“This is transformative prose at its best. . . . If you want an actual contemporary wordsmith who does not just tinker but thrives in the micro-worlds of Calvino and Borges, Walser and Perec, read Understories.”
The first longer excerpt from my novel-in-progress, The Spinal Descent, will appear in the Spring 2016 issue of Conjunctions. Considering how much this journal has meant to me over the years, I couldn’t be happier to let the novel run off the leash a bit in its pages. May it find a creek and scamper in and come out sopping and shaking. More information about the issue and my fellow contributors, so many of whom I admire, can be found here: http://www.conjunctions.com/preview.htm.
The one, the only Nancy Pearl had some tremendously generous things to say about UNDERSTORIES in conversation with Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition. Calling the book “her favorite short story collection in recent memory,” she went on to dub the work “elastic realism,” explaining that the book is “firmly grounded in realism,…[b]ut then…stretches that definition of realism into places that we might not think it would go.”
Plainly and simply, I love this characterization and broke into a rather elastic dance upon hearing her.
She also had kind words for Bellevue Literary Press on Seattle’s The Record, stating, “Their books are just gems. It’s hard to find a Bellevue Literary Press book that, for me, doesn’t work.”
I’m humbled and thrilled to announced that UNDERSTORIES has been chosen as the winner of the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Fiction. Congratulations again to all of the other nominees, and to the winners in other categories, many of whom I’m fortunate to have met: Andy Merton in Poetry, Terry Farish in the Young Adult category, Rebecca Rule for Children’s Literature, and Mary Johnson in Nonfiction. The awards were presented at New Hampshire Writers’ Day on March 22nd on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University. I can’t thank the Writers’ Project enough for all of their support over the years! http://www.nhwritersproject.org/
My “story.” No, wait. Is it a story? What is it? It’s a thing called “Partial Instructions for the Game.” What is it? What game? Wait, where can I find it? What is Outlook Springs? Is it a small town, off-kilter but on-grid, in a swing state? Do I put that in my GPS? Is there geocaching involved? Is this a journal buried in geocaches? Is it a journal that is borne aloft in the minds of thousands of migrating lazuli buntings as they traverse the country thusly: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/occurrence/lazuli-bunting/? No? No and yes and what were we talking about again? Ah yes, seek this out: Issue 2, coming shortly.
UPDATE: Sept. 13th, 2016–Michael Noll graciously wrote up this exploration of the story’s inner workings at his marvelous Read to Write Stories blog, which is a teaching resource that I can’t recommend highly enough. Noll’s analysis, entitled “How To Swim in the Narrative Stream,” delves into the way that the story uses emotion to navigate the reader through time. As a longtime fan of the blog and one who has relied on it many times in the classroom, I’m that much more appreciative to be included.
Michael Czyzniejewski has taken on the monumental task of reading a short story per day for a (leap) year, and then blogging about it. February 29th, people, just another day to Michael. Anyway, his blog invariably manages to be compelling, even when –especially when–documenting the mundane circumstances surrounding his reading experience–life is always hovering at the fringes of his readings and sometimes interlopes, and this candor only enriches them. Here he took a look at Understories and at “The Understory” in particular, and I couldn’t be more thankful for his thoughtful discussion of the story/book. https://story366blog.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/may-12-the-understory-by-tim-horvath/
I’ve got a “Recommendation” on Zadie Smith’s On Beauty in Post Road 29, alongside recommendations by Jac Jemc and many others, plus fiction by Jamie Poissant, in addition to the usual great fare that the journal serves up. You can read the piece at http://www.postroadmag.com/29/recommends/horvath.phtml, or sift through the issue at http://www.postroadmag.com/index.phtml. My piece spotlights the book’s treatment of music and the sheer music of Smith’s prose.
Take Magazine is a thoroughly snazzy new glossy presence on the newsstand–not the proverbial one but the actual newsstand. I love their look, at once vintage and wholly contemporary, and their knack for sniffing out offbeat stories about New England culture and the arts. I was thrilled to meet writer Janet Reynolds at the Hartford Public Library to talk shop (and forest and conservatory). You can check out the article here: https://thetakemagazine.com/what-lies-beneath/. You can also get an early, morsel-sized glimpse of The Spinal Descent, my novel-in-progress.
Okay, now I’m going to gush about one of my favorite local entities, the Portsmouth Public Library. They have a top-notch collection that runs the gamut from the big presses to independents like Dalkey Archive, Europa, Coffee House, and Dorothy. They have mahjong every Saturday morning. They run a How-to Festival that this year included how to compost with worms, tie knots, dance the Masala bhangra, and make a firefly(!). And, last but not least, they’ve started their own magazine to capture goings-on, offer book reviews, and profile some of their patrons. Marina Buckler was kind enough to interview me for their debut issue, even though I think I had a few overdue items at the time. You can check it all out, including a literary Mad-Lib, here: (our conversation is on pg. 15): The Parrott Summer 2015.