Scholarships Available for 2016 Summer in Barcelona & South of France & Summer in Granada Writing Retreats

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is offering scholarships for student writers, diversity fellows, and writers who are parents for our Summer 2016 Writing Retreats.  Join the CWW 2016 Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat (July 18-26, 2016) and Summer in Granada, Spain Writing Retreat (July 28-August 5, 2016).  Our featured 2016 Summer writing faculty includes Harvard Director of Creative Writing Bret Anthony Johnston, Guggenheim-award winning essayist and nonfiction writer David Shields, novelist Alexander Chee, poets Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, and yoga instructor Elissa Lewis.

Limited scholarships of $500-$1500 are available for each program.   Scholarships are available for student writers (for undergraduate or graduate students in literary fields), diversity fellows (for writers of color and writers from marginalized communities), and for writers who are parents.  The deadline to apply is June 10, 2016.  Applications are currently open at  

To apply for a scholarship, please submit a scholarship application here, explaining who you are as a writer, which program you are interested in, and how you would benefit from the scholarship.  Please also submit a writing portfolio and 2 references to either the Summer in Barcelona and South of France Writing Retreat or the Summer in Granada Retreat by June 10, 2016 to complete your application.application.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee: A Review by Alex Carrigan

QueenoftheNightWhat makes a great opera? Is it the music? The costumes? The story? Or can it become great for the performer who helms the leading role? Novelist and CWW 2016 Summer in Granada Writing Retreat faculty member Alexander Chee’s latest work, The Queen of the Night is a historical fiction novel that follows Lilliet Berne, a Parisian opera sensation in the late 19th century. Lilliet receives an offer for an original role, an honor most opera performers only dream of. However, when she discovers that the opera is based heavily on her past, she embarks on a journey to discover how the work came to be. The novel traces Lilliet’s journey, beginning with her childhood as an American frontiersman’s daughter. Readers watch as Lilliet joins a circus and a brothel, serves the Empress of France, studies under opera legends, and ultimately arrives at her current status as one of France’s most famous opera singers.

Chee’s novel is a historical epic, and Lilliet is a character in the vein of a Dickens protagonist. Her life takes so many turns, and she is forced to navigate using her wit and talent for assuming new roles.

alexandercheeThough this shape-shifting proves convenient, Lilliet struggles to discern how much control she has over any one of her personas. While she cycles easily through roles, she finds herself influenced, even dominated, by others, and most of the conflict in the book comes from run-ins with authority figures. The most dangerous is a tenor singer who tries to morph Lilliet into the opera legend of his fantasies. Lilliet, dubbed a Falcon soprano due to her unique and potentially temporary style of singing, is often associated with falcons and other avian imagery. Lilliet is a master at “flying” from dangerous people and situations and finding a way to survive.

It is true that Chee’s novel is a hefty read, but I never found myself losing interest. I found Lilliet fascinating–multidimensional and endowed with a unique voice.  She is strong and clever, but she also possesses very human faults.

I also admire the way Chee conveyed opera in the story. It can be difficult to communicate performance, which relies so heavily on visual and audio, in prose. However, Chee’s book manages to convey all the operas and performances via detailed imagery and clever diction. Even the more abstract operas were so well fleshed as to remind me of a George Méliès film.  I only wanted to see them realized on the stage.

Overall, The Queen of the Night is a wonderful novel. Liliette is a strong and fascinating character, and Chee tells her story in precise, rich prose. I am very excited to read more Alexander Chee, and I am very excited for the Historical Fiction course he will be teaching at our Granada retreat.

–Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Intern

For more information on Alexander Chee and The Queen of the Night, visit his website here.

Unspeakable Things by Kathleen Spivack: A Review by Alex Carrigan

9780385353960Last year, the Syrian refugee crisis became a point of international discussion.  The Syrian Civil War has seen millions of Syrians displaced and fleeing into neighboring countries. In between news reports of nations closing their borders and celebrities advocating for refugee aid, we heard stories about the people who made it out. We heard about what and who they lost escaping the war zone, the challenges they faced fleeing the country, and the difficulties of starting new lives in different nations.

