Come Celebrate Andrew Foster Altschul at Mediabistro Wednesday!

deusexmachina 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!

From the Trenches, Till Next Time

Eva, Abby, and Rose

Eva, Abby, and Rose

We are being withdrawn from the trenches.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.

Golden Oldies: Revisiting Issue #13, “Stations West”

nullOnce 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.

Click here to buy Issue #13: “Stations West”, or here to see more of Allison’s thoughts on writing the story. To watch a video with more details of her publishing process, just click below!

The End of the Beginning: The Final Day of One Story Summer Writer’s Workshop

One Story's editor-in-chief Hannah Tinti lectures about the publishing industry and encourages workship writers to "never give up."

As all good things must, the One Story Summer Writer’s Workshop came to an end this past Friday. The final day kicked off as all the others before, yet there was a tinge of nostalgia to the morning workshops as OS editors Will Allison and Marie-Helene Bertino gave their final critiques.

With all the whirlwind events and information, it’s easy to leave a workshop feeling a combination of excitement and also confusion of what to do next. OS Editor in Chief Hannah Tinti stepped up to give some tips and answered students’ questions about the business side of writing for our last afternoon lecture.

First, she said, always keep in mind:“It’s not publishing that makes you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.” But once you have a manuscript as polished as you can make it, it’s time to put on your “business hat.” Adding another perspective to the agent’s panel discussion from Monday, Hannah encouraged the workshop writers to look for agents carefully and selectively. Find the agent that’s the right fit for you. Don’t just sign up with the first agent you find or comes you way—make sure they represent similar authors and related genres. “It will save you some heartache,” she advised.

If you’re working on a collection, take the same care when looking for places to submit your stories. Check out up and coming literary magazines. There are a lot of them out there. Hannah suggested looking at prize-winning anthologies such as the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Short Stories. Also, subscribing to magazines like Poets & Writers and Publishers Weekly will keep you informed of what’s current.

At the end of the talk, Hannah shared some of her own rejection letters. She stressed the importance of behaving professionally even in the face of rejection. We also got to see examples of other authors who were rejected (Harry Potter, rejected twelve times! and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room labeled as “hopelessly bad.”) Seeing these letters helped put the daunting taks of submitting into perspective, and also provided laughs and comfort for the workshoppers. “It’s not always the best writer in the room who gets published,” said Tinti. “It’s the most stubborn—the one who keeps trying to improve their writing and doesn’t give up.”

One Story Summer Writer's Workshop final dinner and student reading

With hopes lifted and a buzz of adrenaline similar to that last-day-of-school feeling, the talented troupe of twenty gathered one last time for dinner and a student reading at Cabinet Magazine’s beautiful event space. Each writer read a few minutes of his / her own work, interrupted periodically by staff speeches and thank-yous in addition to a slideshow of pictures from the week matched to Lenny Kravitz’s “It Ain’t Over till It’s Over” (selection courtesy of workshop-coordinator Michael J. Pollock).

Perhaps the most wonderful part of the evening (besides the opportunity to hear everyone’s work) was the continuous and gracious thanking. Marie-Helene gave a wonderfully sweet speech thanking the One Story staff for all of our dedicated work (in which she matched each staff member to various parts of the body) as well as genuine gratitude from workshop students and staff. A nostalgic mood pervaded the night, despite the fact that the workshop was only for one week. However, I spoke to one of the workshop participants about the comraderie present and she pointed out how amazing it was that everyone could open up and share a part of themselves in so little time to a group of perfect strangers.

A writer’s workshop is a vulnerable experience indeed and it is perhaps this sharing of words that make workshops both intense and unique.  And to continue with Marie’s metaphor for the One Story body, if I may, the writers from this summer’s workshop are like the lungs: bringing in fresh air, and pushing out again, to someplace new.

The Beginning of the End

With every day it seems there are only more ideas and philosophies and pieces of advice to incorporate into our thoughts about the One Story Workshop and writing as a whole. As usual, yesterday morning editors Marie-Helene Bertino and Will Alison led their individual classes, and after lunch,  we all gathered to hear a craft lecturer share their own insight on how to better make a story. Yesterday, Jenny Offill, finalist for the LA Times First Book Award and author of the New York Times Notable Book Last Things, joined us to focus on one of the finer compounds of writing: the sentence.

