Cosmonauts Avenue to Publish “Forget Me”

Good news this week, as Cosmonauts Avenue has accepted my short story “Forget Me” for publication!

This will be my 25th short story publication overall–a nice little milestone there–and my first in Canada. Although, since Cosmonauts Avenue is an online journal, the journal itself is kind of everywhere, or everywhere it can be loaded onto a device. Still, their offices are in Montreal and I’m checking it off my list. Get published in Canada. Check.

Here’s a bit about Cosmonauts Avenue, which is run by the same folks who put on the standard-bearer of international literary programs, the Summer Literary Seminars. (Long-time followers might remember that I’ve been a four-time finalist for the SumLitSem contest. Sadly I’ve never been able to work out attending one of their programs. Someday…) (The 2015 contest is open now, btw, with first-prize carrying full tuition, airfare, and accommodations to this summer’s Disquiet program in Lisbon.) Anyway. Cosmonauts Avenue:

We’re located in the lovely and ethereal city of Montreal, but our namesake, Cosmonauts Avenue, is a long residential thoroughfare on the southwestern outskirts of St Petersburg (nee Leningrad). Laid out in the early-1960s, it was one of the initial “micro-districts” of state-owned co-op apartments which started springing up in large Soviet cities around the time, on then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s initiative. The great majority of St. Petersburg’s citizens (as well as Muscovites, or the denizens of any large Russian city) live in similar residential locations radiating from the core of the city center in ever-widening concentric circles. Take a walk with us along Cosmonauts Avenue (because if you’re walking alone, it’s boring as hell, and in winter, also very cold).

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this story. Travis Thieszen and Amber Mulholland, in particular, for all their heavy-lifting in parsing through a very different early draft, and CCB for his expertise on creep-thoughts, and everyone in the Brent Spencer workshop at Creighton for their help in refining the focus and tone. Also, thanks for CA editors Mikhail Iossel and Madeleine Maillet for making a home for this piece.

More updates to follow on when the story will be online, of course. For now, here’s an excerpt from “Forget Me”:

Andy audited the expense accounts of junior executives. It was cold, predictable work. He had a thousand words for why he didn’t like his job, words he used on Mondays and Wednesdays. Nothing made the job worthwhile, except that he might get promoted. That’s why he was at the office on a Thursday night instead of his apartment nearby, where he lived alone. On weekends he flipped through magazines while he watched TV, or tried to pick up women at a sports bar called The Penalty Box if he was depressed. Andy didn’t know many people outside work. But he’d been popular in high school, he was sure. His friends had repeated stories about him: the time he used his truck to capsize Principal Wheeler’s above-ground swimming pool, or when he poked a hole in a basement wall at Amy Johanssen’s house with a billiards cue and pissed in the opening, or how he nearly lost his virginity to Jenny Charles in a canoe at church camp, in junior high, until the canoe tipped and Jenny screamed in the cold water, naked from the waist down. Andy had felt legendary by graduation day. Then he went one state over for school and people forgot his stories. If someone did remember, it was just to laugh about how stupid he’d been.

Cheers!

Confrontation is Out! The First Night of My Down-and-Out Sex Life Published!

Confrontation (No. 110, Fall 2011) arrived in our mailbox today! The issue features my short story “The First Night of My Down-and-Out Sex Life,” among many other pieces.

“First Night” is part of a series of stories I’ve been working on the past couple years. The other stories include “The Man Who Never Was” (published in Weekday), “Kleinhardt’s Women” (on Fogged Clarity last December), “On a Train from the Place Called Valentine” (forthcoming in Spring 2012 from Boulevard) and a story I’ve rewritten more than a handful of times and only recently seem to have a handle on, “The Mercy Killing of Harrison Kleinhardt.” All four stories are in my unpublished collection of short fiction, How to Die Young in Nebraska. “First Night” is my first published work that’s written from the point-of-view of a woman.

Here’s an excerpt:

It was after a show at Sokol Underground. I’d been driving up to Omaha once or twice a week that semester and having a few drinks near the back of the room while the bands played. Nothing serious. Not like some girls. Just a g-and-t or two in that smoky basement venue under the gymnastics club, listening to the bands. I bought their albums, stuck their pins to the strap of my bag then drove back to Lincoln when the show was over. Things changed when I saw the Zapruder Films.

Information for ordering the issue can be found on Confrontation’s web site. The current issue is $12, a steal for the nearly 300-page journal.

Also, I’d like to issue a huge Thanksgiving salutation to the readers and commentators who helped revise this story and the others in the cycle–Amber Haschenburger, Lucas Schwaller, and Travis Thieszen. Thanks so much! And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Jonna Semeiks (Editor of Confrontation) and her staff for putting together a great issue, and allowing me to be a part of it.

CAB Launches– “These Things…” Published!

“These Things That Save Us” was published today as part of the launch of new online literary journal Conversations Across Borders! The individual story is available for $2, or you can buy the entire issue for $10. The debut issue features poetry by Ilya Kaminsky, Gary Lemons, and Samuel Green, non-fiction by Nahid Rachlin, and my short fiction. All proceeds from the issue go to support literacy and literary programs, and writers. (When I first typed that sentence, my fingers accidentally put, “All proceeds go to supper…”, which is partially correct, I guess, as far as the writers are concerned.) Here’s how CAB explains their mission on the web site:

Conversations Across Borders is a 501(c)3-pending nonprofit literary-arts organization that presents fine literature and journalism from around the world; connects writers across borders; and supports underserved schools, literacy programs, literary programs, and individual writers through financial grants. By purchasing individual poems, essays, and short stories, you enjoy new, vital work from some of the finest writers in the world. You also make a direct contribution to schools and literacy programs in underserved communities. These contributions are given directly to the local school to assure that your gift directly invests in both education and the local economy, supporting local teachers and suppliers.

Yipirinya means “caterpiller” in Arrenente, as any of the students at Yipirinya School would be happy to tell you.

Not too shabby. The first program CAB supports is Yipirinya School of Alice Springs, Australia. Yipirinya School’s curriculum is at the forefront of “two-way” education. Students learn both their own indigenous culture and language, in addition to skills that will allow them to thrive economically and culturally in Westernized society.

I’m very excited and proud to be a part of Conversations Across Borders, and hope they’re able to accomplish a great deal with this important work. It’s an interesting project, using literature (and online literature in particular) as a means to directly improve the quality of life and literacy of people around the globe. Let’s do all we can do help them succeed.

As for “These Things That Save Us,” it is my fourteenth published short story. (Number fifteen, “The First Night of My Down-and-Out Sex Life” will be out in Confrontation this November; and number sixteen, “On a Train from the Place Called Valentine” will be in Boulevard in March 2012.) This is a story I worked on in a Brent Spencer-led workshop at Creighton University while getting my M.A. there. So thanks to him, as well as my cohorts in the class, Lucas Schwaller and Travis Thieszen. I also workshopped “These Things…” while at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, in an amazing and lively workshop led by the incomparable Chris Abani. So thanks to all those folks too! I think the story turned out well. As well as any story that gets its seed from thinking about off-color wife jokes can anyway. Further, thanks to Jordan Hartt and everyone else at CAB for getting this going, and for including me in the fun.