When I picked up the newest book from poet, educator, former CWW faculty member, and CREDO contributor Kathleen Spivack, I found myself entrenched in a different mass exodus, though one of equal gravity. Unspeakable Things, Spivack’s first novel, follows several characters who escaped World War II-Europe and are attempting to start anew in New York City. These characters include a beautiful and physically deformed former countess, her Esperanto-speaking cousin, his institutionalized wife, his granddaughter who is going through a physical and emotional crisis, a pediatrician who dabbles in genetic experiments for his Führer, and a string quartet who were driven out of their home following a disastrous concert and the loss of their little fingers. These characters influence each other’s tales, as the unspeakable events of the War continue to effect them.

Spivack’s characters are united by an almost obsessive interest in memory and the past.  Some characters are haunted by their pasts, some still bear the marks of terrible events, and others embrace the past as part of a progression. What differentiates Spivack’s characters on a thematic level is how they choose to let the past affect them–whether it will be saving, destructive, or something else.

6odLzoK-ReQPwOcvZbfWrdFOulc08fdeMOZ6m28nwOUSpivack imbues her tale with a lovely attention to music. For many of Spivack’s characters–the Tolstoi Quartet (so named because they consider Tolstoi the most universal writer, which I love), for example– music is life. These musicians once lived together, sharing beds with their instruments while their wives slept on the floor. When they lose their little fingers and the ability to play as a result, they are only concerned about steadying their instruments. Additionally, the institutionalized woman is a former concert pianist, and it is the prospect of her music that keeps her husband striving to improve her health. Spivack even gives the author’s dedication “To music, which forgives everything.”

Part of what makes Spivack’s tale unique is her use of magical realism. It is rare that a novel treats World War II via magical realism, so I was intrigued by Spivack’s use of genre. In this book, inanimate objects can react and emote, reflecting the mental and emotional states of their owners. In one chapter, the countess character spends two weeks in an affair with the mystic monk Rasputin, who then leaves his hand prints burnt onto her inner thighs. For her, the prints mark shame and sacrifice and continue to throb, burn, and react decades after the affair. For another character, the ghost of her son is a reminder of what the family lost when they fled Europe, but also a symbol for her fractured mental state.

In terms of critique, I did feel at times that Unspeakable Things lacked subtlety. While I thought that some symbols, such as Rasputin’s hand prints and the ghost son, were interesting and fitting, there were times where things were a little too on-the-nose, or too deliberately provocative. For example, we know that the pediatrician is a bad guy because he molests his child patients and has their mothers pay for checkups with their bodies, all while conducting genetic experiments to create a super race. Did we also need to see him wear lingerie and makeup while masturbating to a photo of Hitler? Probably not. There were times where I thought Spivack could have tried to work certain elements in more organically, or just removed them altogether.

Despite this, I did enjoy reading Unspeakable Things. I loved that there was always a turn when I thought I knew what was going to happen.  Overall, it reminded me of Japanese filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses. Oshima’s is a film that, while extremely erotic, contains important political and social criticism and a fascinating storyline.  Additionally, I give Spivack credit for making the transition from poetry to fiction; her language and writing style are often beautiful. I hope that she continues to write novels, and I hope that she returns to certain ideas and images from this book. For those readers who want an erotic, magical historical fiction novel, with great imagery and style, Unspeakable Things is worth the read.

–Alex Carrigan, CWW Managing Intern

For more information on Kathleen Spivack and Unspeakable Things, visit her website

CWW Interview with Bret Anthony Johnston, Harvard Director of Creative Writing and our Barcelona & South of France Fiction Instructor

baj-bio-pic-2This year, our Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat will take from July 18 – 26, 2016.  At the retreat, we’ll be hosting a wide variety of craft of writing seminars, creative writing workshops. One of our featured faculty members, Bret Anthony Johnston, sat down to speak with Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Emily Smith for an interview.  Johnston is the author of Remember Me Like This (2014) and the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University. Read the interview below, and be sure to register for our Summer in Barcelona & South of France Writing Retreat by March 15, 2016!

Emily Smith: In “Don’t Write What You Know,” you point to a quote from Tim O’Brien’s “Good Form” about “story-truth” and “happening-truth.” I immediately thought of Faulkner’s attempts at truth-telling in The Sound and the Fury – that is, his attempt at objectivity through non-traditional narrative and perspective. How do you think truth functions in your own writing? 

