April 2014 issue of The Brooklyn Rail is here!


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The April issue of The Brooklyn Rail is here. More pieces will be coming along soon; and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting highlights. I’m so proud of the Rail’s In Conversation series. And so excited to announce that Matt Bell will be our regular monthly Books contributor to this long-standing interview series. As those who know him will attest, Matt is a tireless supporter of the literary community and a friend to all writers. We couldn’t prouder to have him on board. In addition to Matt’s feature, this month’s In Conversation series has some wonderful contributors:Benjamin Percy talks with Daniel Levine about Dan’s debut HYDE. And Ben Pfeiffer chats with Adam Wilson about Adam’s new story collection WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS FEELING. Upcoming contributors will feature John DominiLance OlsenScott CheshireDavid Burr Gerrard, Elzabeth Trundle, and Pamela Erens. Stay tuned.

Special thanks to the indomitable Sara Roffino, Books editor-extrodinaire Katie Rolnick, and the brilliant and generous Erin Harris.

Check out the new Books section here.


Sentences in the News! For writers, readers, teachers, and curious students all over this daily planet.

Often, once the semester gets along, my students start asking me questions about grammar and style, not for their grades, but for their own writing. A big one is, “Can you have a single sentence stand alone as a single paragraph?” When I am able, and when classroom technology permits, I’ll pull up on a projected screen a sentence from some article I read that day that might serve as an example. I had mentioned this classroom practice to a group of incredibly inspiring writing teachers at the NCTE/CCCC conference last week, and I got some validating responses. Here’s an example: In today’s NY Times, I saw a sentence in an article about new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements. The first three sentences of the piece are stand-alone grafs. I particularly like the second one, about which there is so much to say. We could discuss the sneaky way the writers packs the sentence’s complete subject to get in as much info as possible before the verb; we could discuss the choice to omit the serial comma — does it add or detract from clarity?; we could discuss the choice to use the right-branching parallel compound structure that concludes the graf. Sometimes, when I’m really on my game, I can bring the entire lesson plan into such impromptu discussions. Lucky to have such curious students. Here’s the news-making sentence:

“The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote.”

Find the article here.

Surprise guest attends my panel at the NCTE/CCCC March 2014


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Not sure how to explain what happened last week at the NCTE/CCCC panel I chaired on “Progressive Approaches to Grammar, Punctuation, and Usage.” Not only was it a well-attended, lively session, but a superstar, nay, a ROCK star in the field of writing pedagogy attended and participated in my workshop. He was sitting in the back of the room. I had seen him come in and quietly take a seat (and fairly freaked out), but no one else knew he was there until I had them introduce themselves. And he said, “My name is Peter Elbow and I’ve been teaching writing for over 30 years, have written a few books on the subject; and I am quite interested in progressive approaches to grammar.” The entire room turned around, and I kid you not, audible gasps and whispers and even some exclamations erupted. An awesome Writing Center Administrator, a young professor named Tom, stood up and said, “No way!” But by the end of the workshop, Elbow had become just one of the group, albeit a very wise and experienced and generous member, but a member nonetheless. Some folks asked if they could take an “Oscar selfie” with him. He graciously agreed. One of those students sent me this photo. I can’t adequately describe what an experience it was to share my insights about language and writing with a group that included Peter Elbow. One of the true highlights of my teaching career.


AWP 2014: The Art of the Book Review, Friday, February 28, 2014, 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


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Dear friends attending AWP next week, let me invite you to the panel I’ll be participating on, “The Art of the Book Review.” I would be attending this one even if I weren’t a panelist, just to hear what Darcey SteinkeMichael Klein,Craig Teicher have to say on the subject. Thanks to the brilliant Tony Leuzzifor organizing and moderating the event. Honored to be included in such smart company. Please join us!

F217: The Art of the Book Review
Room 607, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Friday, February 28, 2014
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Thousands of books are published each year. We are lead to many of them by engaging, knowing reviews. A well-written review will investigate the mysteries deep reading affords, and it will please as well as inform, because it has style. The five widely published writers/critics on this panel will discuss the review as a genre in its own right, a unique artistic form that contributes to the formation of taste, raises the level of public discourse, and establishes critical reputation.

