A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts by N.M. Kelby

kelby

One Story author N.M. Kelby has just come out with a new collection, A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts, which includes “Jubilation, Florida”, originally published in issue #54 of the magazine (and currently sold out in our store). Those interested in learning more about Kelby and her work should stop by her wonderful website. There you’ll find not only her tour dates, blog, and details about all her publications, but the luring promise of free books! And be sure to pick up a copy of her collection at your favorite local bookstore or right here

Kevin Wilson Reading in NYC

Kevin Wilson

One Story author Kevin Wilson, who recently published his debut collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, will be appearing this Thursday, September 24th at 7pm as part of New York University’s “New Salon: Fiction Writers in Conversation.” The event takes place at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, located at 58 W. 10th Street. Along with a reading of his work, Kevin will be discussing the craft and art of writing with fellow One Story author and current NYU professor Darin Strauss, whose latest novel, More Than It Hurts You, was recently released in paperback. Kevin will also be on hand afterward to sign copies of his book. These events are always educational, as well as a lot of fun, and we encourage all in the New York area who can make it to attend. More details for the event can be found here.

Great News for Fans of Oprah & Short Fiction

uwem

Today Oprah Winfrey announced the newest selection for her book club and we at One Story breathed a happy sigh. Though the book club has been going on for several years now and made many a writer a household name, this is the first time a collection of short stories was chosen, and the lucky author is Uwem Akpan, for his acclaimed book Say You’re One of Them, already the winner of a Commonwealth Writer’s Prize and a PEN/Beyond Margins Award. Coming at a time when the big houses balk at publishing collections–especially by new voices–this is an exciting announcement and we only hope that the welcome exposure Akpan and his book get from Oprah will make for a few more fans of short fiction.

Oprah’s site has plenty of great info and some brief selections for those curious about the book but readers with access to the New Yorker archive can also find the full text of his first published story in that magazine here.

Would you date this person?

Man reading

At a recent One Story gathering (i.e. a bar), the conversation, as it so often does, turned to dating and books. One of us had recently broken things off with a guy who had mentioned his favorite book of all time was Tuesdays with Morrie (not the primary reason, of course). It sounds shallow out of context. But it’s an interesting question. In New York, there’s certainly no shortage of people who enjoy reading but just how important is it what your potential partner reads? We got to talking and realized that there are plenty of “dealbreaker” books but not so many “dealmakers.” For dealmakers, Italo Calvino was named and Jerzy Kosinski’s Being There and ladies like Joan Didion and Lorrie Moore. We could all agree that familiarity with short stories was a turn-on.

There is one Brooklyn bookstore hoping to bring literate lovebirds together by matching their literary tastes. Visitors to Word on Franklin Street in Greenpoint can now leave notes on a community bulletin board listing their favorite books and authors, along with contact info for interested parties to get in touch. Though no matches have been made yet, we at One Story think it’s a great idea. In that same spirit, chime in readers, men and women alike. What and who would you put on your own likes/dislikes list? And what would you absolutely not want to hear a first date say they love? And let’s keep things civil. Remember, this is all in good fun.

How to Sell a Short Story

Amazing Stories

Over at the Rumpus, Seth Fischer has kicked off a discussion about the viability of short story collections in these tough economic times. Though it’s well known that these sorts of books have never been an easy sell, it seems the big-house publishers have become even more wary of taking a risk on them, despite the fact that the short story form seems ideally suited to today’s ADD popular culture. So what’s to be done? Fischer’s scenario involves marrying the short story and viral marketing, with publishers posting samples of an author’s collection online and including a link to buy the entire book, along with more inventive methods like creating trailers for their products. I’m skeptical about this latter suggestion but Thomas Pynchon’s publishers have managed to drum up quite a bit of interest, or at least quite a bit of publicity, with the trailer for Inherent Vice. I enjoy it because the narrator (reported to be Pynchon himself) sounds like The Dude but it still strikes me as an odd way to advertise a novel. Plus Pynchon is a well-known enough name that he’ll probably sell alright anyway. I’m not entirely sure it would work for a debut writer, though I would love to be proven wrong.

Regarding the first idea, Amazon has starting offering individual short stories from new collections (such as One Story author Lydia Peelle’s Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing) but for now, this is the sole privilege of Kindle owners. Harper Perennial is doing a promotion via the website 52 Short Stories, which offers a free short story from the back catalog once a week for the entire year. Admittedly most of these are classics (though Lydia is there too) and I have no idea how well it’s generated sales. But it’s definitely an intriguing start and I hope that they continue to offer it into the next year.

So what are your thoughts, One Story readers? Aside from enjoying authors you’ve read in our publication, what would induce you to buy a short story collection by an entirely new voice? Are you open to internet marketing or do you prefer more grassroots efforts? What could make short stories something readers get excited about again? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Good Thief – Now in Paperback!

GoodThief_banner_REV2First came a rave review from the NYTimes. Then came the John Sargaent Sr. First Novel prize. Then the ALA’s Alex Award. Now editor-in-chief Hannah Tinti’s first novel The Good Thief is available in a sleek new paperback! Janet Maslin called it “darkly transporting” and Entertainment Weekly named Hannah “one of the sharpest, slyest young American novelists.” So if you haven’t yet picked up the book Oprah named a Top 20 Beach Read, there’s still a few good days left in the summer. To buy the book, go here. And be sure to check out Hannah’s spanking new website while you’re at it.

Bad Sex with Steve Almond

Steve Almond book

Sex, if you’ll forgive the pun, is a hard thing to write about. Even great authors have failed at it. How does one even begin to describe an act that’s so universal yet also so personal beyond the most basic (or base) level in a way that’s not only revealing but relevant and necessary? I’ve tried in my own writing several times and have come to the conclusion that the best way to write about sex has less to do with the act itself than what’s going on around it. But for those still inclined to try their hand, One Story author Steve Almond has a few helpful tips for you over at the Rumpus.

