Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When Will I See You Again? or, The Flighty Adventures of a Traveling Novelist

Here is the novelist pulling a stack of clean underwear from his dresser and loading it into a suitcase.

Here is the novelist running over a well-worn checklist in his mind: Toothbrush?  Contour memory-foam pillow?  Phone charger?  Reading copy of Fobbit?  Breath mints?

Here is the novelist kissing his wife farewell, sucking a week's worth of love through their lips.  Here is the novelist reminding his wife to empty the cat's litter box; her sardonic reply, "Okay, if I must."  Here is the wife asking if he remembered his beloved contour memory-foam pillow (subtext in her voice: "which you obviously love more than me at this point").  Here is the novelist returning for One More Kiss and Lingering Hug and a lame joke about her breasts being the only pillows he'll ever need.

Here is the novelist punching his frequent-flyer mileage number into the airport's check-in kiosk.  Here is the novelist doing the mundane security-line shuffle.  Here is the novelist heaving his bag into the overhead bin compartment.  Here is the novelist nodding to his seat companion, opening his book, and closing himself into a make-believe world for the remainder of the flight.  Here is the plane losing altitude, the landing gear coming down and locking into place, the wheels kissing the runway.

Here is the novelist arriving in your town.

Am I?  Am I coming to your locale?  Read on....

Here is my touring schedule for the next couple of months.  New events are added all the time, so please check the website for updates.

March 24
1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Great Plains Writers' Conference
I'm especially excited about this event since I get to meet four powerhouses of contemporary war literature: poet Brian Turner (Here, Bullet), novelist Patrick Hicks (The Commandant of Lubizec), short story writer Katey Schultz (Flashes of War) and memoirist Ron Capps (Seriously Not All Right).  I'll be giving a talk on Monday afternoon called "Inside/Out and Outside/In: Distilling the Personal in the Military Experience," and then that evening, I have the privilege of sharing the stage with Dr. Hicks as we read from our novels--which couldn't be lighter and darker in contrast.  Fobbit is about the circus of military bureaucracy, The Commandant of Lubizec is about the Holocaust.  Patrick and I plan to leave 'em laughing and crying in the aisles.

April 7-13
Get Lit! Festival
Get Lit! has a great reputation and I'm honored to be part of this year's line-up.  Here's what I'll be doing during the course of the week-long festival:

PANEL DISCUSSION: Strangers in a Strange Land with David Abrams, Adrianne Harun, and Nathan Oates
Friday, April 11, noon
Venue: North Idaho College, Meyer Health & Sciences Bldg., Room 102
Fiction allows us to see the world from another person's perspective, through their experiences in strange landscapes, new cultures, or bizarre situations­—to follow them down the rabbit-hole, as it were.  In David Abrams' novel Fobbit, Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding Jr. finds himself in a combat zone for the first time, headquartered in a marble palace in Baghdad and sifting through reports of bombings, sniper kills, and dismemberments in order to draft patriotic press releases about the war.  Adrianne Harun's novel A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain centers on a group of young people in an isolated logging town, who must reckon with enigmatic strangers appearing just as Native girls are vanishing from their midst.  In The Empty House by Nathan Oates, characters often travel to far-off places in an effort to escape themselves, seeking comfort in the foreign but finding themselves strangers in their own lives.  These authors will discuss ways of exploring "strangeness" in fiction, and how they each use it as a tool for evoking larger truths.  Moderated by fiction writer and NIC faculty member Jonathan Frey.

READING: David Abrams and Nathan Oates
Saturday, April 12, 1-2 p.m.
Most of us have a hunger for newness: An urge to see new places.  A desire to walk on new ground.  There’s something about being somewhere we’ve never been that makes us look at people a bit closer, and to look inward with a brand new intensity.  It’s perhaps no stretch to assume that this is one of the reasons David Abrams spent 20 years as a journalist in the active-duty army.  His newest book, Fobbit, comes from a journal he kept during a year-long tour in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The effect of this novel is somewhat surprising: It’s hilarious.  Abrams lets us into the dirty little secrets of military subculture and the humor his protagonist must find in order to make it home.  Nathan Oates’ characters also are on a quest for newness.  They are constantly on the move, have a bad habit of trying to escape, and an even worse habit of finding a truer version of themselves before the end.  Oates’ short story collection, The Empty House, was the winner of the 2012 Spokane Prize.  These authors show us characters outside of their elements, wading through new places and experiences, and new ways of looking inward.
Room: Conference Theater, Main Level
Venue: Spokane Convention Center
Cost: Free and open to the public

WRITING WORKSHOP: Sense of Place and Setting in Fiction
Saturday, April 12, 3:30-5:30 p.m., at The Spokane Convention Center
Ever finish reading a story and find the setting indelibly marked on your imagination?  Think: Hemingway, Cather, O’Connor, and Joyce.  Not only do you visualize the landscape, hear the sounds, and smell the atmosphere, but you are also left with the emotional impact that the sense of place renders on the characters.  You feel as though you’ve traveled.  Whether your story is set in a bungalow or a high-rise, on the sea or the prairie, or perhaps takes place in alternate universe, learn how to craft place to add strength and dimension to your work.  Practice how to show the heart of environment without falling prey to overwrought sentiments and empty description.
Room: 202A, Spokane Convention Center, 2nd level.  The cost for any student with a current ID is $20 each.  Student ID must be presented to the registration desk at the event.  For all others, the cost is $30 each.  Registration will open starting March 21st. Space is limited to 25 people per session, so pre-registration is recommended.  (However, we will also allow day-of registration, as space allows.)

April 29
7 p.m.
The Strand
I'm very excited about returning to La Grosse Pomme (this will be my second trip there, so I still feel like I'm a Manhattan virgin).  This time, I'll be helping Adrian Bonenberger celebrate the release of his new memoir, Afghan Post.  Here's more about the event from the bookstore's website:
Join us for an evening honoring the release of Adrian Bonenberger’s new release Afghan Post, where great contemporary writers will discuss what it means to write about war. Adrian Bonenberger is a contributor to The New York Times blog, "At War," and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. His book is an epistolary memoir of his time serving in the military. Also speaking will be fellow veterans David Abrams, author of Fobbit, and Matt Gallagher author of the memoir Kaboom and an editor of the short story collection Fire and Forget. Lastly, they’ll be joined by the novelist Roxana Robinson, whose latest book, Sparta tells a story of returning from war. These remarkable authors will examine the challenges and importance of writing about war, and its place in contemporary American culture. Active-duty United States Army officer Peter Molin will moderate the evening. Peter is an English professor at West Point, and writes the blog Time Now, which tracks artistic and literary works related to America’s contemporary wars.

May 2
Great Falls Festival of the Book
I'm looking forward to my first Fobbit-related event in this beautiful high-plains city.  I don't have details on time or place just yet, but stay tuned....

May 15
7 p.m.
Lewis and Clark Public Library
At this second Helena appearance I'll be reading from Fobbit, possibly a short excerpt from my work-in-progress, and answering any questions the audience wants to toss my way.

1 comment:

  1. Woo! Great Falls!

    (I think you should be getting more details soon, btw.)