New Essay at The Lit Hub

Friends, I have an essay up on Lit Hub about reading, writing, and my mother. This is the first nonfiction I’ve had published, and the first real writing I’ve done about my mother, though my feelings about her fill my fiction every day.

marginalia

 

“What they don’t tell you about death—or what you don’t really understand until it happens close to you—is how permanent it is. In the months afterward I kept thinking to myself, all right, I get it. This is too painful. Let’s just take a little break from the loss. Let’s have a weekend off. A day. Or an hour. Just one hour when it’s not true, when she is allowed to speak to me, or to rub an absent-minded hand through my hair. But the wall is high and fissureless. There are no breaks, no time-outs. The loss is final, and the you that you were with her is nowhere, gone.”

Read the whole essay here.

New Awards and Honors

I’m pleased to report that I’ve had several successes this month with new short stories.

“A Night Odyssey” was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open.

“These Things Happen Here” was a finalist in AWP’s scholarship competition, and judge Lori Ostlund had these kind words for the piece:

Because the world of “These Things Happen Here”—an urban community college classroom—is so familiar to me, I was prepared not to be surprised by the story. How wrong I was. In fact, what was most impressive to me about this story is the way that the author constantly takes risks, writing with great honesty about a main character who is vulnerable and wants what is best for his students but is in way over his head. The unspoken secret of the classroom is that sometimes teachers dislike their students, and this author goes there also, as well as into the complicated relationship between art and revenge. The ending is complex and spot on. Like all great stories, this one stayed with me after the first reading and the second, but the meaning kept shifting, changing and evolving.

“The Deconstruction” was shortlisted for The Masters Review Anthology.

I’ve also been selected as a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and as a scholar at Sewanee Writers’ Conference.