In the Classroom

  • Train Dreams: A Novella
    Train Dreams: A Novella
    by Denis Johnson
  • Bluets
    by Maggie Nelson
  • We the Animals: A novel
    We the Animals: A novel
    by Justin Torres

Early April

This past Friday, Jane and I traveled to Iowa City to particpate in the Mission Creek Festival Lit Crawl. It was a great event. I read with some amazing writers: Eleni Sikelianos, Sarah Fox, Chris Martin, Hugh Ferrer, Mary Austin Speaker, Blair Braverman, and John Colburn. I was actually so nervous, I thought I might die. Seriously. While I was reading, I was imagining keeling over, an ambulance coming to extract me from the place. All in all, though: it went okay.

Before Jane and I left for Iowa City, we found out that TELL EVERYONE I SAID HI had been named to the longlist the the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, which was awesome.

Everything that's happened since my book came out, it just makes me feel so lucky.

A couple other things coming up this week:

This Thursday, I'll be reading with my label-mate, Marie-Helene Bertino at Prairie Lights in Iowa City. I think I mentioned before on this website: I'll write more about Prairie Lights later; I anticipate it being pretty emotional.

This Sunday: My buddy Eugene Cross, author of Fires of Our Choosing, invited me to talk to his students at Columbia College. He taught my book there in a class on writing and publishing, and I'm excited to go and hang out with a bunch of undergrads who've been assigned to read Tell Everyone I Said Hi. On Sunday, though, before my visit to his class, I'm going to visit The BookMarket in Glenview, where I'll read, and answer some questions about how my book came into existence, etc. I'm looking forward to it. And I'm hoping that some of you all, if you're near Iowa City or Chicago, will come out and introduce yourselves in the upcoming week. Please. I mean it.



Back in October I published a new story, "Translated from the French," in the inaugural issue of Better: Culture & Lit. They even have a video of me reading the story: Janey filmed me--I was a little embarrassed during it all--standing at the pulpit in my office, reading. I may or may not have been wearing pants. At any rate: Better has been publishing some great work, and now they're doing a Kickstarter so they can spread their Better goodness even further. Here's their Kickstarter video:

In review news:

Jess Stoner published a super-generous and thoughtful and beautifully written review of Tell Everyone I Said Hi over at Necessary Fiction. You can read what she had to say here.

Over at Babble, Brian Gresko made an annotated list of short story collections parents will love, and he was kind enough to include my book in a line-up that, well, I'm not so sure I should be a part of. The other writers include Raymond Carver, J.D. Salinger, A.M. Homes, Jhumpa Lahiri, Karen Russell, Donald Ray Pollock, and Michael Chabon. You can read what Brian had to say here.

In some pretty cool anthology news:

My story "American Bulldog" has been reprinted in New Stories from the Midwest 2012. Jason Lee Brown & Shanie Latham are the Series Editors, and John McNally served as the Guest Editor for this volume. I loved McNally's Troublemakers, another winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, and I'm floored he chose to include my story in this anthology, which also has work by Charles Baxter, Dan Chaon, and Lee Martin, among others. It's truly a beautiful book, and full of amazing stories.

The title story of my collection, "Tell Everyone I Said Hi," has also been reprinted, in 24 Bar Blues: Two Dozen Tales of Bars, Booze, and the Blues, edited by the excellent Andrew Scott. He, too, has put together an amazing line-up that I'm honored to be a part of. You can see the full table of contents here.

Lastly: Several years ago, I published an essay in Barrelhouse called "Home of the Poor and Unkown." It's about Galesburg and traumatic brain injury and socio-economic class. And Duffy's, a great little bar. And the Chicago Cubs. That essay has now been reprinted in Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays from Barrelhouse Magazine. Again, it's a great line-up; I'm thrilled they made my essay a part of it.

In some events news:

I'm going to be reading in Iowa City twice the first few weeks of April: On Friday, April 5th, time & location TBD, I'll be part of the Mission Creek Festival. There are going to be some great bands in town, and Tig Notaro, and a host of cool and talented lit folks.

On Thursday, April 11th, I'm going to be reading at Prairie Lights at 7:00 with Marie-Helene Bertino. I could spend about 10000 words delineating my connection to this awesome little bookstore, but I think I should save that for a separate post.

And, last but not least:

The Believer is holding their annual reader survey. They want to know your three favorite works of poetry and fiction published in 2012. If you read Tell Everyone I Said Hi and liked it enough, maybe let them know? Just contact letters@believermag.com with your ideas.


Late January Links

Tomorrow afternoon I'm traveling to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with my colleague Robin Metz. At 3:00 in the University Bookstore, we'll be talking to some students about the writing life and the role literary journals have played in our writing careers. At 7:00 in the same venue, we'll be giving a reading. Full details here.

