Dear Readers–please clear the floor, direct your attention to the spotlight, and welcome James Zwerneman. “Horse and Rider Thrown into the Sea” is his first publication and we feel honored and grateful that he decided to make his debut with One Story. Set on an island based on James’s own experience living in Grenada, “Horse and Rider Thrown into the Sea” follows the daily trials of Winifred, a single mother who works at the post office and lives far out in the bush. As she tries to keep her son Jeremiah on the straight and narrow path, Winifred remains determined, under increasingly difficult circumstances, to continue to find joy in life. It is Winifred’s inner struggle that is the heartbeat of this story, along with the beautiful and dangerous island that she calls home. Please read James’s Q&A with us to find out more about how he wrote “Horse and Rider Thrown into the Sea,” and be sure to be on the lookout for more of his work. For now, let’s raise our glasses as he steps into the spotlight and takes a bow for his first published story. Here’s to a long and wonderful life of words.
I’ve heard from a number of people lately who are using issues of One Story in their bookclubs. The members all subscribe, then meet every three to four weeks to discuss their “story of the month.” (I will now stand up at my desk and applaud these lovely folks. Huzzah! Huzzah!) But these same readers often admit they have a hard time discussing story collections. This is a terrible shame–they are missing out on so many wonderful writers! Now One Story author (and debutante) Robin Black has written a great guide for bookclubs reading short story collections. I encourage all bookclubs to take a look. And then pick up Robin’s wonderful book, If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, which includes the story Robin published with us a few years back, Issue #104, “Harriet Elliot”.
We’re all pleased as punch over at One Story that everyone seems to be reading OS author Kevin Wilson’s new novel, The Family Fang. A few years back, we published Kevin’s story “Worst Case Scenario”, which was later included in his great collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. Now, Kevin’s back with a novel about performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang and their two children, Annie and Buster, otherwise known as child A and child B. As Booklist said in their starred review, “Don’t be surprised if this becomes one of the most discussed novels of the year.” If you want to find out more about how Kevin wrote the book, you can visit his website, or read this New York Times profile on Kevin that appeared last week. In the meantime, go out and get your copy today!
As we’ve written about here before, One Story just wrapped up its second Workshop for Writers, during which we hosted twenty emerging writers for a conference that included six days of intensive workshops, craft lectures and industry panels. We’re proud to report that students truly valued their experience with us:
“The workshop was the first time I’ve felt that what I do is important. For a solitary writer, the experience of meeting, connecting with, and learning from others in the field is priceless. I’m inspired.” —Adam Sturtevant, 2011 Workshop Participant
Having this talented group of students in our offices at the Old American Can Factory reminded us how important our mission is for the next generation of writers, not just as a venue for publishing their work, but as mentors, community builders, and now, as educators.
Donations from friends like you make up over 20% of One Story’s annual budget. These funds allow us to focus our attention on writers rather than on our bottom line. The support is greatly appreciated, and in the summer months, greatly needed. We have a very lean operating budget, and summer always finds us—like many nonprofits—a little low on funds.
Any amount you can give today will help us make it through to the fall.
As a thanks for your generosity, if you donate $25 or more before September 1, 2011 we’ll send you an award-winning* back issue of One Story.
Please join us in publishing One Story.
*Your story will be selected from one that that was named best of the year by The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, or The O. Henry Prize Stories. We’ll make sure you haven’t received it as part of your subscription and get it in the mail right away.
Last week the PEN American Center announced its 2011 awards. We’re so excited that the winners included three members of the One Story community.
Susanna Daniel (“Stiltsville” #134) was one of two winners of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize (worth $25,000) for an excellent debut work of fiction for her novel Stiltsville. Smith Henderson, author of One Story issue #136 “Number Stations,” won The Emerging Writers Award, a new prize which honors a writer who has been published in a literary journal, but has not yet published a book-length work. Former One Story contributing editor Elliot Holt, nominated by Guernica magazine, was named the runner up for this award.
We’d like to thank PEN for their continued extraordinary support of writers at all stages in their careers. We congratulate Susanna, Smith, and Elliot, and all of this year’s winners and runners up who will be honored at the 2011 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on October 12, 2011, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.
