Noy Holland’s Swim for the Little One First

Noy Holland’s new collection of short fiction, Swim for the Little One First, came out in September. I would like to encourage you to buy it and read it. I read the first page, and, despite my enormous stack of books-in-progress, I felt compelled to read the rest, immediately. Maybe you will, too:

Rose called.

I said, “Hello, Rose.”

“You sound funny.”

I was lying on my back with my legs in the air trying to make a baby with my mister. I had his seed in there. My poor egg had slipped out to meet it.

“Can’t you come out here and help me?” Rose pleaded. She had bunions. She had busted her elbow stirring oatmeal.

I was busy. My mucous was of a quality. I had just the least clutch of eggs left out of the millions I got when I started.

“Get off,” my man said, “and I’ll do it again.”

“Is that Tonto I hear?”

Tonto snorted. “She’ll talk all day if you let her.”

But maybe you need more convincing. Continue reading

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Over Forty Writers Over Forty to Watch

Writing the title of this post actually felt very silly; it seems such an arbitrary way of gathering a list of writers to look out for. What could be sillier than singling out writers in this way, according to their age? Surely, there are more worthy criteria. Well, there is an answer to what could be sillier than singling out over forty writers over forty to watch, namely, singling twenty writers under forty to watch, especially largely mainstream writers writing, for the most part, conventional and redundant fiction. And the New Yorker has done just that. But this isn’t surprising. Theirs is an idea once again institutionalizing, reinforcing our decayed culture’s obsession with youth, not to mention its eyes wide shut wallowing in mediocrity. So, not only have they missed, for the most part, who are the best fiction writers under forty to watch, but, with their unapologetic valorization of youth, they missed entirely. The following writers (and I include poets, essayists, and theorists among them) are writers who have consistently written great work. I anticipate great things from each of them in the years and years to come. With full awareness of how a corrective sometimes ironically and paradoxically legitimizes what it seeks to correct, here, in the order in which I thought of them, are over forty writers over forty whose work I will be busy watching.

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For those of you with students of the creative writing persuasion…

Please tell them about the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts. This is the best summer writing conference around. (I’m a little biased, to be sure, having been the program’s associate director for several years and now serving as one of its writers in residence.) It’s an incredible June week in lovely Amherst, packed with workshops, craft seminars, readings, and the company of dozens of fellow writers—young and old, famous and unknown, traditional and experimental, cranky and cheerful. (Mostly cheerful.)

UMass Amherst campus

The 2010 lineup of faculty and writers in residence: James Tate, Joy Williams, Mark Doty, Charles D’Ambrosio, Dara Wier, Stephen Graham Jones, Noy Holland, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Paul Lisicky, Lisa Olstein, Matthew Zapruder, Michael Kimball, Leni Zumas, Alex Phillips, and Heather Christle.

Our scholarship deadline is fast approaching (April 1) and workshops tend to fill quickly, so if you know any students or writer-friends who might be interested, please pass the word! Application forms are available on the website.

Your Favorites from Lish’s Stock Company

We know who they are. And they all have short stories to their credit, but what is your favorite?

Carver – Why Don’t You Dance?

Hempel – In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried

D. Williams – Marriage and the Family

Evenson – Two Brothers

Schutt – The Blood Jet

Lutz – Recessional

Holland – Luckies Like Us

Robison – Yours

Hannah, J. Williams, Ozick, Brodkey, Eno and others (please add) I’m not familiar enough with