Third Pshares Single Published: Phoenix by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Our Pshares Singles eBook series allows us to publish long-form submissions every month in a format that is affordable and easily accessible.  We’ve had a great response to our first two Pshares Singles, Timothy Schaffert’s “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet” and John Duncan Talbird’s “Daydream Nation.”  We’re excited to announce the third addition to our series: “Phoenix” by Megan Mayhew Bergman.

Working off the books at a small goat farm in Vermont, without a birth certificate, a driver’s license, or a credit card, Phoenix is as close as a young person can get to disappearing in modern America. Intelligent and lonely, the child of free-spirited parents, she takes her modest pay at the farm and waits for a sense of what her next step should be. As she navigates the mysteries of her own birth and parentage, and lives with the crumbling marriage of the couple that owns the farm, Phoenix looks for direction through her work and her care of another lonely creature, a wounded goat named Jesus.

Available for $0.99 on Kindle and Nook.

An excerpt from the story:

     My parents, I learned at an early age, are not the kind of people the world cheers on.Continue Reading

This Is How You Lose Her

This Is How You Lose Her
Junot Diaz
Riverhead, September 2012
224 pages

Full disclosure: I heart Junot Diaz. A lot. I’m not alone, of course. His previous efforts, Drown and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, have attracted the kind of visceral praise usually reserved for rock stars: “powerful,” “raw,” “seductive,” “kick-ass.” I say all this in part to cushion the blow: This Is How You Lose Her, though occasionally brilliant, is no Oscar Wao.

With his latest work, Diaz returns to the literary form which sparked his career: the interconnected short-story collection. Indeed, fans of Drown will be pleased to find that This Is How You Lose Her shares many of the same settings and characters. The Dominican Republic is still being invaded by tourists. New Jersey is still on the verge of becoming a landfill. And Yunior, Diaz’s self-proclaimed alter-ego, is still struggling to adapt to life in the States.

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THAT LIT, LIT LIFE (with global characteristics) 6 (of 14)

Good morning. It’s a day for an air walk on that lit, lit sojourn. Coffee? Here’s the view above my tatami mat, one of Liu Zhen’s “Landscapes of the Mind,” a lacquer painting.

Liu Zhen

Liu Zhen is a talented, and unusual, young (b. 1970) Shanghai-based artist. Unusual for his patience in one so young. Working with lacquer takes time, and making each of his works reflects a discipline of process.

But let’s step out the front door. Hong Kong Island’s due south straight ahead.

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Literary Boroughs #19: Kansas City, Missouri

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the nineteenth post on Kansas City, Missouri by Annie Fischer. – Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

One of the four iconic “Shuttlecocks” by sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

City: Kansas City, Mo.

One of the earliest adopters of the City Beautiful movement, Kansas City enacted an 1893 plan for a parks-and-boulevards system that began at the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River and wound gracefully through the neighborhoods south. Then: World War I. And then: World War II. Nudged by nefarious forces, the city then flat-out sprawled.

In recent years, community arts leadership has been crucial to Kansas City’s downtown revival. Two decades ago, empty warehouses filled the Crossroads District, now comprised of galleries, restaurants and lofts. Construction of the $326 million Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in the Crossroads last year, was paid for by entirely by private donations; it’s now home to the symphony, opera and ballet. This summer, University of Missouri-Kansas City officials announced a plan to relocate their fine arts efforts to downtown, too. In the same spirit of creative support, many of the resources listed here are located in KC’s urban core.

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#GurneyEssay – The Trending Topic that will Topple Kitten Videos

I want to claim that I have invented a new form of essay.

It’s easy and fun and with the uptrending in retirement age demographicals in the USA regionality, it might just become the dominant form of essay writing in the next decade. It’s possibilities for depressing content are unlimited! Take that kittens.

It’s called Gurney Essays. Or dare I say #GurneyEssay ? An example from my very own experience is linked at the bottom, but before that, here are the rules for your own chance to get in on this Kardashianesque thrill ride of Carly Rae Jepsen meme-tastic meme-ery.

The rules are simple.

1)   A) Get injured.

