Before the roses and the romance, Valentine's Day commemorated the Roman Saint Valentine — Valentinus, in Latin. And in her new cookbook, Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes, chef Nigella Lawson offers up simple recipes that celebrate the cuisine of the country Saint Valentine called home.
Jameson Currier’s new novel What Comes Around (Chelsea Station Editions) is a collection of interconnected short stories thematically tied together with a threaded longing for love. Our unnamed male protagonist spends four decades searching for a soul mate, each time resulting in crushed hopes and internalized agony. From an adolescent crush on a swimming instructor to the imagined drowning of a high maintenance boyfriend, Currier explores every aspect of relationships – the good, the bad, and the very dysfunctional – each set in a literary landscape perfectly crafted for the lovelorn. Although categorized as fiction, the intimate tone of these stories reads more in the vein of a memoir, bringing to mind Jo Ann Beard’s career-making The Boys of My Youth. In many ways, Currier’s collection could be considered the male counterpart to Beard’s iconic book: both explore pain through poetic language, are structurally similar, and share the same somber and often melancholic tone, with men serving in each as the centrifugal force for plot and narrator.
What sets this particular collection aside from many of its contemporaries is the literary risk Currier takes with writing each story in second person narrative. The repetition of this might weigh heavy on some readers, as the pointed “you” gives the reader a constant sense of responsibility for what’s happening on the page. However, it’s a device that works for the most part, as it allows a voyeuristic view of one man’s nearly self-destructive search for love. The “you” brings us in closer to an effective face-to-face proximity with the narrator’s life, forcing us to search through his actions and choices for a possible reflection of our own.
Currier’s masterful command of language is demonstrated throughout the novel. His words are rich with the beauty of humanity, fully capturing the essence of the fragility of the hopeful heart. After sleeping with his best friend’s new boyfriend in a casino hotel room in Atlantic City, our narrator reminds us of consequences, echoing the karmic definition of the title of the novel:
You think about what would happen if you started dating Peter. What would Keith do if you told him you slept with his new boyfriend? How much would a confession like this cost you? You total up the price of a dinner, a movie, and an off-Broadway theater ticket and decide it’s not worth the effort. You have no interest in dating Peter. And you’d rather not lose Keith as a friend. But you are not home free. You are not exempt. You know you will pay a price for your indiscretion. You know the bill will arrive someday soon.
As a writer, Currier should be lauded for his creative decision to avoid the all-too-common formulaic trappings of most current novels written for and about gay men. Here, the focus is not on sex. Rather, the emphasis is the considerable lengths a man will go to in his lifelong search for true love.
What Comes Around
By Jameson Currier
Chelsea Station Editions
Paperback, 9781937627058, pp. 170
“I put everything I had into this book, stayed with themes even when they stumped me, wrote from the darkest places and tried to find the humor to make even the most painful feelings knowable, communicable.”
Hilary Sloin, author of the genre-bending novel Art on Fire (Bywater Books), is a prolific writer of short stories, essays, and screenplays. Her debut novel has been short-listed for numerous awards, and is so fully realized that it was mistakenly awarded the non-fiction prize in the Amherst Book and Plow Competition.
The novel is framed as,
[…] the apparent biography of subversive painter Francesca deSilva, the founding foremother of “pseudorealism,” who lived hard and died young. But in the tradition of Vladimir Nabokov’s acclaimed novel Pale Fire, it’s a fiction from start to finish. It opens with Francesca’s early life. We learn about her childhood love, the chess genius Lisa Sinsong, as well as her rivalry with her brilliant sister, Isabella, who publishes an acclaimed volume of poetry at the age of 12. She compensates for the failings of her less than attentive parents by turning to her grandmother who is loyal and adoring until she learns Francesca is a lesbian, when she rejects her. Francesca flees to a ramshackle cabin in Wellfleet, Mass., working weekends at the flea market. She breaks into the gloomy basement of a house, where she begins her life as a painter. Much to her confusion and even dismay, fame comes quickly.