Bret Anthony Johnston: Thanks for these good questions, Emily.  As a fiction writer, I’m far more interested in emotional truth than quantifiable fact.  Another way to say that might be that I’m more swayed by authenticity than accuracy.  And yet, of course, there’s a paradox here because fiction, unlike fact or lived experience, has the burden of believability.  Fiction has to be rendered with such care that its “truth” is unassailable.  Lived experience can be, and often is, utterly unbelievable, but fiction lives and dies by far stricter standards.  Fiction answers to a higher truth—or at least aspires to one.  There is, I believe, something deeply comforting in that reality.

ES: Your book Remember Me Like This has been described as “an exploration of human morality” and a “moral mystery.” In a New York Times review of the book, Eleanor Henderson wrote that your novel was a reminder of the ethics of narration. Does narrative have an obligation to be moral?18112175

BAJ: First off, Eleanor Henderson is a saint, and I feel so lucky that my book made its way to her.  I also feel like I owe her a house or a pony or an island.  I couldn’t have asked for a better reader or review and I remain incredibly grateful.

The question of morality is nuanced and probably unanswerable, especially in the space we have here.  It’s equally possible that the question is more for the reader than the writer.  I will say that I have zero interest in judging my characters; in many ways, doing so feels unforgivable.  I don’t think of characters as being moral or immoral, good or bad, X or Y.  Really, the word ‘or’ feels too limiting, too judgmental, in my thinking about narrative.  I’m interested in reading and writing narratives where there is no “or”, but where “and” and only “and” prevails.  I want complexity in characters, in stories.  I want capaciousness.  I want to give the readers a full spectrum of experience, so if they choose to pass judgment on the characters or view a narrative through a lens of morality, they have enough context to do so.  The writer’s job is to present questions not answers.

corpus-christi-pbES: Many of your stories are set in Texas. Aside from growing up in Corpus Christi, what do you think continues to draw your stories back to the state?

BAJ: One of the things we spend a lot of time talking about in my workshops is the notion that place forms and informs character, action and, of course, story.  My deeply held belief is that if a writer has access to a story, lived or imagined, then the writer is obligated to tell it, to write it.  Stories use writers to get written.  I’m interested in those stories that can only happen in a certain place; as a reader, writer, and teacher, I’m most moved by those stories that would be fundamentally different in a different location.  So far, in my own writing, those stories have taken place in Texas.  I have no agenda or goal.  I’m not at all trying to lay claim to a part of the world or stake out any kind of literary plot of land.  Rather, the stories from that place keep elbowing their way into my imagination.  They insist on being written and I feel lucky, profoundly lucky, to hear and see them.

ES: I recently finished Infinite Jest, and I know that you read during the release party for The Pale King, so I have to ask: how do you think the two books compare? There’s some discussion that The Pale King would not have been as good as Infinite Jest even if it had been completed.

BAJ: What matters to me is that Infinite Jest exists and people can access it at any time.  Likewise, I take comfort that many of his short stories and essays are in the world.  How one piece of work stacks up against another in a writer’s career is, to my mind, irrelevant.  He wrote some flat-out astonishing fiction and nonfiction. The books reward multiple readings in ways that few others do.  What more can a writer want?  What more can a reader want?  I can think of not one thing.

ES: What’s the best writing advice that you’ve personally received?

BAJ: I’ve benefited from so much advice over the years that it’s hard to choose, so I’ll just go with what first comes to mind, maybe because it’s what I’ve heard most recently.  Allan Gurganus said that when a writer has the choice between thinking or trusting her way out of a problem on the page, she should always opt for trust.  This feels so inarguably true to me that I wish I’d said it.

ES: Finally, I have to ask: you’re a skateboarding enthusiast, so what’s your favorite skateboard trick?

BAJ: The ones I’m trying to learn!

Bret Anthony Johnston is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Remember Me Like This, and author of  the award-winning Corpus Christi: Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Independent (London) and The Irish Times, and the editor of Naming the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. His work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere.  His awards include the Pushcart Prize, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, the Stephen Turner Award, the Cohen Prize, a James Michener Fellowship, the Kay Cattarulla Prize for short fiction, and many more. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Tin House, The Best American Sports Writing, and on NPR’s All Things Considered.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he’s the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a 5 Under 35 honor from the National Book Foundation. He wrote the documentary film Waiting for Lightning, which was released in theaters around the world by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars and at Harvard University, where he is the Director of Creative Writing.

