Author Archive

Dancing About Architecture

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  “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” said Elvis Costello once, probably quoting someone else. And yet, and yet… It is apparently a strong urge to write about (or somehow with) music. The list of creative writing that involves music in some way is long, and grows longer

Dancing with Myself

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Anyone who has had a dance party alone in their room can attest to the helpfulness of an impromptu hoe-down. In her textbook Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway advises writers struggling with revision to “worry it and walk away,” but sometimes you need to dance away. The play involved might

The Magic of Objects

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“I would say that the moment an object appears in a narrative,” Italo Calvino writes, in Six Memos for the New Millennium, “it is charged with a special force and becomes like the pole of a magnetic field, a knot in the network of invisible relationships. The symbolism of

Story as Architecture / Architecture as Story

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“Think of revision as architecture rather than interior decorating,” my teacher Sonia Pilcer used to tell her Writers’ Block class at the West Side YMCA Writer’s Voice. Narrative as architecture is a useful analogy. Does your story stand on its own? Can its doors open and close? Is it solid

That’s What She Said?

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It’s not polite to eavesdrop. But how many gold nuggets of dialogue have you overheard in your life? I always feel at a loss when I don’t have a notebook and pen in my purse to jot down ideas and strangers’ intriguing utterances. Recently, in a restaurant in Seattle, 

Eye Want

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    In honor of Valentine’s Day later this week, and my first post in a series of writing prompts, I present to you this ever so schmaltzy “Cupid in a Wine Glass.” (More on that in a minute.) Between drafting my first novel and teaching creative writing to

Pioneer Girl

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Pioneer Girl Bich Minh Nguyen Viking Adult, February 2014 $26.95 304 pages Genre: literary mystery With reference to: Little House on the Prairie And: immigrant lit & ethnic lit And: restlessness vs. belonging Also: Manifest Destiny & Utopia Concerning: Lee Lien, jobless English PhD And: a (possibly) very well-travelled

Some Day

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Some Day Shemi Zarhin Trans. Yardenne Greenspan New Vessel Press, October 2013 $16.99 450 pages What: Epic family drama With lots of: Food Also: Lust, love, loss, and longing Where: Tiberias, by Israel’s Sea of Galilee When: 1969-1983 Concerning: Shlomi, a child who develops near-magical culinary talents Hilik, his

Dear Lucy

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Dear Lucy Julie Sarkissian Simon & Schuster, April 2013 340 pages $25.00 Genre: literary fiction, debut. Concerning: Lucy, a young woman whose different way of seeing and behaving has compelled her image-conscious, frustrated mother, Mum mum, to abandon her on a farm. And: Samantha, a pregnant teenager on the


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Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me Ellen Forney Gotham Books, November 2012 241 pages $20.00 Genre: Graphic Memoir Concerning: Cartoonist Ellen Forney’s confrontation with her bipolar disorder diagnosis And: what it means for her identity as an artist And: what it means for her creativity and her livelihood Compelling