You can see the full list of winners and runners up here. We hope you’ll join us in October to toast them all.
More exciting news has just come in about another OS author! We’d like to extend our congratulations to Andrew Foster Altschul (#62 “The Rules”), whose new novel Deus Ex Machina has been selected for Mediabistro’s book club. To celebrate, they’re throwing a party, and inviting anybody who works with literature or media to come on down on Wednesday, August 17 for some drinks and book-talk. Word is that Altschul might be giving away some copies of his book, which is certainly a reason to come– NPR called it “brilliant…one of the best novels about American culture in years,” and Booklist noted it as “absurd and hilarious…a smartly funny and timely montage which challenges the meaning of celebrity.”
Hang out with Mediabistro and see just why critics are raving about Deus Ex Machina by RSVPing here, and if you’d like to read more about Altschul (who is also the Books Editor at The Rumpus, one of our favorite sites for book-related news), check out his website for updates and links to his work.
Congratulations Andrew, and we hope to see you all on Wednesday!
It’s feeling very much like the end of summer camp around here. Yesterday we said goodbye to our incredible interns (see their post below). Today, our task is much harder, saying farewell to Tanya Rey, who has been our Managing Editor for over three years. I told the staff yesterday that I am lousy at good-byes. I do not much like them, and prefer to behave as if every good-bye is more of a see-you-later so I’ll keep this short.
Tanya was One Story’s first full-time employee. She helped One Story professionalize and grow up. She’s become a phenomenal story editor, grant writer, PR Machine, party planner, gift buyer, and most importantly a wonderful friend to all of us at One Story. Her commitment to the magazine has been amazing, and her hard work is hugely appreciated. We will all miss her.
Tanya’s moving on to work on her novel full-time. She’s taking one of those writerly leaps of faith. We expect that she will not just leap but soar.
We are being withdrawn from the trenches. Despite the fact that there was really never a war going on, we figured that the time is right to make some room in the dugout for new One Story interns. But this means saying the g-word.
It being our last day in the office, the topic of goodbyes came up numerous times. Editor Marie-Helene Bertino introduced us to the concept of an Irish Goodbye, in which you might leave a room without saying a word, or say you have to move your car but in actuality drive it home. The concept of avoiding the emotional attachment to the simple word “goodbye”.
Therefore, before we do the deed, we thought we’d leave you with a collection of advice, musings and One Story insider information from our summer spent, knee-deep, in the literary trenches.
1. Those lovely invoices/renewal forms/miscellaneous mail items that show up at your door? Not sent by robots. Sent by us. Also received by us! So send us a fun note and keep using those quirky personal checks. Shout out to the fan of Spaying and Neutering Your Pets: Bob Barker would approve.
2. An internship does not give you security. We all came into this internship from different places wanting different things. We learned that interning is all about trying on various roles and seeing if it feels good—if it doesn’t, that’s okay. Actually, it’s more than okay. Exploring your curiosities will make you more curious, and as Dorothy Parker said: “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
3. When all else fails, bagels.
4. Be patient with your submissions. We work hard to make sure they get good reads, but sometimes this means it takes a while. This is the same for other small literary magazines and presses. Patience is key, but persistence, when suitable, is welcome.
5. It’s hard to run a literary journal. There is an extreme amount of care and love that goes into each issue of One Story. From the Thursday morning editorial meetings to when we stuff your envelopes, we make sure that what you are getting in your mailbox is something that we would want in ours (because it is).
6. Finding new voices in fiction is exhilarating. Giving other people the opportunity to do what we often hope for in the future is incredible. One Story is largely a literary family looking for some beautiful new children to put on display and later smother with excited hugs and kisses. The best part is: the number of extended family numbers is infinite. Maybe you can be the crazy uncle.
7. No matter how much you’ve read, you have not conquered all.
8. Writers are people who write, not necessarily people who are always getting published. Myla Goldberg gave simple directions: find a place where there is a low cost of living. Go there. Write. She spent the year after college in Prague strictly because she could survive on $100 a month and have the chance to work on her writing. Being a writer is a lifestyle choice and whether you have a year to set aside for the cause, or a few early wake ups a week, it’s a choice anyone can make.
