Category: Blog (Page 1 of 7)

Book Review: Leslie Jamison’s “The Recovering”

By: Heather Scott Partington

Leslie Jamison wasn’t a stereotypical drunk. She wasn’t a stereotypical student, either. Even at the peak of her alcoholism, Jamison held down a job, published a novel, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Yale, and Harvard without hitting a conventional bottom. If you read Jamison’s 2014 essay collection, The Empathy Exams, you know her unique voice, her elegant syntax, her capacity for listening to another’s pain and rendering it on the page as something unnervingly fresh. The Recovering is the story of Jamison’s journey to get sober, told through the filter of her research about the lives of other artists and writers. Through the use of outside source material and interrogations of standard addiction narratives, Jamison seeks to make her memoir, The Recovering, an anti-recovery memoir, one that confronts (ahead of time, almost) the nagging voice of any reader who might challenge aspects of the author’s recovery story or, perhaps, the value of recovery stories in general. However, in addition to the author’s efforts to carve out a new type of recovery genre, Jamison’s memoir snags a little in the territory of her own exceptionalism: I am special, the author’s tone suggests over and over in her 500-plus-page memoir. The minutia of my graduate school romance was unique. I am too smart for AA. I am not like other academics. I am not like other drunks.

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The Greater Good

By: Liz Warren Pederson

Nathalie called me— called me!— to discuss her deathwatch project. She said the technology is there but the market for hardware is iffy at best, especially coming from a startup. She said there was no point launching from the inventor’s country of origin because socialists lack ambition. She said the inventor had only come to her because his full-time employer didn’t think the IP was aligned with its core values. The plan is to use a crowdfunding platform for market validation and to attract first-round investment. She said a courier would bring me a prototype so I could test it. Then she sighed. “Jay. Manufacturing will be like passing a stone.” That she called at all just goes to show how “compelling” she thinks this is for the American market. It was only the third or fourth time we’d actually spoken in the year I’d worked for her.

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The Dome

A monologue
By: Scott T. Starbuck

The rock where the scene takes place is before a backdrop of Biosphere II in Oracle, Arizona.  Cactus and sage props give the illusion of a natural desert setting. Dawn is breaking. There is a light breeze. A large live lizard stands before the rock.  The entire scene is addressed to the lizard with only short moments of reflection, or gestures toward The Dome. The speaker is a Yakima Elder, with a small flask, who decided to die instead of entering The Dome with his tribe.

I already know I won’t go in.  I know I’ll die out here. Survival may be the greatest form of justice; and greed, the greatest evil. Right now, I’m fighting for the survival of my soul, gazing as deeply into the ancestral waters as I can.  Honoring what’s there in my pinhole of light in the universe.  It’s the best I can do.

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Swimming Around the Edges

By: Trevy Thomas

After living in Virginia for a year, I was feeling the loss of friends I’d left behind. Meeting people in my new life was difficult, as I  worked from home alongside my husband in his art business. My human contact was almost exclusively through the Internet, and I felt increasingly lonely.

Not knowing where else to look, I turned to the very computer that was keeping me isolated to search for community. I found a group of women about my age that hosted events somewhat near my home. After participating in the online forums a while, I felt comfortable enough to attend my first gathering: a small lunch at one of the women’s houses.

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Book Review: Geoff Nicholson’s “The Miranda”

By: D.M. Olsen

Some might consider Joe Johnson’s situation a crisis. He just quit his job as a torture expert for a covert government agency called the Team. Joe also just divorced his wife and moved into a remote home three hours north of London, where he intends to walk the circumference of the earth from the privacy of his backyard. He plans to walk a small, circular path twenty-five miles a day for one thousand days. However, as Joe quickly finds out, and as the compelling narrative unfolds, privacy is the last thing afforded by Joe’s new house. He is surrounded by nosy neighbors, a philosophical mailman, and a band of skinheads who invoke a turf war with the veteran torture artist. And, of course, Miranda.

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How a Woman Who Lived in a Windmill Taught Me That I Mattered

By: Tina G. Rubin

I had just landed my first international writing assignment and it was turning out to be a dud. I’d come 5,000 miles to cover one of Holland’s historic windmills, and it wasn’t even working.