The novel is at once a humanizing portrait of a gifted lesbian artist and a satirical look at both the art world and the academy.
Sloin is a self-proscribed half city girl and half country girl. She lives “way out in the country” in a “sort of cabin with a magnificent stone fireplace” with her Jack Russell Terrier, Pluto, and a “great pick-up truck.” Fortunately for writer Julie Harthill Clayton, Sloin tore herself away from the fireplace and her “bad antiques hobby” for this interview.
What was your inspiration for writing Art on Fire?
I really can’t say. It began as some sort of sardonic detective story. I was in the middle of a sad breakup, I remember, and once I moved out of the place where my lover and I lived, I just started writing and writing, the paintings first, then the story draped around them. But I have to say: I’ve always been a huge appreciator of Nabokov and he is such a playful writer. And then there is E. Annie Proulx. I had just finished reading The Shipping News and was completely blown away by how gentle and subversive it was. So I think those two authors gave birth to Francesca and her family.
Are the characters in Art on Fire modeled after anyone in particular?
Well, I was living in a rented house at the time and next door was this very Italian family, a blended family, with an older daughter from the father’s first marriage and a young daughter that the father and current wife had made together. And there was a sadness about the older daughter. I wanted to know her, but I have always been awkward around kids. That is only now starting to change, by the way. Anyhow, he was an Italian Literature professor and she was a DA and they had this very good-looking, high-powered quality about them. They fascinated me. The first draft used all their names, and then I changed them, which let me walk away from the characters.
Francesca is based somewhat on me, as is Isabella. And Vivian is definitely based on my mother. And Evelyn is not even thinly disguised. She is my grandmother; if I’ve done my job as well as I tried to do. My grandmother was a delight!
What was your greatest fear in writing this novel?
I was afraid to have my mother read it, but she passed away a year ago, lived just long enough to learn it would be published, but not long enough to read it. She always feigned interest in reading the manuscript, but I knew where that would end up–me hurt and frustrated–so I never passed it on to her. Also, I want to be able to write about lesbians and straight people. I think the differences and similarities are so fascinating. So I don’t want to be ghettoized. I don’t think my work is what a lot of lesbians are looking for.
In thinking about differences and similarities, do you feel that there is a lesbian literary sensibility?
I am a bit grumpy on this issue, I’m afraid. I think lesbians are so marginalized by society. Even within my own family, the fact that I published a book matters so little because it is about a lesbian and was published by a publisher that seeks to reach a lesbian audience. But I think lesbian literature needs to aim higher. I think we need to write about lesbians who are doing things that somehow speak to the entire human experience. This would be good for us, as lesbians, but it would also help us gain visibility and importance in the reading community and the community at large. I was not a huge fan of The Kids Are Alright, but I was glad it was made because it showed that lesbians are, first and foremost, flawed people who are not essentially different from every other demographic.
The truth is, I don’t read much lesbian literature. Some of Marilyn Hacker’s work blew me away, probably because I felt she tackled a lot of these issues. She wrote good literature and placed the quality and content above the “lesbianness” of the material. I am a huge fan of Annie Proulx who I knew was a lesbian immediately upon reading her book. We write differently. We don’t have to write about lesbians; we have to write about the world from a lesbian perspective.
How much of “you” is in Art on Fire?
Tons. I am all over the two main characters. I would even say I have quite a lot of Lisa Sinsong and Shanta Wall in me, and maybe even a bit of Lucky Perkins on a trashy day. I put everything I had into this book, stayed with themes even when they stumped me, wrote from the darkest places and tried to find the humor to make even the most painful feelings knowable, communicable.
Do you have a writing “process?” If so, can you share some of it?
It’s pretty simple. I write long hand usually, and only with one of my three fountain pens, in a journal. Then I transcribe that onto the computer and edit while I do that. I print it out and mark the hell out of it, add stuff, take stuff out, and usually end up going in a completely different direction. At some point I start to figure out what I’m writing–short fiction or long fiction or, occasionally, an essay. But I always like to be good and hyped up on coffee to write. I can’t write when I’m sleepy.
