News Roundup

beamd3dcroplbWe’re rounding up this week’s Lookout and Ecotone contributor news with thoughts about the great white whale we all chase. If you squint, you’ll see him showing up throughout this post. Here we go!

We’re getting closer and closer to the release of We Show What We Have Learned by Lookout author Clare Beams, and so much good feedback is rolling in. The East End Book Exchange, where Clare is having her launch, is re-branding itself as a store focusing on new titles and getting a new name–The White Whale–and they mention Clare’s book in their Littsburgh interview about it! “It’s a short story collection that’s at times creepy, at times surreal, and wholly engrossing.”

James Scott (Clare’s issue editor at One Story) has a podcast called TK, and Janet Geddis of Avid Bookstore in Athens was on the show to talk about fall books! She discusses the whale of an endeavor that is opening an independent bookstore, and both her and James have some really lovely things to say about Lookout and WSWWHL, including about its cover. Definitely check out the whole episode and James’s other interviews.

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We’re absolutely thrilled for long-time Ecotone contributor Brad Watson, whose new novel Miss Jane was named as a finalist for the white whale of literary prizes. Check out Brad and all of the other great writers on the National Book Award long list.

Ecotone issue 20 contributor, Anya Groner, has a piece out in Guernica: “Healing the Gulf with Buckets and Balloons.” Groner discusses how her group’s efforts to use balloons to map the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill shifted the paradigm from citizen science to community science. She explains, “Instead of answering a researcher’s questions, community science empowers ordinary people ask their own scientific questions and follow through with data collection and analysis.” There’s a whale reference to me made somewhere here, I’m sure.

And finally, we celebrate some new writing from Belle Boggs, whose book The Art of Waiting has been making a whale of a splash for the past few weeks. This essay from the New Yorker is all about the book that taught Belle what she wanted to teacher her daughter. She was fantastic on WUNC’s The State of Things (listen here), and there’s even more to be found from Belle on NPR and the Powell’s bookstore blog.

Whatever you’re up to this week, we hope you’re chasing some suitably challenging but approachable whale, and we wish you all the luck in catching it! See you next week.

“Happiness” in this year’s O. Henry Prize Stories

-1The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016 was released this week, and we’re thrilled that Ron Carlson’s story “Happiness” is included. And we were even, ahem, happier to see the attention the story got in editor Laura Furman’s introduction.

“This year, as always, when the reading got under way for The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016, the stories in the just-published 2015 collection whispered in my ear that this would be the year when I wouldn’t find another twenty worthy of succeeding them. The haunting prediction held for a while, and then the first right one appeared. This year, Ron Carlson’s “Happiness” reassured me that once again there were more wonderful stories to discover.”

She goes on, we gleefully note, for several paragraphs about the story, including this one:

“The unhurried pace of the narration speaks of happiness as the narrator luxuriates in his modest way. He isn’t about to rush anything, not his descriptions of the weather, land, trees, water, trout, or deer. Even the cabin’s copper Levelor blinds have their moment. Happiness might glow and inspire, in memory and in its presence, but it doesn’t last, a truth here not stated but implied.”

We’re also proud to congratulate other Ecotone contributors for their inclusion: Charles Haverty for his story “Storm Windows” from One Story, Adrienne Celt for her story “Temples” from Epoch, and Wendell Berry for his story “Dismemberment” from The Threepenny Review.

News Roundup (Let’s Go Back to the Future)

Hi, folks! It’s been a little while since we’ve posted a News Roundup. We were busy, we confess, enjoying the last days of summer before school started up again. But now we’re back in the thick of it, and since we have some catching up to do, we’re christening this post the Back to the Future Roundup. With the aid of a literary-minded DeLorean, we’re going to time travel through various points of recent interest.

