I'm so gratified by all the friends who pre-ordered my chapbook and are posting pictures of it as it arrives in the mail. And it's so exciting to see flash writers whom I greatly admire but don't know who ordered the chapbook and like it.
My ekphrastic flash "Edvard Munch's Eye in Eye" is out in FLASH FRONTIER in New Zealand. I haven't finished reading this tree-themed issue yet, but there are a lot of familiar names (Grant Faulkner, Tara Isabel Zambrano, Damhnait Monaghan, James Claffey), and I love trees. Looking forward to reading more. Here's the Munch painting again. I wish they'd used it, or linked it, with the microflash.
(p.s. 10-4-17 A writer on twitter who liked the flash posted a selfie at the SFMOMA exhibit standing in front of the painting! And FLASH FRONTIER just added a link to the painting at the lower right corner of the flash.)
THE MISSING GIRL is here! I had a long day at work yesterday, longer when Steve called to say that the box from Black Lawrence Press had arrived, my friend Sylvia Martinez Banks e-mailed me to say her pre-order copy had arrived (and attached a picture), Jan Stinchcomb and Jonathan Cardew (flash writers whom I only know online but will forever love) posted pictures of their newly arrived copies on Twitter. I didn't get home from work until 6:30 pm!
Steve and I will be included in a really rad anthology of collaborative writing coming out from Black Lawrence Press next summer: THEY SAID: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing. The editors, Simone Muench and Dean Rader, recently published a cool book of sonnets called SUTURE. Each sonnet opens with a line from a famous sonnet and then continues with a patchwork of their lines. They describe the poems as "'The Frankenstein Sonnets,' since each poem is a string of the old with the new, and in some cases, the living with the dead." Jill Talbot and Justin Lawrence Daugherty frequently publish creative nonfiction collaborations. (Always wonderful.) When an earlier version of our fractured narrative essay "Imaginary Friends" was published in GRIST we also used the Frankenstein metaphor to describe the process of creating our monster. We're fond of it (and naturally like the revision even better than the original, so I won't link that here!).
The English Department runs a series of afternoon presentations where colleagues talk about their research. Steve and I are thinking about doing one on collaborative writing. It will be in the spring, before this anthology comes out, unfortunately. But I've just ordered another anthology that collects Meg Tuite's EXQUISITE DUETS, a microflash/poetry series where she gave the same first line to two writers and then let them run with it. (Among the many great flash writers: Kathy Fish, James Claffey, Jonathan Cardew, Paul Beckman, Jen Michalski). You can check out the "Exquisite Duets" column in the magazine jmww, and a description of the Surrealists' collaborative experiments in the 1920s (known as "exquisite corpse") here.
I can't say that collaborations with Steve (sometimes we publish together as Alvarado O'Brien, sometimes with both our names) always ran smoothly. We're very different writers. ("Alvarado O'Brien is dead," he declared dramatically, after we tried and failed to produce a collaborative 100-word story to accompany our interview at 100 WORD STORY. I'm not so sure that Alvarado O'Brien won't be resurrected.)
The new cover by Richard Every is great.
Here's a list of the writers in THEY SAID, some of them familiar Bay Area names. Dean Rader is local (though I've never met him, and just missed seeing him at the Book Festival in Berkeley), and teaches at USF. Simone Muench (whom I've also never met, but who kindly contributed an enthusiastic blurb for THE MISSING GIRL) lives in Chicago, where she teaches at Lewis University.
There seems to be a lot going on lately, with more publications and readings coming up in October. I'll probably have little to no writing news all winter. (Maybe some more chapbook reviews, if I'm lucky.)
I don't have the chapbook in my hands yet, but it should be very soon, and the first review just came out this morning—by Sarah Batcheller in the wonderful PHOEBE: A JOURNAL OF ART AND LITERATURE (where my story "Winter Afternoon" was first runner-up in their 2016 Fiction Contest, judged by Joshua Ferris).
