Goodbye, with love, John Hughes

molly ringwald in sixteen candles
I just heard the news that John Hughes has died. For those of us who came of age in the eighties, his name means more than the movies. It brings back a whole slew of memories: names of boys and girls we knew, and places they took us, and the things we did and didn’t do.

It was Sven Delaney’s mother who drove, I remember that clearly. This was 1984, a hot Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, and Sven and his mother picked me up in a station wagon, one of those long sleek numbers with wood paneling and little silver ashtrays filled with secret cigarette butts. I was thirteen years old, and it was officially my first date.

Late in the afternoon, Mrs. Delaney dropped me and Sven off at the East entrance to Springdale Mall, with instructions to meet her in that exact location in exactly two and a half hours. I wore a slouch top that my mother had made, with a purple plastic necklace I’d ordered from the Esprit catalogue. I have no idea what Sven wore. It did not matter. I loved him, which meant of course that I did not truly see him. He was tall and blonde and had an interesting name, and that was enough for me. (more…)

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Readings for Writers

The Kenyon Review has just published a new anthology of work culled from the magazine over the past seventy years. Editor David Lynn writes:

Readings for Writers is a very different creature from your usual anthology…A different principle of selection comes into play: choosing stories, poems, and essays from across the decades to provoke lively responses from writers today, to inspire and challenge…the selections here are intended to inspire active response—pen to paper, fingers to keyboard.”

All in all, it looks like a terrific volume for teachers of writing, not to mention anyone who is engaged in the practice of writing short stories, essays, and poems. Contributions are arranged chronologically, beginning with Randall Jarrell, Allen Tate, and Dylan Thomas–all published in the magazine’s first year, 1939–and ending with Cara Blue Adams, whose essay appeared in 2009. Along the way areworks by the likes of Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Pynchon, Sylvia Plath, Nadine Gordimer, V.S. Naipul, Don DeLillo, Robert Haas, Annie Dillard, Billy Collins, Virgil Suarez, Czeslaw Milosz, Pablo Neruda, W.S. Merwin, and many others–82 selections in all.

I was browsing the contents page when, quite by surprise, I came upon “A Life in Pods,” an essay of mine which appeared in the magazine in 2008. I’m thrilled to be included in such amazing company, and can’t wait to get my copy and dig in.

You can order the issue here.

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Literary Death Match tonight

If you think writers are full of it, this is the event to attend, because rarely does the evening end without at least one writer suffering some form of public humiliation. Tonight, I just hope it’s not me. To read more about the format and the chilling Death Match finale, go here.

Tonight’s Literary Death Match is also a launch party for Issue 8 of Opium Magazine. It’s happening at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia St. Doors open at 6:30, and the show begins at 7:15.

Who’s in the face-off: Katharine Noel (Halfway House), Eric Puchner (Music Through the Floor), KM Soehnlein (The World of Normal Boys), Jim Nelson (representing Instant City), and yours truly. How it works: there are two rounds in which readers go head to head, followed by the infamous finale: an as-yet-undisclosed non-literary contest between two finalists, often involving feats of physical strength.

Who’s judging: Ayelet Waldman (Bad Mother), Josh Kornbluth (Haiku Tunnel), and Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (T.I.C.–Trenchcoat in Common). How judging works: readers are evaluated on literary merit, style, and intangibles. I do hope Ayelet is judging style, because this woman knows her boots.

Cost: $10 includes an issue of Opium 8. The event is hosted by Todd Zuniga & Alana Conner.

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Briefly in Britain

The current issue of UK’s Star Magazine features No One You Know, and gives it four (out of five) stars. Gotta love British brevity. The review in its entirety reads:

When Lila is violently murdered, her sister Ellie doesn’t know where to turn. Years later, off the beaten track in Nicaragua, she meets the man accused of the murder. Maintaining his innocence, he gives her Lila’s diary, leaving Ellie to unravel the mystery of her sister’s life.

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