Friday, July 15, 2016

What I’ve Been Up To

It is halfway through 2016, I’m asking myself, “What have you done lately?” Well, one thing I haven’t done lately is write a blog post, so here goes:

How many hours have I spent torturing myself by reading articles about Donald Trump? Far too many. Years ago I attempted a story in which a man notices an ugly mole on his cheek, and over the course of the story the mole grows until it covers every inch of his body. The story lacked plot, character, and purpose, so I tossed it. That is how I feel about Trump. Why do I keep looking?

I’ve been spending a lot of time with my ninety-three-year-old mom, whose parents are perpetually on their way to visit her, and who recognizes her children only on her good days. We moved her to a new facility last week. She is very confused, but not confused enough to not know how confused she is. It’s hard.

I’ve been struggling with a novel, a ghost story. I work on it every day and manage to lengthen the manuscript by about a thousand words a week. I read about other writers who are able to produce four, five, even ten thousand words a day. I hate them.
Mushrooms, of course, take a lot of time. I was picking chanterelles on Wednesday. Saturday I’ll be looking for lobster mushrooms, black trumpets, and more chanterelles.

The dogs are fine, thank you for asking.

I have written two short stories for 2016! I don't do much short fiction, but I'm quite pleased with these two efforts.

“The Real Thing” is a chillingly amusing story about Fine Art, the myth of permanence, and the inevitability of entropy. It can be found in The Art of Wonder, published by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the University of Minnesota Press. Here’s the blurb from the MIA website:

“In celebration of the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s 100th birthday, the museum asked some of the United States’s most talented writers, photographers, and illustrators to muse about art, creativity, and inspiration in this newly released publication. Contributors include the late New York Times journalist David Carr, renowned photographers Alec Soth and Ann Hamilton, National Book Award-winning author Pete Hautman, illustrator Eric Hanson, hip-hop artist and author Dessa, and graphic novelist Kevin Cannon. The Art of Wonder also features personal reflections from the curators of the Minneapolis Institute of Art on the objects of their affection and wonder.”

It’s an oversize hardcover and a bargain at twenty bucks. Order from the MIA store, or wherever you like to buy your books.

My second story, “Opposite Land,” is about lutefisk. While researching the story I ate lutefisk for the first (and last) time. If you’ve never had lutefisk, I heartily recommend it as an experience you will never forget.

The story will appear this September in Sky Blue Water, a collection of short stories for young readers by Minnesota writers including…well, I’ll just list them all: William Alexander; Swati Avasthi; Kelly Barnhill; Mary Casanova; John Coy; Kirstin Cronn-Mills; Anika Fajardo; Shannon Gibney; Pete Hautman; Lynne Jonell; Kevin Kling; Margi Preus; Marcie Rendon; Kurtis Scaletta; Julie Schumacher; Joyce Sidman; Phuoc Thi Minh Tran; Anne Ursu; Sarah Warren; Stephanie Watson; Kao Kalia Yang.

Edited by Jay D. Peterson and Collette A. Morgan; published by the University of Minnesota Press.

And before I forget, don’t forget that The Forgetting Machine, book two of the Flinkwater Chronicles, will be out in mid-September.