Cincinnati Review 8.1 is Out!

Our accumulated vacation mail came today, and included was a box full of new issues of The Cincinnati Review! The issue features my story “The Current State of the Universe,” which won their Schiff Prize for Prose last year.

Fiction Editor Michael Griffith had this to say about the story on the TCR blog in the fall. The blog also features my explanation of where the idea for the story came from.

I wrote more about the story in this space in October too, and included an excerpt from the story.

You can buy the issue for $9 at The Cincinnati Review’s secure server here.

This is a great journal and I’m very excited to be included in its pages. We should do all we can to support it.

Finally, a special thanks to Nicola Mason, Michael Griffith, Christian Moody, and everybody at the journal for all of their help. It’s a great bunch of people, who were a real joy to work with.

April in Review

-April turned out to be something of an uneventful month for me, which isn’t so bad. After all the good news and happening of March, it was nice to have a little more mental space to work in. I took a week off work and did a big revision of my short story collection, How to Die Young in Nebraska. A few stories were cut, I combined a few into a novella, and rearranged all of what was left into something kind of new. I took part in the initial screening for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize this year, and I tried to apply the lessons I learned from that experience as a screener/editor to my own collection. Hopefully it’s much better. I think it is. It’s a little shorter than before, the overall quality is a little more consistent, and the sense of narrative flow has been enhanced. We’ll see if there’s much of a response, as I have it out to a couple contests and small presses now.

-One thing I did a little different in my editing of the collection was to let myself revise older, published stories. My old agent was usually against this practice, maybe afraid that I would undo the magic of a piece by tinkering with it after it had already been edited and published. There’s a certain logic to that, but I felt it was time to make some smaller changes. My main motivation was thinking that I’m not exactly the same writer I was two or three or five years ago, and that the collection read a little too much like a fossil record of my stylistic changes over the period that I’ve been working on the book. Since I didn’t like that, I tried to make the book more consistent in style as well. That seems to make a lot of sense. Common sense even.

-Speaking of PS, Kwame Dawes was officially announced as the new Editor of Prairie Schooner. The last two years have been a little uncertain, as we looked for someone to replace longtime editor Hilda Raz, and I’m excited how it turned out.

-Darren and Lacey had their wedding this past weekend. Congrats to the Keens!

-I finally framed and hung a piece (see photo) that I made when I was at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in March 2010. It’s pretty simple: an original Sunday supplement insert from the Omaha Daily News, from August 1912, on which I inked different descriptions of women that I wrote during my residency at KHN. I found the newspaper at an antique shop down the street from the arts center. It only took me a year, but I finally got the thing up on the wall, and I like it.

-Flatmancrooked officially called it quits in April. Here’s what I had to say about it.

-Looking ahead to May, The Cincinnati Review featuring my prize-winner, “The Current State of the Universe,” will be out on newsstands and in mailboxes. So get ready to hear more about that.

Personal Rejection Notes, Requests for More, and Other Nice Versions of No Thanks

“Attend the Way” was named a finalist in the Summer Literary Seminars’ Unified Fiction Contest. Kind of a slow month for rejections. I don’t really have that much stuff out there right now.

Just Finished

Greetings from Below by David Philip Mullins. A very nice collection that I’m in the process of reviewing. The final three stories are exemplary, and they make for a knock-out conclusion to the book. I can’t recall another collection that sprints to the finish as much as Greetings from Below does. Usually it’s more of a ruminative, self-reflective inching forward that gracefully puts an end to the proceedings, but GfB doesn’t really follow that format too much, which is good.

My American Unhappiness by Dean Bakopoulos. I’m still not really sure what to make of this book. It’s kind of chick-lit for thirty-something men, if that makes any sense. There are long stretches of great, interesting writing, but the first-person narrator is very glib and kind of a frustratingly clueless person at times. MAU will probably reignite some of the debates about unlikable lead characters that raged last year with the release of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.

Now Reading

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniak.

Up Next

Quarantine by Rahul Mehta.

On Newstands Now: TKR Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 edition of The Kenyon Review hits shelves this week! The issue features my story “How to Die Young in a Nebraska Winter,” along with a story by Seth Fried, poems by Albert Goldbarth and Kevin Young, and a bunch of other great stuff. I’m eager to get mine. Single copies are available for $10 at the link above, or by clicking on the image on the right, if you’re interested. Or, use this link for a special friends and family discount to get 20% off the issue or a subscription.

(The Kenyon Review Online ran a micro-interview of me late last week, in case you missed it.)

Also, The Cincinnati Review has posted the cover artwork for its forthcoming Summer 2011 issue, which will feature my Schiff-Prize-for-Prose-winning story “The Current State of the Universe.” This looks to be awesome as well. We’re really rocking Ohio this year.

All in all, it’s been a pretty great day. My wife Nicole got a promotion at work, Maddie’s flu seems to be lifting, and I received a couple awesome emails this morning that have me pretty excited. Nothing on that yet, but wish me luck.