Now that we’ve had some time to recover from AWP 2013, here’s a little photo recap of our time in Boston. We had several great panels, including a tribute to Edith Pearlman, a talk on successful indie publishing, and our own four debut Lookout authors reading together for the first time. They also signed books at our booth and got to talk with all our loving readers.
“Sometimes, you look at a really intricate piece of work and you think something quite banal. You think: “How in the name of all that is holy did they get the ship into the bottle?” That is exactly what I found myself thinking as I read these stories – each of them meticulously made, miraculously precise, and so fully populated that you marvel one mind could invent so many distinct human beings from scratch.”
“Miller’s prose throughout combines that knack for close observation and gently mocking tone, such as when he romanticizes his neighbor Mr. Hickey but bemusedly remembers how the man’s sister tried to equip him with a gun. His mother comes in for the harshest treatment, as he catalogs her self-martrying attitude and emotional disorganization, symbolized by a massive handbag he calls Moby Purse.”
With the March 12 release of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll Amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa, the Lookout interns wanted to celebrate five strong memoirs about place.
Only three are listed here since River Bend Chronicle is a soon-to-be fourth. (Rounding out our list will be the forthcoming joint effort by Lookout Interns and PubLab TAs that will focus on lives subject to the cruel whim of the Adobe Creative Suite and there’s always a disturbing amount of doughnuts.)
In celebration we assembled gift boxes to bookstores, including a copy of River Bend Chronicle, a reading guide, a bow tie button, postcards, Ben’s personal map of Davenport attractions—and, perhaps most touching, a note straight from Ben’s Royal typewriter.
We drew on the wild, memorable, pop-culture saturated prose stylings of Ben Miller. The inside lid of the box features an excerpt from “The Reinvention of Ice,” a chapter in which Ben recalls a classmate’s father’s big American invention: a mail-order ice rink, complete with tarp and spikes. Just hook up the hose and wait for frigid conditions!
Best of all the boxes look like the mail-order ice rink as it’s described in “The Reinvention of Ice.” Check out a few photos of the process.
So get ready, bookstores—they’re coming your way this week! (And there’s a good chance you’ll see these items at AWP, where we’re debuting River Bend Chronicle!)
Q: In her introduction to your most recent short story collection, Binocular Vision, Ann Patchett writes that Binocular Vision “should be the book with which Edith Pearlman casts off her secret-handshake status and takes up her rightful position as a national treasure.” And in the New York Times review of Binocular Vision, Roxana Robinson wrote, “Why in the world had I never heard of Edith Pearlman? And why, if you hadn’t, hadn’t you? It certainly isn’t the fault of her writing, which is intelligent, perceptive, funny and quite beautiful…” What do you think of this belated recognition?
A: I think the world is full of cabbages and kings, things happen early or late or not at all. It’s fun to be writing under the radar. It’s more fun to be recognized. But I’ll probably be forgotten sooner or later, and it will always be fun to write.
“Cornelia had had her eye on it for years. It reminded her of the cottage of a gnome. “Guhnome,” Aunt Shelley used to miscorrect. The other houses in the loose settlement by the pond were darkly weathered wood, but Cornelia’s was made of the local pale gray granite, sparkling here and there with…