“Writing,” she explained, “is like being alive. It’s about paying attention, being awake in a larger sense.” By focusing on the concrete unit of the sentence, and even single words, Offill talked about treating language “as a door that opens us up into a world we’ve glimpsed or perceived in some way but haven’t entered.” Perhaps Ezra Pound’s definition of poetry as “the best words in the best order” can be extended to all good writing. Good writing is something we’ve been hearing about all week. Often it’s been in a vague way just exact enough to sound daunting; we may all usually recognize it, and aspire to it, but reaching for it can make it seem intangible. The question of how exactly to make “good writing” seems another thing entirely. Offill, harkening back to her own days as an anxious middle schooler, explained it as a combination lock. We all remember being that kid, fumbling with the locker that won’t open, until finally you get the numbers right and it works. Writing, she said, is also an act of lining up elements: mystery, beauty, and surprise. Align the three, and you’ll make something that “captures the warp of your mind, but in a way that’s accessible to others.”

This was the perfect advice to prepare us for the afternoon, when we had the incredible opportunity to visit Manhattan’s Center for Fiction to hear from Simon Van Booy, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and author of many books, including The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter. As he read to us from his new novel, Everything Beautiful Began After, I couldn’t help but feel the sway of the language he used, how the sentences rolled over each other with their lush details and layers. They not only captured an experience, but became one themselves, taking the kinds of risks Offill had urged us all towards earlier. It seemed fitting then that Mr. Van Booy seemed not to shy from experiences in his own life. His talk covered a wide ground, from Einstein, the consciousness of the universe, psychological transference, Joseph Campbell and the Paris catacombs, to Fred Astaire, Greek sexual attitudes, the ugliest shoes he’s bought, and why suits are more useful than underwear. If that seems random, that’s because randomness is at the core of how things work.

As we listened to the winding series of chance meetings and lucky turns that brought him to where he is now, it became clear that his story was perhaps an embodiment of all the advice we’d been given so far at the One Story Writer’s Workshop: there is no magic formula for making it as a writer. Really, all you can do is find something, wonderful or terrible, and tell about it as honestly and passionately as you can. Finding your voice, and using it to conjure life for your characters, is the crucial step. “When you find your voice,” Van Booy said, “you’ll find you’ll write about the same thing for the rest of your life, just in different contexts.” That’s another thing everyone seems to agree on—there is no stopping the trials, or thrills, of writing. “When [a book] is all done, I just want to keep working on it. You don’t ever finish it, you abandon it at the point its ready to live on its own.”

Perhaps the same could be said about students. No one’s done learning how to write, and maybe it’s something you never really do all on your own. Van Booy began his reading with the prologue to his novel, the bit he wrote last. “What we call the beginning is often the end,” he said, quoting T. S. Eliot. “And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Third Day’s a Charm: The Workshop Continues Full Force

3 days in, the writers of One Story‘s summer workshop are continuing to gobble up the tricks of the trade and the helpful feedback from peers and professionals. After another fabulous morning workshop with editors Marie-Helene Bertino and Will Allison, the students enjoyed a craft lecture by One Story author Darin Strauss (Issue #15: Smoking Inside).

Darin came in to discuss how to begin a story and incorporate a formula into something creative. “The only rule,” he explained, “is that starting a story has to work.” While One Story editor-in-chief Hannah Tinti had earlier compared the first page of a story to a first date on Day 1, Darin’s approach was slightly more scientific. This wasn’t love; this was strategy. “Each decision needs to make tactical sense.” Through examples like “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, Darin showed the writers how bringing in an essence of drama at the very beginning brings a piece of work from just a curiosity to an actual story. To keep the story worth reading, one must follow (most of the time) the following formula: X + Y + Z = Structure. X=the goal or desire of the protagonist, Y=the conflict (“anything that thwarts desire”) and Z=the plot, or a series of events within the conflict that continually escalate. If applied correctly, this structure = story success. In simpler terms for the mathematically challenged (we are writers, after all), Darin believes that “you can write about anything as long as there is conflict and the character cares about it.”

