“Welcome Home” Used in Veterans’ Class

I learned something very exciting this week, as it looks like my story about an Iraq War veteran returning home from the desert–“Welcome Home”— was in fact used as part of the City College of San Francisco’s Veterans Educational Transition Services! If you look down at the “Homework” section at the link below, my story is listed, right next Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. How awesome is that?! And humbling. It makes me a little nervous and queasy.

You can find a description of the class here: Foundations of Military Experience: Stress, Challenge, and Success.

Throughout time and history all nations face the challenge of how to reintegrate their military service members into the civilain world. Most societies have processes to accomplish this. The Samurai were not allowed back into villages until they spent a month or so in mountain retreat spas. Ancient Greeks had plays where they enacted the challenges faced by returning warriors for the whole society to witness. Native Americans had sweat lodges and story telling rituals to pass on hard won wisdom. 

I’m very excited and proud to have my fiction be a part of this class and program. Hopefully it works well for them, as the program looks to have great potential for improving the lives of our servicemen and their families. Awesome.

“Welcome Home” originally appeared in Boulevard and was anthologized in Best New American Voices 2009. So another round of thanks is in order for Richard Burgin (Boulevard editor), John Kulka and Natalie Danford (BNAV editors), and Mary Gaitskill (BNAV guest editor) for getting this story out into the world. Thanks!

[Please note, btw, that Best New American Voices 2009 is down to $4.09 at Amazon.com right now. So if you’re interested in the story, that’s over seventy percent off the cover price, it might be a good time to buy.]

Also, if you know of any vets who might be interested in participating in one of these classes, please pass along this link. It looks like a lot of the classes are free, they get college credit, and they can participate online if they don’t happen to live in the Bay Area. This is a pilot program, and I’m sure UCSF would appreciate all the help they can get in developing quality courses.

Pushcart Prize Mention

My short story “Welcome Back” (also published as “Welcome Home”) was in the Special Mention section of the Pushcart Prize XXXIV anthology! The section is for “important works” that were not reprinted in the book. I didn’t even know it had been nominated, so this was very surprising.

This story was first published in Boulevard as the winner of their Short Fiction Contest for Emerging Writers and was later anthologized in Best New American Voices.

Pretty cool stuff!

On a somewhat related note, I read over the weekend that the Best New American Voices anthology will be going on hiatus following the current 2010 edition, since Harcourt isn’t interested in continuing. This is really too bad, as this is one of the best year-end collections out there and had turned into a major way for young fiction talent to break into the industry. Especially for writers who didn’t go to Iowa or Columbia or Hunter, BNAV was perhaps the best way to get the attention of agents and editors. Series editor John Kulka is confident that another publisher will pick up the anothology, although it will take a few years to get going again. Best of luck to John and fellow editor Natalie Danford. Hopefully we’ll see it back on shelves again soon.