Thursday, February 26, 2009

No words are adequate

Poetry sometimes inspires prose, or vice versa... words spun from mourning my friend appear this day at SIX SENTENCES

Also found out a drabble* of mine is accepted into Boston Literary Magazine's Best of Boston Chapbook and will appear online in June.

Peace, Linda

*A drabble you ask? A story complete in 100 words. Try it - for fun. Harder than it looks...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Four Young Editors, ZYPREXA, and Medpedia - Rock On!

Including RICHARD NASH, of SOFT SKULL PRESS, featured in the current issue of P&W. SOFT SKULL, btw, is the publisher of Jonathan Evison's ALL ABOUT LULU, my February Indy pick. In case you forgot...

The health/medical equivalent of Wickipedia is birthed - MEDPEDIA. I'm a certified editor. Which means I get to write and edit cool stuff YOU can use in your world. Heh.

Fabulous, fabulous piece in last week's ROLLING STONE - BITTER PILL. The story behind the marketing makeover of olanzapine (ZYPREXA) into a $16 Billion Booya. Really, do the nation's schizophrenics need that much ZYPREXA? Thank you, Ben Wallace-Wells, for a fabu piece of journalism.

That's it. folks. HAPPY FRIDAY! Peace, Linda

NB: IN MEMORIAM... CHRISTOPHER NOLAN. His UNDER THE BANYAN TREE... exquisite. His life: remarkable and inspiring. He wrote against odds I cannot even begin to fathom...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

ALL ABOUT LULU... or, No Pain, No Gain

INDIE DEBUT Book of the Month...

"FIRST, I'M GOING to give you all the Copperfield crap, and I'm not going to apologize for any of it, not one paragraph..."

So begins ALL ABOUT LULU (Soft Skull Press), Jonathan Evison's debut novel which, in the end, is less about Lulu and more about Will Miller, a myopic, vegetarian misfit growing up in 1970s Southern California in a motherless household of meat-eating body-builders. After his mother dies from cancer, Will stops talking. It isn't until his father remarries Willow, a grief counselor, that he again finds his voice. And only because part of the step-mom package includes new step-sister Louisa Trudeau.

And thus begins the obsession that sends Will into his future. He chronicles his day- and night- fantasies of Lulu's "Mr. Potato Head" beauty in the Lulu notebooks.

"You could string adjectives like daisy chains and not describe Lulu. Verbs came closer: soaring, crashing, yearning, laughing, dreaming, kissing. But metaphors came closest: Lulu was a white-hearted starburst, a silver-crested wave. Lulu was the sound electricity makes."

She returns his affections; the two become inseparable, developing their own secret language of blinks and squints, their shared vegetarianism a rebellious, unified front in an unusual family.

But when Lulu goes away during high school to cheerleading camp in Vermont, everything changes. The rest of the story follows Will in his desire to understand and regain the elusive, troubled Lulu. More than a love story, ALL ABOUT LULU also is a coming-of-age tale about the devastating impact of family secrets.

ALL ABOUT LULU is poignant, sad, and funny as hell. Through Will, Evison tells his story with wit and verve, using more metaphor than is probably politically correct. Facinating characters, and a keen inisght into the world of Mr. Olympia-style body building. Indeed, it is in scenes such as when Will slicks his father's torso with oil before competition that Evison's prose soars. Southern California itself is a character; Evison knows his setting - and time - well. A few places felt like filler: the college papers on 'Old Hume' and other philosophers used to plumb Will's search for truth; the quixotic hot dog stand business on Venice Beach; the cat that haunts his apartment building. The book has the best 'epilogue' I've ever read; enigmatic and bittersweet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR... In his own words, JONATHAN EVISON likes rabbits. His work has appeared in the Portland Review, Orchid, Knock, Opium, Quick Fiction, and other journals. ALL ABOUT LULU is his first novel. He has worked as a syndicated talk radio host, a rotten tomato sorter, a telemarketer, and a script doctor. He is the founder and moderator of the FICTION FILES, a forum for literary discussion.

