Friday, July 28th:Scott Snyder read from his new story collection, Voodoo Heart at One Story’s monthly reading & cocktail hour. A large crowd was in attendance, even though quite a few of Scott’s underage students weren’t able to get into the club. Revelers sipped the cocktail of the evening, Gin & Tonics, while Scott read from the title story of his collection, “Voodoo Heart”, about a couple who move into a Florida mansion that just happens to be next to a women’s prison.
As part of this year’s Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival and National Queer Arts Festival, One Story author Dan Taulapapa McMullin‘s art is being featured in an exhibit called Sea Change. Along with fellow Samoan Islander Shigeyuki Kihara, the exhibit explores the experience of the Samoan “third gender” in locations as diverse as San Francisco and New Zealand. So if you’re in San Fran before August 1, go check it out!
When I first read this story, I was immediately struck by the voice. It had so much energy, and I knew that it would carry me through to the end. I’ve also recently been involved with a wonderful organization, Behind the Book, that brings writers into New York public schools. The students I met at DeWitt Clinton in the Bronx were so intelligent and polished, and asked great questions. I was really impressed by them, and I kept thinking that they would enjoy this story and relate to the character, particularly the way that Bryan struggles with trying to be a good person. My favorite part, by far, was at the end, when the father comes back. It’s a wonderful moment-you can almost hear the gears slide into place. It brought the story around wonderfully, and that’s when I knew that we were going to take it.
I usually hate excerpts. I think that almost always they leave the reader feeling cheated. But when I read an advance copy of Calvin Baker’s Dominion I was so blown away, that I literally begged the author to let us publish a section of it. This is the kind of story that I want to read about: an African American wrestling a ghost for land in pre-revolutionary America. The only land he can buy, as a former slave, is haunted land. And so he wrestles the ghost, and, for good measure, his wife wrestles the ghost too, until they have subdued him and can start building their Utopia. Jasper and Sanne are the true Adam and Eve of America. And this is the kind of story you won’t see anywhere else. Calvin Baker is an incredibly talented writer, and I hope his novel gets the attention it deserves.
Harper Lee was recently convinced by another infamous Southern cultural icon to take up the pen again (an excerpt from the New York Times review can be found here). In a letter to O (Oprah’s life and arts magazine) Lee recounts her experiences growing up with books as the sole source of entertainment in rural Alabama. The Washington Post describes this as a “literary coup” for Oprah, and there is perhaps no better way to put it.