Which character did you like most in Art on Fire?
My favorite character is Isabella. She touched me.
What is it about Isabella’s character that you love?
She is so flawed and tormented and spoiled rotten, but you can feel that she wishes it were all different, that she recognizes there is something wrong with her and wishes she could change it. I loved writing Isabella. The words just flowed–and there were a lot of words. She is quite loquacious, particularly in her mind. Plus, I am fascinated by the pain she feels about having to be alive.
What are your thoughts on the state of LGBT fiction? Fiction in general?
I wish that LGBT fiction would incorporate more literary fiction and not be afraid to play to a wider audience, which brings me to your next question. No one reads anymore–even I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. People just don’t have the quiet time and the attention span. And everything is made into a movie the moment it becomes a success. Seeing the movie is so much easier than reading the book. It’s very, very sad. But I think some of this is the fault of publishers, too, who are so concerned with sales that they will not take any chances on riskier work. Riskier work will make people read; that is my opinion.
When thinking about shrinking audiences and shrinking attention spans, why do you think it’s important to keep writing?
I have to write because I have things I want to say and writing keeps me from getting all bottled up and confused. I think that anyone who has something to say and the desire to write should write because I think writing is a great tool for exploration. As far as shrinking attention spans, reading demands attention and focus and quiet–these are good things. I have trouble with them myself. It is easier for me to write fiction than read fiction much of the time. I think that literary fiction has the potential to reach a wider audience. I don’t suggest we dumb it down, but I do suggest some of it could be more engaging, more enjoyable to read. I think of The Shipping News, The Color Purple, the stories of Raymond Carver and Chekhov and Alice Munro. I love reading these writers and return to them over and over again. They teach me how to write honestly and engagingly.
What is currently on your nightstand?
A book by Pauline Kael, A Life in the Dark.
Does Kael’s film criticism influence your writing in any way? I’m thinking in terms of her appreciation of both the high and low?
I just like her. I don’t know if she informs my writing, but she certainly informs the way I watch film. I am a pretty staunch critic of pop culture, particularly film and TV. My friends are often stunned by what does and doesn’t offend me. For example, Rescue Me, which was rampant with misogyny and homophobia, was, in moments, kind of brilliant, in my opinion, while other shows that are more politically correct bore me and seem to possess a lack of freshness and chutzpah. I wonder what Pauline Kael would say about Sandra Bernhard’s Without You I’m Nothing, one of my all-time favorite films.
Do you have an all-time favorite novel?
Oh, Jeez. That’s tough. I think The Color Purple may have been the greatest book ever written. I guess I would choose that with the caveat that I wish I could mention about ten others.
What 5 books have most inspired/moved you?
The Shipping News, Pale Fire, The Color Purple, Portnoy’s Complaint, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. So many others. It’s a crime not to mention Tolstoy here. He’s one of my heroes.
How does Tolstoy inspire you?
I love Tolstoy. He was concerned with the common man but he knew he wasn’t the common man and he didn’t pretend to be. He recognized the injustices in the way Russian society was set up–both for peasants and for women. He wanted to write about peasants and the bourgeoisie and he also focused on the difficulty of love relationships and the imbalances inherent in them. It’s been a long time since I’ve read him, but I loved Anna Karenina and Resurrection. War and Peace, not so much. It was too sprawling for me. Plus, I just don’t like art about war for the most part.
What else would you like the readers to know about you?
They will learn tons about me by reading my book. I am a very naked writer. I think I’m so clever and all that, but it’s not hard to see why my characters do the things they do and my opinions on academia are apparent, as is the truth: that I think the darkness is the funniest place of all if you can survive it.
The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from February 4–10, 2013.
