NYC Literary Life

Last night I attended the excellent Franklin Park Reading Series and said excuse me to over a hundred people; I stepped back and made way for bar staff and bar-goers a hundred and fifty-eight times; I failed to say hello to the very person I had really wanted to say hello to; I drank broken glass (long story: I actually took the piece out of my mouth from my tongue to show the bartender, who was super sweet about it all); I got rained on and waited forever for the subway and then tried to read a book on the train while the person sitting next to me ate the entire meal she had bought before boarding that train, taking time to dip each french fry into one of the many, many small plastic ramekins that contained a green gelatinous stuff that she said was avacado-mayo, which, she told me, she loved. She had been starving since this morning, she said. She used wobbly black plastic cutlery to cut into a medium-rare burger and dense onions and tomatoes, but only half the bun. Yet, earlier that night, I had heard some of the very best writing read aloud that I’d heard in a while, read by some of the most engaging and talented people I had heard read in a while, and so tonight I am going to do it all over again. Because that’s my choice — and it feels good, that choice. Tonight I will be attending the LIC Reading Series, to see Megan Abbott and Mark Doten and Lisa Marie Basile, and to be charmed by the grand host Catherine LaSota. I will bring an umbrella and I will arrive early and I will look at the rim of my stout’s pint glass before I lower my mouth to sip.

Reading at launch party for “A Book of Uncommon Prayer” anthology at Housing Works, NYC, Tues., May 19, 2015, 7 PM


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I’m so ABookofUncommonPrayer-MVollmer-coverexcited to be reading alongside some of my favorite writers, as we celebrate the release of “A Book of Uncommon Prayer,” an anthology of everyday invocations by 64 authors, edited by Matthew Vollmer, published by Outpost 19.

Join us at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, Tues., May 19, 7pm, for a launch party and brief readings by Jaime Clarke, Christy Crutchfield, Catherine Lacey, J. Robert Lennon, Ariel Lown Lewiton, Robert LopezCourtney Maum, Rick Moody, Dawn Raffel, Joseph Salvatore, Benjamin Samuel and more. Hosted by J. Robert Lennon.

Reading to launch the LIC Reading Series in Queens, this Tuesday, April 14th, 8PM


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Had to enlist a fellow Queens resident to pose for this backboard on Northern Blvd. deep in the heart of our fair borough. For on this coming Tuesday, April 14th, at 8pm,Queens-Future I’ll be reading along with two other talented Queens residents to launch a new monthly reading series in Long Island City, Queens. In the lovely carriage house in the back of LIC Bar (45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101), the LIC Reading Series will be hosting readings by Bill Cheng, Audrey Dimola, and yours truly. The event is FREE! And there will be books for sale from Astoria Bookshop, and drinks for sale by the awesome LIC Bar bartenders. There will be some other hijinks, as well. Join us!

Great thanks to Catherine LaSota!

— in Queens, New York.

Two readings: The Center for Fiction & Epiphany Magazine, Tuesday, Dec. 2nd; and Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, Wednesday, Dec. 3rd

I’m honored and grateful to announce two public readings I’ll be giving this week. Tomorrow night, Dec. 2nd, I’ll be reading at 6:30 PM at The Center for Fiction, a national treasure for writers and readers alike. The event celebrates the release of the newest issue of Epiphany Magazine, in which a new short story of mine appears. And on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, I’ll be reading at Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, as part of a reading series that includes some of my favorite authors: Lev GrossmanTea Obreht, Jenny Offill, and Patricia Smith. That event takes place at 12:30 PM in Engineering 307. A warm thanks to Gina Zucker at Pratt for the invitation and the support.

Hope some of you can attend.

Click either event for more info:

The Center for Fiction, Tuesday, Dec. 2nd, at 6:30 PM

Pratt Institute Writers’ Forum, Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, at 12:30 PM


Visiting writer at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University’s MFA Program (Oct. 2–Oct. 7, 2014)

Really excited to travel to Spokane, WA, next week where I’ll be a visiting writer at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University.

Visiting Writer

My book is being taught in the MFA program there, and I’ll get to meet the students and instructors, teach a writing workshop, give a talk on book criticism, read from my work, and spend some time with the good folks out in that part of the country.

Grateful for the invite and for the warm support.

