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!
I’ve been teaching fiction writing out of my apartment for over a year now. Seven people show up to my place once a week to eat some gourmet cheese, drink some wine (or sparkling water), and talk about fiction writing. It’s been terrific to explore craft topics with such a diverse group of Angelenos; my students range in age from 24 to 57, and, when they’re not writers, they are painters, actors, therapists, vineyard owners, producers, nannies, midwives, and so on. I always try to balance the intensity of our critique sessions (because they are intense – this ain’t no touchy-feely love fest) with discussions of published work (for how can you write if you don’t read?) and writing exercises (which are either loved or hated, depending on the student). Teaching inspires and challenges me, and it keeps me writing – for how could I present myself as a voice of authority if I weren’t committed to the art form?This November, I’m trying my hand at a weekend seminar, called Introduction to Fiction Writing. It’s designed for new writers, but I plan for it to be useful to more experienced writers as well, those who want to revisit technique and gather new material. If you’re an L.A. reader of The Millions, perhaps you’ll join me?Here’s the course description: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.When: Saturday 11/17 and Sunday 11/18, 10:30-12:30 and 1:30-3:30 pm each day7 student maximum enrollmentThe course will take place in Los FelizCourse fee: $110Email me at [email protected] for more information.
Late last year, we tried something new: we asked Millions readers for support. The response has been very positive and it’s a thrill to see that so many of you value what we’re doing here. We are grateful that many readers have decided to contribute to The Millions since November.
A very special thank-you goes to our two Sponsors at the $500-per-year level. Our Sponsors have the opportunity to dedicate their support to anything or anyone they wish, and we’ve created an acknowledgment area on the membership page.
The amount we’ve raised so far provides us with some helpful breathing room as we look to become less reliant upon the internet giants who, as sources of revenue, tend to control the destinies of places like The Millions. It also helps The Millions produce the big features that are highly valued by readers: Year in Reading and our Most Anticipated list.
The Millions notched its fourth anniversary this weekend, and I’m very pleased that the site is still going strong and more popular than ever. As much as I’d like to take full credit for this, much of it should go to my contributors who really stepped it up last year and who since the redesign at the beginning of this year have, in a few short months, really taken the site to another level.I should also thank the readers of The Millions whose participation in the comments and whose emails to me help make working on the site a tremendously fulfilling endeavor. In fact, just peeking at the site’s stats and seeing how many regular readers we have makes me feel very grateful to know that so many readers appreciate what we’re doing here.And what is it that we’re doing here? As ever, The Millions and its fellow book blogs continue to evolve. One of the most interesting developments over the last year is how several bloggers have become regular fixtures in newspaper book sections across the country. Some of these folks were critics before they were bloggers, but some, like Ed, began down that path with their blogs. Even as blogs have been increasingly accepted as legitimate voices contributing to the greater literary discourse, there are still those who question their value and accuse them of cliquishness and worse. Hopefully, though, book blogs will continue to matter enough to enough people that they will continue to be targeted by such attacks. I’d rather The Millions be criticized than irrelevant.The Millions, of course, has never been particularly controversial. Fomenting arguments has never been a big part of the site’s mission, as much fun as it to sometimes get involved in those battles. The mission of this blog is to act much like your favorite independent bookstore might. As I’ve written before, “one should be able to walk into [a good] bookstore and be able to grasp, based upon which books are on display and based upon conversations with staff and fellow customers, what matters at that moment both in the wider world and in the neighborhood.” I hope that when people “walk into” The Millions they get that same feeling from those of us who write the posts and from their fellow readers who leave comments.Deeper than that, at the very core of The Millions, is that we should seek out good books to read and pass them along to like-minded friends. As I wrote nearly four years ago when I decided that the site needed a manifesto to give the then bumbling proto-Millions some shape, “this isn’t about compulsory reading; this is about making sure that whatever you read will serve a purpose for you and that, as often as possible, this purpose is to bring you the curious sort of joy that only a book can.” There’s more there too.All of which is to say, I hope The Millions still feels relevant and worthwhile amid the millions of blogs that crowd the Internet. To me, our mission is still worth pursuing. Thanks again to all of you for another great year. Let’s have another.Previously: An Historic Day; The Millions Turns Two; Thanks for Three Years from The Millions.
Join me in welcoming our newest regular contributor at The Millions, Timothy R. Homan. I’ve known Tim since grad school in Chicago. He’s got a keen reporter’s eye and an avid reader’s sensibility.Tim is a Washington-based journalist covering international trade and the global economy. He has a masters degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and one from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. His articles have been published in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and he freelances book reviews for Kirkus Reviews. He is also the founder of Not Your Mother’s Book Club, now with chapters in Boston, DC, and San Francisco.Welcome aboard, Tim!
It’s my pleasure to introduce to you a new contributor to The Millions. Emre is an old friend of mine and I’ve always enjoyed our literary discussions. Emre read a lot of books last year, and he put together a diary of his reading experience. My plan is to post a segment of it each week. I’ve decided to share the whole diary with you because I think it represents one way that we, as readers, can get more out of the time we devote to our obsession with the written word. The post above this one will be the first in the series, but before we get to that, here’s a little more about Emre:Emre Peker currently slaves away as a paralegal in New York. Emre likes the city, food, drinks, books, music and good people. After winning the lottery, Emre will purchase a private island, derive a way to declare independence, and establish his own kingdom. Until then, Emre hopes to keep sane by reading and writing.One more thing, Emre grew up in Turkey, but has lived in the US for the last six years or so. This explains why some of the books he read last year were in Turkish.