I’m so happy to share my review of journalist Sarah Smarsh’s She Come By It Natural, a timely and thoughtful dive into the life/lyrics/career/empire/mythos of Dolly Parton. Thanks to Chapter 16 and Southern Festival of Books (virtual this year), where you can catch Smarsh on Sat., Oct. 10, at 3 PM. You can read my review here.
I’m so grateful to New Orleans’ Garden District Book Shop for inviting my Peauxdunque Review colleagues—Tad Bartlett, Nordette Adams, Maurice Carlos Ruffin—and I to join their Virtual Happy Hour yesterday. Our discussion covered the creation of a new print literary journal during these harrowing times, the origins of our group, and the necessity of community for a sustained creative life. Thanks, Rayna Nielsen and Garden District Book Shop! You can watch the vid of our discussion here.
I’m so pleased learn that Atticus Review has nominated my essay, “The Mouths of Our Caves,” for this year’s Best of the Net. This personal essay–which I hope says something useful about the ways we try to wrangle our wildest creative selves within the domesticated boundaries of our lives–was first published in late May. You can read it here.
I’m delighted to share a short story of mine, “The Falling Down Side,” which appears in the newest issue of Peatsmoke. This piece of short fiction has been with me a long time, in one form or another, and now I’m especially glad it’s found such a welcome home in this newish journal. I like what they’re doing. Many thanks to editors Wendy E. Wallace and Bess Cooley. You can read my story online in the Fall 2020 Issue of Peatsmoke.
I want to share officially here the release of Peauxdunque Review‘s Issue Three, which is available now for order here. Being part of this journal from its inception has been one of the great joys of my literary life. Our hope is that this issue’s contents reflect something honest and arresting about this fraught moment in our culture. Check out our site, and if you’re a writer, please consider sending us your work. I serve as Fiction Editor, and I can vouch for our staff’s careful, conscientious attention to the work we receive.
Oh how I loved writing this review of Vesper Flights, the new essay collection by Helen Macdonald (author of H Is for Hawk)! Macdonald will appear online Sept. 15, in an event benefitting Humanities Tennessee. She’ll be in discussion with Margaret Renkl—in other words, it’ll be the dream team of bird-related writing. You can get a ticket for the event here. I treasure this book and know others will too. You can read my review here, up today at Chapter 16.
I’m delighted to share my review of Ron Rash’s new story collection, In The Valley. One of our master story writers, and one of my own favorites. Fans of Serena will be pleased—she’s back, deliciously amoral as ever, this time in a novella. My review’s up today at the ever-pleasing Chapter 16.
I’m delighted to share my interview with the wonderful Jamey Hatley, who’s serving as this year’s Short Story judge in the Words and Music Writing Competition, which is open for submissions until Aug. 15. We at Peauxdunque Review are partnering with Words and Music, a yearly literary conference in New Orleans, to administer this contest and publish the best of what we find. I loved learning more about Jamey’s point of view—check out the interview and then send us your own work!
I’m so pleased to share this (newly online) piece I wrote for the second issue of Peaxudunque Review. In this music column, I take a deep dive into albums that seemed to go overlooked when they first appeared. It’s been heartening to see an unusual focus in media on Indigo Girls recently, in connection with their new album and terrific live streams during the pandemic. It’s the kind of attention on them I was hoping for when, last fall, I wrote about their 2011 album Beauty Queen Sister. You can read my column on Indigo Girls on Peauxdunque Review’s site.
I’m thrilled to share this new personal essay, up today at Atticus Review.
The week I wrote this piece, some fluke of scheduling had me working on three separate author interviews at once, which seemed to open up an ongoing interview with my own nature—the state of my creative restlessness and the stark transitions that had taken place in my family life.
At first, my intention wasn’t to capture the potent swirl of nervous vulnerability and ecstatic devotion that can sometimes take hold of us while we work. This piece emerged in sly snatches of confused aside—as a kind of shadow chronicle I kept as I worked. Every time I tried write a tamer, more flattering version of this moment in time, the messier the truth grew as it came snarling out onto the page. Every time I tried to spare my blushes, as the Brits say, the more exposing the next paragraph became. Every time I tried to tried to confine the imagery to our world’s non-beastly physical reality, the more insufficient and untrue those metaphors seemed.