ABOUT THE PRESS... "Thoughtful, critical, committed to expounding an openly manifold perspective toward all modern life, these and other releases by Soft Skull endorse a new, enlightened way of looking at society. Harsh politics and inspired fiction aside, in a nation that starves for real reality, Soft Skull Press has solidly grounded, daringly provocative food for the brain." (Willamette Week)

SOFT SKULL PRESS is a NYC-based independent press with a diverse portfolio of edgy, alternative stuff, including poetry and memoir and fiction imbued with a potent dose of political and social rebellion. I heart this press, I buy a lot of their books because they're great books and because I'd like to see SOFT SKULL imprinted on the spine of my own novels. Two recent SSP fabulous reads that skirt the issue of mental health include GONE AND BACK AGAIN by Baltimore's own Jonathan Scott Fuqua, and Lydia Millett's EVERYONE'S PRETTY.


BUY ALL ABOUT LULU - AND ENJOY. And tune in hump-day in March for my third debut/small press review, tbd.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good Stuff Comes in Threes

ONE: Both of my six sentence microflashes selected for 6SV2. This is the second print anthology of Rob McEvily's brainchild SIX SENTENCES. I am honored to see my work flanked by the words of my fellow Sixers - a bunch of exuberant, fabulous writers in love with the word. And the 6S website made CollegeOnline's Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs. What can you write in six sentences?

TWO: A miracle - my father had his post radiation/chemo check-up - NO MORE CANCER! The key lime-sized, stage 4 tumor lodged in his left paranasal sinus has disappeared, thanks to 7 weeks of methotrexate and radiation and the fabulous care of the docs and nurses at the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center AND all the prayers and rituals and good thoughts whispered his way. Thank you. Thank you God.

THREE: Did I mention the miracle?

THE READING... In the midst of Jane Hamilton's A MAP OF THE WORLD. Gorgeous stuff. Heart-rending. Also MY LOBOTOMY and Nancy Kress' CHARACTERS, EMOTION, AND VIEWPOINT.

Look for my second book review around Valentine's Day... a story 'all about' love.

THE WRITING... Plowing through PURE, lots of headway made with characters Ben, Kevin, and Liam. Made the POV decisions, and as I rewrote the first 20 pages, the words streamed into place, the voice returned. BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT is out to 3 trusted beta-readers. Four microfictions and two poems drafted out this week.

LISTENING TO... Snow Patrol's latest IF THERE'S A ROCKET TIE ME TO IT. Super-duper.

Peace, Linda

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Monday Morning Mantra... BE

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

My friend Jeanne, who is a Sufi, reminded me today that when negative thoughts emanate from either side of my head, I am 'out of alignment' with my divinity.

This struck me powerfully - an anxious ennui has possessed me these past months, propelled no doubt by the 72,000 thoughts constant in my brain waging war rather than merely occupying synaptic space. Of course, with a mind so ill-occupied, writing has felt like racing a horse through quicksand.

I've fallen out of my practice of mindfulness, of expelling negativity and replacing it with positivity. This laziness is a natural consequence of the creative, competitive nature of my day and night jobs, both requiring original thought and reactive criticism. But it's my inner critic who mires me, who fills me with doubt and self-loathing and, well, negativity.

Thank you, friend, for reminding me life is a work of art, always changing, always processing. Thank you for reminding me to breathe out the ill winds, inhale the healing air, and take time to - Be.

THE WRITING... Quicksand - remember? Rewriting parts of PURE in third. Scratching out morning words, drabbles, lines of poems. BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT off to my dear beta readers this week. These are the days when I write to write, to get through the words, to keep the practice.

THE READING... Finished COLLEGE GIRL by Weitz. Not sure why I read to the end, hoping (in vain) for the ah-ha. Finishing this book, I sighed with secret relief - I can tell stories. BUT... now I am (happily) immersed in a book that makes me want to weep for the subtle turns of phrase, for the story, for the sweet, doomed characters. And this book is a debut by an indy press and I AM SO SMITTEN!

MISCELLANEOUS... Returned from a trip to our nation's capital. After my all-day meeting at the AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, I walked for two hours, past the White House to watch the evening news reporters file their stories, past the scaffolding and bleachers, remanants of last week's inauguation, through the Renwick museuem to see some favorite clay and glass pieces, past the Hotel Washington, sadly under complete renovation and boarded up, to the Mall, eventually landing in Borders where I sipped tea and browsed books, doing my small part to prop up the economy. Hubbers and kids joined me the next day; we tooled around in the National Museum of the American Indian and the Air and Space museum. Two delicious days.

Peace, Linda