Here's a link to the review of THE MISSING GIRL at PHOEBE.
I'd love to quote all of it here, but I'll content myself with two excerpts:
"When it comes to narratives on missing and abducted women, we normally explore these titillating, abhorrent, and violent story arcs, for good and understandable reasons. But, when I first read Doyle's book, I got a deeper sense of abhorrence and haunting in the sheer simplicity, the willful unfolding, and the total likelihood of these stories."
“Terror slips into the banal glimpses of everyday life—it creeps into the spaces not yet thought to be filled. … Flash form commands the ‘white space’ in this lyrical chapbook.”
Sarah Batcheller tweeted the review with the comment: "This book CHANGED me."
I have to say I'm very nervous about reviews. I hear Virginia Woolf was plunged into deep depression by reviews (though she wrote many herself, not always positive), and I can see why.
Every year at this time it's the same scramble. The only way to find out who's on the long list of Notable Essays at the back of BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS is to get on the Amazon site and use the Look Inside feature. Most frustrating, there are often pages missing, so essayists who fall in the wrong part of the alphabet have to wait until the book comes out in early October.
This year is AMAZING. Not only did I get a Notable Essay listing (my third, each as exciting as the first), but Steve did too! A Notable is such an honor, and so encouraging. And my good friend, the very talented Alia Volz, has a Notable and an essay actually included the anthology!
The essayist Steven Church said online that the Notables season always feels like Christmas in September. This year it definitely does.
Here are the links to my essay ("A Eulogy, Despite" in FULL GROWN PEOPLE) and Steve's ("The Case for Steve Gutierrez" in WACCAMAW), which both happen to be in online journals.
Perhaps because of the general celebratory atmosphere, the hyperlink feature on the blog seems to work again. We didn't do anything to fix it.
Alia took pictures of our pages, so here they are:
And I just got a check for $500 for winning the chapbook contest at Black Lawrence Press, enclosed in a card with a warm handwritten note from the publisher. I don't see how this day can get any better. (My horoscope in the local newspaper this morning gave my day only two stars out of a possible five. Proving their inaccuracy once again.)
"Little Darling" in WIGLEAF is attracting some attention on Facebook, but it's going nuts on Twitter.
WIGLEAF's editor Scott Garson tweeted in advance
Jacqueline Doyle’s “Little Darlings” is effed up and brilliant in a way I can’t quite get my head around. It goes up Monday #excites
WIGLEAF on the day it went up
new new: @doylejacq’s “Little Darlings” (Won’t admit how many times I’ve read this; want to be thought of as sane): wigleaf.com
WIGLEAF the next day
We don’t keep records on this, but @doylejacq’s “Little Darling” is likely among the most-read Wigleaf stories ever in its first 2 days
The Wigleaf posts got a phenomenal number of likes and retweets and comments, tons from top flash writers and editors that I crazy-admire. (With the exception of Kara Vernor, who is a stunning writer, I've never met any of these people.) My father’s daughter, I’m tempted to count them, but I won’t. But I’ll record some comments here, to go over on one of my despondent days. (I thought I wouldn’t be able to publish the micros anywhere, since there aren’t many zines that do super-short flash. Lately I’m having trouble sustaining faith in my work.) I’ll start with Kathy Fish, the queen of flash, because, well, Kathy Fish.
Kathy Fish Wow, that’s a gut punch in so few words. Perfect micro. Love the postcard too
Kathy Fish You so deftly avoid heavy-handedness and deliver an ending that devastates the knowing reader. Brava.
Sara Lippman THIS IS HOW TO TELL A STORY IN – what, 100?! – WORDS
Kara Vernor ♥️this! Congrats @doylejacq!
Tara Lee Zambrano Oh this is SO good! Also the postcard. #amreading
Jen Tod “It was my idea. Not his.” @doylejacq always says so much with so little. Her piece at @Wigleaf does not disappoint.
