Friends, spring is springing here in coastal Carolina, and along with it: Ecotone and Lookout writers are in full bloom, sprouting up all over the internet with fabulous projects, opening their leafy arms for literary embraces. Are we getting carried away with this metaphor? See what they’re up to and I think you’ll agree that it should have gone on much longer.
Before we start, we’d like to share some pictures of Ecotone and Lookout in the wild, to add some spring color to this post. Look! It’s Ecotone poetry editor Stephanie Trott, who found a rare Issue 3 at Powell’s Books in Portland. And, farther down, Matthew Neill Null finds himself in some great company at Housing Works Bookstore in NYC.
Okay, first up, Ecotone contributor Rick Bass has a new story collection out. Here he is talking about the art of the short story on NPR. And Smith Henderson reviews the collection for the NYTBR here, saying, “One long proposal of chemical magic, the fantastic origin of the very color blue, and Bass has situated us at the intersection of science and another kind of terrestrial alchemy.”
Speaking of magic, Ecotone contributor and soon-to-be Lookout author (more on that very soon!) Clare Beams is talking about magic over on the Ploughshares blog. “I turned some kind of corner as a writer when I started letting inexplicable things happen in my fiction,” she says. And we can’t wait to show you exactly what she means!
Speaking of inexplicable things, if you’re up for hearing about “Haunted Souls and Public Hangings”–and we hope you are–join Lookout author Matthew Neill Null at the Virginia Festival of the Book this weekend. He’s giving a talk with Glenn Taylor at the New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville (404 E. Main Street) at 12 p.m., Saturday, March 19.
Speaking of Main Street, are everyday problems getting you down? Do you need some hilarious, practical, and sensitive advice? You’ve probably heard Lookout author Steve Almond on the Dear Sugar podcast with Cheryl Strayed, but you might not know that he does a regular advice column for Cognoscenti called “Heavy Meddle,” where he tackles all sorts of advice from “My In-Laws Are On The Warpath Over Our Baby’s Name” to “It’s Been 2 Years Since My Wedding and I Still Haven’t Sent ‘Thank You’ Cards” to “I Don’t Know How to Live Without My Dying Cat.” Sad, surreal, and totally helpful.
Speaking of music (I’m referring, ahem, to the “heavy metal” inference above), Ecotone contributor Dom Flemons has a fantastic piece about Thomas A. Dorsey, the inventor of modern gospel music, in the Oxford American. “He wrote songs like a bluesman because he was a bluesman. And he taught choirs to sing that way: calling to God, guided by the musical structure of the blues.”
Speaking of public transportation (okay, we weren’t, but grant me one rough transition, okay?) Ecotone contributor Brock Clarke has a great story online at the Kenyon Review called “The Bus.” It’s a wild and totally entertaining ride!
And last but not least, and bringing it back to spring flowers!: The winner of the 2016 Rose Post Creative Nonfiction contest has been announced! Karen Smith Linehan won for her essay “Magnolia grandiflora.” Final judge Kate Sweeney says of the essay, “There is a sense here that every phrase and every word is chosen with great intent, and taken together, the work conveys the magnitude of this tree in a voice that is, like the tree itself, both quiet and commanding.” The contest is hosted by the North Carolina Writers’ Network and administered by UNCW’s creative writing department. She’ll receive a $1,000 prize. We can’t wait to read it–congrats, Karen!
We hope your week is filled with growing things both tangible and not. Enjoy the coming spring, and we’ll see you at the next Roundup!
Winter Institute kicks off in Asheville this weekend, and we’re proud to be hosting the NC Speakeasy on Sunday evening with fellow Tar Heelians Algonquin Books and John F. Blair, both of which are also featured in “North Carolina Indies Build Lists, Community” from Publishers Weekly. Booksellers, please look for Matthew Neill Null’s debut novel, Honey from the Lion, in the galley room. Can’t make it to Asheville? E-mail us for a copy.
You can get a sneak peek at the galley, and maybe even a few photos of Winter Institute, by following us on our newly launched Instagram.
Our news feeds were abuzz with week with reports that Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, is publishing a new novel, which follows Scout twenty years after the classic. Titled Go Set a Watchman, it was written first but presumed lost until Lee’s lawyer discovered it in the secure archive near the author’s Alabama home last fall.
Just this morning, Electric Literature and Grove Atlantic announced the launch of Literary Hub, “a new home for book lovers” (Wall Street Journal). Literary Hub will feature a mix of content contributed by partners and original material, including author interviews, features, excerpts, and essays. Sign us up, please!
We’ve all heard the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover, but this Guardian article presents an unusual counterpoint to that adage: this book cover judges you! In fact, it won’t open unless the reader has a neutral expression on her face.Continue Reading
It’s the final week of classes here at UNCW, and we’re beyond grateful to the student staffers who are the heart of our enterprise. This semester, they’ve dedicated their energy and talents to threading a book interior, researching and pitching covers, hand-lettering titles, fact-checking, proofreading, writing media materials, and planning the marketing and publicity strategy for next year’s release. Thanks to Abby Chiaramonte, Liz Granger, Justin Klose, Katie Prince, Bethany Tap, and especially Becky Eades, who has managed our social media platforms, including this blog, with diligence and care over the past few years. You all will be missed, and we wish you every success in your future writing and publishing endeavors. (Good luck finishing up your portfolios and exams too!)