Robin was the first professor I met at Knox, when he interviewed me almost eight years ago about adjuncting there. He's been an amazing and brilliant colleague ever since, and I'm excited to get to share the stage with him. It feels a little unbelievable, actually.


A blurb-sized, three-sentence review of TELL EVERYONE I SAID HI showed up this past week at the Tate Street High Society & Co. I'm pretty fond of it.


There are three days and a few hours left to enter the Goodreads giveaway of TELL EVERYONE I SAID HI. We're giving away five copies, and it's really easy to enter, I swear.


Matt Dube has posted some photos on Facebook of the reading poet Anne-Marie Thompson and I gave at William Woods University back in December. I'd almost forgotten how beautiful that gallery we read in was.


I'm putting this next bit up here for me as much as anybody, as I'm planning to share the links with my Beginning Fiction Writing students on Tuesday: My old pal Matt Debenham, author of The Book of Right and Wrong, winner of the Ohio State University Prize in Short Fiction, recently posted a couple of excellent writing-related essays on his blog: Six Things Prose Writers Can Learn from Television & What Writers Can Learn from Comedians. If you're interested in writing, they're worth your time.

The photo credit, as almost always, goes to Jane.


Interview Roundup & More

I've neglected to mention here the various interviews I've done the past few months, and now I'm going to link to several of them in one post, which means if you actually click over and read them, you'll probably find me repeating myself, though I tried hard not to when I was typing out all of the answers.

The first interview I did was with Kevin Morris at DBC Reads. Kevin--who is a former student and runs DBC Reads with another former student, Marnie Shure--also wrote a great review of TEISH, which appeared a few weeks before the interview.

Up next was a chat with Amber Lee for the Necessary Fiction blog. Steve Himmer and Necessary Fiction published "Adaptations," one of the eighteen stories in TEISH, as well as "Moussaoui Remembers Fire," which ended up being chosen by Dan Chaon as one of the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions of 2012.

Then I virtually sat down with Jenn DeLeon to talk about TEISH for the Ploughshares blog. I wish I could have sat down in person with Jenn. Maybe we could have had a cup of coffee, or some dessert. She's such a great person and writer.

Lastly, I exchanged a bunch of emails with Eugene Cross for Fiction Writers Review. Eugene Cross needs no introduction on this blog. He's my bestie, and he also wrote this, one of the top two or three debut collections published this year.

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If you've been following my Facebook page, or my tumblr, then you know I traveled to NYC for the first time a couple weeks back--and that I read at the Sunday Salon with Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Luis Jaramillo, and Catherine Lacey. There are now some video clips up on the website of the reading.

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I don't think I've mentioned here two recent story publications:

"Yard Work" was published back in October as part of the Fall 2012 issue of Fiction Southeast. Pamela Painter is in the issue, and so is Jim Daniels, and a host of other talented folks.

"You Would've Counted Yourself Lucky" was published in November in Issue 40 of The Collagist. Huge thanks to Matt Bell for having me. This was the last story I wrote that ended up a part of TEISH, and it's one I'm still fond of. Soon, I'll be doing an interview about the story with David Bachmann for the Collagist blog.

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And finally: I wrote a mini-essay for The Story Prize Blog about baseball & Garden City, Kansas & being sad and lonely and finding literature, deciding I wanted to become a writer.



There's no snow here yet, but it's coming, I'm sure.

It is, however, the holiday season, and I have an offer for you: If you're interested in buying a copy of Tell Everyone I Said Hi for that special short story lover in your life (you do have people in your life who love short stories, right?) I would love to sign it for you, have Jane wrap it up, and then ship it for free anywhere you want to send it. Right now, the collection is on sale for $12 through the University of Iowa Press website, but you can buy it elsewhere online and have it sent to me, and that'd work, too. Just send me a message on Facebook or send me an email for my address, and we'll get that proverbial ball rolling. Plus, it'll be like you're gifting two people at once: I've had a few people get in touch with me on Facebook already, and it felt, well, like Christmas.

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I wrote a little blog post on my tumblr earlier this week. It's the kind of thing I would normally post to this blog, but for some reason it went up over there instead. Tumblr is down right now, I believe, but it should be up by the time you read this, and you can see what I had to say about the writing process, the Midwest, and my essay "An Epilogue for the Unread" here.

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Tomorrow I'm leaving for NYC. It's my first trip to the city, and I have lots of plans. Among them: I'll be reading at the Sunday Salon NYC on December 16th at 7:00 with Luis Jaramillo, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, and Catherine Lacey. Full details here.