Sometimes over the course of the years I’ve thought back on my adolescent self’s interest in physics and wondered whether if I weren’t a writer I might have been a physicist. Once in a while I see a certain tarot reader (the physics of psychics?) and she told me, without knowing anything about my prior interest, that I would enjoy reading about quantum physics, even as a layperson. I’ve been reading a book by the photogenic physicists Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen, which I picked up at Schipol Airport on my way back from a recent trip.
Liza Monroy's debut novel was published by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House.
See more here.
I wrote an essay adapted from my recently completed memoir for the anthology Wedding Cake for Breakfast, about the challenges and joys of the first year of marriage. Though mine was unconventional, we faced some pretty conventional issues, showing how simply placing the label “married” on a couple (or, “couple”) changes things no matter what the nature of that relationship. You can read the excerpt here.
Nick Flynn is on my short-shortlist of favorite contemporary authors. He wrote Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, The Ticking is the Bomb, and several books of poetry. I interviewed him about the recent film adaptation of Another Bullshit Night: the beautiful Being Flynn, directed by Paul Weitz and starring Paul Dano and Robert DeNiro. Read the piece Dads, DeNiro, and Turning Memoir into Fiction.
One of my favorite classes in college was called Novel into Film (which I took while living in a 13th century castle a few hours outside Amsterdam, but that’s another story). We looked at adaptations and the differences in form and what could translate. If you read/have read ABSN and see/have seen BEING FLYNN, I’d love to hear what you think about this memoir-into-film.
I love the title almost as much as I love the cover! This anthology comes out in May and my essay is excerpted from my forthcoming work, The Marriage Act. It’s exciting to be in the company of such fabulous women writers, and in exactly the kind of book I’d devour in its entirety in a sitting.
Lately I’ve been lamenting not being able to write as much as I’d like to…I guess that’s always the case with writers, though–we want to be writing all the time, but then there’s this whole other big thing called life. And the necessity of supporting oneself with other work.
I was talking with a good, supportive writer friend last night about my quandary, my struggle with time and oh, yeah, not having my next big thing all on deck, planned out, and ready to launch. For years “high school in Mexico City” was the big thing I was bursting to write about, and then “my unusual first marriage as lens to a larger issue.” My teens and my twenties. Now I’m into my thirties and…now what? I’m working on several collaborations and dabbling in a few essay projects, but the Next Novel (or Lengthy Work of Creative Nonfiction) remains elusive. She suggested I use this time for living what I will write about next. That I be honest. That I connect with people–on social networks and by blogging and just putting it out there–something I struggle with as (this will sound odd for a personal essayist/memoir writer) someone who is a private person. Maybe it’s that in memoir and essay we adopt a persona and here, well, this is just me, figuring it out.
I re-watched Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk about creativity this afternoon. I’m using it in the creative writing class I’m currently teaching. That I recommend to anyone dealing with the what-now, what-next.
Lately, I’ve been loving the journalism that’s been appearing on this fascinating site, MYOO. (As in, com-myoo-nity ) I got to interview a real Brazilian shaman, Maria Lucia Bittencourt Sauer. Read the profile here. And bookmark the site! Myoo is one of my favorite reads on the internet these days–tons of newsy and in-depth pieces about global issues and interesting people.
I will be teaching during the winter quarter through UCLA Extension! Check out my page and sign up for the class here.
THIS is one to take to the beach this summer. It’s juicy yet literary, plotted like a film yet character-driven, scandalous yet thoughtful. I guess I should mention the voice and the writing while I’m at it. And the author’s interesting biography. Seriously. Google her.
I’ve been writing a lot of book reviews lately and haven’t had much time for pleasure/research/inspiration reading. I finally got a break and chose to revisit Borderlines, a memoir by Caroline Kraus. I got the galley (advance reading copy) back in 2002 when I worked in the Literary department at William Morris. It was one of the gazillion galleys sent to my boss every week. I started reading at my desk and could not stop. I didn’t do much of anything else until I finished it.
I moved recently and my book collection was upended and I rediscovered Borderlines. Remembering how much I loved it at age 22 (Character-Caroline is in her early 20s in the memoir [narrator-Caroline speaks from a later place of reflection, a great example of Phillip Lopate's philosophy of double perspective])) I wondered if it would be just as great nine years later.
It was. I knew where it was going and still felt all the suspense and tension. Kraus manages to turn an introspective story about a dysfunctional “friendship” and her mother’s death into a page-turning thriller that’s also a deep look into one woman’s mind and grief. She makes you feel like you’re living it with her, and it’s a terrifying ride. I’m so glad I revisited this winning memoir that’s a beautiful use of the form. Kraus is a screenwriter, too, so I’m hoping a movie version is in the works.
John Gibler, an intrepid journalist originally from Texas, grew up with Mexican culture and it remained an interest and influence as he embarked on his journalism career. His latest book, To Die in Mexico astounded me. Aside from all the information and first-hand stories that one would not encounter elsewhere, what struck me most about this book was a sense of admiration for what Gibler accomplished here, and plain old relief to learn that he is alive and well. Few people are willing to risk their lives to bring untold stories to life. My Q&A with Gibler about his experience and writing process can be found here.
Pre-order To Die in Mexico