Happy Halloween, Writers!


Happy Halloween, Writers & Fiends!  To kick off the the Day of the Dead, we here at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop are getting our quills ready for NaNoWriMo 2015!  November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and our CWW staff is up for an exciting writing challenge! We have the entire month of November to write draft, sketch, and complete the first versions of our novels.  The goal is to get to over 50,000 words by November 30.  We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop are working on our novel projects a little bit everday.  For food for thought and writing inspiration, we’re turning into @NaNoWriMo, @NaNoWordSprints, and all the amazing writers participating in #NaNoWriMo on Twitter!  During the month of November 2015, we’re going to be working on book-length manuscripts.  Writers are invited to work on novels, short story collections, nonfiction and poetry manuscripts, essays, and plays during the month of November!

If you’d like to join us for NaNoWriMo, please sign up on the NaNoWriMo website and join us on the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop NING Membership Network!  You can post a short summary of your book project on our CWW Membership site, check out our weekly prompts, and cheer each other on as we write our book-length manuscripts during the month of November!

xo, The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop


CWW Interview with Peter Orner, Novelist, Guggenheim Fellow, & Granada Instructor

peter-ornerThis year, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Summer Writing Retreat in Granada, Spain, will take place from August 3-10, 2015. At the event, we’ll be hosting a wide variety of craft of writing seminars, creative writing workshops, and special readings from our Granada 2015 faculty, which includes Peter Orner, Rita Banerjee, Diana Norma Szokolyai, Jessica Reidy, and Elissa Lewis. One of our featured faculty members is Peter Ornera novelist and short story writer and winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Katy Miller sat down to speak with Peter for an interview. Read below to see the interview, and be sure to register for our Granada retreat by April 20!

KM: You’ve taught many writing courses from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop to Charles University in Prague to your current position at San Francisco State. Does teaching affect your own viewpoint of the writing process?

PO: It’s such an honor that people trust me with their stories, and this is something I’ve never taken for granted. While I’m pretty sure writing can’t be taught, being a part of a group of artists who care about literature is in itself a great and often inspiring gift. This is lonely work—I spend so much time alone, either at my desk or wandering around the city.

Teaching has always been a kind of tether to the lives of other people, and like I say I’m very grateful for it. It doesn’t make my own work go any easier but it does help to know that other people – students, colleagues, share the same challenges. We’re all trying to say what maybe can’t be said as best we can…

KM: “Compression” is a word that’s often used when discussing your stories. Do these stories usually start off as clean and short as they end up, or is there a lot of cutting down and revision that goes into them? 

PO: Really depends on the story, sometimes they do start off much longer and then I chip away and chip away. Other times, they come out in sort of one breath, if this makes any sense. I do think if a story or a novel for that matter can be any shorter, I will try and make it so. I don’t like to waste words.

EstherStoriesKM: How would you compare your approach to writing the short story versus writing a novel or writing nonfiction?

PO: With a novel I settle in with my characters for the long haul—and I hope a reader will too. With a story I’m trying, in a sense, to grab onto a moment and hold steady for a bit. I want the moment to last longer, and for it to exist far beyond the page. Non-fiction is a whole different deal, and exciting in its own way. I spend so much time making stuff off, lying basically as a profession. There is something almost liberating about trying to hone as best I can to the truth.

KM: In Esther Stories and Last Car over the Sagamore Bridge, grief and pain in family relationships are recurring themes. What draws you to writing this subject matter?

PO: I think these are the stories that make us us. Our families, our griefs, our pain. Mixed in there, of course, is a great deal of joy and comedy. Got to have comedy. Funerals are always funnier to me than weddings. Am I alone here? And its strange, the comedy, the laughter, only makes the pain, the grief, the loss, more acute and vice versa.

KM: Geography is very present in your stories, from Fall River, Massachusetts to Nova Scotia. Do you begin a story from a sense or place? How do you typically choose a setting?