Jason Lee Norman Beautiful story. A killer! @doylejacq smashes you to pieces in just a couple hundred words
Josh Denslow Pretty wonderful
Tommy Dean Wow! The layering is perfect!
Melissa Goode ♥️♥️♥️
Chelsea Voulgares Holy crap this story kills
Chelsea Voulgares Yes! This is some seriously electric writing
Pat Foran Beautiful. Thanks for this, @doylejacq
Charles Lennox Tiny, powerful micro by @doylejacq
Charles Lennox It’s really, really good.
Jellyfish Review Yes yes yes yes yes!
Stephanie Hutton Perfect
Stephanie Hutton Only because I am lost for words to elaborate! Gut-punchingly good x
Jason Lee Norman Beautiful story. A killer! @doylejacq smashes you to pieces in just a couple hundred words.
Jad Josey There is so much said in the spaces between. Stunning flash from @doylejacq
Cathy Ulrich Awesome piece by @doylejacq in @Wigleaf
Simon Pinkerton Agreed, lovely micro
Jan Stinchcomb Yes. It reminds me of a tight little piece of embroidery.
Meghan Phillips Ugh. Such a fan. This is stunning.
Jen Tod “It was my idea. Not his.” @doylejacq always says so much with so little. Her piece at @Wigleaf does not disappoint.
Kathryn McMahon Wow, @doylejacq. Amazing. The layers, the rhythm. Everyone, go read this now.
Maureen Langloss This is perfect. Want to read it over and over again. Congrats, @doylejacq
topaz winters Holy shit, my chest aches & aches. This is exquisite
Lori Sambol Brody Just … wow
Lori Sambol Brody The use of short phrases and repetition here is just wonderful
Lori Sambol Brody How a story can be devastating in less than 200 words. Love
Madeline Anthes Holy hell. This story is just a gut punch.
Madeline Anthes ♥️♥️ it’s an amazing story!
Leesa Cross-Smith What a beauty. ! ! SO GOOD.
Damhnait Monaghan Maybe because it’s stunning
Daniel Edwards Because it’s really excellent!
Rachel Newcombe congrats on this stunning story
Gribs Noon It might be one of the best I’ve ever read on Wigleaf
I was pleased that some writers included the postcard (including Kathy Fish!) because I labored over that, trying to make it sound casual, as if I hadn't labored over it.
"Little Darling" and the postcard are on Wigleaf's home page, along with lots of great flash and postcards from the writers:
I'm in a good mood today because last night my writing group in San Francisco liked my new work from Lidia Yuknavitch's workshop. Reactions to the micros I just published ("Little Darling" at Wigleaf, "Heartbreak Hotel" at matchbook) were very mixed when we did them in the writing group. One newcomer to the group disliked them all. (There are two more I'm still trying to publish.) It's important to remember (but so difficult) that everyone has different taste: editors, fellow writers, readers. Believe in yourself!
Lots of rejections in the past few days. One essay that I despair of ever getting published, and keep rewriting. I should shelve it, but I just can't. And what's with so many rejections at once? Do editors get together and say, this is it, let's bombard writers in the week of September 10? Probably they're all back on campus this week, as I'll be on the 21st (Cal State East Bay is on the quarter system and starts later).
I had another micro accepted today at FLASH FRONTIER, a flash magazine in New Zealand that publishes lots of wonderful writers. (My flash world definitely exceeds the boundaries of the U.S. these days, which is great.) I published in their dance-themed issue a while back. This time the theme is trees, and I wrote an ekphrastic flash about Edvard Munch's painting "Eye in Eye." I was bowled over by the Munch exhibit at SFMOMA, and started a segmented lyric essay about artists and models that I haven't finished.
Just read proofs for my creative nonfiction essay "Long Distance," coming out in UNDER THE GUM TREE next month. And proofs for another piece on Judith Ortiz Cofer ("Teaching The Latin Deli in the Age of Trump"), coming out in a forum at a/b: Auto/Biography Studies next winter. It seems everything's published at once, followed by months of inactivity.
