About Me

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My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. 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. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Off Topic: Editions de Parfums by Frederic Malle

It started out innocently enough. I was researching perfume for a future story. I was not a connoisseur myself, in fact, I even went a few years without wearing any perfume at all. My past perfumes were far from boutique: Ralph, by Ralph Lauren, Happy by Clinique and Aqua di Gio by Armani. All very nice and very safe. All non-orientals because years ago when I was young and foolish I became very ill on too many rum and cokes while wearing Opium. Anyway, two years ago, I tried a sample of Flowerbomb, which was different from any perfume I'd worn and it got me to thinking about perfume, about the people who create them and the people who wear them and also about the people who critique them. So I started checking out the perfume blogs and began my education which, eventually led me to Frederic Malle's boutique collection of scents, all created by a small group of master perfumers.

All the Malle perfumes I've tried so far are indeed masterpieces, though not all are wearable for me. They have completely transformed my expectation of a perfume. There are scents to smell nice, scents to attempt to cover body odor (FYI: it doesn't work people and I do wish you'd stop trying) and then there is the Frederic Malle line. These perfumes are nothing short of wearable art.

The Parisian company is nice enough to send you three free spray samples for 20 euros of shipping cost (or you can go to Barneys and try them there). I've tried Carnal Flower, Lys Mediterranee, Un Fleur de Cassie, En Passant, Iris Poudre, Une Rose, Lipstick Rose and Parfum de Therese. Of these, the only one I had a strong unpleasant reaction to (and I'm hyper-sensitive to smells) was Parfum de Therese as it smelled like rotten meat on me and turned my stomach. Une Rose is too big of a flower for me--it's a big lush Georgia O'Keefe rose and too heady for this time of year, but still, it's beautiful. My favorites are Carnal Flower, En Passant, Lys Mediterranee, and Iris Poudre. Carnal Flower is a lush, green, complex tuberose scent. En Passant is just as described: a bush of white lilac in the rain. The scent smells exactly like the lilacs that grow in my southern yard and less like the ones from New England, but incredibly lovely nonetheless. Lys Mediterranee smells soft and salty sweet, and is intriguingly complex, and Iris Poudre is my winter scent. Less like powder to me and much more like something yummy to eat, this is an amazing iris and vanilla perfume.

In my research, I've learned about notes and noses and sillage, learned the difference between marine and metallic notes, learned about flankers and niche houses. But most surprising to me is that I fell in love with perfume for the first time, truly fell in love.

My favorite and most edifying perfume blog: Now Smell This

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

West of Here by Jonathan Evison

Jonathan Evison’s “West of Here” is a gritty, full bodied epic set in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington. The beginning pulls the reader in with beautiful, assured narration and indelible characters who embody the spirit of the pioneers who ventured west in search of opportunity. These are men who set out to move the course of a river, who imagined selling ice gathered at mountain tops, who envisaged electric stairs, and who dreamed they could save the culture of a people. These are women who believed their voices and actions were valuable; for one woman that meant to send her child away to a better life, for another, to break out of a destructive pattern, and for another, to attempt to stop big-money progress with the power of the written word.

A few chapters in, Evison introduces a whole new set of characters as he travels forward in time to the lives of the descendants of the men and women who settled Port Bonita. The transition comes as a surprise but as the reader comes to know these new characters he won’t mind being ripped from the earlier group. Connecting the two time periods are the Elwha river, the men who tried to tame it and their descendants, the Native American settlement of Jamestown, and an odd shaman-like out-of-body experience in which the Native American boy, Thomas, switches places with a modern day Khallam Indian, Curtis.

The themes are familiar: man versus nature, Native American wisdom versus progress, the tangible versus the mysterious, but Evison’s quality of writing and depth of character take these themes to an enviably high level. By the end, the reader realizes the author has threaded these two disparate sets of characters seamlessly to offer a rich, multi-layered novel that satisfies.

*Review first published in the March 20th edition of The Pilot of Southern Pines, NC
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