“You have to run them weekly, or they deteriorate,” Jaantje Bloembergen told me. But she hadn’t turned hers on in a year.

The April day I parked my car at the windmill Jaantje and her husband had converted into living space, she was in high spirits. Her tangle of gray hair framed a smiling, ruddy face. I took to her immediately.

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TCR Talks with Rebecca Makkai

BY: Kaia Gallagher

Acclaimed by Vanity Fair to be a rising literary star, Rebecca Makkai demonstrates her versatile storytelling ability in Music for Wartime, a collection of 17 stories written over a 13-year period. Reflecting on Makkai’s diverse career, the stories vary in their narrative structure but connect around the central themes of music and war. To tie them together, Makkai has added three oral history accounts shared by her paternal grandmother, Ignacz Rozsa, a famous actress and novelist in Hungary, and her father, Adam Makkai, a Hungarian-born linguist.

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Bill of Fare

By: Susan Olding


Pimento-stuffed olives
Celery with cream cheese
Julienned carrots
Angels on horseback
Pigs in blankets

Your career begins early, before your head even clears the kitchen counter. The crystal dish that your mother places in your hands feels much heavier than you expect. Pressing it to your chest, you look down at your red patent party shoes, nervous you might skid on the kitchen’s vinyl tile or trip on the lip of the living room carpet. Music greets you, music and smoke; clinking ice cubes and the smells of mingled perfumes. The women’s faces glow. Their dresses rustle like the plumage of exotic birds. Like birds, they coo and sing at your offerings, pecking and cooing while watching you with bright eyes. Someday you would like to join their dazzling flock. But for now, you observe them observing you. Passing your plate of savouries, you pause in front of one guest, whose jewel-encrusted bracelets jingle when she reaches for a morsel of sausage. She takes a bite and turns to her companion with shining lips. Your mouth waters. Your tongue craves the pastry’s buttery caress. You are so hungry. Will anyone offer you a taste? Will anyone notice if you serve yourself? You stand, hip-high, amid the throng of grown-ups. Waiting.

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Assholes and Stanky Glitter

By: Arch Jamjun

I have been a server for almost twenty years. When I say that out loud, I feel like a big failure, and when I think about my parents, how they went from being children Sally Struthers might hug to USA professionals, I feel like an even bigger failure. This feeling especially haunted my twenties when, after trying pharmacology, education, nutrition, paralegal studies, nursing, and even accounting, I always found myself inept. Server money has been a big comfort. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you can earn a middle-class income while garbage-mouthing leftover food and guzzling wine you could never afford in half of the above-mentioned careers. But my mom has an interesting perspective: “Oh you are like a food prostitute.” In a sense, that’s true. When you’re a server, you’re constantly thinking, “Am I too old for this?” and I think only sex workers and athletes ponder that as much. Also, when you’re a server, people often ask you, “But what do you really want to do?” And I’m like, “Ummm, be the next Whitney Houston.”

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TCR Talks with Tyler Dilts

By: Felicity Landa

Tyler Dilts spent his childhood investigating police work, hoping to one day follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, he found himself to be much more interested in writing about crime than pursuing a career solving it and has since become the author of five books on crime fiction, including the Edgar Award nominated, Come Twilight, and the forthcoming, Mercy Dogs. His chilling and sometimes terrifying novels explore the complex and haunted characters of the Long Beach homicide department and the murders they solve. Dilts’ Long Beach Homicide series has gained quite a following amongst crime fiction fans, Long Beach natives, and many others. “Someone told me to set a couple of long-term goals, for motivation,” Says Tyler Dilts. “So I set some goals that I thought would be impossible to reach,” he told me when we met in L.A. to discuss his upcoming novel. “I thought, I’m going to sell a quarter of a million books, and I’m going to get nominated for an Edgar award. And in the last year, I’ve realized those goals weren’t as unrealistic as I thought.” He laughs, “I’m still in shock that those things have happened. Having so much success as a writer still baffles me.”

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