Summer’s End: The Brooklyn Rail’s latest: July/August & September 2014

I have a few more days left to make a late-summer post before autumn moves in and settles its cool, colorful arms arounds us for a while. What a summer it was for me—both personally and professionally (details to follow). Professionally, my editorial work at The Brooklyn Rail continues to give so much satisfaction. The late-summer/early fall issues are out. Our In Conversation series continues with Matt Bell‘s monthly interview spot. This month Matt talks with fiction writer Josh Weil about his new novel THE GREAT GLASS SEA. Tony Leuzzi talks with poet Mary Rueffle about her newest volume TRANCES OF THE PAST. Stephen O’Connor talks with nonfiction writer Sean Madigan Hoen about his new memoir SONGS ONLY YOU KNOW. And our reviews are the finest in the borough! John Dominicovers Luke B. Goebel‘s FOURTEEN STORIES AND NONE OF THEM YOURS: A NOVEL. Ashley P. Taylor covers Roxane Gay‘s BAD FEMINIST. Jeffrey Zuckerman covers two Brazillian novelists: Paulo Scott’s NOWHERE PEOPLE and Michel Laub’s DIARY OF THE FALL. Geoffrey Young covers Kevin Birmingham’s THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK: THE BATTLE FOR JAMES JOYCE’S ULYSSES. Anne Margaret Daniel onElizabeth Eslami‘s excellent collection HIBERNATE. Patty Park covers Bret Anthony Johnston‘s REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS. Katharina Smundak looks at the one and only John Water’s newest CARSICK. Geoffrey Young reviews Al Alvarez’s PONDLIFE: A SWIMMER’S JOURNAL. John Domini reviews Brandon Hobson‘s DEEP ELLUM. Brian Gresko reviews Scott Cheshire‘s debut HIGH AS THE HORSES’ BRIDLES.

Upcoming issues will feature Darcey SteinkeMarie-Helene BertinoAndre Dubus IIIElizabeth TrundlePeter MarkusWendy C. OrtizLaura Jean MooreLaura AuricchioDaniel LevineJeff VanderMeerChristopher X. ShadeKathleen RooneyRob WilliamsCatherine LaceyJim Tolan,Alexandra ChasinJ. T. Price, Joanna Clapps-Herman, Heiko Julien, Kseniya Melnik, Christine Wertheim, Stanley Crawford, and many more.

As always, my great thanks to editor Sara Roffino and nonfiction Books editor Katie Rolnick. Shouts-outs of gratitude are also in order to Penina Roth and Erin Harris. Thanks to all! Enjoy. . . .


June 2014 issue of The Brooklyn Rail is on stands and online now

Let the summer literary celebrations begin! TheJune-Rail-cover June issue of The Brooklyn Rail is on stands and online now. Again, I have to express my pride in our “In Conversation” series. Whether you’re writer, reader, or both, you’ll love this growing series. This month we feature interviews with poet Tony Leuzzi with David Groff; Kenan Trebincevic and Susan Shapiro with Rob Williams; as well as another installment of the NYPL Young Lion Matt Bell‘s monthly interview series. This month, Matt offers up an amazing interview with debut novelist D Foy. Books under review this month include Courtney Maum‘s poignant and playful debut I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE WITHOUT YOU, reviewed by Elizabeth Eslami; there’s John Domini‘s smart collection of critcism THE SEA-GOD’S HERB, reviewed by J.C. Hallman; and there’s Tony Leuzzi‘s gorgeous new volume of poetry THE BURNING DOOR, reviewed by Steve Fellner; also there’s Spuyten Duyvil’s incredible new anthology of contemporary experimental women writers WRECKAGE OF REASON II: BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD, edited by Nava Renek & Natalie Nuzzo, reviewed by Joyelle McSweeney.

Upcoming issues will feature Bret Anthony Johnston, Karen Russell, Lee KleinCatherine LaceyNicolle ElizabethDarcey SteinkeKathleen Rooney, Patricia Patty Park, and many more. Stay tuned!

Huge thanks to the remarkable Sara Roffino and Books editor Katie Rolnickand Andrea Scrima for the tip-off.




Zadie Smith at The New School, NYC, June 4, 2014


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All this week at The New School, I’ve been attending a seminar on Zadie Smith’s novel NW. Last night Smith herself attended. She read generously and entertainingly from the novel and then spent the rest of the evening discussing the process of writing it. She discussed the craft of fiction (esp. dialogue, setting, and character); the current literary landscape; representing identities not the writer’s own; being a parent and a writer; writing to one’s strengths; the genius of Roald Dahl; the talent of Judy Blume and Stephen King; and the name on everyone’s lips: Karl Ove KnausgaardNW, whom she’s interviewing tonight at McNally Jackson in NYC. It was a great evening, and I’m so grateful to my kind and brilliant colleague Andrew Zornoza who led the class marvelously, and to Laura Cronk and Lori Lynn Turner, who organized the entire Summer Writers Colony, offered every summer by The New School’s School of Writing.

Although the event was a private class, I’m posting this wonderful video of Smith giving the commencement address last week at The New School’s graduation ceremony. Enjoy.