About Me

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Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Storyglossia Issue 16

Storyglossia's Fiction Prize issue is now live!

The editor, Steven McDermott, will be posting his thoughts of each story as well as some interviews so be sure to check it out.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Listen

to TothWorld #60, a podcast of Claudia Smith reading her work; TothWorld #61, a podcast of Myfanwy Collins reading her work; and many many more.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Storyglossia Fiction Prize 2006

the results are in!

Congratulations to Kristen Tsetsi and all the other winners and finalists!

I'm delighted to see "Snake Dreams," took 1rst runner up!

A huge thanks is due to Steven McDermott, my Zoe friends who endured a couple of revisions of this story (ha!) and Dorothy Allison and her workshop at Tin House this year.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rebellion a finalist in the US Book News Best Book Awards

Rebellion, an anthology of Zoetrope writers is a finalist in the USA Book News 2006 Best Book Awards!


Fiction & Literature: Anthologies

Winner: Untangles: Stories & Poetry from the Women and Girls of WriteGirl, WriteGirl Publications, 0-9741251-4-8

Finalist: Rebellion: New Voices in Fiction, Rebel Press, 0-9786738-0-8

Finalist: Writing the Cross Culture, Fulcrum Publishing, 1-55591-541-8

USA Book News

Writers include:

Robin Slick • Susan DiPlacido • Tom Saunders
Steve Hansen • Katrina Denza • Myfawny Collins
Marcus Grimm • T.J. Forrester • Grant Jarrett
Matt St. Amand • Tripp Reade • Donald Capone




Also available directly from the Rebel Press website

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Conversation with Robert Vivian

Robert Vivian, author of "The Mover of Bones," the haunting and lyrical novel about a man carrying a dead girl across America has graciously agreed to answer a few questions:


Your book deals with complex themes: sin, horror, grace, redemption. What
name would you give to the most prominent theme?


I didn't start out with a particular theme in mind, though I did know Jesse and the girl were on a head-long journey across America. That stark but simple quest gave me permission in a sense for various stops and encounters along the way: this richness of encounter--or multiple encounters--created the patchwork of the book; that, and listening obsessively to Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der erde (Songs of the Earth). Hopefully, readers will infer their own sense of theme. What I was really after was a kind of tone, a kind of urgency, as vague as that must sound.


Jesse Breedlove is a fascinating character—at times he's utterly gruesome
and yet at other moments he's beautiful—I’m thinking specifically of his
love for the dead birds and how at times he was the one to offer grace to
lost people. Who is Jesse Breedlove and where did the inspiration for such a
character come from?



I see Jesse all the time in the small town I live in--in men driving pickup trucks, coming back from work, from farms, idling at red lights. They're usually wearing flannel shirts with feedcaps, with cigarettes aglow. And some seem to embody a kind of intensity, restlessness. I used to live next to a scrapyard--and I'd just notice some of the workers getting off from their shifts, completely covered in rust and dirt, piling into their trucks. That was me up until a few years ago, when I went back to school and so forth.





Your prose is stunning. "The Mover of Bones" is filled with surprising,
lovely imagery. How long have you been writing? Do you also write poetry?
And how long did you work on this novel to get it to its lyrical and
thematic richness?



I've been writing seriously for about 17 yrs. now. I do write poetry, but I'm finding that the possibilities of the novel can incorporate all the genres--and then some. I worked on Mover for about three years--and it truly was one of the great love affairs of my life, even though it deals with strange, some might even say macabre material. I was in transition myself at that time in my life, driving a lot, and these same peregrinations helped me to understand where the novel was going.



The abandoned father and daughter really captured my heart, and this
line, which sums up their relationship, is about the best line I've read in
fiction all year: "We communicate through touches, like two balloons bumping
into each other in a quiet room where nobody goes." What words of comfort
would you offer that father?



Alas, I don't think I could offer any words of consolation to the father. But these brief, incandescent encounters with other people are part of what makes life not only bearable but worth living. But one can't predict these things--they come as gifts, and vanish almost as quickly. But sometimes that's enough--more than enough.



Crows show up in several of the chapters. I'm curious about their
significance?



I've been interested in crows for a long time now: I wrote an essay about them in my first book called "The Dark Hangnails Of God." To me they're beautiful birds, if a bit foreboding. Perhaps they're even my spirit bird, I don't know. I seem to notice them everywhere. And oddly enough, they confer peace as often as unrest.


