News & Events

Amy Bender’s The Butterfly Lampshade

We have so many ingrained and unchallenged expectations about stories. About novels in particular, I think. Those expectations aren’t limited to genre-specific stuff, either. We expect even avant-garde, highbrow novels to follow a certain arc. And even that’s wrong — we expect to be able to use the arc as a metaphor for what we hope to find. There’s going to be a plot, and...

Colorado Review – Disappearing Act

This was different for me. I tend to write darker stuff, and often less-than-realistic stuff (“heightened reality” as one of my MFA advisors called it, maybe? as a compliment). This is something small and quiet and based very much on the place in New Jersey where I grew up. Love Colorado Review and happy to be a part of the issue with so many standout stories (and poems — I...

Four Years Pass

Here’s a three-word sentence from Philip Roth’s American Pastoral that has always stuck with me: Five years pass. He opens several sections with it. This comes after we find out that Swede Levov’s teenage daughter has just murdered a bystander while setting off a bomb at their hometown post office. The line doesn’t jump things forward, though. It stops you when you first...

Ninth Letter Literary Awards – The Long Shadows

Some (actual) news, and good news too. My story “The Long Shadows” was picked as the winner of the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction. I’ve struggled more often in the last 2 years with leaving things unfinished, and this was one of those things. I can’t really blame the pandemic and last year’s election chaos because I know it’s mostly just me, but those...

On resistance and fiction

We just wrapped up watching The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel.  The show is gripping, stressful to watch, and full of great performances (none more so than Elizabeth Moss as Offred/June).  The early episodes in particular are just brutal. [Spoiler alert, by the way, for anyone who hasn’t watched the show or read the book.] I’ve never...

Fellow travelers

Last week I was in Vermont for the MFA winter residency.   Halfway through the residency I got sick–with the flu, as it turned out, and I think the adjective I’m looking for here is “virulent”–and I was pretty exhausted, physically and otherwise, by the end of the trip.  I was just simply lonely, too, and missed Abbe.  It’s great to hang out with friends and...

Hallelujah

When we talk about something being in the wake of something else, we’re alluding to the waves behind a ship moving along the sea.  To be in the wake of the ship is to be left behind, to be caught up in the disruption of its passage. Of course wake can mean other things.  It’s also the ritual of putting someone or something to rest.  Or it’s the rising from a dream, or a...

A post-election wish

Like everyone else I’m looking forward to the election being over.  In my life I don’t think there’s a been an uglier campaign season, or one that’s made me more disheartened by the American electorate.  I don’t think I’m in the minority here. I’m a Clinton supporter.  I voted for Obama in 2008.  I think Clinton is the best candidate this year...

Saunders on Trump, and writing

This is from George Saunders’ latest New Yorker piece, chronicling his days on the campaign trail talking with Trump supporters and protestors: The tragedy of the Trump movement is that one set of struggling people has been pitted against other groups of struggling people by someone who has known little struggle, at least in the material sense, and hence seems to have little empathy for...

July in Vermont

Actually June and July.  Just got back yesterday from the 10-day MFA residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts.   Exhausting but fun. Montpelier is tiny.  I went running almost every day — partly because I like to run, partly because the dorms are hot and the beds are punishing in the cruel-and-unusual kind of way.  I’m pretty sure I covered every street in Montpelier by the second...

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