritchie gives us a glimpse into her writing process over the course of a few days:
     I run up Flattop with my dog, late in the evening when the sun is setting and the air is filled with that mystery that comes right before dusk.  Running up the steep little incline to Blueberry Hill, around the bend and over to the trail leading up to the saddle.  The wind so strong I can barely stay on the trail.
     At the top the wind is so fierce and loud that I struggle to remain upright.  Running back down in the near-darkness, I feel strong and rugged and completely invincible.
     Two hours later I’m squatting in the dry bathtub sobbing over my novel.  I can’t get the tone right, or the dialogue or the pacing, for that matter.  Nothing works.  The book is a mess.  I am a complete and total failure.
Boy, can I relate!  Except for all that running crap.  Read the rest here at 49 Writers.

3.  The National Book Foundation has announced its annual "5 Under 35" awardees:

Yanique's book is the only one currently on my shelf, and I haven't had the chance to read it yet.  What really struck me about the list is its diversity and the fact that some of the smaller presses like Two Dollar Radio, Graywolf and Sarabande are making appearances.  These are the publishers who really deserve the recognition for the good work they're doing on behalf of us, the readers.  I mean, it's impossible to turn away from a novel like Krilanovich's, which is described at the publisher's website as "an incredibly ambitious and original first novel about a 'slutty teenage hobo vampire junkie' crashing the Pacific Northwest's 7-Eleven coffee stations, SPCA kitten rooms, yard sales, and pancake breakfasts at the senior center, in search of her foster-sister, Kim."  You had me at "slutty."
4.  Lydia Davis on translating Flaubert's masterpiece: "Knee-Deep in 'Bovary'":
“You’d think, working from one text, that the translations have got to be fairly similar,” Davis says.  “But it’s amazing how different they all are.  Some are fairly close, but then they’ll add a metaphor that Flaubert doesn’t have.  And some are outrageously far away.  Two of the most popular, Steegmuller and Hopkins—they’re not bad books.  They’re well written in their own way.  But they’re not close to what Flaubert did.”

5.  January Magazine recently sat down for a detailed conversation with Justin Cronin.  He gives a sneak peek of The Passage's sequels, talks about developing characters, and says he's now reveling in the lap of luxury (at least as luxurious as writers can get these days):
“The best that I get to do one job as opposed to 16.  The others books that I wrote were written in tandem with maintaining a pretty active career as a teacher, but also as a freelance writer.  I had to do a lot of work just to put food on the table, and I was certainly not paid so much for those books that that could become my full-time job.  I’m more stability-minded than a lot of people.  So The Passage has given me the opportunity to just be a writer for some extended period of time...I think in some ways that was always the goal.  To be able to point all my energies at one thing.  That’s the most discernible difference.  The other one is that my office has a bathroom, which is really nice.  I used to work in the garage, and now I work above the garage.  I was always the guy peeing in the yard at four in the morning. I was too lazy to go in the house, so now I’m in the lap of luxury up here.”

*And it will keep on keepin' on with a review of the Refresh, Refresh collection as soon as I get up off my lazy butt and write it.  Here's a sneak preview: "Loved it."

1 comment:

  1. I've hiked up Flattop but not run. A hiker froze to death on that Anchorage park trail not far from the parking lot. That's much worse than the condition of her novel. It can feel like that though. As to the list, my contention is the diversity of the authors was the criteria.