First, I must note that I'm astounded by the response to my piece about Horse Latitudes books. The traffic has been of a different character than for any other piece of mine, ever. A whole lot of interesting encounters have come out of it, including this delightful blog post by a writer I admire. I don't know what I expected in terms of response, but it wasn't this; I wrote it for my own amusement. (My editor said it was a scoop worthy of a Pulitzer, but that's his sense of humor.) Hello and thank you, anyone who's reading this after finding me through that piece.
If you haven't, please sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win all twelve of the books I read and reviewed in the piece. A runner-up will win one of my literary tote bags. I have a lot of them. It's a problem.
Second, in case the news hasn't crossed your feed yet, I am now the book reviews coeditor at Barrelhouse, along with my long-distance pal Kamil Ahsan. (He's a good dude. Send him all your Kirsten Dunst gifs.) I'm REALLY excited to be doing this job, for undisclosable reasons as well as the obvious ones. And yes, you can pitch me. Please do.
On with the show.
Yesterday I went to see both of my mentors at CSUN. (It was sheer luck that both of them had office hours on Tuesday, so thanks, office hours fairy.) It was an interesting visit, because they gave me differing but caring advice, some of which proved that they really are just two sides of the same mentor-coin.
Chris told me that although it's great that I'm doing so many reviews, and thus helping the literary community so much, I need to figure out a way to get back to my own writing. "The world needs Kat's writing," he said, a little insistently. I hung my head. I do have essays that need extraction from my brain, but when I will have time for them I do not know. That's not a good thing, according to both Chris and me, but I'm in so deep on reviews that I don't know how to fix it.
Kate told me that she's happy for my success, and asked (politely) if I was making any money yet. Not really, I said. She asked if my goal was to land a paid position as a regular reviewer, and I said sort of. I do want that, but only if it will help me publish books, and/or slow down my reading pace. She kind of shrugged, and said well, I hope you can do that, but right now you're kind of an indentured servant. You're doing the grunt work and building up credit you can use to buy your freedom, and a little plot of land of your own. That was helpful of her, and sweet.
I asked both of them for recommendations on a certain kind of dialogue that appears in literary short stories, because I'm speaking about dialogue to a group of women writers in mid-February. (You can come if you want to, as long as you're close to LA and not male-identifying. Email me for details if you'd like them.) Both of them (separately) looked at their bookshelves for a long time and eventually realized aloud that they don't really like dialogue.
This will be funny to people who know them both, because as thinkers, they couldn't be more different. Kate is a structuralist, inspired by the natural world, a Baby Boomer with a fine-tuned ability to walk in and teach for three hours off the cuff. Chris is a poststructuralist, immersed in pop and digital culture, a Gen Xer who examines his pedagogy like narcissists examine their faces. They have both helped me immeasurably, and yesterday isn't the first time I've thought of them as the orange and teal of my writing life.
In other news, the overwhelm I felt recently lasted a while, a week+, but I dug out of it this week and got a bunch of things done. I'm not completely aboveground, but I'm getting there. Lots of good news ahead, lots of good books behind. Nice to have a fresh start in February.
Out in the world:
A review of one of the best books I read last year (out of 150, mind you): Thirty-Seven, by Peter Stenson, at 3:AM.
A short, cynical piece about the PEN shortlists and money in publishing at Book & Film Globe.
Books I Hate with Morris Collins, who wrote one of the Horse Latitudes books. I really enjoyed this interview. He's a smart guy, about writing particularly.
By the way, if you're reading this and you're one of the people who's agreed to a Books I Hate interview, email me, okay? I need to sort out the next few months. I promise I'm not mad.