Interestingly, the article neglects to give us any evidence of a successful literary sex scene. There are of course the legendary heavyweights of old like D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and his gal pal Anais Nin. Almond himself is certainly good at capturing the male’s perspective on the act (see his web site for evidence of that). Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’ still remains a cultural touchstone for curious young adults. And Erica Jong got a lot of mileage out of showing women could be just as sexually free as men. Then there are the writers like Nabakov and Nicholson Baker, who take our concepts of “normalized” sexual behavior and turn them against us, revealing uncomfortable psychological truths as we find ourselves identifying with their perverts and fiends. But are any of these writers and books actually sexy? I ask you, One Story readers and fans, what literary sex scenes have successfully turned you on? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and be sure to check out Steve’s book of hilarious essays (Not That You Asked), which features the article linked above.

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing by Lydia Peelle

LydiaPeelle

One Story author Lydia Peelle has just published her first collection of short stories, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, the title story of which was featured in issue #87 of the magazine. Though this is her debut, Lydia’s stories have been receiving wide acclaim for some time now, including one O. Henry Prize, two Pushcarts, and two appearances in Best New American Voices. The collection has already received great notices from Publishers Weekly and Booklist who wrote that Peelle’s “rock-solid prose, surprising connections, and resounding transformations add up to powerful and significant stories of improvised life in a consumed world.” Learn more about Lydia at her Harper Collins author page and pick up a copy of the book here! Kindle users also have the option of downloading individual stories for $1.59 each.

Lydia will be appearing with John Wray and Wells Tower in NYC’s Bryant Park on July 29th as part of their Word for Word series. And if you’re in the Brookline, MA area on August 3rd, be sure to stop in at Brookline Booksmith to see Lydia read from the book. Details for that event are here.

Call to Arms: Superfund & the Gowanus Canal

Old Gowanus
The address that sits on the top of our masthead may not mean too much to most of our readers. But for our small staff at One Story and the hundreds of other Brooklyn artists and small press publishers who work there, the Old American Can Factory is a beloved home, a community of like-minded people that enjoy working off the beaten path (i.e, anywhere but Manhattan). For those unfamiliar with the neighborhood, our office rests right on the scruffier edges of Park Slope, not too far from the Gowanus Canal.
The Gowanus has been in the news quite a bit recently. Those keeping up with the EPA may remember that earlier in the year, the Canal was nominated for inclusion on the Superfund list, a government program that works to insure long-term clean up on some of the worst toxic sites in the country. For those of us who have suffered schlepping through floodwaters thick with garbage and have seen New York state’s own remedial projects fail to get off the ground, designation on the Superfund list could yield great things.
This is not to suggest that inspiration can’t be found there. Local photographer Jose Gaytan was profiled on the NY Times “Lens” blog recently and the Gowanus he has captured over the years is full of a mysterious and other-worldly beauty, with some night-scapes recalling the canals of Venice. One wonders while looking through these snapshots what other majesties may be unearthed in a cleaner and safer environment.
The time for final public comment is drawing to a close. If you wish to give your support to furthering this great project (and you don’t have to be a New York resident to help), we encourage you to learn more at the Superfund Gowanus webpage and to sign the online petition. To see more of Jose’s photographs and learn about his exhibit at the Brooklyn Public library, go here

From the Trenches: Hannah Tinti & Joe Meno Reading at Powerhouse Arena

It was an evening of giant squids, seizure-inducing clouds, and unusual adoptions at the Powerhouse Arena last night, where an eager audience packed in to hear Hannah Tinti and Joe Meno read their work and riff on the art of writing. As listeners sat on large stone steps and the two writers took their turns in the spotlight, I couldn’t help but think of a night at a comedy club. Though Joe started the evening by comparing reading events in 2009 to a 19th century chimney sweep symposium, I can’t imagine that being half as entertaining.

Joe kicked things off by reading the opening section of his new novel The Great Perhaps. Before beginning, he encouraged his audience not to hold back their laughter, and as family patriarch Jonathan, a paleontologist, grew more and more frustrated with the protestations of his teenage daughters, one an aspiring Marxist, the other newly religious, listeners responded with knowing chuckles and grins. “Enjoy what you write,” Joe later advised, citing such personal heroes as Vonnegut and Pynchon. “And your readers will enjoy it, too.”

Next up was Hannah Tinti reading, on a dare from Joe, her short story “Adoption,” published in issue 4 of the Avery Anthology. Originally written with the specifications of another magazine in mind – that it had to be short, dialogue heavy, in first person, and fall into the category of “chick lit” – the story tells the sharp and giddily sardonic tale of a single woman who adopts a grown man. I encourage any curious fans of Hannah to seek this story out, especially those who have only read The Good Thief. It’s a remarkable display of the range of Hannah’s talents.

Finally the evening ended with Joe and Hannah in conversation and taking questions. Joe marveled at the continued devotion of the scientific community to tracking down the giant squid, a creature that has never been seen and for which his main character Jonathan is desperately searching. Hannah spoke of her childhood adoration of authors like Robert Louis Stevenson and how one phrase, “resurrection men,” inspired an entire narrative. Audience members quick on the draw received gifts from Hannah, including a wishing stone (a Tinti reading tradition), a St. Anthony medal, and copies of One Story. Wrapping things up, Joe championed the continued importance of venues like Powerhouse to the literary community and implored listeners to give their support. We thank everyone who was able to come out. For photos of the event go here.