Win tickets to see opera sensation Jamie Barton perform the songs of Joaquín Turina, Ernest Chausson, Franz Schubert, Antonín Dvořák, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Many of my friends live all across the continent from me, in San Francisco, in Cambridge, in New York and Philadelphia. They live in places that are built for visitors, with landmarks and historical sites and an actual nightlife. So when they choose to visit me, I get anxious. Ann Arbor is a lovely place to live, but to visit? To do what? I can hardly take my guests to Costco, where I spend my weekends, treating myself to a hotdog and a drink for a dollar fifty. I can’t take them to Kroger and scour the manager special aisle for deals on stale cupcakes and irregular bacon. I get scared that my friends, coming from their cosmopolitan cities, will get bored. They will start to wonder, like I already was, why they spent the time and money to visit. And why all of my favorite activities involve discounted food.
“I think I was writing the blog to make my friends laugh—the content was definitely frattier, more about the easy jokes—but I tried to make the book more widely accessible. The book-writing process was more about picking the most important moments, wrapping them around a theme, and framing the journey—not to sound like some pretentious little art dickhead. But, it was about giving the story shape. It took a few drafts to get there, but I finally started to realize, ‘Okay, this is really a story about somebody and his siblings going through an intense situation and being forced through it to grow up and take on a little more responsibility.'”
When the American ships arrived, they looked like giant white women swimming towards us on the horizon. American marines shouted orders from the crooks of the ships’ pale elbows, readied guns in the corner of vicious smiles. I was pushing Pablito’s stroller on el Malecón, and the people around me said, Look, what is that? But I knew. I had seen them before, decades ago in the first invasion.
The novella is slender but gaping. It embraces pause and pattern and gesture. It declares, “I can say more with less” and then it does. It is not an unwieldy short story but cohesive, taut, succinct. It is the novel’s architectural foundation, the stripped and fleshless core that argues the frame of a story might be enough.