• Why Book Reviewing Isn’t Going Anywhere

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    Why Book Reviewing Isn’t Going Anywhere. The American Scholar. Now an assistant professor of sociology at McMaster University in Ontario, Chong researches how fiction book reviews come to fruition, trying to solve the puzzle of why some books get reviewed and why so many more are ignored. Her new book, Inside the Critics’ Circle: Book Reviewing in Uncertain Times makes the case for the persistence of old-guard professional criticism even in the Internet age.

    … reading, especially literary novels—which is what I focus on—has always been practiced by a really elite group of people, and these are often people who are invested in the idea of reading as a way to understand the world around us. People don’t just read reviews to find books to buy, they also read reviews to learn about what ideas are circulating in the culture.

    … But to go back to the idea of authenticity and trust, this is just as much if not more of an issue for reviews on places like Goodreads and Amazon. Who is booklover123? Is it the author’s aunt? Agent? An ex-student who feels he deserved an “A”?

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  • Iowa Review Announces 2020 Jeff Sharlet Award for Veterans

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    Iowa Review - Winter 2019/2020Literary magazine The Iowa Review hosts the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans. This writing contest is open to U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel. Writing can be in any genre and on any subject.

    This year’s contest opens on May 1 and will be judged by Reginald McKnight, author of He Sleeps. The deadline to enter is May 31. First place receives $1,000 and publication in a forthcoming issue of Iowa ReviewSecond place receives $750 and three runners-up receive $500 each. Check out their site for full guidelines.

    You can see the winners of the 2018 contest here: iowareview.org/blog/winners-fourth-veterans’-writing-contest. The 2018 winners were featured in the Spring 2019 issue.

    This contest is made possible by a gift from the family of Jeff Sharlet (1942-69), a Vietnam veteran and antiwar writer and activist.

  • The Cult of Likeability

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    Jackson Bliss.jpgThe Cult of Likeability (or Why You Should Kill Your Literary Friendships) Craft essay by Jackson Bliss. TriQuarterly.

    I’ve noticed a recurring trend in my fiction workshops recently that troubles me, partially because I was once the defendant in the same court of law during my own MFA program: a creative writing student stands up (metaphorically speaking) and then declares almost joyfully that they don’t like a character in the manuscript we’re workshopping or in the novel we’re reading. After I pause and wait for the student to elaborate, I soon realize that their dislike is the critique. I can’t help but wonder if the either/or fallacy of cancel culture I see routinely on social media has in some way reinforced this notion in workshop that unlikeable characters (like people in real life) don’t deserve our attention, which is why we’re allowed to stop considering them at all, once we decide we don’t like them. Frankly, I find this kind of reader response lazy, problematic, ungenerous, and uninsightful, regardless of whether we’re talking about art or people.

    …What if the real problem is that, as readers, we’ve become impatient assholes who no longer want to understand the people we’d like to erase, both in literature and in our lives. What if part of the issue here is that, as readers, we now want to cancel the characters that rub us the wrong way (or even worse, who offend us) precisely because we now live in an era where we want to shut up half of those we share the world with.

  • ‘Wilderness of Hope’ by Quinn Grover

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    Wilderness of Hope - Quinn GroverGuest Post by Carly Schaelling

    Quinn Grover takes readers into a landscape of rivers, wildness, and fly fishing in his essay collection Wilderness of Hope: Fly Fishing and Public Lands in the American West. His descriptions of Idaho, Utah, and Oregon rivers make the reader feel as if they can hear the current and smell the water. Central to this essay collection is a discussion about home, and he suggests that certain geographies can make us feel “young and old, safe and unsure . . . closer to those I love, yet perfectly alone.”

    Through punchy short essays consisting solely of dialogue and moments of self-deprecating humor, Grover’s collection interrogates the meaning of wildness and the importance of public lands. One of my favorite moments in this collection is an essay called “The Case for Inefficiency.” Grover recounts a fishing trip that gets off to a rocky start—a forgotten sleeping bag, a popped tire. Instead of giving in to feeling inefficient, he asks whether it is possible to measure wasted time. If we walk somewhere instead of drive, but find ourselves outside breathing the air and being more patient because of it, is our time really wasted? To treat public lands well sometimes “requires us to blaspheme the gospel of efficiency.”

