Category Archives: fiction

Architecting the Possibilities

I’m bummed I can’t be in Chicago right now for the AWP conference, but I’m beyond excited that my freshly-printed textbook collaboration with Lance Olsen, Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Fiction, is making its debut there.

AoP is a re-versioning/visioning and rebirth of Lance’s 1998 Rebel Yell: A Short Guide to Fiction Writingmy involvement with the project was something of a Be Careful What You Ask For story, wherein I had taught Rebel Yell for many years in my fiction writing workshops. About five years ago I started badgering Lance to update the book every chance I got, and at &NOW Buffalo he finally got sick of me asking. “Okay, okay, okay already,” he relented. “But you are going to help me.”

We started strategizing the project in the summer of 2010. I began deliberately working on it in spring of 2011 as my sabbatical project and spent most of the summer conducting and polishing over 60 brand spankin new interviews and writing small sections on social networking and DIY publishing. It was such a pleasure to reconnect with old friends for this project and also to finally have a legitimate excuse to reach out to writers, artists and theorists I’ve always admired but was just a little too schoolboy shy to bother beforehand (for the record, yes: Katherine Dunn is the most generous, pleasant and insightful person alive today, if not pretty much ever; Stephen Graham Jones is capable of slamming out 1,500 words of razor-sharp prose in as much time as it takes to pop the top of a soda can;  Scott McCloud is just as brilliant talking into a cell phone as he is giving his sexy slide presentation). When it came time to edit the final draft of the manuscript, Lance and I found ourselves quite literally with an embarrassment of riches, wherein we simply didn’t have room in the print edition to include all of the amazing interviews we had conducted. We are delighted to collect all of the interviews that we couldn’t fit in the book on the AoP website, and to archive them alongside legacy interviews from Rebel Yell.

It goes without saying how inspirational and just downright fun it is to work with Lance in any capacity, but it definitely needs said again here how inspirational and just downright fun it is to work with Lance.  I was honored when he asked me to work on this with him and and truly blessed to have had the experience.

If you are on Facebook or Twitter, I hope you’ll check us out there. Also please check out our blog on the main AoP site.

But most of all, please accept my eternal gratitude for caring as much as you do, even if it’s just a little itty bitty bit. This project in no small measure kept me focused, inspired and motivated through some of the toughest and darkest times I’ve had professionally, personally and creatively. I know that I am a better writer, teacher, colleague and human being because of it.


Respect a Fucking Killer

David Foster Wallace would have been 50 years old today. When he was 33, he wrote this letter to Don Delillo, and inside that letter he wrote these two sentences that pretty much nail the whole writing/publication for validation thing:

I hope that in the course of your decades writing you’ve done and been subject to stuff that’s helped make you a more Respectful writer. I would like to be a Respectful writer, I believe…though I know I’d far prefer finding out some way to become that w/o time and pain and the war of LOOK AT ME v. RESPECT A FUCKING KILLER.

Dave: that you worried about the Look At Me part as much as you did even further underscores the Respect so many of us have for you, always had for you, always will.

Happy birthday, Killer.

Where is Dystopia? Podcast/Presentation

Where is Dystopia? Feb 9 2012
Last week I had the pleasure of lecturing and leading a discussion on dystopic literature at the Oregon City Public Library. Several people in attendance came up to me afterwards and asked if I would be posting my presentation slides online, so here they are condensed as a single PDF (34.8 MB). I’ve also edited and uploaded an audio podcast of the event which includes both my talk and the short Q&A session afterwards (72 min, 66.5 MB). My lecture is part of a series of events organized by the fabulous Maureen Cole at the OCPL that will culminate on February 23 with a community reads event hosted by Daniel H. Wilson, author of the recent novel Robopocalypse.

Many thanks to everyone who attended, especially my boys Dmitri and Dante who tagged along and assisted, and also to Maureen and her amazing staff.

Everyone I Know Lives on Kindle

My last collection of short stories, Everyone I Know Lives on Roads, is now available for the Kindle for only 99 cents. You can afford that.

Memory, Lies, Neuroscience

“The more a person recalls a memory, the more they change it. Each time they put it into language, it shifts. The more you describe a memory, the more likely it is that you are making a story that fits your life, resolves the past, creates a fiction you can live with…Once you open your mouth, you are moving away from the truth of things. According to neuroscience.” –Lidia Yuknavitch

What We Talk About When We Talk About The Wire

Last fall, PopMatters published my essay on American noir as reflected in The Wire. The piece was written as my personal/critical capstone to an entire class dedicated to the television series; I taught it last spring at PNCA.

Scott McCloud: Oct 15 @ Clackamas CC

Zot! creator and Understanding Comics author Scott McCloud will give a keynote talk on writing and publishing in the digital age at 6:30 pm next Friday night, October 15 at the Niemeyer Center on Clackamas CC’s main campus in Oregon City. McCloud’s talk will kick off the Clackamas Story Jam, a 24-hour event featuring publishing workshops in comics, video and letterpress printing wherein participants will create a new project from start to finish within a single day.

The complete event is $150, and includes McCloud’s keynote on Friday night, a workshop, and lunch on Saturday. McCloud’s evening talk is free to current Clackamas CC students and $20 to non-students. To register for either the workshop or McCloud’s keynote, please contact the Clackamas CC registration office.