Sunday, Dec 8, 2013, 3:00pm – 4:30pm: BEYOND BACKDROP: FICTION IN THE WAKE OF HISTORY, sponsored by The Brooklyn Rail’s Books section


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Tomorrow, Sunday, Dec 8, 2013, 3:00pm – 4:30pm, at Industry City, 220 36th St., Brooklyn, I’ll be hosting the first literary event sponsored by the Books section of The Brooklyn Rail The event, beasts-of-the-southern-wildBEYOND BACKDROP: FICTION IN THE WAKE OF HISTORY, will gather fiction writers who have used notable historical moments as the impetus for their works. The panelists will be Joseph O’Neill, author of NETHERLAND and winner of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Lucy Alibar, author, playwright, and screenwriter of the film BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. And Alex Gilvarry, author of FROM THE MEMOIRS OF A NON-ENEMY COMBATANT, and founding editor of the Tottenville Review.

There will be short readings, discussion, and audience Q&A. Please join us!


New review for the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Dec. 3rd, 2013


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A huge thanks to the editors at the New York Times Book Review for this assignment, which ran in Sunday’s paper. Lots of reading, true . . . but isn’t that the fun part? Anthologies make great gifts — especially when purchased from independent booksellers. Shop local, read global.#indiesfirst


DIRTY LOVE: Thurs., Oct 3rd, 2013: Salvatore hosts book launch and reading for Andre Dubus III


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Friends in NYC, next Thursday, Oct. 3rd, at 6:30 PM, at The New School, I’ll be hosting a reading and conversation with Andre Dubus IIIDirty Love cover, author of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG and the memoir TOWNIE. He’ll be launching his stunning new work of fiction DIRTY LOVE. Come hear him read and be the first to pick up DIRTY LOVE (it doesn’t go on sale until the following week). He’s an incredibly kind, insightful, and generous spirit; I can’t wait to talk with him and hear him read from his new work. An audience Q&A will follow. Hope to see everyone there.

Andre Dubus III was awarded the New York Times “Editors’ Choice,” and also received the “2012 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature”. His work has been included in The Best American Essays of 1994, The Best Spiritual Writing of 1999, and The Best of Hope Magazine.

He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for fiction, The Pushcart Prize, and was a Finalist for the Rome Prize Fellowship from the Academy of Arts and Letters. His novel HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG was made into a movie, and was a fiction finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Book Sense Book of the Year, and was an Oprah Book Club Selection and New York Times bestseller. He has taught writing at Harvard University, Tufts University, Emerson College, and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell where he is a full-time faculty member.

August 2013 Update: Italy & AWP 2014

Traveling in Italy until end of August, but wanted to post some lovely photos of my recent trip to Siena. Also: I just got word that I’ll be presenting at the 2014 AWP Conference, in Seattle, on a panel called “The Art of the Book Review.” Thanks to Tony Leuzzi for all his hard work and patience in organizing the whole thing; I’m grateful to be on board. Finally, a fond thank you to John Domini for his faith and vision in organizing another wonderful panel proposal that, alas, did not get accepted. Thank you, John, for inviting me to be a part.


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OPEN INVITATION: Tomorrow night (Weds., 5/22) at 8 PM, the writer Alex Gilvarry will be my guest in my craft and theory of fiction class at The New SchoolCA-alex-gilvarry, NYC, discussing his debut novel FROM THE MEMOIRS OF A NON-ENEMY COMBATANT.  My students have read Alex’s novel and will get the chance to ask the author the kinds of questions writers want to ask.  In addition to discussing the novel, we’ll ask Alex’s advice on craft and process, his MFA experience, getting an agent, discipline and daily schedules, teaching at Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and much more.  It’s our last class and I’d like to invite any fans or friends (or even curious readers) of Alex Gilvarry to attend.  Please message me through Facebook or email me (joseph.a.salvatore at gmail dot com) if you’d like to join us.

The Brooklyn Rail’s interview with Ayana Mathis, April 2013


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So pleased to publish this interview with writer Ayana Mathis, author of THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE, in the April issue of The Brooklyn Rail. “I … write from character and from story … But one of the things very present in my mind—once I realized I had a book—is class. It’s as important to this book as is the Great Migration, this notion of the way, in a pre-civil rights world, where no one had any money, how we decided on class. Which had everything to do with what neighborhood you lived in, or how light or dark you were, and your diction—all these kinds of things.” –Ayana Mathis, The Brooklyn Rail, April 2013.



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