Write-Up In Bookslut “We Can’t Choose Our Families”

Here is a link to an article that recently appeared on Bookslut’s website, titled “We Can’t Choose Our Families,” where the writer talks about HUSTLE in conjunction with a few other recently released novels that examine the lives of adolescents growing up in difficult family settings. Many thanks to Colleen Mondoor for including HUSTLE in such a thoughtful article, and thanks to Bookslut for running it.

Here is the link: http://www.bookslut.com/bookslut_in_training/2012_05_018931.php

In other news, I’ve been busy in the past few months working on my new book and doing a couple more readings. My most recent reading was at Texas Christian University, where I met with two of Professor Nat O’Reilly’s classes, examining the literature of suburbia. I had a great time with Nat and the students, discussing topics ranging from music that influenced the writing of HUSTLE to economic, class, and gender issues presented in the book. During the reading that night, I got to hang out a bit with the awesome poet and memoirist Alex Lemon, then take questions from the audience. One was from my ninth grade English teacher, Mrs. DeLotto, who asked what I miss most about Texas. Though I was tempted to say Whataburger, I answered, “The way people talk, especially the vendors at Farmer’s Markets. Have you seen them? Those guys selling vegetables out of the backs of their pick-ups, sitting in lawnchairs, keeping track of their sales with little notebooks they keep in their overall chest pockets? They say things like ‘critter doctor’ instead of ‘veterinarian’.”

Other stuff happening:
1.) I just bought and moved into my first house. It is massive and kind of creepy looking, and I love it. My writing space is the entire third floor/attic, which is 24 feet by 15 feet, all fir hardwood floors and pine wood panel walls. It’s where I’m at now, in fact.
2.) I’m prepping for my fall fiction writing classes, incorporating new stories by writers like Lori Ostlund, Andrew Scott, Lauren Groff and several others that I’m excited to teach. Looking forward to meeting my new students.
3.) Elliott Bay in Seattle sold out of all its copies of Hustle.
4.) I’m about to summit Mt. St. Helens.

BTW, Nat is a really good poet with two great chapbooks, Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010) and Suburban Exile: American Poems (Picaro Press, 2011), and you should check out his work. Here is one of his poems (originally published in Cordite Poetry Review):

Russian Daughters

We stayed up all night
with the daughters of Russian
immigrants, lounging by the fire
in hobo coats and corduroy
trousers, listening to The Cure
in the dark, talking until dawn,
watching the sun rise over the bay.

After sunrise, we made coffee
and pancakes for the sisters
and their parents, unconsciously
auditioning for the role of missing
son or future son-in-law.

Exhausted and content,
we walked to the station
late on Sunday mornings,
caught trains travelling towards
home, slouched in near-empty
carriages, tried not to fall asleep
before we reached our stop.

We walked from the station
across a silent, empty campus
to our solitary rooms, unaware
that our comforting weekly ritual
would soon quietly fade away.

Currently Reading: Virginia Woolf’s biography, by Hermione Lee
Currently Listening To: I’m admittedly on a Weezer kick and feel awful about it. It’s like eating at Pancho’s. I am feeling equally awful about also being on a Red Hot Chili Peppers kick. I used to listen to them a lot in high school (when Mother’s Milk came out), and loved them, but they fell off my radar. I recently saw a live performance and was reminded what an amazing band they are, so I’ve been playing catch-up. Also, AC/DC…. Sheez. I’m just now adding all this up. What the hell?