Our Hen House

The new book I wrote with Carol Guess, With Animal, was motivated by a lot of things, one of which is a deep love and respect for animals, both human and non-human. I’ve been interested and active in animal rights for nearly two decades now, and so I’m delighted that this organization, Our Hen House, is featuring a story from With Animal on their website and hosting a giveaway for the book. Check them out, and consider making a donation if you like what you see.

I struggle, as I know many people do, with balancing the many different kinds of injustices that demand my personal and our collective attention. Sometimes I feel pressure to rank them: who/what will get more of my time and money and words? When I feel overwhelmed by all this, I often return to a story written by Lorrie Moore, “Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens.” In it, a woman insists on grieving over the death of her cat, Bert, in spite of the pressure of her family and friends to move on. Toward the end of the story, the narrator comes to this conclusion: “You couldn’t pretend you had lost nothing. A good cat had died — you had to begin there, not let your blood freeze over. If your heart turned away at this, it would turn away at something greater, then more and more until your heart stayed averted, immobile, your imagination redistributed away from the world and back only toward the bad maps of yourself, the sour pools of your own pulse, your own tiny, mean, and pointless wants. Stop here! Begin here! Begin with Bert!”

Here’s to Bert, and to all the animals and people and things we love outside ourselves.Our Hen House

TML: A (Possibly Unnecessary) Plug

I’m guessing you’ve already heard of This American Life, the fantastic radio show and podcast that uses a variety of storytelling, reporting, interviews, and music to tell stories based on a weekly theme. I’m guessing you’re already a fan. But on the off-chance that you’re not, I wanted to plug this week’s episode, “What’s Going On In There?” One of the stories is about a young girl’s struggle to free herself from an abusive relationship. I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about domestic violence lately, so this one really spoke to me. And the other stories in the episode are pretty great, too.

National Book Award Longlist

The national book award longlist for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and Young People’s Literature were recently announced here. I was particularly excited to see Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude on the poetry list. I heard him read in Minneapolis this past year, and it was a phenomenal reading — one of those that made me rush out and get his book (and a second copy for my friend). I’ve spent the summer making my way through this stack of books, and if I had to recommend one from the stack, it would be this one. IMG_3809

The Lammys

Check out this list of submissions for the Lambda Literary Awards, which, according to their website, “identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world.” I’m excited that the book I co-wrote with Carol Guess, With Animal, has been submitted to the “LGBT SF/F/Horror” Category, and I’m delighted to be in the company of such a great list of books. And writers, check out the list of publishers at the bottom of the page!