Today I have exciting news to share! I’m the runner-up for the 2012 Micro Award! I finished right behind the fantastic Bruce Holland Rogers. The Micro Award is given annually to the judges’ favorite piece of flash fiction published in the previous year. You can read all about it and the winner and finalists here.
I took second place with “Certainty,” which was published in PANK this summer. I’m going to shamelessly share the judges kind words about this story because they left me smiling from ear to ear:
“Certainty” is one of those rare stories that walks that fine,
unsettling line between the world as we know it and the magic of
infinite possibilities. Although it deals with social issues (like
lesbian parenting) and relationship conflict (namely, differing
expectations in relationships), it is neither an issue story nor a
relationship story. Rather, it stands out as a modern day fable of
doubt and love, and most of all, the hope that allows the latter to
overcome the former. It is truly a remarkable piece, reminiscent of
the finest work of Shirley Jackson and Elizabeth Graver. Ms. Hirsch
has certainly raised expectations that she will have a major influence
on the short form in years to come.” -Jacob M. Appel
“Excellent writing, great pace. Movement, emotion. Wonderful
ending, great story.” -Shelley Singer
“The characters in Certainty are beautifully fleshed out and instantly
compelling; I was rooting for them right away. The attention to craft
was very evident as well and I found myself right there with the
narrator at the end, staring at the test box, hoping…” -Kevin A.
Happy New Year! Here are a couple of literary things to help you start 2012 off right!
First, there’s a new anthology out called Stripped: A Collection of Anonymous Flash. I’ve got a story in it, alongside Sherrie Flick, Randall Brown, Michael Martone, Roxane Gay, Devan Goldstein, Kathy Fish, Ethel Rohan, J Bradley, Amber Sparks, Nicole Monaghan (who also edited the collection) and far too many other fantastic writers for me to list here.
I can’t tell you which story is mine, because all of the pieces have been “stripped” of their bylines, forcing the reader to confront them without knowing anything about their authors. Because each story is, to some extent, about gender, the result is an interesting guessing game that brings to mind The Guardian’s V.S. Naipaul test. I’m very much looking forward to getting my copy and puzzling over who wrote what. For the curious, the stories will all be matched to their authors in one year and the information made available here, on Nicole’s webpage. Cool, right?
Second, there’s a new Special Issue of PANK Magazine live today. It’s the Science & Fiction Issue, guest edited by myself and my partner in crime, Devan Goldstein. We were flooded with submissions pretty much right out of the gate. It does my heart good to know that so many writers are interested in writing about science. Needless to say, we read many more brilliant pieces than we could fit into one issue, but we’re so happy with the final product. There are great stories and poems by Sal Pane, Benjamin Nash, Jess Stoner and Garrett Ashley, among others. I’ll be re-reading it many times, I’m sure. I hope you’ll read and enjoy it, too.
First, big news! My short story collection, Why We Never Talk About Sugar, is going to be released this spring by Big Wonderful Press. The collection has 13 stories in it. Some of them have been published in places like PANK, Annalemma, Hobart, Vestal Review and Whiskey Island Magazine. And others are brand new, never-before-seen fictions. I’m really proud of this collection, which has been in the works for many years, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone! I’ll be keeping you all posted with updates as things move forward.
Second, if you’re going to Chicago for AWP this year (or if you’re a permanent Midwesterner), then be sure to save room in your schedule for the Mud Luscious, Annalemma, PANK-sponsored reading: Convocation in Chicago. It’s on March 1 at 7pm at Beauty Bar in Chicago. I’ll be reading there, along with tons of other amazing writers: Matt Bell, xTx, Brian Oliu, Chris Newgent, Sal Pane, Sarah Rose Etter, and on and on into infinity. Get there!
If you follow this blog you are probably aware of my love of science, fiction, and, of course, science fiction. So I’m incredibly excited to be guest-editing a “Science and Fiction” issue of PANK Magazine along with my partner-in-crime (and wedlock), Devan Goldstein.
If you ask me, modern, forward-thinking science fiction stories don’t get their due in land of the literary. We hope to correct that by showcasing just how awesome science-y fiction can be. We can’t wait to see what you all do with this topic, so please send, send send! We think you’ll straight kill it.
You can see full guidelines here, and I’ve also pasted them below for your viewing pleasure.
The December 2011 issue will be The Science and Fiction Issue, edited by Aubrey Hirsch and Devan Goldstein.
Aubrey and Devan are open to anything you’d like to submit as long as it’s “science-y” (please excuse our very technical language). If you need more specific suggestions, here are a few:
Hard science fiction. Jet-packs, food pills, the enslavement of the human race, as long as it doesn’t rely on formula over character. Think more George Saunders and less Tom Godwin, though we do have a soft spot for Rod Serling.
Social science fiction. The discovery of an island where no one can love, a world where insects are the people and people are the insects, an alternate time line USA where Kerry got elected and we cured cancer.
Fiction about science. A story that takes place in a third period biology class, a particle physicist who always wanted to be a cowboy, star-cross cosmologists.
Anything else that surprises us, thrills us, alters our definition of “science fiction” or otherwise makes us drop our beakers in delight.
