Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author, sell thyself?

In a recent article, Laura Miller, senior writer at, discusses the changing face of publishing and PR in the days of tight publishing budgets, self-publishing, and the e-Book: authors have to advocate for their own work in order to succeed. The obvious paradox Miller elucidates is that writers -- many of whom are, by nature, reclusive or shy or awkward -- often make crummy self-promoters.

You can read more about this contemporary dilemma here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe Reimagined

I wouldn't dream of calling contemporary fiction boring -- especially since there are plenty of gems (read: Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad or Díaz's Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). But I will say that Mat Johnson's Pym, a hilarious and clever reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's only (and unfinished) novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym will make most novelistic options seem comparatively dull.

From the drama of chapter one in which Chris Jaynes, the only black male professor at a small liberal arts college, is denied tenure for refusing to sit on the diversity committee, to said professor's seafaring adventure through the South Seas, to his discovery of the only-ever uncolonized species—primitive natives so dark that even their teeth are black, Pym offers no shortage of entertainment and surprise.

I saw Mat give a reading from this novel a few weeks ago at SoHo's McNally-Jackson, where he discussed the challenges that dragged the writing of Pym on for a decade. Among them: How could he imbed literary criticism in a novel without sacrificing the story's enjoyability? His solution, in part, seems to be through humor and narrative drama. In fact, one of the successes of Pym is that it can be understood and appreciated on multiple levels—even for those of us who've never read Poe's Pym.

Toni Morrison in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, says that “no early American writer is more important to the concept of American Africanism than Poe.” Mat Johnson ensures that this piece of Poe's reputation will be as well canonized as his beguiling "Raven."

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My short story "Lunch in the Labyrinth," which initially appeared in Washington Square, was just reprinted in all of the Weston Magazine Group's tri-state quarterlies, including Rye, Westport, Greenwich, New Canaan, and The Upper East Side.

The layout is lovely! Peep it here (pg. 116).