PO: Yes, I do start very often from place, a real place, and then I do my best to make a myth around that place. So it might be Fall River, or Namibia, or Chicago. I try to know as much as possible about the real place. Only then do I feel free to try to make my own fictional version of these real places.

LastCarCoverKM: What made you decide to weave characters from your older works, like the Kaplans, into your newer works like Sagamore?

PO: Sometimes characters just keep talking to me. It’s weird, I think I’m done with a character, like when a character dies for instance. And then the next morning I wake up and that dead character is talking to me again as if I didn’t kill him off. In fiction, you can bring people back to life, which is nice.

KM: Your stories often capture deep emotion but don’t rely on melodrama. Do you have any tips for writing tragedy without drama?

PO: Don’t push anything, don’t try and sell it. Emotion doesn’t need to be sold. I find readers will go with you if you don’t tell them what to feel.

KM: What projects are you currently working on?

PO: Pretty busy with new work, a new fiction, longer stuff and shorter, and new non-fiction, this one set in Haiti.

KM: What kind of workshops do you plan to offer when you join us on our Granada, Spain retreat?

PO: I’m so looking forward to Granada. What an unusual place to write and read. I’m going to do a story writing workshop where participants will leave with a number of stories in progress, as well as a craft/ literature class that will focus on Spanish literature in English translation.

KM: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

PO: You’ve got time. I’ve never met a writer who says I have enough time to write, but the fact is that you do. We all do. In spite of our lives, our jobs, our families, our responsibilities. Even just a few quiet minutes a day can take you deep into a story. Dawn is always a good time to do some work.

Peter OrnerPeter Orner is the Chicago-born author of two novels, Love and Shame and Love (Little, Brown 2011) and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006) and two story collections, Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin 2001/ Little, Brown 2013 with a forward by Marilynne Robinson) and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge (Little, Brown, 2013). Orner’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, Tin House, and has been anthologized in Best American Stories and twice won a Pushcart Prize. Orner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), as well as the two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship (2007-2008). He is also the editor of two books of non-fiction from McSweeney’s/ Voice of Witness, one about immigration in the U.S., and the other about Zimbabwe, and is currently working on a new volume set in Haiti. A film version of one of Orner’s stories, “The Raft” with a screenplay by Orner and the film’s director, Rob Jones, is currently in production and stars Ed Asner. He has also been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, the California Book Award, and the Bard Fiction Prize. Orner has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Montana, Bard College, and is currently a professor in the MFA program at San Francisco State University as well as a member of the fiction faculty at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Bolinas, California where he’ also a member of the volunteer fire department. 

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop #NaNoWriMo 2014 Writing Challenge!!

nanowrimoNovember is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and our CWW staff is up for an exciting writing challenge! We have the entire month of November to write draft, sketch, and complete the first versions of our novels.  The goal is to get to over 50,000 words by November 30.  We at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop are working on our novel projects a little bit everday.  For food for thought and writing inspiration, we’re turning into @NaNoWriMo, @NaNoWordSprints, and all the amazing writers participating in #NaNoWriMo on Twitter!  Here’s what our staff members are doing and our current word counts:

Rita Banerjee:

“I am currently working on my first novel project, a dystopian futuristic novel, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young female anti-hero, Mel Cassin. Her life is routine and mundane until one day her university-age brother, Lou, goes missing. This is the second person in her life who has disappeared. The first was her mother, who vanished from the Cassin family home when Mel was just a girl. Her younger brother, Lou, suspicious of the government’s involvement in the disappearance of his mother, attempted to join protests for social reform in college. It is in this moment of youthful rebellion, that Lou, too, disappears from sight, and Mel must find out what has happened to her mother and her brother, in order to understand the veils which disguise the machinations of her own government, the import of her own family and past, and the potential and ambiguity of her own individual agency.” – RB, Word Count as of 11/11: 8,568 Words

Diana Norma Szokolyai

“I am working on a novel called Last Gypsy in Paris.  Set in present day Paris, Lavinia is a teenage, Romani girl who works as an aerialist in her family’s “Old Gypsy Circus” traveling act.  She is torn between the world of the gadjé (non Gypsies) when, while attending French school, she develops passions for literature and a French boy, Julien.  Julien comes from an elitist, right wing French family who want to eradicate Gypsies from France, while Mateo, Lavinia’s father, struggles to keep the old Romani traditions alive in his family by protecting everyone he loves from the world of the gadjé.  When tragedy strikes the family circus, Lavinia must make difficult choices about her future that will ultimately effect her identity.  She is guided by her close friends Elsa, Fisco, Popo the parrot, and Mermeyí, her wise grandmother, who is a fortune teller. – DNS, Word Count as of 11/11: 9,009 Words

