A dispatch from this year's Associated Writing Programs conference.
April 17, 2015
Graywolf Press' event with Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Maggie Nelson, and Claudia Rankine was packed. Photo by AWP/Robb Cohen Photography.
The annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference hit Minneapolis this past week. Addressing North America’s largest literary conference, the mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, turned out to welcome attendees at Thursday’s keynote with a sincere rally cry for more poetry in her administration—her love for literature went so far to include an admission that she has written an unpublished YA novel. Before Karen Russell took the stage to deliver the actual keynote address, Mayor Hodges brought attention ...
Jill Alexander Essbaum photographed by Megan Sembera Peters
“Why don’t you write me a trashy book and make us all rich?” Jill Alexander Essbaum’s late father used to tease. Although she certainly didn’t have her father in mind while writing the steamy sex scenes of her captivating debut novel, Hausfrau, she has him to thank. Her father’s Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins books piqued her early interest in bawdy subjects.
Hausfrau follows the carnal wreckage of a tired housewife, Anna Benz, an American expat living in a ...
February 18, 2015
Stephanie Kegan photographed by Lesley Bohm
What happens to your quiet suburban life when it comes to light that your brother is a terrorist? That question painstakingly unravels throughout Stephanie Kegan’s riveting new novel, Golden State, as it follows Natalie Askedahl, the level-headed narrator who suddenly suspects her estranged brother Bobby of being a serial bomber in the likes of Ted Kaczynski. Although the real life story of the Unabomber—who was also identified and turned in by a sibling—is an undeniable influence on this high-stake work ...
November 18, 2014
Meghan Daum photographed by David Zaugh.
From a review of “butch” fashion, to an outsider’s take of a star-studded evening at Nora Ephron’s house, to a devastating meditation on her dog’s death, Meghan Daum discusses many things in The Unspeakable and Other Subjects of Discussion. But there’s one topic she doesn’t traverse in her newest collection of 10 personal essays: “It’s not a salacious romp through the sex life of an aging person,” Daum jokes. Although personal essayists often get bulked in the confessional category ...
The book market for soon-to-be-parents is flooded with pregnancy and parenting guides—the What to Expect–type books—behemoth bricks of texts intended to inform the ill-equipped on how to undergo the biggest change of their lives. Obstetricians, nurses, midwives, sociologists, and the occasional celebrity offer up their opinions on the natural childbirth vs. epidural debate to help the expecting devise their ideal birthing plans. Although these books are helpful in surveying the physical landscape of labor and delivery, their clinical nature ...
“If 11 people tell you you’re drunk, you should probably lie down,” jokes Rob Lowe—not in regard to his days of heavy partying, but about his decision to write a book. After years of entertaining guests at dinner parties with his treasure trove of material and knack for storytelling, he decided to put pen to paper—and loved it. In 2011, he published his first memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, a “well-modulated actor’s memoir,” as Kirkus ...
“I’m not a dancer,” admits Maggie Shipstead unabashedly while discussing her new book Astonish Me, which is all about a ballet dancer. Shipstead jokes that she dabbled in ballet like most five-year-olds, and her mother was a fan of the ballet, so she grew up attending many performances, yet she maintains that she likes to write outside of her experience. This unfamiliarity is perhaps why she has always been emotionally drawn to ballet: “I’m interested in artists of all ...
Nickolas Butler photographed by Olive Juice Studios.
For some, living in a small, cold Midwestern town might lend itself to alcoholism, depression or Internet binges searching for cheap flights to anywhere else. For others, this isolation might be the gateway to creative inspiration. Nickolas Butler falls into the luckier latter. Growing up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and studying at the University of Wisconsin, Butler went on to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he commuted back to St. Paul every week to be with his wife and ...
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