Privacy and Cybersecurity
Censorship and Free Speech
Prosser teacher wants two books removed [Washington]
Update 1: Prosser book committee gives OK to argued novel ‘A Child Called It’
Update 2: Prosser School District committee votes to keep ['The Popularity Papers'] in library
Students Have Free Speech and Due Process Rights Too [Valdosta State]
Public prayer amendment shelved for the year [Virginia]
Access to Information
Copyright Insanity: School Policy Requires Students Hand Over Copyright On All Work [Prince George County, MD]
Three states push to require teaching climate change denial [OK, CO, and AZ]
To some, Detroit may be a symbol of urban decay; but to journalist Charlie LeDuff, it's home. In Detroit: An American Autopsy, he says the city's heart beats on. "We're still here trying to reconstruct the great thing we once had," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.
Also: our pick of the best books coming out this week; the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath's death; and the real identity of a popular romance novelist.
In fiction, Christine Sneed's short stories about the perils of love, Peter Carey's tale of a mechanical bird, and Nell Freudenberger's portrait of a trans-Atlantic marriage arrive in paperback. In softcover nonfiction, Tom Holland charts the rise of Islam.
Poet and critic Craig Morgan Teicher says The Colossus, Plath's first book of poetry (and the only one published in her lifetime), shows us glimpses of the poet she would later become. Do you have a favorite Plath poem? Tell us in the comments.
Ann Cvetkovitch’s new book, Depression: A Public Feeling, is a strange animal: memoir-cum-theoretical essay collection, a personal story of depression combined with professional academic cultural analysis. Though not always elegantly executed—perhaps on purpose, as Cvetkovich indicates early on in the text—Depression succeeds at opening up a public discussion on certain kinds of depression that are often dismissed as trivial, like the stress of academic labour. In the process, the University of Texas – Austin professor looks at depression from a number of different angles, basing her views on her own experience and that of a number of academics, writers and artists. Through her readings of these texts and artworks, Cvetkovich manages to revisit depression as a phenomenon not just biological, but with deep historical roots and with manifestations specific to certain groups; and as a spiritual goad to everyday healing practices. Cvetkovich explores depression, then, as an instructive feeling, a feeling productive of different kinds of knowledge. Although the author Cvetkovich ambivalence about self-help books, she nevertheless compares Depression to that genre, writing that “her self-help book for depression would be directed at an audience of academics and queers, especially those who remain curious about the genre despite their reservations and disidentifications.” I am going to take Cvetkovich at her word, and I will respond to her work as a queer and an academic, eschewing the habitual criticism of cultural theory as obscure, because it uses the technical, professional jargon of its field.
However, it is worth noting that Cvetkovich’s work is theory-heavy and jargon-laden. I don’t bemoan this fact, but I would urge readers who dislike theory or who find it difficult to follow to persevere through (some parts of) Depression, because there are aspects that are really worth exploring. Cvetkovich’s book emerges from the context of a new school of thought in the humanities called affect theory, in which emotions—or feelings, as Cvetkovich prefers to call them—are the privileged means of exploring cultural artefacts. (I should note that the distinction between affects, emotions, feelings, drives and so forth is hotly debated within the field of affect theory. This review is not really the place for such jargon-related niceties, however.) While the theoretical language of affect theory may seem impenetrable to those without training, its emphasis on the autobiographical and the emotional allows Depression to have a humanity and an accessibility that much academic writing fails to render and achieve.
The introduction is the most difficult part of the book to finish. Cvetkovich spends much of it touching on the theoretical bases of her project—affect theory, critical race theory, queer theory—without going into much detail about each of these influences. The result feels like a litany of names and ideas without much content; this is a larger problem with Depression, and its presence in the introduction I found rather discouraging.
The rest of the book is divided into two parts: “The Depression Journals,” a memoir of Cvetkovich’s experience with melancholy; and “A Public Feelings Project,” a series of interconnected pieces on forms of depression.
