November 04, 2010

Goldilocks Syndrome

Three days, three towns, three different beds I've woken up in--none of them my own, none just right. Now I'm just one high school class visit away from DC. Oooh...make that one class visit + one Bodo's bagel lunch. If my biggest dilemma of the day turns out to be whether to get a cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter versus a BLT with avocado on sesame, I am a lucky girl.

Yesterday was a lovely visit to the University of Virginia, where I read from Theories of Falling and took questions from Lisa Spaar's APPW (Advanced Poetry) thesis class. Hard to believe that the popular and growing APPW concentration, in which undergrads can complete a full-length creative manuscript for honors credit, grew out of a pilot experiment that began with our Class of 2002. Hard to believe I was workshopping Kyle Dargan's then-thesis Chronografia, eventually-to-be the Cave-Canem prizewinner The Listening, on the bare floor of Room Eight East Lawn those eight years ago. Hard to believe the "Happy Halloween" that I foolishly chalked on the invaluable historic brick outside said Lawn Room still lingers. The students were bright, fun, inquisitive, and just as overwhelmed as we were by the prospect of navigating post-grad life.

Even after the greatness that will be Story/Stereo this Friday (see you there, I hope?), there are two readings coming up in DC that I'm sorry to miss. One I'll miss for my own reading in Atlanta; the other because I'll be at Oklahoma! with my grandmother. But just because I'm being deprived doesn't mean you must be. Details and my annotations ("Why You Should Go") below...

Open Door Reading with Susan Coll and Josh Weil
Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 2 PM 
at The Writer's Center (4508 Walsh Street, Chevy Chase, MD)

Josh Weil reads from The New Valley: Novellas. Weil is currently serving as the fall 2010 writer-in-residence at The James Merrill House in Stonington, Connecticut, where he is at work on a novel. He is joined by Susan Coll, who reads from Beach Week, her most recent novel. Susan Coll is the author of four novels, including Rockville Pike, Acceptance, and Beach Week.

Why You Should Go: Susan Coll is one of those hidden treasures of DC--a smart, insightful writer who is tuned in to the minor dramas and contemporary humor of American family life. Over at, book critic Lizzie Skurnick called Beach Week "hilarious and witty." And Josh's work is haunting--I had the pleasure of being with him at the Sewanee Writer's Conference when he read from The New Valley. There's something very old school about the way he develops his Blue Ridge landscapes and his complex voice; something that reminds me of Breece D'J Pancake, which is high praise indeed. If he reads from his next novel, know you'll be getting a sneak peek at something big.


Barrelhouse Presents Reading Series with Adam Golaski & Sherrie Flick of Rose Metal Press, and John Cotter & Maureen Thorson of Open Letters Monthly
Thursday, November 11 - 7 PM
at Black Squirrel (2427 18th Street NW, Washington, DC)

Two Rose Metal Press authors--Adam Golaski and Sherrie Flick--will be in D.C. reading their flash fiction and small stories. Golaski is the author of Color Plates, "a museum of stories" that take their starting points in Impressionist paintings, but then spread out in wildly unexpected directions. Flick wrote an essay for RMP's Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction; she is also the author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness.

They will be reading with two Open Letters Monthly authors, John Cotter and Maureen Thorson. Cotter has a new novel out (Under the Small Lights) and has been on a joint tour with Adam Golaski. Thorson is the founder of the D.C.-based Big Game Books and is the author of Applies to Oranges, a full-length poetry collection forthcoming from Ugly Duck Presse.

Why You Should Go: This night is going to be a LOT of fun, as well as supporting and recognizing the power of small presses. The Barrelhouse folks know how to host a good shindig, and they've lined up a quartet who all give energetic, often funny readings. As an art lover, the premise to Golaski's book intrigues me. And I just finished John's book Under the Small Lights while lounging in a friend's backyard in Oxford, just down the road from the football stadium...listening to the roar of carpet-bagging Auburn fans as Ole Miss lost yet another game. For those imbibing, I'd recommend pairing a bourbon with Sherrie Flick's work--or a tequila & cranberry cocktail with John Cotter's--or a robust draft porter with Maureen's poems; nota bene, Black Squirrel has a stellar beer collection.


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