Here's a reproduction of the Munch painting. The colors were much richer in person.
So thrilled to see my microflash “Little Darling” up at WIGLEAF, which has published SO many great writers. I’ve been trying to get into WIGLEAF for years. Check out their hidden archive of stellar contributors.
Note that there's a postcard from me too, which was hard to write. I had several different versions and was seriously torn.
Twitter seems to be the place for micros. Lots of buzz from writers I really admire. I'm so grateful.
The Flash Fiction Collective Reading last night (with Ann Gelder, Lucy Gray, Lenore Weiss) was great fun. I read a flash from The Missing Girl, a couple of others, and my flash sequence on Freud's Dora (with Steve playing the part of Freud). I got to meet two members of the Collective, Jane Ciabattari and Grant Faulkner (Steve and I have both published in the magazine he co-edits, 100 WORD STORY; co-editor Lynn Mundell also interviewed us for the magazine). I also got to meet Jon Roemer, indie press OUTPOST 19 publisher (I have creative nonfiction in their anthology ROOTED). Alley Cat Books is a beautiful space, and it looks like they are willing to carry my chapbook.
Steve was in a great reading for the resistance anthology SPEAK & SPEAK AGAIN in Corte Madera. He's in three more readings, this week and next.
Saturday night (that's tomorrow), Sept. 9, Babylon Salon, The Armory Club, 1799 Mission St., SF, 6pm (cash bar, doors open 5:30)
Wednesday night, Sept. 13, 7 pm, Kaleidoscope Coffee, Richmond
Thursday night, Sept. 14, 7pm, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland
Was great to see some friends at Alley Cat last night. Hope I'll see more of you at these readings.
I’ve just published a narrative essay at ASSAY: A JOURNAL OF NONFICTION STUDIES, sort of scholarly, mostly personal: “Shuffling the Cards: I Think Back Through Judith Ortiz Cofer.” The essay combines three important aspects of my identity that are usually separate, on the page that is: the teacher, the scholar, the personal essayist.
For some reason my hyperlinks feature isn't working today (I will have to consult my tech support, that is, my son Ben, when he gets home from work tonight), but here's the link:
It’s the third essay I’ve published this year about a writer who’s been meaningful to me. My personal essay in Electric Literature was a tribute to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (both in style—the second person pov and accumulated, anonymous anecdotes—and content), which I had just taught for the first time. In the SmokeLong Quarterly series “Flash/Back,” I looked at Jayne Anne Phillips’ Black Tickets and the influence of her work on my flash. My somewhat more scholarly essay in Assay is a tribute to Judith Ortiz Cofer, who passed away in December 2016. I have taught her creative nonfiction for many years. It has meant a lot to my students, and to me, and also exerted a strong influence on my development as a writer.
Links to the other two essays: electricliterature.com/what-did-you-say-7f5af5d99d76 and www.smokelong.com/flash-back-revisiting-jayne-anne-phillips/
I love the hybridity of Assay’s very vital yet scholarly essays, a whole new breed of scholarly journal (also online, accessible to all, not just to readers with access to scholarly databases). Many are by creative writers who are also academics. So many scholarly journals have become dry and jargon-laden, the prose almost unreadable. It was great to be allowed the latitude to blend the personal and scholarly and pedagogical. Many thanks to the editor Karen Babine and the readers at Assay.
I wrote the essay because the editor of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies invited me to write something for a forum they're doing on Ortiz Cofer. I've published several scholarly articles on Ortiz Cofer, including one in a/b. "Shuffling the Cards" was my first idea for the forum; as the essay became longer and longer I felt I needed to finish it, even though it was too long for a/b. I've written something else for the forum ("Teaching The Latin Deli in the Age of Trump"), which will come out next winter. I loved working with the a/b editor, Ricia Chancy Sancinito, who is on my mind today because she teaches in Puerto Rico, which is bracing for one of the worst hurricanes in history. I hope she's safe.