The “Depression Journals” section is readable and very relatable. In it, Cvetkovich narrates her history of grappling with a kind of often low-lying depression that is not taken very seriously in North America—the sort of depression that doesn’t stop you from accomplishing what needs to get done (buying groceries, teaching), but leaves you “blocked” in all but the most basic forms of living and working. As the depression stretches on for a number of years, Cvetkovich joins the early adopters of anti-depressants, only to wean herself off eventually through the creation of everyday rituals and habits—like the building of stone altars or knitting—that give her back a precious sense of control over her body and her life. Throughout this account, the writer bravely exposes her own idiosyncrasies and her fight with a less-than-respectable form of mental illness (for lack of a better word).
The journal section leads into Cvetkovich’s reflections on the memoir form. This section of part I of Depression establishes an unfortunate trend: Cvetkovich frequently gestures at a goal, rather than achieving it. In creative writing speak, you would call this telling, rather than showing. So when I read a line like: “‘The Depression Journals’ implicitly argues for terminology and definitions that emerge from the practice of writing, which adds emotional and personal meanings to historical and scientific ones,” I mainly wished the author had used that space to make that argument more explicit, to reinforce it, in “The Depression Journals,” not after.
This tendency was especially a problem in the first analytic chapter, on the medieval concept of acedia, in which Cvetkovich frequently alluded to her project, without quite accomplishing what she declares was her aim. “[O]ne potential value of turning to acedia rather than melancholy to historicize depression and political feelings,” she writes, “is to explore whether its sacred and religious dimensions can be useful rather than a liability.” Elsewhere: “[M]y archive—which includes not only early Christian monks but indigenous spiritualities, political burnout, and queer subcultures—is far outside the orbit of medical science.” I kept wishing—again, in particular in chapter one—that Cvetkovich would stop describing her project and start “doing it,” letting the reader come to such conclusions.
The following chapter, however, is quite remarkable. Entitled “From Dispossession to Radical Self-Possession: Racism and Depression,” the second section of part two is a fascinating series of interrelated readings Cvetkovich performs of academic-writing-cum-memoir by Black North American authors about the African diaspora and of depression memoirs by White American writers. Connecting these texts to writings about Indigenous sovereignty by the Mohawk legal scholar Taiaiake Alfred, Cvetkovich attempts to understand, not only how the symptoms and treatment of depression might differ for people from different racial, ethnic or class origins, but also how North America’s history of “rupture”, “genocide and colonialism” and dispossession engenders and shapes depression for some people in the working class, the African diaspora, or in Native American and First Nations communities.
In this section, Cvetkovich is able to elegantly weave together the disparate threads of depression that seem most interesting to her: political agency in the face of (histories of) racial and colonial domination; the sacred as an everyday practice that enables us to persevere in the face of injustice. The textile metaphor is no accident, for chapter 3 is devoted to recuperating “feminine” arts like crafting and knitting, in particular in queer and disabled communities and in the practice known as “craftivism.” It is in these latter parts of the book that Cvetkovich is most focused, clear and helpful with a vision for overcoming melancholy through a transformation of everyday life.
Depression: A Public Feeling
By Ann Cvetkovich
Duke University Press
Paperback,9780822352389, 296 pp.
 The following sentence best exemplifies the confusing nature of this section: “The affective turn is evident in many different areas of inquiry: cultural memory and public cultures that emerge in response to histories of trauma; the role of emotions such as fear and sentimentality in American political life and nationalist politics; the production of compassion and sympathy in human rights discourses and other forms of liberal representation of social issues and problems; discussions of the politics of negative affects, such as melancholy and shame, inspired in particular by queer theory’s critique of the normal; new forms of historical inquiry, such as queer temporalities, that emphasize the affective relations between past and present; the turn to memoir and the personal in criticism as a sign of either the exhaustion of theory or its renewed life; the ongoing legacy of identity politics as another inspiration for the turn to the persona; continuing efforts to rethink psychoanalytic paradigms and the relation between the psychic and the social, the persistent influence of Foucauldian notions of biopower to explain the politics of subject formation and new forms of governmentality; histories of intimacy, domesticity, and private life; the cultural politics of everyday life; histories and theories of sensation and touch informed by phenomenology and cultural geography.”