What's next for you?


Mover is the first part of a trilogy, all of which I'm relieved to say will be published by the Univ. of Nebraska Press. And here I have to mention my editor Ladette Randolph, whose guidance and friendship I'll never be able to repay. She has impacted my life as much as anyone. If I go on, I'm afraid I'll gush and embarrass myself. But she's really the one who believed in Mover--and believes in Bomb-Maker's Son, Part II of the trilogy (which I have finished but am in the process of revising), and Part III, which is entitled Lamb-Bright Saviors. I'm currently working on Lambs right now. So I feel very fortunate and blessed to have such a wonderful editor--and a publisher that makes such beautiful books.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Mover of Bones by Robert Vivian



Once in a while you come across a book that invites the reader to fully engage, that keeps the reader on edge, trying to figure out both the surface meaning, and the deeper metaphorical meaning hidden in the text. "The Mover of Bones" by Robert Vivian, published by University of Nebraska Press, is such a book.

The book opens with the scene of a drunken janitor in the cellar of a church. He's there to dig up the bones of a murdered child. The scene is riveting and eerie with its abandoned religious statues looking on as Jesse Breedlove works frantically to free the hair of the girl that has continued to grow beneath the ground. We don't know if Jesse has killed her, or if he has merely witnessed her killing, but he knows she's there, and that knowledge has undone him.

Vivian has given us eighteen characters, eighteen distinct voices, through which we follow the path of Jesse Breedlove as he carries the bones of the girl across America. Each character is at a point of despair in his own life or is strangely touched by the sight of the pair: A truck driver is forever changed when he bears witness to both the dead girl's singing bones in the back of an abandoned vehicle and Jesse, a cross burned onto his chest, emerging from the woods; A disenchanted sixteen-year-old walks away from her birthday party and even after seeing the horrifying image of Jesse and the mutilated girl, she insists she wouldn't have traded the experience; a gas station owner uses heroin to ease the pain of his missing feet and wishes the man he sees carrying the bones of the girl could bring his feet back to him; an infantile man hoards the bones of a dog and hopes to use them to scare away the men who come to have sex with his mother; a repentant womanizer holes up in a hotel while he waits for death to take him, and while there sees Jesse in the room next door; a formerly abused woman sees Jesse and the girl in the woods playing with her missing son and becomes determined, after that precise moment, to conquer her fear of her ex-husband. These are just a few of the people who are touched in some way by the sighting of this haunting pair.

Throughout the book, readers can ponder the significance of Jesse: did he really kill the girl? Who is he? Is he the soul of America? Is he the second coming? Is he the devil? Or is he simply the embodiment of human regret and anguish? My bet's on the latter, though it's still anyone's guess. And that's part of the beauty of the novel. Another is the drop-to-your-knees poetic prose. Lines such as these:

From Earl Dodson, the reporter following Jesse and the girl across the country:

"My words no longer are, if they ever were, ethereal fairies I summon to feel smug about my talent, but tiny and blind earthworms moving the earth one precious square inch of soil or shit at a time."

From Nathan Webb, an anti-abortion activist:

"I would not kill the doctors who kill the babies, only ask them to eat their dinners at night bathed in the blood of their innocent victims. I would ask them to shower in that same blood and take a bath in the afterbirth that never was, just mucous and dead baby brains of those who wanted a chance to think on the glory of God."

From Little Woodpile, the man who sets fire to his mother's couch:

"The crows are in the trees like the small dark marks you see in books."

and this from Ed Jakowski who's wife has left him to care for his severely handicapped daughter alone:

"We communicate through touches, like two balloons bumping into each other in a quiet room where nobody goes."

There are many disturbing images in "The Mover of Bones." Vivian doesn't shy away from death, or ugliness, or cruelty. But there are many beautiful images as well, and then there are the inexplicable mysteries. It seems to me this book contains every gorgeous, awe-inspiring, horrific thing life has to offer.

Check Out This Artist

at Baltimore Interview.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference

is coming up. C.M. Mayo, literary translator, writer and poet is offering a travel writing workshop.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Special Congratulations

to my talented friend, Laila Lalami whose debut novel has just been shortlisted for another prize, this time it's the 2006 Oregon Book Awards.

Jim Tomlinson:

A conversation

Loved this interview! What a lovely, intelligent person Jim is.