As 2014 draws to a close and we hit the bookstores for holiday shopping, we thought we’d round up a few best-of lists that caught our eye:
We’re always eager to see which titles make the “100 Notable Books of 2014” from the New York Times.
Slate issued the “22 Best Lines of 2014,” featuring Astoria to Zion and Ecotone contributor Rebecca Makkai. Head over to read her sentence and twenty-one others from some of the year’s “most enjoyable books.”Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were celebrating Writers’ Week and helping our sister magazine, Ecotone, launch the fall Sustenance issue with a farm-to-table supper in partnership with Feast Down East. The delicious meal was served under a full moon and glowing lights in the Kenan Hall courtyard. Thanks again to contributors Alison Hawthorne Deming and Randall Kenan, as well as Leslie Hossfeld and Stefan Hartmann of Black River Organic Farm, for speaking. If you missed it, you can enjoy a taste of the evening in this album, courtesy of UNCW’s Will Page.
The new Sustenance issue of Ecotone is now on newsstands and available via the website, but don’t forget to pick a copy of the Spring/Summer 2014 issue, featuring a story by Lookout’s next author, Matthew Neill Null, while you’re at it.Continue Reading
As always in our weekly Lit News, we round up the essential discussions in literature and publishing and also reveal all the Lookout and Ecotone author scoop!
Beginning with a little book cover candy: how lovely is this jacket for Poems of the American South, edited by David Biespiel and published by Everyman’s Library? (Psst: Catch up on all of our favorite book jackets, posters, and type design on our Pinterest account.)Continue Reading
Here at Lookout headquarters, it’s been a beautiful week so we’re spending as much time outside as we can, but if there’s any view we occasionally prefer to the great outdoors, it’s this one. (A gentle reminder: we’re always collecting our favorites over on Pinterest, so please join us there.)
Just in case you were soaking up some rays and missed our posts from earlier this week, we have big news.
We unveiled two new blog categories! In Seven Questions, author Brock Clarke revealed which books are open on his desk, what he would change about The Great Gatsby, and whether he dog-ears his books or not. It’s a terrific interview you won’t want to miss.
And on Thursday, we introduced On Location with Lauren Groff. This department showcases our favorite authors’ writing studios and other spaces that inspire them. In her wise and funny post, Lauren addresses the differences between writing before she had kids—”If anyone had interrupted me, they’d have died a horrid death.“—and her writing practice now that she’s a mother. “I write in line to pick up my kindergartner at school; at night, accompanied by my insomnia in the bathtub; in my parents’ empty house down the street; in my head in the middle of the night when my three-year-old has the croup.”Continue Reading
In Seven Questions, the newest series on our blog, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. We hope you’ll enjoy our first post with Ecotone contributor Brock Clarke, whose funny and powerful story “Our Pointy Boots” first appeared in our evolution-themed issue. We loved the story so much that we recently gave it a second home in Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade.
We also hope that you’ll share this interview and will continue to follow not only Seven Questions but a few other departments we plan to unveil in the coming weeks. Stay tuned to find out which fictional dog Brad Watson would adopt, as well as why dog-eared book pages make Cary Holladay think of nuns.
What books are open on your desk right now?
Where did the idea for your story in Astoria to Zion come from?
It’s been fun to go back and try to think of what made me start that story. I know I was in Watertown, NY, snooping around, thinking about a novel I was planning on writing that would be, and ended up being, set there. And there’s an enormous military base in town, and I saw some soldiers drilling on the base, so there’s that. And I also recalled a sweatpants wearing lunatic with one pant leg up and one down doing laps around the public square, so there’s that too. And I remember feeling how daunting writing a new novel felt—and how I didn’t really feel like I could do it—but if I could maybe write a story set in the same place, then maybe the novel would feel possible, even if the novel ended up being nothing like the story. When I was thinking about this, I was also thinking, for some reason, about a line in a Barry Hannah story, I don’t remember which one, narrated by a guy who was pledging to put on his cowboy boots (I don’t remember if they were pointy or not) and walk up and down Main Street until someone noticed him. And I liked the image of a bunch of guys doing the same thing in Watertown, and I saw them all as a group, walking around in their pointy boots, and so I decided to let them narrate as a group too, for a while.
If you could change one thing about a classic work of literature, what would it be?Continue Reading
design by Lookout intern Eric CiprianiContinue Reading
Lookout is thrilled to celebrate the official publication day of Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade.
We unveiled Astoria to Zion last week during the surprisingly sunny whirlwind that was AWP Seattle. Ecotone, Lookout, and Milkweed Editions co-hosted a book release party atop downtown Seattle’s gorgeous Sorrento Hotel. Longtime friend of Ecotone Ben Fountain, who wrote the foreword, introduced the collection; contributors Brock Clarke, Cary Holladay, and Rebecca Makkai offered fantastic readings from their stories. For more photos from the event, please see our coverage on Facebook. Check back here for upcoming video interviews with the gracious contributors as well.Continue Reading