Reading and AWP and I have an owie

I did get some reading done while sick, just as I predicted. Probably because I was sick for-freaking-ever, which does give you some down time.

16. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes– David Grann
Awesome book. I loved some of the essays more than others, but that’s to be expected. I mean, I’m going to love the Sherlock Holmes essay more than the baseball one—that’s a given. Well worth reading. I’ve even bought a second copy since I got my own. Birthday present for Greg’s best friend, who is a journalist.

17. A Three Dog Life– Abigail Thomas
Read this on the plane on the way to Denver for the AWP conference. Nearly finished it on the flight, because it’s very brief and airy. That’s actually a bit of a complaint. I was about halfway in when I got the feeling I’d read this book before. I don’t normally do that.

I’m not making much sense, and I’m not even taking the Vicodin I got for my cracked rib. [News flash: I have a cracked rib from coughing while sick. I’m the luckiest girl in the world, don’t you know?]

18. After the Workshop– John McNally
Here’s what I said on

My favorite part is where the drunk publicist is talking about how NPR sells books and raises her fist. NPR Power. It’s a funny book, but probably only writers will think so.

I wonder what people from the Iowa progr…more “If a woman had written this, it would have had a pink cover with a martini glass or a shoe. It was enjoyable, and that’s not a slam, but seeing as how the author is from the supposedly best MFA program in the country, I expected it to be a bit more…unexpected.

My favorite part is where the drunk publicist is talking about how NPR sells books and raises her fist. NPR Power. It’s a funny book, but maybe only writers will think so.

I wonder what people from the Iowa program will think.” I stand by this. Enjoyable, but not as good as it could have been. The Writing Class by Jincy Willett has a lot more bite and better sentences.

19. Simplify– Tod Goldberg
Loved these stories. They’re odd and fun and well-written and all the stuff you look for, with a little bit of crazy thrown in. I went to a panel at AWP that Goldberg was a part of, and he was really funny. As funny goes a long way with me, I bought his book and got him to sign it later.

The panel itself is worth a full post, but who has time for that? It was basically a bunch of dude-writers who wrote what they wanted and happened to be MFA-ed and on faculties at degree-granting institutions. They did a great job of inspiring me (and I’m betting about 150 other people in the room) to write whatever sick ideas of literature pop into my head. The panel was fun and lively and encouraging, and probably the best panel I’ve been to in a long time. [No offense to the other panels at AWP I went to. Yours was good, too. If it wasn’t, that was me walking out. Yes, the one with the cough drops.] AWP, take note. That panel was well-attended at 9 a.m., because it was different and useful and not completely esoteric and lame. There was a guy who wrote zombie books up there! At AWP. I don’t read zombie books, but I support your right to read them and his right to write them and make them good.

My only complaint with the panel: No women. And when one of them got too near the idea of WOMEN’S GENRE writing as something to be taken seriously, a shudder went through the entire panel and the audience giggled with derision. By taking genre writing seriously, we meant DUDE GENRE, OF COURSE.

Ugh. There is plenty to make fun of in the pink-cover section of the bookstore, but how is that different than in the sci-fi section? Or the mystery section? Bad books get written. They get published. And they get read—in ALL genres. I’m still sort of angry that this panel, which was trying to make a point about writing the books you want to write, took the time out to draw a line where there shouldn’t be one. In one single moment, they disproved their own thesis. That writing can’t be taken seriously, it’s FILL IN THE BLANK.

I still bought Goldberg’s book. I’d had my eye on it for a while, and it is great. Period.

But I’m not sure that anyone on that panel should be sneering at someone else’s choice in topics. The advice to write what you want to write should apply to everyone.

By Published On: April 22, 2010Categories: Life, Reading, Writing