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!


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:

Catch Me If You Can: April 8th-11th, 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair, Minneapolis, MN

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​April 8th-11th, 2015 AWP Conference & Bookfair, Minneapolis, MN, see below:
Thursday, April 9th, 10:30-noon, book signing at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing table (plus I will be hanging around until 2pm, available to talk about VCFA’s graduate programs);
2-3pm book signing at Harpur Palate
Friday, April 10th, 1:30-2:30pm, book signing at Green Mountains Review;
3-4:15pm panel “The Long and the Short of It: Five Debut Authors Divulge How They Got Their Short Fiction Collections Published, Buzzed, Reviewed, and Read”
Saturday, April 11th, noon-1:15pm panel reading,
“America by Train: Riding and Writing the Rails”
​followed by book signing at Curbside Splendor
You can also catch me from time to time at the Burrow Press table, where you can purchase Train Shots for the special conference deal of $10. I haven’t attended AWP since 2009, and so many dear friends are going. I can hardly wait!  

Roundtable Discussion of MFA vs. NYC with John King, Vanessa Blakeslee, Boris Fishman, and David James Poissant

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AWP 2015 Minneapolis is just a few days away, and appropriately enough, the latest episode of The Drunken Odyssey podcast follows suit, with a lively, at times heated, Roundtable Discussion of the much-buzzed essay collection MFA vs. NYC. My partner-in-crime a.k.a. host John King and I are joined by Boris Fishman, author of the fine novel, A Replacement Life, and David James Poissant, author of the delightful debut story collection, The Heaven of Animals, both of which debuted in 2014.

You can listen to the episode here:

Review of The Understory by Pamela Erens at Kenyon Review Online

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“Erens’ eye for detail isn’t confined to her principal characters. One of the most notable aspects of her fiction is the way she takes ‘sensory snapshots’ of her world and its inhabitants—honing in on details that may appear tertiary at the time, but which effectively build so that the novel feels like a living, breathing mural. ‘After Canal Street Chinatown dissolves into the municipal district, with its ugly horizontal architecture, its clouds of dirty pigeons, its stream of distressed visitors,’ Jack observes. ‘Lawyers leap out of taxis, thousands of lawyers on their way to family court, divorce courts, housing court, criminal court.’ The result is a ruthlessly poignant depiction of a New York City steadily ceding to gentrification, vividly relayed as Jack conducts his obsessive, routine walks through parks and bookstores…”

To read my entire review, click here:

“On Parakeets & Writers”: I talk Train Shots & Juventud with Angela Mitchell

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Back in the summer of 2009, I attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and hit it off with fellow fiction writer, Angela Mitchell. One of the most fun aspects of seeing your books (finally!) turn into print is reconnecting with the hardworking writers you’ve met over the years: to set up readings in one another’s cities, interviews, etc., etc. Angela and I are long overdue for a visit, but I suspect we’ll bump into each other before too long at a book fair or conference. Meanwhile, she was kind enough to interview me for her blog, where we talk mostly about Train Shots, but about the challenge of leaping from short story writing to the novel, too.  Read the interview and while you’re there, check out Angela’s work: her stories have won numerous awards, been published in great places like Colorado Review. All this she’s accomplished while mothering, teaching, and cattle-farming. She’s a creative woman of many hats whom I’m in awe of from afar, and I so look forward to our paths crossing again.

Here’s the link: 

“Pura Vida, or Reflections on the Good Life” Essay at The Gloria Sirens

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A couple of weeks ago I attended the Other Words Conference in St. Augustine, FL, and had a raucous good time with the lively and insightful women writers who are the Gloria Sirens. They invited me to submit a “Sister Siren” guest post, and I was all too happy to contribute (I love the photos they chose to accompany the piece — just perfect). You can read it here:

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