We+Show+What+We+Have+Learned+coverLet’s begin with Clare Beams, the author of Lookout’s forthcoming story collection, We Show What We Have Learned. One of the stories was featured on Kenyon Review Online, so you can get yourself a taste before October 25 when the book comes out. The whole collection is great, of course, but don’t take our word for it! It was featured on LitHub’s “Great Booksellers Fall 2016 Preview” this very week! And Steph Opitz, the book review editor for Marie Claire, talked it up on a recent episode of The Lit Up Show. “In every story, it feels like something is lurking right around you, but you never really get to it…. It’s creepy and the writing is so beautiful … you feel angry and obsessed and intrigued … I just absolutely loved it.” We suggest listening to the the full podcast, since all the recommended books sound incredible.

Now let’s go way back to June, and knowing that a trip so far back can be traumatic, Nullcover3Dwebsitewe present this fascinating interview with Ecotone contributor Adrienne Celt with writer Esmé Weijun Wang on “The Inheritance of Trauma.” Adrienne says, “Because my paternal grandparents lived in Munich (after WWII, Poland was occupied by the USSR, so many loyal nationalists chose to leave, and my grandparents went to Munich to work for Radio Free Europe), I didn’t know them well, and the stories about them always felt distant to me—I wanted to know more.” Which sounds like something Marty McFly might have said about his parents…before he almost made out with his mom.

Also in June, Lookout Author Matthew Neill Null sat in the hot seat with the Millions, to talk some of his favorite writers, West Virginia stories, and–coincidentally?–“living in a world with no future.” Matt also had a new story in the Harvard Review over the summer. The story contains a scene Matt cut from his novel with Lookout, Honey from the Lion, 9781555977498about an elk with a toothsome liver “bigger than a baby.” We’re glad he found a place for that line, in the future.

And we’re thrilled for fellow Lookout author Ben Miller, who received a research grant from the Schlesinger Library that will send him back to the future (or Harvard) in 2017.

Now we’ll speed through months of Belle Boggs news, beginning first with her fabulous essay for LitHub, “Writer, Mother, Both, Neither” back in June and flying to this past week’s New York Times book review of The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood. Reviewer Jennifer Senior calls the book, “a corrective and a tonic, a primer and a dispeller of myths.” Ecotone published two essays of Belle’s over the last couple of years, and we can’t wait for the release of the book later this week.

In other Ecotone contributor news, Rebecca Makkai had a conversation with Louise Erdrich in early summer, “You Are the Book You’re Writing,” which was the backup title for Back to the Future, incidentally (or could have been). Zeina Hashem Beck’s collection 3arabi Song is now available from Rattle. “The voices in (this collection) 3arabiCovwant to mourn for loved ones and broken homelands, but they also want to sing.”

Two new books of poetry are available from issue Megan Snyder-Camp. Poetry. The Gunnywolf is the winner of the 2016 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize. “Megan Snyder-Camp’s third collection of poems, takes its title from an obscure folk tale about a wolf that scares little girls for their songs. Aiming to articulate what has been hiding in plain sight, Snyder-Camp considers whiteness, environmental racism, the Baltimore protests, mothering, and the everyday wilderness of modern-day life.” The second collection, Wintering, is available from Tupelo Press.

9781555977467(That’s a lot of singing from those last few titles, and none of it, we’d like to point out, from Huey Lewis and the News.)

The Star Tribune reviewed Issue 21 contributor Angela Palm’s memoir, Riverine, winner of this year’s Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, an essay of which appeared in Ecotone. From the review by Lauren LaBlanc: “Palm confronts questions such as whether or not geography determines fate. If we can reroute a river, can we ever escape the isolation of poverty? How can we transcend our surroundings?”

We hope you enjoyed this very fast trip through recent Lookout and Ecotone history, and that your long weekend is filled with all of the time travel, 80s music, and plutonium you can possible handle. See you next week!

 

 

 

What’s Your Ecotone?: The Porous Border

This What’s Your Ecotone comes from Karen Linehan, winner of this year’s Rose Post essay contest from the North Carolina Writers Network. It describes the ecotone around her home in Carolina Beach, NC.