9. Although it does feel like we all merged together a bit in these past few months, we’re all off on our own adventures. Tanya Rey, our beloved managing editor, is also embarking on a journey apart from One Story. But as Simon Van Booy helped us see, endings are really the prologue for beginnings, and there is no need to be afraid of them.
So sit tight while we hop on over to 5th Avenue for some coffee. We’ll be right back.
Once again, I bring you back to one of our very first issues to remind you of the wonderful things One Story was doing before (many of) you became loyal subscribers! Issue #13: “Stations West” by Allison Amend follows a Jewish father from the old country making a life in America in the 1880s, and his son trying to do the same. Allison’s words are beautiful and carefully chosen to describe the lifestyles of these men that are foreign to most contemporary readers. The story demonstrates a unique family dynamic, and how despite attempts to change paths, the apple often doesn’t fall far from the tree. I strongly encourage you to see life through the eyes of Boggy and Moshe by ordering the story or, even better, picking up a copy of Stations West the novel.
After her publication in One Story, Allison Amend came out with her debut story collection Things That Pass for Love in 2008, for which she won a bronze IPPY award. However, years prior to this publication, Allison had completed her first novel, Stations West, in 2004. Using her One Story issue as chapter one, she found a well-known agent and began the hunt for a publisher. Several big name houses responded to the book with lots of enthusiasm, but no one was interested in pushing forward with a buy. After sending the novel around to smaller publishers with no success, Allison’s agent eventually told her to put Stations Westaside and move on. But this author wasn’t taking no for answer.
Allison parted ways with her agent and, because she believed in the book so much, persisted on her own. At one point, she even went to Book Expo America, pitching her novel to every publisher she liked. She said it was “horribly embarrassing and humiliating and in between every pitch [she] would go over to the bar and have a shot of something.” After some more time of sending her work around to no takers, the moment finally came. Hannah Tinti, editor-in-chief of One Story, put Allison Amend in touch with Michael Griffith, who was curating the Yellow Shoe Fiction Series and in search of a historical fiction novel that had been overlooked by mainstream publisher. As Allison stated, “the rest is history.” Stations West was published to great reviews and was a finalist for the prestigious Sami Rohr Prize.
Though Allison went through an unconventional publication process, her dedication and true belief in what she does followed what the students at One Story’s summer workshop learned all of last week. As Hannah Tinti explained in one of her craft lectures, “it only takes one person to like what you’re doing.” It may take a while, but you just need to find that one person to reaffirm your efforts. Many of our workshoppers said they felt validated at the end of the week and were comforted knowing that what they do is truly important and that they are certainly not alone. It’s a matter of passion, and Allison Amend certainly has it.
Flannery O’Connor may have described herself as a “pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I’ll-bite-you complex,” but even over fifty years after the publication of her first short story collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find, writers and readers still aren’t leaving her alone. Come and find out why her influence has remained so strong, as One Story Editor-in-Chief Hannah Tinti joins writer Ann Napolitano tomorrow night, Thursday Aug. 4th at 7 pm at McNally Jackson bookstore in Soho, for a discussion on O’Connor’s works and legacy. If anyone is going to speak about O’Connor, Napolitano certainly knows her facts: her widely acclaimed new novel A Good Hard Look features none other than Flannery as a main character. As the Washington Post wrote, “Napolitano’s protagonist is a marvelously outspoken, uncompromising force” in what Entertainment Weekly Magazine called an “evocative tale of friendship and community.” Hannah Tinti also has praised Napolitano as “an expert at carving out the interior lives of her characters, at revealing both the mystery and the manners of heartbreak. A Good Hard Look is not just a novel about an extraordinary American literary figure. It is an examination of how we can live our lives to the fullest.”
Check out more of what critics are saying about A Good Hard Look, as well as Napolitano’s other work here at her website. For all the details about Thursday’s event, here’s a link to McNally Jackson, where you can also find information about all the great readings they host throughout the year.
We hope you can all come out this week to get some little-known insight on this pillar of the American short story. Until then, here’s a clip of O’Connor herself reading the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” It’s the perfect thing to pair with these hot August days.