Alex Carrigan:

“I’m trying something really strange this month and attempting to write a Young Adult book. I know, it’s crazy. I never see YA about nerdy characters, so I’m making the main characters all members of a high school anime club. It’s a first person story from the perspective of Ashley, a high school junior and active member of the club. Her club is trying to sell anime goods at an upcoming anime convention, and Ashley is tasked to make a dating simulator video game for the table. When her best friend starts dating another guy in the club, Ashley tries to follow them on dates to use for inspiration, while also trying to push other romantic pairings around her in hopes of being able to use it for the club. Unfortunately, this does lead to some issues and causes some things to get crazy when Ashley starts to get too into those around her. I’m excited for the project since I get to make a fleshed out character with Ashley and really try to write from the perspective of an outspoken nerdy teenage girl. Plus, as an anime fan, I get to reference tons of the stuff in the story, which is always fun.” -AC, Word Count as of 11/11: 13,855 words

Jessica Reidy:

“I’m working on my novel, currently titled Zenith, about Coco, a half Romani (Gypsy) burlesque dancer and fortune teller at a Parisian circus who reluctantly becomes a Nazi hunter. Wanting clarity and guidance and without anyone else to turn to, Coco reads her own tarot cards, a forbidden act that always obscures the truth with the seeker’s own fears and desires. Coco’s target is her own uncle, Botho, a Romani man who turned traitor and set thousands of Roma to the gas chambers. And yet, Botho is the same man who spared Coco and her estranged mother, Mina, from the concentration camps, but abused his position to torture them both. While Coco makes her life at the strange and beautiful circus, Mina is living out her days in a mental institution, and keeping her identity as the famed Romani poet exiled from her community under wraps. But when Mina’s journals and her book of poetry appear on Coco’s doorstep, Coco discovers brutal family secrets and finds that she is not the only hunter in her family. Her choice between family or justice throws her own life in the balance while her desires and fears run wild among the circus.” –JR, Word Count as of 11/11: approximately 35,000 words

Megan Tilley:

“For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m working on a YA fantasy novel about the personification of Death and his familiar, a girl named Mira. It follows Mira as she gets accustomed to being Death’s familiar and the complications that come with that, including the struggle with her self identity and personal freedom, while also balancing a budding romance with her childhood friend. Urban fantasy and magical realism are my favorite genres, and I’m really excited to explore the world I’m making! I’m thrilled to be able to work with a unique character like the personification of Death, as well as the internal struggle Mira has to deal with.” – MT, Word Count as of 11/11: 24,574 words

New Release: The Dismal Science by Peter Mountford

DismalSciencePeter Mountford’s second novel, The Dismal Science (Tin House, 2014), was recently reviewed by The New York Times.  We are proud to have had Peter read with us in Seattle in our A Night at the Victrola Reading.  Since graduating from the University of Washington’s MFA program in 2006, Peter’s short fiction and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Best New American Voices 2008, Conjunctions, Salon, Granta, ZYZZYVA, and Boston Review, where he won second place in the 2007 contest judged by George Saunders. He’s currently a writer-in-residence at the Richard Hugo House and at Seattle Arts and Lectures.

The plot follows D’Orsi as he quits the bank in a “kamikaze’s strategy” over a seemingly small argument with a colleague, about funding for Bolivia if the leftist Evo Morales wins the presidency. D’Orsi is being asked to cut off aid, putting politics above the bank’s mission. Because of his daughter, her activist colleagues, boredom and grief, “exhausted by the bank’s bloated ineptitude and inefficiency,” D’Orsi gives the story to his best friend, a reporter for The Washington Post. Its publication causes a spectacular and very public blowup, unfurling D’Orsi’s career and life. “It had an appealingly straightforward quality: He resented the bank and despised himself for participating in its work, so he torpedoed himself into the bank.” – Martha McPhee, The New York Times