An ecotone surrounds my one-story brick house. It’s a porous border where the indoors and outdoors converge—more structural than ecological. Throughout the year, I share this space with a variety of animal residents. Mud daubers create earthen nurseries under the eaves. Green anoles scamper across the screened porch. Cockroaches cruise the kitchen and millipedes ramble the bathroom tiles. Chimney swift nestlings chitter inside the chimney. Squirrel tree frogs rasp from the gutters.

Earlier this spring, a queen paper wasp discovered a hole in an exterior window screen. Between the screen and the glass panes of a bedroom window, the wasp began constructing her nest. By the time I noticed the small funnel hanging by a stalk in the window, she had already fashioned the first hexagonal cells. Using flakes of bark she had chewed and softened with saliva, the wasp had sculpted wavy layers of gray and beige. In the base of each cell, she had deposited a single egg, like a miniature white sausage.

Through the early weeks of May, I watched the wasp at her nest. She fed her developing larvae a gooey mixture of nectar and the chewed parts of caterpillars she had harvested from my yard. In about a month’s time, the larvae transformed from pupae into sterile female workers. Soon the nest began to look more like an upside down umbrella pocked with dozens of cells.

Sometimes I pressed my face against the glass. On the other side of the window, the wasps raised their smoky black wings in a threat display. My simple eyes gazed into the wasps’ compound eyes. There was nothing between us except the narrow pane of glass.
Now it is late August. Soon reproductive male and female wasps will mate and depart the nest. Only the fertilized queens will survive the winter months. They’ll hibernate beneath loose bark or inside the wooden walls of my old shed, waiting for the warmth of spring.

The ecotone around my home changes through the seasons. As the nights become cooler, black rats will move from the nearby woods into my attic. The chimney swifts will depart for Peru. As for me, I’ll remain in my habitat through the winter, stoking the fire and reading Tinbergen’s The Animal in its World.

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Karen Smith Linehan is a lifelong naturalist with a deep love for the flora and fauna of North Carolina. She teaches first and second grade at Friends School of Wilmington where she shares her love of nature with her students. Karen is currently pursuing an MFA in creative nonfiction through Chatham University’s low residency program. She plays guitar and sings with her father in the Raleigh-based band, Bloomsbury. Karen and her husband, Terry, live in Carolina Beach. They have two grown daughters, Kelsey and Dylan.

Lookout’s Next Title!

We Show What We Have Learned final coverYou may have heard the news by now, but we wanted to do an official announcement here on the blog: we’re thrilled to broadcast the details about Lookout’s next book, the debut story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, by Clare Beams. The stories blend the fantastic, the historic, and the literary, and capture the true strangeness of being human. From bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort, Beams’s landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her characters’ desires stretch the limits of reality.

Clare’s editor here at Lookout, Beth Staples, published the title story from the collection years ago during her time at Hayden’s Ferry Review, and was even more excited to work with Clare on a newer story for Ecotone, called “Granna.” The success of that relationship, and the Ecotone/Lookout team’s enthusiasm for Clare’s work, led to the acquisition of this fabulous collection. And now, after many months of editing, publicizing, designing, and planning, we’re all so excited for October 25, when the book will make its way to readers.

We’re not the only ones excited. In a starred review Kirkus calls the collection, “A richly imagined and impeccably crafted debut.” Publishers Weekly adds, “Beams is an expert at providing odd and surprising details that make her stories come alive, and the result is a powerful collection about what we need from others and, in turn, what we can offer others of ourselves.” And Amanda Nelson of Book Riot says, “These stories are angry and odd, and I loved them.” Head to Clare’s website to read all the love, including quotes from Joyce Carol Oates, Chang-Rae Lee, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Mary Laura Philpott of Parnassus Books, and Rachel Richardson of Hub City Writers Project.

We’ll be giving all of the details about Clare’s tour and reading schedule shortly, but you can have a look at what’s planned so far here. We’re also so excited that Clare will be here in Wilmington as part of UNCW’s Writers’ Week.

