I’ll be reading from A Field Guide to the North American Family this Saturday, as part of New York’s 20th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair. The Indie Author Read-a-Thon runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and I’ll probably only be reading a couple of short chapters from the book; I can’t recommend that anyone schlep to 44th Street just to see me. That said, I had a blast at this book fair last year, trolling the beautiful wares of such publishers as Akashic Books, New York Review Classics, and Gingko Press. You know… the kind of books that don’t lend themselves to the Kindle. I emerged $40 poorer, but with half of my Christmas shopping done. My favorite find? An anthology of scam emails from Africa. So: Come for the books… stay for the reading!
The glue that held it all together was Elaine herself, an outsize personality with a sharp tongue and a sharper wit, who was usually installed opposite the bar at Table 4, dressed in her trademark round eyeglasses and flowing dresses. She was a magnet, a matchmaker, a traffic cop, a den mother, and, yes, an unlicensed head shrinker.
I'm not sure how many of you used the "Book News by RSS" feature that lived at the bottom of the middle column. It was slowing down the site so I moved it to its own page. Enjoy.Also, I plan to make some changes around here sometime in the near future as I think the site is ready for a little facelift. Hopefully, I'll find time to do that soon.
Stop by the stately Mercantile Library at 7 p.m., where the literary magazine [sic] will be hosting a party. I'll be reading from, and signing copies of, A Field Guide to the North American Family, and the illustrious Diane Williams, editor of NOON and author of Excitability, among other titles, will be reading from her new book, It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature. The Merc is located at 17 E 47th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. I'd love to see you there.
I've added some fiction writing classes to the Writing Workshops Los Angeles fall roster. If you live in the LA area, and you're interested in participating in any of these, please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot. All classes will be held in my Los Feliz home, where refreshments (and the occasional gourmet cheese) will be served.I'm especially excited about the Novel Writing Workshop I'm teaching, a course I've been devising since the day I began my own beast of a book...Introduction to Fiction Writing: Weekend SeminarSaturday, September 6, 2008 and Sunday, September 7, 200810 am to 3 pm (includes one hour lunch break)In this seminar we will explore the major tenets of fiction writing, including characterization, narrative voice, prose style, point of view, scene and summary, dialogue, and structure. Over the course of the seminar, we will continually return to certain questions: How can we use language to capture the uncapturable? How can a bunch of words on the page move us, make us understand what it means to be human? How can form and technique help us to improve as writers? In an attempt to answer these questions, we will look to published fiction for guidance, and dive into various writing exercises. Students will leave the seminar with the beginnings of several promising projects, as well as the skills to follow through with them.No prior fiction writing experience is required for this course, although more experienced writers will also find the course useful.New student rate: $125/studentEnrollment Limit: 8 StudentsNovel Writing WorkshopMondays, September 8, 2008 to November 17, 2008 (11 weeks)7:30 pm to 9:30 pmBecause the novelist faces different struggles and joys than the writer of short fiction, I've created an 11-week course specifically designed for those students working on longer projects.We will begin this class by discussing The Great Gatsby from a writer's perspective, analyzing how Fitzgerald constructed (or failed to construct?) his masterpiece. From there, we will alternate weeks between critiquing students' novels-in-progress, and discussing craft as it pertains to novel writing - in particular, structure, voice, character, and pacing. We will workshop one manuscript (up to 100 pages) every other week, devoting an entire class to each student's work-in-progress. In our craft discussions, the writings of Aristotle, John Gardner, E.M. Forster, and James Wood will be explored; we'll also do a few in-class exercises. On these craft weeks, there will be no outside reading or writing assignments so that students can give attention to their own novels, and to the upcoming workshop manuscript.To qualify for this class, you must have at least 80 pages of a novel manuscript written before the class begins.New Student Rate: $385/studentEnrollment Limit: 5 StudentsAdvanced Short Fiction Workshop IThursdays, September 4, 2008 to October 16, 2008 (6 weeks—no class on 9/11/08)7:30 to 9:30 pmThis 6 week workshop will be a deeper exploration of various fiction techniques such as voice, character, structure and point of view. We will spend the first two weeks doing in-class writing exercises and reading published short fiction from a writer's perspective. The remaining 4 weeks of the course will be devoted to workshopping student work in an intense yet respectful environment designed to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.New student rate: $325/studentEnrollment limit: 8 studentsAdvanced Short Fiction Workshop II (Same class as above, just a second section)Thursdays, October 23, 2008 to December 4, 2008 (6 weeks—no class 11/27/08)7:30 to 9:30 pmThis 6-week workshop will be a deeper exploration of various fiction techniques such as voice, character, structure and point of view. We will spend the first two weeks doing in-class writing exercises and reading published short fiction from a writer's perspective. The remaining 4 weeks of the course will be devoted to workshopping student work in an intense yet respectful environment designed to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.New student rate: $325/studentEnrollment limit: 8 students
As late summer sets in, I find myself lazy, distracted. Like the stockbrokers and lawmakers who spend August relaxing or taking their "recess," I, too, will be taking it easy. Expect posting to be lighter than usual in the coming weeks, and try to take things slow, if you can.
You may have noticed that I spent the long weekend (which for me is one day longer thanks to the national day of mourning for President Ford) updating the look of the site. I hope it's easy on the eyes. However, if you can't find something you're looking for, or if I've inadvertently broken something, please let me know.In addition to the superficial changes, I've also adjusted the site to allow for our contributors - there will soon be six of them - to post directly to the blog, which, I'm hoping, will up the level of discourse even further. So, all in all, 2007 should be a good year for The Millions. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year.