Where Are They Now–Best New American Voices 2009

A couple weeks ago Google alerted me to the fact that a new review of my story “Welcome Home” had been posted on the blog I Read a Short Story Today. While it’s somewhat rare to see an individual short story mentioned in a review–less so if it’s been anthologized, this one has been mentioned a few times before–it’s more surprising to see this come more than five years after Best New American Voices 2009 was released. It’s nice to see the anthology is still kicking around out there, and got me wondering what the other writers in this edition have been up to since its publication. Maybe it’s a bit indulgent, but here’s what my fellows in BNAV 09 have been up to, those I could find info on anyway, just running through the TOC.

Baird Harper, “Yellowstone” – teaches writing at Loyola University and The University of Chicago, pubs in Tin House, Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review.

Will Boast, “Weather Enough” – his story collection, Power Ballads, won the 2011 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and his memoir, Epilogue, is forthcoming this fall from Liveright.

Anastasia Kolendo, “Wintering” – has lived all over the world and is finishing a novel.

Mehdi Tavana Okasi, “Salvation Army” – pubs in Iowa Review, Guernica, Glimmer Train, was Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Suzanne Rivecca, “Look Ma, I’m Breathing” – her story collection, Death is Not an Option, was published by Norton in 2011 (reviewed by me for The Millions) and was really quite remarkable. Since then she’s been traveling all over on prestigious international fellowships and has a much-anticipated novel in the works. For my money, Suzanne is the best young American writer out there and I’m really excited to see what she’ll produce.

Kevin A. González, “Statehood” – has published short fiction all over and published a book of poetry, Cultural Studies, as part of the Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series. Looks like he also teaches at Carnegie Mellon.

Theodore Wheeler, “Welcome Home” – this guy spends most of his time reading about Notre Dame football and walking a little jerk of a dachshund. Read more about him at his website.

Nam Le, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice” – his short story collection, The Boat, was quite a sensation in literary circles when it came out four years ago from Vintage, and a followup novel is in the works.

Otis Haschemeyer, “The Fantome of Fatma” – pubs in The Sun, Missouri Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review.

Lydia Peelle, “The Still Point” – her short story collection, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, was published by Harper Perennial and greeted with great enthusiasm by reviewers, at least this one. As of the last time I bugged her publicist at Perennial, she has a novel due out in the next couple years.

I should mention too that guest editor Mary Gaitskill has published Bad Behavior and Don’t Cry in the mean time.

Also, series co-editor Natalie Danford published three books: a novel, Inheritance, along with The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cooking Pasta and perhaps the favorite book in the Wheeler household, The Veselka Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Landmark Restaurant in New York’s East Village.

Looks like people have been busy!

“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.

Four Blue Chip Contests

Here are a few writing contests that definitely are worth the entry fee.

Missouri Review, Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, Essay and Poetry: This has been one of the elite contests for a while, but now that the winners of each category receive $5000 and publication in the magazine it is really in a class by itself. That’s some serious jackpot prize. Plus, they’re throwing in a free subscription for everyone who enters–so everybody wins! $20 fee, Oct 1, 2009 deadline.

Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest: Winners in each category receive the choice of attending a two-week seminar in Montreal, Vilnius, or Nairobi, which includes airfare, tuition, and housing; plus publication in Fence, as well as lit journals in Canada, Lithuania, and Kenya. And just in case you weren’t sure if this was a big-time contest, Mary Jo Bang and Mary Gaitskill will be judging. $15 fee, Feb. 28, 2010 deadline.

Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Contest: Prizes include publication in the New Orleans Review, $1500 cash, a VIP all-access pass to the March 2010 festival, domestic airfare to New Orleans, accommodations at this amazing hotel, and a public reading. That’s a pretty nice package–and I’m always a sucker for travel prizes. They also have a “Stella Shouting Contest,” if you feel compelled to channel your inner Brando. Jill McCorkle will judge. $25 fee, Nov. 16, 2009 deadline.

Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest: First prize takes home $1000 and publication on their web site. The reason that this contest stands out if that all three prizewinners and seven honorable mentions will be considered for representation by a handful of the most prestigious agencies, including William Morris Agency, Sterling Lord, and Georges Borchardt Literary Agency, among others. This may not be appealing to everyone, but couldn’t represent something big for the right person. Yiyun Li will judge. $15 fee, Oct 1, 2009 deadline.