With the Boy Scouts of America mulling over its anti-gay policies until May, a Washington Post blogger has compiled a reading list to help “open their hearts and minds.” It includes Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, among others. [WashingtonPost]
David McConnell’s New Book Examines Six Gay Murder Victims and the Confused, Angry Men Who Killed Them: In his upcoming nonfiction book, American Honor Killings: Rage and Desire Among Men, author David McConnell characterizes the brutal murders of gay men by other men as “honor killings.” McConnell says:
“We refuse to believe honor killings happen in America. People think they only occur in the mountains of Afghanistan, among tribes and other primitive people. But the insane impulse behind honor killing is at work right here in America among the minds of many young men.” [LAWeekly]
New Book Details Life for Gay Power Couple in Hollywood: Former Warner Bros. Television President Alan Shayne and his partner, acclaimed artist Norman Sunshine, have penned a book titled Double Life: A Love Story from Broadway to Hollywood. In it, they detail their experiences as gay men in the entertainment industry decades ago. Sunshine said:
“We wanted to show young people that there is a chance for happiness and a good life. In our day, there was no material out there. We started with nothing, living in a walk-up in Second Ave. in New York, and here we are looking out over the Intracoastal (waterway).” [SouthFloridaGayNews]
Nate Berkus on “Not Choosing” to Be Gay, His New Book, and Opening Up to Dad and Oprah: Nate Berkus, The Oprah Winfrey Show’s guest interior decorator, has penned a book titled The Things That Matter. In 2004, Berkus’ partner, Fernando Bengoechea, died during Sri Lanka’s Indian Ocean tsunami. [AfterElton]
In her new book, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, author Paula Byrne shows how everyday objects helped shape Austen's life and literature. One example, a topaz cross, a cherished gift to Austen from her brother, plays an important role in Mansfield Park.
You have until 11:59 p.m. ET Sunday to send in your original short fiction. The challenge this round is to write a story in the form of a voice mail message. Submit your story here: https://npr3mf.submittable.com/submit
Novelist Jean Rhys once said, “All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” I thought of these words a great deal while reading the expanded reissue of Robert Duncan in San Francisco (City Lights), Michael Rumaker’s fascinating depiction of 1950s gay life in that city. Not only did the writers during what we now call the San Francisco Renaissance feed the lake of LGBT literature, they also made it possible for those of us who came after them to do the same.
When Rumaker lived in San Francisco, writing about the lives of gay men and women was dangerous in a way that’s difficult to fathom in that city today. Simply being gay put you danger with the police, whose infamous gay dragnets would land large groups of men in jail on Saturday nights. While walking by some men one night without any intention of soliciting sex, Rumaker was interrogated and thrown into a police wagon, then spent the night in a cell. Days later, Rumaker’s dramatic declaration of himself as not guilty in a courtroom was a personal turning point, a moment when he was filled with “contempt and an affirmation of a different sense of pride…”
San Francisco, for all its gay vitality, was an oppressive city. As if to remind gay writers of the perils of honestly depicting their lives, during this time Allan Ginsberg’s Howl was seized by U.S. customs officials and its publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was booked for publishing obscenity. (The U.S. government eventually lost the case.) To protect himself, writes Rumaker, he was “out-straighting the straights…careful not to offend, socially maintaining constant vigilance regarding my slightest body movement or gesture, or tone of voice in public.”
Robert Duncan, Rumaker’s mentor, was pivotal in opening Rumaker up to the possibilities of liberation, and he did so by example. When the two met, Duncan had already written his 1944 landmark essay “The Homosexual in Society,” in which he daringly compared the plight of homosexuals to other oppressed groups such as African Americans and Jews. Duncan would eventually enter into a thirty-seven year relationship with artist Jess Collins that ended with Duncan’s death in 1988. From Duncan, Rumaker learns a secret: “the more open, the more protected you are.” It’s hard to see how Rumaker could have written books like his autobiographical A Night and Day at the Baths, without fully understanding the essence of Duncan’s life.