After a break from scribbling notes in margins and pondering the role of scientific formula in fiction, our writers reconvened for yet another entertaining and informative panel. Editors from four exciting and unique literary magazines spent their night discussing with our attentive workshoppers the process of submitting, editing, and publishing their finished products. On the panel were Patrick Ryan (Issue #53: “So Much for Artemis”) from Granta, Anne McPeak from A Public Space, Scott Lindenbaum from Electric Literature, and James Yeh from Gigantic. In an effort to give you the best idea of what these bright minds had to say, I’ve created a list of advice and wisdom from their brains to your computer screen:

1. “Read the magazines you’re submitting to is the best answer,” said Anne McPeak, and this was strongly agreed upon by every panelist. Blindly throwing your work around isn’t the way to go. Every magazine has a taste, a direction, a feel. When you’re trying to get published, you’re attempting to join a community. James Yeh explained that the goal is to find the “community you make sense in or would like to make sense in.

2. Be careful with your cover letters (or in Electric Literature‘s case, please don’t write one). No one wants to read a list of your credentials. It’s fun to hear if you’re a fan of the magazine, but simply stating accomplishments doesn’t make you a better contender.

3. Don’t be afraid to send a little nudge email in March if you haven’t heard back about your submission in December. Short and sweet, a small reminder can be a necessary push.

4. “If you start to develop a relationship with an editor, keep going.” This was said by Maribeth Batcha, Publisher of One Story (and mediator of the panel). If you’re submitting and you’re told by a magazine they want to see some more work, take 6 months to improve your writing and resubmit! Encouragement is honest; what they say is what they mean.

5. Don’t worry about drowning in the slush. Patrick admitted that there “isn’t a lot of difference of quality in what comes in from the slush pile and what comes in from the agents.” The truth is that all of these magazines are looking for solid writing and it’s as simple as that. While we were sitting among the workshop students and listening to the editors play off of each other, my fellow intern Abby looked at me and said, “What’s horrifying is that this actually comes down to talent.”

And this, ladies and gentleman, is the ultimate lesson. The terrifying but purely beautiful truth is that good writing is good writing and that’s what editors want to see. Whether you’ve published four novels or are twiddling your thumbs in a summer workshop, there’s an open playing field out there. With some dedication and pro-activity (and adhering to the aforementioned tips), X + Y + Z may = your name in print.

Second Helpings: One Story Summer Writer’s Workshop, Day Two

After resting up from day one, the spirited writers of our Summer Workshop jumped into their second action-packed day with gusto. In the morning, the twenty students divided into groups of ten as they did the day before for their daily workshop with One Story editors Marie-Helene Bertino and Will Allison.

Early in the afternoon, award-winning author of Bee Season Myla Goldberg delivered a craft lecture about the relationship between acting and writing. Using Maile Meloy’s short story “Paint” as a springboard for discussion, Myla covered many topics about creating believable characters (ask yourself: what they would do on a Saturday morning? What flavor of ice cream would they prefer?) and helpful tips about what makes dialogue and action most realistic (she suggested having a private space for those moments when you want to act out facial expressions or read aloud for that one character that has a sarcastic drawl). Yet the core of her lecture focused primarily on the importance of imagination to make a character three-dimensional. “If you do a good acting job,” Myla said, “you can be anyone you want to be. There are no limitations.” She encouraged writers to step out of their comfort zones, and try writing characters that differ in age and gender. “It’s all about stretching your brain and the amazing power of empathy.”