No formulaic sci-fi, nothing that’s all world-building and no character, no Avatar fan fiction, nothing that comes in an alien language that you invented and we can’t read.
Submissions are open until October 15, 2011 or when the issue fills up. Response times for Special Issues are generally longer than for regular submissions.
I recently lent an essay I’d written to the talented Brian Oliu to be remixed as part of The Reprint’s “Stolen Issue.” The essay, “A Florist’s Encyclopedia,” originally appeared in Third Coast in the fall of 2010, and when Brian contacted me about doing a re-write, I answered with a resounding “Hell yes!”
Brian is one of my favorite writers (and he has a reading voice like smooth chocolate pudding), but his style couldn’t be more different than my own. Besides that, my piece is an essay, which means the events in the story actually happened. To me. I wasn’t sure what he’d be able to do with it, but I couldn’t be more excited about the result. Brian grabbed onto the general theme of my piece, collected a few objects and images, and remixed it all into a brilliant essay (“Plants, Flowers, Vines”), both lovely and sad, that is wholly his own. You can read the pieces side by side here.
And in the spirit of intellectual generosity, Brian agreed to answer a few questions about the process of breaking into my essay, filing off the serial number, and taking it for his own under the cover of night.
AH: What was your reaction when you first heard about The Reprint’s “Stolen Issue?”
BO: I was excited to be a part of the issue–I love the idea of working with source material. It gives me something to hold onto and it keeps my writing honest. I looked at it as a ‘text collaboration’: some of the structure and concepts that float through the story are stolen, but I wanted to create a piece that complimented the original text instead of swiped directly from it.
AH: “Text Collaboration” is a good term. Can you talk a bit about the process of writing “Plants, Flowers, Vines”? How did you proceed? How did you decide which elements from “A Florist’s Encyclopedia” you wanted to preserve?
BO: To me, when I started writing this, I wanted to preserve certain elements: obviously, the flowers, but also the elements of death and change which find themselves associated with these things. One of the things that attracted me to the piece was the different sections that served not only as snapshots but as definitions of the flowers and what they meant to the author (you!)–that there are large moments that came forward from small moments. For me, I read each section a few times and ‘extracted’ parts that I very much enjoyed: whether it was the general feeling of that section, a word used, or a story that reminded me of my own story. I think that’s the beauty of a well-written piece: even though the experiences talked about in the story were not my own, the silent and subtle specificity of the moment is so vivid that it makes me think about my own experiences. So, I tended to write about those experiences and weave my own narrative through the images provided by the flowers/losing someone.
AH: How do you feel about the final product? Are you happy with the way it came out? Do you feel like you were able to accomplish what you attempted?
BO: I really loved the final product–I always feel very uncertain about new projects or pieces that take me out of my comfort zone in terms of what I am accustomed to doing. While the end result is typically something that isn’t too dissimilar from what I usually produce, the whole process was a bit different, and so I never really knew what to think about the piece when I completed it: if I had done the source material justice and if I had done my own work and style justice. I let the piece sit for a bit longer than I usually do: I’ve never been the type to rest on something when I feel as if it was ‘done’. I was so nervous to send it to you! I was also hoping to create something that would fit into my manuscript and I was able to do that–it stays loyal to the feel of other pieces in the collection and yet it feels entirely different. I really like that.
AH: Plug time. What are you working on now?
BO: Well, first I’m excited to report that my series of Tuscaloosa Craigslist Missed Connections titled ‘So You Know It’s Me‘ is forthcoming from Tiny Hardcore Press, and I am pretty much over the moon. I recently finished my series of lyric essays based off of 8-bit Nintendo games, but I am going back and adding some smaller parts to it in order to make it feel more like a completed manuscript rather than a series of essays. For National Poetry Month, I’ve been writing a series of prose poems on all 21 counties of New Jersey. I’ve also started work on translating a book on running that my grandfather wrote in Catalan: it’s less about direct translation and more about the act of translating (my knowledge of Catalan is minimal), and trying to create something new out of an existing text. And finally, I’ve started a blog (http://chairmanmet.tumblr.com/) with my cousin Rebecca documenting the 2011 New York Mets season if the New York Mets were under the rule of North Korea.
We’re in the colorful lobby bar of the Marriott in DC, day 2 of AWP. In our little circle is a ton of amazing talent: J. Bradley, Nicelle Davis, Roxane Gay, xTx, Devan Goldstein, Sal Pane, Robert Yune, Adam Reger and, of course, me.
J. Bradley says, “C’mon. I MUST have interviewed you.” But after a few minutes of diligently combing through back emails it turns out that, alas, I had been looked over. I am content to just shrug and make a sad face and continue faux-interviewing myself in the shower and thinking, wistfully, about the interview questions that could have been…
But J. Bradley has a better idea. “Give me a few minutes to re-read your story,” he says, “and I’ll interview you right now. On video.”
Roxane Gay, benevolent overlord of all things PANK, is sitting to his left sipping on something clear and says, “Awesome.”
So, I am psyched to link to my very belated, but totally awesome, PANK (video!) interview. With big thanks to J. Bradley for his brilliant idea and also for caring about the oversight enough to re-read my story, walk out of the bar with me, and do the interview on the spot.