The shape of Robert Duncan in San Francisco is both odd and wonderful. Divided into three sections, the first is a straightforward narrative covering several years of Rumaker’s life and his early contact with Duncan. It’s the second section that really dazzles. Entitled “Fast Takes,” this chapter is series of images reflecting Rumaker’s experience in San Francisco that range from the mundane (Robert Duncan’s “California Poet Casual” dress) to the profound (Robert Duncan “was, bravely, what he was, and kowtowed to no one…”) Fans of Joe Brainard’s I Remember might find this section especially captivating. The third section, concerning Rumaker’s arrest, reads like a gripping short story.
The new material is a series of letters between Duncan and Rumaker, and an interview between the book’s editors (Ammiel Alcalay and Megan Paslawski) and the now 80-year-old Rumaker. These additions only add to the book’s refreshingly amorphous shape, as well as its sense of urgency. The new material also gives writers some gems of advice. Says Rumaker in the interview: “If we learn anything from Shakespeare as writers it’s to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes, the other gal’s shoes, that empathy, that ability to transfer.”
Perhaps the most important line from the interview is Rumaker’s observation about Duncan that “he was all over the place, his spirit.” Critics who have faulted the original edition of this book by saying that it should be titled Michael Rumaker in San Francisco, are missing the point, taking the title far too literally. This isn’t a memoir solely about the physical presence of Robert Duncan. It’s also about the presence of his spirit that inspired those in his orbit, many of whom found the courage to add to the literary lake.
Robert Duncan in San Francisco
By Michael Rumaker
City Lights Publishers
Paperback, 9780872865907, 158 pp.
Devil’s Lake is seeking submissions for the Driftless Prize, themed “The Body.” Winners will be announced in April 2013, and will receive $100 and publication in our Spring 2013 issue. Entry fee: $9. All contest entries will be considered for publication in Devil’s Lake. We will accept submissions via our online submissions manager until 11:59pm CST on March 15.
Ready to enter? Read the full guidelines and send us your work! Here’s the link: http://english.wisc.edu/devilslake/contests.html
We encourage creative interpretations on the theme: body double, body language, body of water, body of work, body politic, body shop, body snatcher, body suit, body temperature…
Devil’s Lake is the semi-annual online literary journal from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We publish poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and visual art; past contributors have included Dean Young, Eduardo C. Corral, Mark Wunderlich, Mary Biddinger, plus interviews with Tracy K. Smith, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Matthea Harvey, Justin Torres, and more. Visit our website: http://devils-lake.org.
Brian Moore's The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, a book about an alcoholic looking for love, is the novel that author Ann Leary always turns to when she's depressed. What books do you read when you're sad? Tell us in the comments.
In 1963 Betty Friedan published a groundbreaking work that empowered a generation of women. With World War II over, women who had been working were told to find fulfillment at home. "The moment was so pregnant and ready for an explosion," says New York Times columnist Gail Collins.
The road tour is a well-known backdrop in American novels and one Teddy Wayne explores in his new novel, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine. Along the way, Jonny, a teen heartthrob, explores the pressures of celebrity at a young age.
A reminder that our Three-Minute Fiction writing contest ends tomorrow night at 11:59PM EST. The challenge this time around, chosen by novelist and judge Mona Simpson, is to write a story in the form of a voicemail message.
Margot Berwin's new novel Scent of Darkness follows a young woman rendered irresistible by a magical perfume. Reviewer Mary Bly says the problem isn't the magical-realism aspects of the story, but the dull and complacent heroine.
Nicholas Sparks is known for writing love stories, many of which have gone on to big-screen success. His latest, Safe Haven, is about a woman escaping her past in a small beach town in North Carolina.