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!
I'm teaching another eight-week Short Fiction Workshop, which will begin March 12, 2009. This course differs from previous ones in that, aside from our examinations of published short fiction, we will also be reading nonfiction writing about writing (so far I've got Annie Dillard, Italo Calvino and Lewis Hyde on the list - with possible inclusion of Lynda Barry, Rick Bass, and Gary Lutz). These won't be how-to discussions, but, rather, meditations on, among other things, what writing is like, both when it's going well and when it's going poorly (Dillard), and what it means to be an artist in this contemporary world (Hyde). I'm curious where discussions of these texts will take us. What you might suggest for this kind of syllabus?Here's the official course description and my nifty bio.If you're interested in the class, email me at [email protected]And...check out the new website!Short Fiction Workshop Spring 20098 Thursdays, 03/12/2009 to 05/07/2009 (no class 04/02/2009) 7:30-9:30 pm$340 for new students; $310 for returning studentsEnrollment limit: 8 StudentsFor the first four weeks of this eight week course, we will do in-class writing exercises and discuss published short fiction from a craft perspective. We will also read and discuss essays about writing and the writing life by such authors as Annie Dillard, Italo Calvino, and Lewis Hyde. For the final four weeks of the course we will workshop student work in a serious environment meant to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story manuscript.For more information, go here.About the Instructor:Edan Lepucki has an M.F.A from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her short fiction has been published in Meridian, the Los Angeles Times, CutBank, Narrative Magazine, Avery, and the Los Angeles Review. She has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Oberlin College, the Gotham Writers' Workshop, and for Vroman's Bookstore's Education Program. She is currently at work on a novel.
Tonight's installment of the Pacific Standard Fiction Series here in Brooklyn features Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision and Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances. Books will be for sale on-site, and drink specials will be chosen by dartboard. The reading starts at 7 p.m. at Pacific Standard. Hope to see you there!
Millions Readers: Max here. When I last wrote in these pages, I was introducing our talented new editor, Lydia Kiesling. Since then, we have added a number of new staff writers (Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Zoë Ruiz, Il’ja Rákoš, Ismail Muhammad, Chigozie Obioma) and a new social media editor (Kirstin Butler). We also have exciting projects in the works that we hope will usher in a new era at The Millions. As is likely not news to anyone reading this, it is very challenging to maintain an independent, culture-focused online magazine. Today, we are asking our readers to support the site, not because we are in dire straits but because now, more than ever, we believe it is time for you and us to take our destiny into our own hands as much as is possible. Please visit our new Membership page and sign up now. It’s a very quick and simple process and we have a number of tiers that should be manageable for any budget. The three main tiers are annual recurring donations. There is also a monthly option. The Millions is a unique place. Over the last nearly 14 years, we have helped launch many great writers, and we have improved the reading lives of many thousands. We have helped countless books, small and large, find their audiences. The Millions is home to curious, thoughtful, sometimes long and untimely pieces that might not find a home elsewhere but that are important to our readers. It is likely an accident or an anomaly that The Millions grew to occupy its current role and has survived as other independent sites have failed. One truism that has emerged over the last decade on line is that sites and services that are not supported by readers and users are destined to fail. The Millions has managed to avoid this fate thus far. We have never had a source of outside funding -- no quiet benefactor or behind-the-scenes corporate sponsor -- nor, before today, have we asked the readers to support the site monetarily in any meaningful way. Instead, the site has survived on various forms of online advertising, options that seem to grow more constrained by the month, and we have increasingly relied upon Amazon's affiliate program. And while Amazon's program has been a good fit for The Millions, many an online business has failed when an online giant changed the rules. It is not inconceivable that Amazon could alter or even eliminate its program without warning. Such an event would effectively shut down The Millions overnight. The bottom line is that The Millions, under its current model, could one day need to shut down unexpectedly. A reader-supported Millions won’t ever have to worry about that. Rather than ask for your support at some future moment, when The Millions is under duress, it has become clear to us that it makes much more sense to ask for your support now, when we are doing well, producing great work, and hopeful about our big plans for the future. What will we do with your money? First and foremost we'll ensure that we can stick around for many years to come. But we'll also use it to get better. One way to do that is to keep paying our staff writers and make The Millions an attractive place for them to write. Financial stability would also enable The Millions to take more risks and expand what we do. Some final notes: We have been thinking of taking this step for quite a while, but, frankly, have been nervous about how best to present the idea and execute it. Jason Kottke's recent decision to go this route helped us shake off some of these concerns and take this step (please read Jason and support him as well!). Also - to be clear - we are not putting the site behind a paywall, nor will we ever. For those who subscribe, we'll look at offering site-related updates and perhaps a more robust newsletter at some point down the line, though the plans on that are not firmed up at this time. Finally, a small number of you have supported us in an ongoing fashion via Paypal. We are going to cancel those "subscriptions" and will email you with instructions for subscribing via this new system, should you be interested.
We have some news. I am very pleased to announce that starting today, our longtime staff writer Lydia Kiesling will be moving down the virtual hall and taking over my virtual office as editor of The Millions. Lydia has been a vital part of this project since 2009 and so recalls the tail-end of our "book blog" days and has been a major contributor to the site's transformation and growth over the subsequent six-plus years. She is a special talent, and I have complete confidence in her ability to inject new energy and ideas into The Millions while maintaining the quality and tone that we are known for. Lydia's unique voice and intelligence has won over new readers to The Millions even as she has become a writer to watch beyond the confines of this magazine. I don't doubt that Lydia will surpass what I have done as editor. I am moving on because it was time to move on. Thirteen years is an epoch and I am rather set in my ways. I owe it to The Millions and our readers to open the door for something new. What should you expect? We are not planning any big overhaul or shift in focus, but you will soon see a new and vital editorial voice underpinning what we do. If you write for or pitch pieces to the site, or communicate with me in my capacity as editor, those inquiries should now all go to [email protected] I can still be reached for inquiries related to the business side of The Millions and other inquiries not related to editorial. Please join me in welcoming Lydia! Thanks for everything. -Max Here are some words from our new editor in chief: I'm thrilled to be stepping into Max's shoes! The Millions is one of the most meaningful presences in my life--not only because it's allowed me to fumble toward my own voice as a writer, but because it's afforded a glimpse of the amazing multiverse of readers and writers that find a common home online. This site has been a part-time labor of love carried out with full-time intensity for more than a decade. Briefly, it’s my hope to continue Max's support for an incredible group of staff writers and editors, to be proactive in the search for new voices, and, ideally, to find ways to pay more people more money. Above all, I want to keep the lights on, not only for excellent, unmissable book coverage, but for those signature Millions essays--things that seem unlikely and unpitchable, and wind up being unforgettable. I can only hope to live up to Max's very high standard.
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