And you don’t have to wait until October 25 to find your copy–you can preorder the collection now. We hope it will delight, challenge, and surprise you in all the best ways.

Save Your Place: Dead Things Imposed

Ecotone’s tagline is “reimagining place,” and we love work that brings us to a specific location, real or imagined. In this department, Save Your Place, we highlight our favorite descriptions of place from work we’ve published at Ecotone and Lookout.

This place is from Camille T. Dungy’s essay, “Differentiation” in Ecotone 18.

“Most of what we saw was human-built and imposed—buildings made from shipping containers or frame structures stilted above the permafrost, which, in this part of Alaska, can be as much as a half-mile deep. Or, like the baleen palms or the jawbone arches, dead things imposed on the landscape. Most of what we saw was desolate, lifeless, and frozen. In spite of this, standing by the bone arch with our feet near the icy Arctic Ocean, we marveled aloud at how beautiful everything was.”

Seven Questions with Erik Reece

In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today, we feature Erik Reece, whose story, “A Week on the Kentucky River: Reading Henry David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, Which Nobody Reads Anymore (But Should)“ appears in Ecotone’s tenth anniversary issue. Reece’s work also appears in Harper’s magazine, the Nation, and Orion. He is the author of two books of nonfiction and one collection of poetry. His book Utopia Drive, about the promise, failure, and enduring visions of utopian communities throughout U.S. history, is forthcoming form Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August.

Erik Reece - photo - taken by Lee Thomas

(photo by Lee Thomas)

What books are open on your desk right now?

Thomas More’s Utopia, because this year is its five-hundredth anniversary and I’m supposed to write something about that. Joseph Stroud’s excellent collected poems, Of This World. Robert Bullard’s Dumping In Dixie. A few old notebooks.

Apart from the week you spent on the Kentucky River and the boat you built, are there other ways you have attempted to bring aspects of Thoreau’s life into your own?

I raise a large garden and I know how to make raisin bread.

Where did the idea for your essay in Ecotone come from?

Honestly, I just wanted to find a way to get more people to read that book. And I think I was looking for a way to write about the poetry of wooden boats, and wooden boat-making. I was rereading A Week when I was building my boat, and I’m sure the idea for the essay took root then. Plus, I just love to read in my boat (I’m not much of a fisherman; I don’t like the hours).

But to float and loaf, Whitman-style, that’s my jam. So I wanted to communicate that satisfaction of reading an “unroofed book” in an unroofed place where the kingfishers of the text found their counterparts in the kingfishers alighting around me on the river. Each amplified the other to make both the experience of reading and the experience of floating much more intense.

If you could spend a year writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?

A small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. All Syrian refugees would be welcomed, and given ample water and provisions. Who knows, perhaps we would try to enact the blueprint of Plato’s Republic. But with poets. Our constitution and national anthem would be Auden’s “In Praise of Limestone.”

Name a book you bought for its cover.

Probably Edward Weston’s Book of Nudes. And not just for the cover.

alimon_brightdeadthingsWhat emerging author or first book are you most excited about?

Ada Limón’s book of poems, Bright Dead Things. It is an incredibly big-hearted collection that will—should—establish her as a major American poet. And it also have a very cool cover.

Lightning round:

Typing or longhand? Longhand in the morning, typing in the afternoon—and at night if necessary.

Whitewater or flat water? Since I almost drowned on whitewater last year, flat water for a while.

Morning or night? See above.

E-reader or print? As John McEnroe would say, you can’t be serious.

Vowel or consonant? Ohio is the most beautiful word in the American language. Draw your own conclusions.

Canoe or kayak? Whichever has the most beer in it. So, canoe.

Bookmark or dog-ear? Bookmark, usually a parking ticket from the intolerant campus police where I teach.

Cake or pie? Ice cream.

Mountains or sea? If I decide, mountains; if my wife decides, sea.