2)   B) Go to a hospital

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Sorry Please Thank You

Sorry Please Thank You
Charles Yu
Pantheon, July 2012
240 pages

Charles Yu is weird. It’s just one of those things you can tell after reading the stories from his most recent collection, Sorry Please Thank You. There’s a zombie shopping for a date, a floating door to a dinner party in a parallel world, a device that catalogs desires… On the surface, it seems that there’s something off about his stories. Yet, on another level, they make us wonder whether we’re the ones who are off.

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Blurbese: “The First _____”

When Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was published, in 2010, the British Daily Telegraph called it “the first great American novel of the post-Obama era.” If that sounds oddly specific (not to mention premature), they at least had good reason for it: the title of “first great American novel of the 21st century” had already been awarded to Franzen’s earlier novel, The Corrections, by Elle magazine.

There is, perhaps, a discussion that could be had about the relative authority of the Telegraph versus Elle in making such pronouncements, but in terms of Franzeniana it wouldn’t make much difference—because Margaret Atwood had already beaten out both Freedom and The Corrections as “the first great novel of the new millennium.” (According to Newsday, anyway; the New York Times called it “overlong and badly written.”)

Firsts, firsts, firsts… Critics love ‘em. Continue Reading

THAT LIT, LIT LIFE (with global characteristics) 5 (of 14)

I used to live in Singapore. In ’94, just before my first book was released, a corporation moved me to this tropical, island city-state. It still feels like home whenever I fly into Changi at the eastern end of the island. Prison neighborhood. The street where I lived. My house was quite unbelievably beautiful, according to journal-me, a month into the move, high ceilings, lots of light and space, lots of air, a front and back garden, papaya trees with very sweet papaya, birds of paradise out back, frangipani out front.  It’s a very royal setting.  The site used to be a Buddhist temple . . .

My book, a “novel” my former publishers named it, but really, connected stories, could have won global awards for the most disappointing, dreadful, disgustingly dumb book cover of forever (hence, “former”). Fortunately, that version’s vanished, replaced by the 2nd paper edition and E-book. (I really, really like my backlist on E-books, from Book Cyclone especially when royalty checks roll in :).

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Literary Boroughs #18: Nottingham, UK

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the eighteenth post on Nottingham, UK by Éireann Lorsung – Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor


Nottingham is situated in just about the center of England—which isn’t to say the center of Britain, as it’s pretty far south when you count all of Scotland in. Hedged in by Lincolnshire fens to the east and the Peak District to the west, Nottingham huddles in the liminal space between north and south. It’s just two hours from London by train (six from Edinburgh, counting transfers), and these proximities give it a funny kind of ambition. It’s a city that wants to be something on its own terms, not the terms of the metropolises nearby. The proliferation of publishers, writing programs, courses, readers, writers, events, and support for all of the above that exist in Nottingham and the surrounding county (Nottinghamshire) attest to this ambition.

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Patricia Hampl Reads at Emerson (October 4 @ 8:00)

Mark your calendars! Fall 2012 guest editor and award-winning author Patricia Hampl will visit Emerson to read from her work and introduce her all-essay issue of Ploughshares. This event is free and open to the public!

WHEN: Thursday, October 4 @ 8:00 p.m

WHERE: Bill Bordy Theatre: 216 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02166

On our website, you can read Hampl’s introduction to the Fall issue on the origins of the essay and the American love of the first person voice, plus sample pieces from the issue, including work by Charles Baxter, Phillip Lopate, and Eileen Pollack.

At 4:00 p.m. on the same day, there will be a Q&A with Hampl at 150 Boylston Street (“Piano Row”).

The Q&A will be held in the multi-purpose room on the first floor.

Patricia Hampl’s most recent book is The Florist’s Daughter, one of the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year” and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, published in 2006 and now in paperback, was also one of the Times Notable Books; a portion was chosen for The Best Spiritual Writing 2005.

Patricia Hampl first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her memoir about her Czech heritage, awarded a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. This book and subsequent works have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 25 years.

I Could Tell You Stories, her collection of essays on memory and imagination, was a finalist in 2000 for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction. Ms. Hampl is Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis where she teaches fall semesters in the MFA program of the English Department.