    You don’t have to know anything about fishing to enjoy this book. You will escape to places you may have never been to and fall in love with them when giving this collection a read.


    Wilderness of Hope by Quinn Grover. Bison Books, September 2019.

    About the reviewer: Carly Schaelling is a creative writing student at Utah State University.

  • The Veterans Writing Project

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    writing-war.jpgThe Veterans Writing Project. Writers Digest.  …When he got back to the States he tried conventional talk therapy. He tried medication. He drank. He got a dog named Harry. None of it was getting the PTSD symptoms in the box. He went to a community writing workshop at Walter Reed [medical center], part of Operation Homecoming, and the writing actually helped.

    So he went to Johns Hopkins with his GI bill and got an MA in creative writing, with a double concentration in fiction and nonfiction. He wrote his memoir [Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years (Schaffner Press)] as his thesis. Then he decided that he wanted to give back and create a nonprofit that would offer creative writing skills to veterans and family members, regardless of why they wanted to tell their stories—whether it was for expressive and therapeutic purposes, to leave it in a box for the grandkids, or get something published.

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  • Southern Humanities Review – Winter 2019

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    Southern Humanities Review - Winter 2019

    The Winter 2019 issue of Southern Humanities Review is out. In the issue: nonfiction by Lia Greenwell and Leslie Stainton; fiction by Erin Blue Burke, Dounia Choukri, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Alex Pickett; and poetry by J. Scott Brownlee, Sarah Edwards, Jared Harél, Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Matthew Landrum, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee, Rodney Terich Leonard, A.T. McWilliams, Michelle Peñaloza, and Supritha Rajan. Plus, cover art by Martha Park.

  • The Iowa Review – Winter 2019

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    Iowa Review - Winter 2019/2020

    The latest issue of The Iowa Review is out. In this issue: toes, 362.28 in the card catalog, a portfolio of fantastical and surreal writing and artwork, a tenure review gone awry, and the winners of the 2019 Iowa Review Awards. Contributors include Julie Gray, Derby Maxwell, Elizabeth Dodd, Andes Hruby, and Laura Crossett in nonfiction; Joyelle McSweeney, Brian Sneeden, Philip Metres, Maggie Millner, and Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer in poetry; and Chloe Wilson, Sherry Kramer, Terrence Holt, Analia Villagra, and Bruce Holbert in fiction.

  • Raymond Carver and the Night of the Living Bukowski

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    Raymond Carver and the Night of the Living Bukowski. Los Angeles Review of Books.

    “Nothing about Carver stood out as remarkable at the time. Indeed, he gave the impression of someone who did not want to be noticed, sitting not at the head of the conference table like other visiting poets but on the side with the students, slouched in his chair, hiding behind dark glasses and a scrim of smoke. When prompted by our teacher, Morton Marcus, to talk about his work and to give advice to the table of young, aspiring poets, Carver mumbled through a couple of poems and said something about keeping after it and not giving up. Then he lit another cigarette.

    …But as Maderos remembered it, in spite of all Bukowski’s bravado, the mix of students and faculty and town poets in this elite academic environment seemed to have thrown the poet off his game, as he rushed his lines or threw the best ones away. And yet The New Yorker writer William Finnegan, another UCSC undergraduate at the time, recalled loving the event, finding Bukowski more literary than he had expected and, most certainly, larger than life.”

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  • Gris-Gris – No. 10

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    Gris-Gris - Winter 2020

    Issue 10 of Gris-Gris features fiction by Peter Grandbois, James Hartman, Marlene Olin, and Betty Martin; poetry by Stephanie Brooks, Jonathan Riccio, Sarah Sousa, Hannah Warren, Maria Zoccola, and Daphne Simeon; nonfiction by Robert Vivian; and artwork by Desire’ Johnson.

  • Margaret Atwood’s New Poetry

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    Margaret-Atwood-new-poetry-book.jpgMargaret Atwood to publish first collection of poetry in over a decade. The Guardian.

    Margaret Atwood is set to publish her first collection of poetry in over a decade, an exploration of “absences and endings, ageing and retrospection” that will also feature werewolves, aliens and sirens.

    After jointly winning the Booker prize with Bernardine Evaristo last year for her bestselling sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, Atwood’s publisher said today that the 80-year-old Canadian author’s next book would be Dearly. Out in November, the collection will be Atwood’s first book of poetry since 2007’s The Door.

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