George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy novel was first published 15 years ago, but between the HBO series and A Dance With Dragons due in July, awareness is at an all-time high. Copies of the book have been flying off the shelves on leathery wings and magically appearing in eReaders everywhere. Cries of "For Winterfell!" have been heard reverberating across subway platforms and mall parking lots. Portly gentleman with chin-beards walk the streets with confidence. It is a glorious time to be a geek.
Gina Frangello is a dangerous writer. In Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press) she shares a collection of short stories that at first glance are light, humorous, and naughty. But upon deeper study she is the kind of storyteller that sidles up to you all white teeth and crimson lipstick, musky perfume and sparkling eyes, while she slips the blade of her knife between your ribs. This is a haunting compilation of work, gut wrenching, and yet funny, pulling you in with its laughter and sex appeal, and when you’re hunched over in the fetal position trying not to wet your pants as tears run down your face, the realization of what really happened washes over you, and it breaks your heart, shatters it, and stomps the pieces into dust. But with a title like Slut Lullabies could you expect anything less?
People are just people, like you. I think about this phrase often on the days when I work downtown in a small used bookstore. Some people are really just folks, reading their Ludlum's and Sheldon's, and are harmless. There are people who read narrischkeit like Eat, Pray, Love, profess it to be feminist literature of highest idiom and insist, upon every visit, that you read it already (no. NO.) People who read Clive Barker still exist, surprisingly, and I find they are some of the most identifiable readers; not by dress or manner, but by the weather that hangs around them.
Update: This class is full. Congratulations to everyone who acted early to secure a spot. Prepare to grab your gear and strap in.
Art of the Short Story - beginning April 18th - is a highly specialized intensive six-week class with six mind-blasting units designed to impart vital craft knowledge in record time. These units work together synergistically to take any serious writer to a new level of story crafting proficiency. The teaching material has been synthesized through years of study and through the accumulated wisdom of several amazing mentors. But I've boiled down all of my best lessons into the core competency areas for compelling short ficiton. Each piece is essential and interconnects. You get all of the high protein fuel and none of the filler.
The magic doesn't happen automatically, of course. You shouldn't jump in if you're not good about finishing things or you've got almost 9,000 responsibilities this spring and your regard for this opportunity will place class participation at 8,999 on your priority list, right after "catch up on favorite TV shows." But if you understand that nothing good will come your way without hard work, then I invite you to join the remaining few who will get this chance. Your dedication means more to your success than your track record or where you currently rank yourself as a writer.
I won't be teaching Art of the Short Story again in the summer. I won't be teaching it in the fall. And there's a very good chance it won't be offerred here again. That's largely because of a new professional role that will be full-time for me starting mid-summer, a role that probably won't allow the dedicated time necessary. So, if you want to get the best of what I've learned through twenty years as an adult student of story craft, the latest seven burning it up right here as Workshop Administrator and Master Class Facilitator for ChuckPalahniuk.net, then please keep reading and click that registration link today. Also, pass this along to a friend.
We've made it! Chuck's last round of feedback on an entire year of top selections. Below, you'll find the last set of semi-finalists for Anthology Volume 1. Congratulations to all included! In the weeks ahead, we'll find out which stories make the final cut for our print anthology.
For the protection of the work, the stories below are made available to Workshop Members only. If you're a member, you may click inside and read these at your leisure. You'll find loads of great lessons on the writer's craft within. So read on.
The last set of semi-finalists include:
Tiger, Tiger - B.H. Ebert
Carousels - Austin James
Engines, O-Rings, and Astronauts - Jason M. Fylan
Little Toy Soldiers - Dan Lobo
Phantom Pain - Tony Liebhard
Revenge - Davey Watts
If you'd like to participate in our ground-breaking workshop, read exclusive How-To craft essays from Chuck and maybe have your shot at Anthology Volume 2...
To Swiffer, a Baduism: I'm getting tired of your shit. Call Tyrone. It will be a cold day in hell--or, speaking Alighierically, a day of specific climes in the ninth circle itself, a day none-the-less fantastic, shouting ET TU at Brutus like a tourist--before I am to ever pine over a mop or find superb satisfaction in dusting shelves. Your commercials have been stricken by Stepfordites with mom jeans! I would rather jar worms. I understand advertising enough--I watch Mad Men, afterall, so I know how it works. with liquor, shit!--but, but, but, where are you getting this stuff?
My first thought upon hearing the title of the new Madison Smartt Bell novel-
The Color of Night? Isn't that that terrible erotic thriller where Bruce Willis shows his wang? Why would anybody reuse that title? It's been ruined.
My first thought after finishing the book-
Whose penis were we talking about?
So what does it take to wash the bad taste of Bruce Willis' wang out of your mouth? (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.) How about the palette cleansing triumvirate of murder, rape and incest? Madison Smartt Bell peppers his new novel with a liberal dose of each, weaving together an unsettling tale of surrogate gods, the Manson family and the tragic events of September 11th.
Recently, Chuck told me about a new memoir being released called The Chronology of Water. The memoir was written by a friend and fellow workshop member of Chuck's named Lidia Yuknavitch. Being that Chelsea Cain (Heartsick) and Monica Drake (Clown Girl) are two other fellow workshoppers that also came recommended from Chuck, I quickly perked up my ears.
It seems Lidia is hitting the road to promote this new memoir, and may also be touring with Chuck for his Damned tour later on in the year. Here's a blurb from Chuck about The Chronology of Water and then below are the tour dates.
"I'm not a fan of memoir -- most autobiography contains more untruth than fiction --but Lidia's a terrific writer and she demonstrates how bold good storytelling can be." - Chuck Palahniuk
The book was released by Hawthorne Press on April 1st.
Here are Lidia's tour dates:
(apologies, as I'm posting this a few days late)
You know the drill, folks. Every month a new book is selected and a new moderator steps up to lead the discussion. This month, we will be reading and discussing Victoria by Knut Hamsun. Purchase 'Victoria' here!
From the back cover:
When it first appeared in 1898, this fourth novel by celebrated Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun captured instant acclaim for its poetic, psychologically intense portrayal of love’s predicament in a class-bound society. Set in a coastal village of late nineteenth- century Norway, Victoria follows two doomed lovers through their thwarted lifelong romance. Johannes, the son of a miller, finds inspiration for his writing in his passionate devotion to Victoria, an impoverished aristocrat constrained by family loyalty. Separated by class barriers and social pressure, the fated pair parts ways, only to realize—too late—the grave misfortune of their lost opportunity. Elegantly rendered in this brand-new translation by Sverre Lyngstad, Victoria’s haunting lyricism and emotional depth remain as timeless as ever.