Author Archive

Against Cool

Author: | Categories: Writing Advice 2 Comments
There’s something I like about that “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign for Dos Equis. Firstly, I like it for the shot where we see the man saving a fox from a fox hunt, a mob of hounds and people on his trail while he carries the

New (and Old) Stories (and Poems) from the Midwest

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 In a previous post I wrote about Midwestern literature and spent a lot of time defending the region against attack. But there certainly are folks who enjoy the flatland’s contributions to American letters. In fact, more than a few commented and tweeted about their favorites. To keep this conversation

The Best Writing Advice I Never Gave

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A while back a friend of mine contacted me with a good idea: he wanted to collect one piece of advice from a number of writers he knew and pass all of them on to his advanced undergraduate workshop students. If you’re anything like me, this is the kind

Getting Back to Books: An Interview With David Mikics

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Let’s face it: there is a big, flashing world of distractions vying for your attention, trying desperately to keep you from that book  looking increasingly dusty and dejected on your bedside table. People scoff at the very idea of reading. In this crazy world, the argument goes, who’s got

Finding the Essential in the Literary Midwest

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About a year ago I was invited to participate on a panel of writers to talk about how being a Midwesterner fits into my life as a writer. It was a tough question. I was raised in Illinois, but had just finished a five-year stint in Texas and was

Sending Out Work: The Job Part of the Writing Job

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Publishing Advice 5 Comments
Well, folks, September is here and we all know what that means…literary journals are open for submissions! Yes, yes: time to update that bio, polish up that cover, and put the final touches on your best work. Remember that a piece of literature is only half done until it

Unfiltered Access: An Interview with the Editors of Barrelhouse

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The folks over at Barrelhouse are keeping busy. There’s the journal, of course, but now they’re also in the book business, the podcast business, and the literary event business. Just over a month away from the annual Conversations and Connections conference in Philadelphia—which will feature a keynote address from

Don’t Look at the Comments! Or, Wait, Maybe You Should

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Remember the climactic scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? The Nazis are about to open the ark and they have Indy and Marion tied up to that big post and as the ark starts to glow Indy says, “Marion, don’t look at it! Shut your eyes, Marion! Don’t

The Things We Find in Books

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Whatever the reasons for Borders going out of business, it sure wasn’t for lack of sturdy, long-lasting bookmarks. Let me explain. Recently, I picked up my wife’s copy of Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America, after eying it on our bookshelf for a couple of years. After finally giving in,

World’s Best (Literary) Dads

Author: | Categories: Reading 5 Comments
Last week I brought my eleven-month-old baby girl to the Family Center, a small, slightly hippy-ish gathering place for kids and parents. My wife and I had been there briefly the week before to check it out, but this would be our daughter’s first time there to play and