JUVENTUD: Final Media Roundup of 2015

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As 2015 winds to a close and debut novels are drowned out in the literary-list madness of December, I thought I’d list the most recent accolades for Juventud here lest you think launch season is ending on a whimper and not a bang. Once again, the novel earns the spotlight at The Quivering Pen blog, where David Abrams has included it in his A Year of Reading Best Book Covers, along with works by Laura van den Berg, Lydia Davis, Lauren Groff, Rick Moody, Ann Tyler, Salmon Rushdie, and my favorite by Joe Meno.

In the book critic realm, several more thoughtful and praise-filled reviews have appeared. I am especially appreciative for this review of Juventud by Donna Miele for the Atticus Review. Miele says, “In the details of Mercedes’s family and social life Blakeslee offers an understanding of relationship and setting—or relationship as setting—that allows Juventud to transcend the trappings of both romance and thriller, though the story flirts with both genres. This is a novel that should generate a lot of discussion and response by future authors, to be pored over and remembered.” Book blogger Stefani Cox loved the novel and had much to say about it on her blog, including a shout-out to Curbside Splendor for publishing a diverse array of authors.

Last but not least, if you’re behind on your podcast listening and plan to spend your New Year’s Day pitching clutter instead of nursing a hangover, you may want to check out my story of how I came to Florida, performed at THE SWAMP at this year’s Miami Book Fair, and recorded by John King for The Drunken Odyssey podcast Episode 183 (which also features a terrific interview with Mary Karr). And finally, one of my favorite conversations about Juventud was with Sarah Werner for The Write Now podcast.  Why not listen in as you clean out those old files and chase away the New Year’s Eve fuzz with a shot or two of espresso? I can’t think of a more pleasant way to ring in 2016.

Fireside Chat with Borges in this week’s episode of The Drunken Odyssey podcast

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This week I’m packing up my fall wardrobe as I get ready to head north for the Burlington Book Festival and the official kick-off of the Juventud book tour (remember, you can still donate at Vanessa’s National Book Tour and help offset expenses – thank you!) What makes great listening while packing? Why, none other than The Drunken Odyssey podcast about the literary life. In this week’s episode, host John King and I discuss This Craft of Verse, the wonderful collection of lectures by Jorge Luis Borges. You may tune-in to our rather meta fireside chat-about-a-fireside-chat here: Vanessa Blakeslee discusses This Craft of Verse by Borges. Enjoy!

Money…and A Room of One’s Own, my latest craft discussion with John King over at The Drunken Odyssey

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What kind of writer would you be if you had an income of $75,000 a year — the equivalent in today’s dollars of Woolf’s infamous “500 pounds”? How is Woolf’s collection of essays more relevant than ever to literary writers — male and female — today? Tune in to the latest episode for our lively, impassioned discussion: A Discussion of A Room of One’s Own with John King and Vanessa Blakeslee.

In our latest podcast-odyssey, John King and I explore “On the Sublime” by Longinus

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What would our joint-study of ancient “writers on writing” be without a thorough examination of this work? On the Sublime may not be touted in writing classrooms as often as Aristotle’s Poetics, but the treatise still offers salient wisdom on what makes great literature resonate. In this latest episode of our up-close series on craft texts, John King and I discuss the relevance of On the Sublime to working writers today, in the context of contemporary works by Saul Bellow, Jack Kerouac, Toni Morrison, Rick Moody, Hunter S. Thompson, and others. Although Longinus’s prose is often dry, legalistic, and meandering (and my contribution peppered with a few sleep-deprived gaffes, which hopefully adds to the entertainment value) our examination ultimately proved meaningful and lively. You may listen to the full episode here:


This week at The Drunken Odyssey with John King: Chekhov’s watermelon, Wes Anderson, and “How Fiction Works” by James Wood

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John King and I discuss and digress upon the above topics, as well as Henry James, the flaneur, Twin Peaks, and more in the latest episode of The Drunken Odyssey podcast. How do these far-flung topics tie back to our craft text, How Fiction Works by esteemed critic James Wood, you may ask? You’ll just have to tune in and find out.  Merely click the link below ~ thanks for listening!



Having tea with Horace: I talk “Ars Poetica” with John King at The Drunken Odyssey podcast

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“Study to be wise,” states Horace. Can creative writing be taught, and can we trace the first MFA program back to 1st century Rome? In the latest episode of The Drunken Odyssey podcast, John King and I discuss our 2nd ancient tome on the craft of storytelling, Horace’s Ars Poetica. Our lively banter delves into tangential topics such as dissecting the gore and decadence in narrative via the context of Shakespeare’s King Lear and MacBeth, Medea, ExcaliburGame of Thrones and more.       


Lecture on Character, Voice, and “Welcome, Lost Dogs” now on Youtube

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Last spring I had the good fortune to be invited to Laurie Uttich’s creative writing class, CRW 3053, at the University of Central Florida, to give a lecture on character and voice in my story, “Welcome, Lost Dogs.” The talk is now available on Youtube — not as glam as a TED talk, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right? You can view the playlist here:


If you haven’t read “Welcome, Lost Dogs,” which appeared in The Southern Review, Winter 2011, an audio version was featured earlier this year at The Drum:


Many thanks to Laurie Uttich and her 100+students, who gave my story a thoughtful read and who made for a large but nevertheless attentive audience. This was my first time speaking to such a big group, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, how intimacy in a classroom isn’t necessarily relegated by numbers.

Thanks for tuning in!