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

Jeff Landon

I forgot to mention in my mini-list of contributors to the most recent edition of SmokeLong Quarterly the estimable Jeff Landon.

I don't know Jeff Landon, and sometimes, online, I'll see the name Jeff Parker and think of Jeff Landon and vice versa. Jeff Parker and Jeff Landon, as far as I know, are different people, but both are great writers.

Mr. Landon has published in some fine print journals including Night Train, Other Voices, and Crazyhorse. And he's also published in a number of fine online journals. Since I overlooked mentioning him before, here are some links to his stories I've been able to find. Print them out, make a little Jeff Landon book (like I did) and read them again and again.

"Like Swimming"

"Catholic Girls"
"For You"

SmokeLong Quarterly

"Emily Avenue"
"Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub"
"Tiny Bombers"
"Thirty-Nine Years of Carrie Wallace"

Ink Pot



I'm due to post about what novels I've been reading, which will come soon.

Until then, elimae's June issue is live.

Go check out stories by: Kim Chinquee, Alicia Gifford, Nick Antosca, Elizabeth Ellen and others.


SmokeLong Quarterly Issue #13

Is up, with my story "Miracle"

Thanks to Katrina Denza, Dave Clapper, Randall Brown and crew, for putting together a fantastic issue which includes some writers I really admire: Matt Bell, Claudia Smith, Girija Tropp, Ron Currie, Jr., Kathy Fish, and many more.


Bookshelf Business--Short Story Collections

If I had the know-how, I would post the cool little linkable miniature covers of the books I’m about to mention, but, well, I don’t really know how to do this properly.

Nonetheless, some short story collections that have been removed from the to-read stack recently, and some that will be, shortly.

If the Sky Falls, Nicholas Montemarano—I’d waited for this collection to be released ever since I read “Note to Future Self” in Zoetrope three or four years ago. I think the delay was caused because Context Books had bought the collection from Mr. Montemarano when they published his novel a few years back. Unfortunately, Context, a small publishing house that published another book I love, Greg Bottoms’ Sentimental Heartbroken Rednecks, folded, and Montemarano’s stories were apparently left without a home. Now released by Louisiana State University Press, the collection is well worth the wait.

When the Nines Roll Over, David Benioff—A rockin’ good time. Hip, but always human. God, those are about the worst blurbs ever. Just read the book.

The Nimrod Flipout, Etgar Keret—Keret often writes short, 2-3 pages, and does so beautifully. I’ve kept this one on the shelf and have probably re-read three or four of the stories about ten times. On a side note: The book was reviewed in People (this link is to the magazine's website, not the review), and a few weeks ago, while I was grading composition portfolios, my brother, who is a chef and doesn’t usually read much of anything, let alone short story collections by Israeli authors, called me to ask if I’d heard of this book, and had a copy of it, because he wanted to read it. I told him I had a copy, and that I'd actually just read it. Then I asked him how he'd heard of it, and he said somebody'd left a copy of People in the bathroom at work. I'm glad he thought of me, and I suppose I will give the book up to him any day now, happy to pass it along.

The next three on the shelf:
In Persuasion Nation, George Saunders
The Dead Fish Museum, Charles D’Ambrosio
The Collected Stories, Amy Hempel

I bought all three of these, in hardcover, at the same time. It reminded me of how I used to buy every new R.E.M. CD as soon as it was released, before I’d ever heard a single song (a phenomenon that, thanks to iTunes, is a thing of the past). And I suppose that analogy, despite its anachronistic nature, is a little false, as I’ve read a good number of Saunders’ stories already, as well as D’Ambrosio’s, in magazines and anthologies. And Hempel’s book, well, it’s a collected works, so I’ve read all of those over the course of the past five or six years. Yeah, the CD analogy doesn’t really work at all, but I bet it’s five years before three writers I admire so much all release hardcover collections within a month of each other.

Tomorrow, novels.


My Blog-Type Thing

I’ve been publishing (and trying to publish) stories for about three years now, and I’ve been long debating whether or not to start a blog or have some kind of online presence. About not wanting to have any online presence, I’ll say this: I used to admire (much better) writers like Pynchon and Salinger, who have sought out anonymity and lived reclusively. But my attitude toward the writer-as-genius-recluse has kind of changed over the past ten years or so. I mean, people who choose to write are already working in such a small bubble. Why try and make it even smaller? And there are times when I really appreciate the community building that can take place online—at book-oriented websites or literary magazines.

So, this is going to be a place for me to write every now and then about what I’m reading and writing, or what I’m publishing, or whatever else comes to mind. I don’t know that a community is going to spring up around this little blog, or that anyone will ever even come across it, and I suppose that’s what we writers are always dealing with: not knowing whether or not we are ever going to reach an audience. But we tend to keep on creating, even if it feels sometimes like we’re only talking to ourselves, in the hopes that we might eventually reach someone.

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