Friday, December 26, 2008

X-MAS OVER / NOW WHAT?

Thank God, X-mas is over. I still want to to go to church, just to sing all the old hymns, clear those rusty pipes out. But hey, it's time to look forward. Can someone point me to a bookstore? I'm finished reading all my lit mags that I have on my shelf: Cimarron Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and, oh wait, I still have to read River Oak. The Cimarron issue started off a little slow, but then it grew on me. I'd have to say I enjoyed the poetry the most--lots of narrative stuff that I could appreciate. Toni Graham is the fiction editor there; she used to teach at USF, so I thought I'd check it out. The stories in there--let's see, I really liked "Funny Looking People" by Gemini Wahhaj--a story I thought my students at Hercules would like. "Gazelle" ended a little abruptly for me, and I love an abrupt ending. Oh, and I finished Opium 7. I love the graphics in that magazine. What's weird is that my name's in it and I keep forgetting that. I'm going to show it to my students as a possible idea for imitating some of the different layouts. We produce a high school lit mag called The Dynamite Factory, which sounds like an old school 70's name, but is really based on the fact that all of Hercules used to be a powder works company. We should have our website up and running soon for that class, too.
Okay, so writing. I think the best thing is to read what you want to be writing. By that I mean, if you're gearing up to write a novel, read novelists you admire. Someone gave me a copy of Water for Elephants, and I can't get past chapter 2. I wanted to read it, just for the fact that it's about circus people, but I couldn't get past the convention of old fart telling his life story. I remember a really good novel called Geek Love that does this much better. Read some Richard Yates. I heard a review of the movie Revolutionary Road on NPR that said it was an okay version of the book, but don't do what I did with Atonement and watch the movie first. I can't get through that book now, and I felt the movie was anticlimactic. The lit mag Water~Stone Review is just beautiful, inside and out--try that one. I have a few more pages of that left to read. So my two faves in L.M. This year are still The Iowa Review and Opium. They fit my sensibility. Of course, there's always McSweeney's and Missouri Review. If you're a short story writer or a poet or a creative nonfiction writer, you should be reading lit mags, period.

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