After a break to either power-nap at the hotel, grab a bite at a Park Slope café or read through workshop pieces, the group gathered once again for the evening panel. Managing editor Tanya Rey moderated an informative discussion about the elusive yet alluring MFA degree with representatives from NYU, Brooklyn College, Vermont College and Sarah Lawrence College. Each representative went through the basics of his or her MFA program, including the application process, selection of students, pros and cons of the degree as well as the overarching question: what will an MFA degree do for me? The panelists were honest and straightforward: “There is no real professional reason [to get an MFA],” said Brooklyn College Program Director Joshua Henkin. “You are setting aside two years to focus intently on your writing. The degree is the experience.” Each representative also encouraged writers not to get discouraged if they don’t get into their desired program the first time around.  Zachary Sussman, from NYU, also recommended that undergraduates wait a few years before applying, as the Master’s programs are intense and very different from an undergraduate degree. “When you’re older, you’ll have more perspective on how to best use your time,” he said. “Just because you get in, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should go then.”

Tune in tomorrow for more updates from the trenches and in the meantime, be sure to check out the new issue of One Story, Elissa Schappell’s “The Joy of Cooking”!

One Day in, our Summer Writers’ Workshop is in Full Swing

The heat wave held steady as we kicked off our 2011 Summer Writers’ Workshop today, right here at the Old American Can Factory in Brooklyn. We’ve doubled the workshop’s size since last summer, bringing twenty talented writers together for a week of intense work, plus a better look at some of the industry ins-and-outs. Over the next five days we’ll be hearing from award-winning authors, agents, editors, MFA directors, and all-around great literary minds, so check back for updates as my fellow interns Rose, Eva and I bring you the highlights of all the panels and discussions.

The morning began with writing workshops, run by One Story editors Marie-Helene Bertino and Will Allison.  Later, after lunch, we got to hear from One Story’s very own editor-in-chief Hannah Tinti, who gave us her insight on how to write good beginnings and endings. Incidentally, we also got a basic lesson on romance. “Starting a story follows along the same lines as going on a first date,” she explained. “You don’t cry, you don’t say ‘I love you’, you try not to be boring. You give them some of your history, but not too much–leave a little mystery. You want to charm the reader, you want to get a second date.” She’s right: the connection between readers and books is a sort of relationship. There’s an initial spark, something that makes you want that second date, and so you keep going, investing your time and your trust. The stakes rise, and you hang on, all the way till the end, which hopefully goes as gracefully as possible.

After cocktails, we were lucky to have the chance to hear from a panel of literary agents, one of the most important dates a writer (or story) could hope to score.  Jenni Ferrari-Adler (Brick House Literary Agents), Julie Barer (Barer literary) and Renee Zuckerbrot (Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency), helped to de-mystify the process of how a writer’s work goes from a manuscript to a true and solid book. Turns out, that process is not as scary as it looks from afar. Literary Agents are far more accessible than the high-school quarterback, and getting on their good side rarely involves eyelash-batting or glossy pouted lips. Though it does, as Hannah said earlier in the day, mean writing a catchy beginning. “Ask yourself,” Barer advised, “is your story interesting to you? Why should a reader care?” Zuckerbrot was also pretty direct: “Limit the number of adjectives you use in the first page.” Ferrari-Adler agreed that the best stories are usually “not so much about fanciness as about clarity. Don’t confuse your reader.”

All of this advice in one day could easily seem daunting. But as it was, in the end everyone seemed to have more or less the same bottom line. When you’re writing, Hannah said, “trust your gut. Just follow your instincts, get it down.” And when you’re editing, take your time. The agents aren’t going anywhere, and neither are the publishers. They want writers on board as much as writers want them. But still, make sure you polish your manuscript before sending it out on its hopeful way. Make sure it doesn’t have spinach in its teeth. Or if it does, hope that it is still charming.

Golden Oldies: Revisiting Issue #15, “Smoking Inside”

nullRemember when One Story didn’t have an entertaining and wonderfully informative blog? Before we could tweet all of our exciting news straight to your computer screen? In an effort to fill that technological gap, we’re revisiting some old issues to remind you that before we were blogging about it, we published some talented writers you may have missed! Today, I bring you back to Issue #15: “Smoking Inside” by Darin Strauss (January, 2003).

After reading “Smoking Inside” and setting it back on the table, away from me, my heart is still pumping and anxiety-ridden for the story’s protagonist, single mother Nanette McQuaid. Strauss portrays the unfortunate repercussions of placing an eBay ad for bratty children in a moment of motherly frustration. Nanette’s perspective of the world unleashes Strauss’ strong understanding of how people are quick to judge and the lines of social class. A reader can fully appreciate the motherly love and the honest humor consistent throughout the story. If you signed on as a One Story fan post-Issue #15, I strongly recommend you pass the time between current issues by picking this one up instead of obsessively checking your mailbox everyday in anticipation for the next one!

Since his 2003 publication in One Story, Darin Strauss has been very busy, and this certainly has not gone unnoticed. In 2008, he released his third novel More Than it Hurts You, which earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as several Best Book of the Year awards. That summer, Strauss appeared on the public radio show/podcast This American Life in which he told the story of his teenage car accident that resulted in the death of a classmate (click here to listen to the recording). Through dealing with this traumatic event and attempting to make sense of the deep effects it had on him, Strauss completed his memoir Half a Life in 2010. The book received smashing reviews, more Best Book of the Year awards, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. Strauss lives in Brooklyn and teaches creative writing at New York University. He will be a craft lecturer in our 2011 Summer Workshop here in Brooklyn next week.

To learn more about Darin Strauss’ writing process, check out our Q&A with him or click here to order “Smoking Inside”.

One Story Staff Summer Reading List

Whether you’re actually at the beach or just lying on a beach towel atop your mattress with a fan angled towards you, the books on Flavor Pill’s 10 Decidedly Highbrow But Still Beach-Appropriate Summer Reads should certainly keep you entertained. The list includes a variety of authors and genres: ranging from Virginia Woolf to John Waters, a graphic novel to a nonfiction account of a sneaky NASA intern who tried to steal a piece of the moon (why don’t One Story interns have access to such items?). Be it a beach chair, hammock, or a seat on the subway, you can maintain a balance of sophistication and class alongside some well-deserved indulgence with these reads.

Here at One Story, I asked my fellow interns and managing editor Tanya Rey to share what’s on their summer reading lists:

Eva Jablow, InternUnaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri: I read Interpreter of Maladies three times in high school and it’s about time I see what else Lahiri can do. Also, I’m secretly hoping she sees this and decides that she will, in fact, speak at my Commencement (at Connecticut College) next spring. (Please, Jhumpa!)

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger: Her first novel The Time Traveler’s Wife got me out of a serious book slump a few years ago, so this is my act of gratitude and excited anticipation.

Abby Ryder-Huth, InternLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Gabriel Garcia Marquez is always one of my favorite summertime authors—his writing just feels so lush and verdant. Pretty much anything he’s written goes well with hot, languid afternoons. But Love in the Time of Cholera feels especially fitting with its all-around theme of heat. Read it with a glass of something cold and sweet, preferably with a hibiscus flower in your hair.

Tanya Rey, Managing EditorWhite Woman on a Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey: I just got back from Trinidad and picked this book up while I was there. I like reading novels set in the places I travel to, and this one came highly recommended. It’s about a British couple living in Trinidad in the 1950s, amid racial tensions and the beginnings of the Black Power movement. From what I understand this is one of the most defining times in the country’s history. Plus, I think we’d all agree that any book set on an island is the definition of “beach read.”

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy: I’ll admit it, I’m pretty much a Cormac McCarthy virgin. This brings me great shame. I figure there’s no better time than the summer to read a suspenseful, Western love story.

Rose Heithoff, Intern (Me)The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker: Just some casual trauma reading to prepare for my senior thesis on the (possible) topic of World War I and post-traumatic stress disorder in postmodern literature.

Bossypants by Tina Fey: When I find myself having graphic dreams of head wounds and trenches, I switch over immediately.

So whether you take up Flavor Pill’s suggestions (and!) or follow in a few of One Story staff’s reading traces, you should have plenty of fun and literary language to fill you up for the summer.  This is only after you’ve devoured your latest issue of One Story, of course. Sunscreen advised for all reading locations.