By Kimberly Yennaco and Sandy Sprague

On Thursday, February 23, the Creative Writing department of Salem State University held the first Writer’s Series Event of the semester. Writers Matthew Salesses and Margot Livesey shared excerpts from their fiction with the crowd in Marsh Hall.

Matthew Salesses began the event by reading from his latest novella, The Last Repatriate, a post-Korean War story about Teddy Dickerson, a POW returned to America, and his personal and political struggles to re-adapt to life after the war. Salesses chose to read a romantic scene between the main character and his wife Kate.

Inspired by a true story, Salesses originally wrote The Last Repatriate as a screenplay with hopes of turning it into a movie. Writing a screenplay, Salesses said, is very “formulaic” and he wanted to avoid that formula when transitioning the story into a novella. “[The story] is so large and has…

View original post 493 more words

Craft Notes: Michael Ondaatje/Luc Dardenne

From Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table:

Recently I sat in on a master class given by the film-maker Luc Dardenne. He spoke of how viewers of his films should not assume they understood everything about the characters. As members of an audience we should never feel ourselves wiser than they; we do not have more knowledge than the characters have about themselves. We should not feel assured or certain about their motives, or look down on them. I believe this. I recognize this as a first principle of art, although I have the suspicion that many would not.

Another week’s roundup

The latest in my Love, Recorded column: “Yes, Honey.”

I tell her I will lose weight with her after the baby is born. Though five to eight pounds will come out of her and become a person, automatically. I think I am imagining this incorrectly.

Also, a story of mine in the latest issue of Storyglossia: “At Least I Felt Bad Afterward.” Thanks, Steven McDermott!

It took a lot out of me to be nice and I needed to dump my self-respect.

And I made a page at about.me: http://about.me/salesses.

Lastly, I wrote a post on the Good Men Project blog about one of the stories that we published. The post was supposed to be part of a four-post series for Short Story Month, but due to some GMP scheduling issues, it is only one.

More self-promotion, please

So Bryan Parys and I started a fatherhood blog: New Dads Strut. And I’m actually liking Tumblr so far. Here we get to air all our dirty diapers. Latest post is about being adopted and expecting a birth child.

Oh, and Robert Kloss, friend of alligators and writers, interviewed me on Plumb. I talked about the merits and not-so-merits of an MFA, editing, and audience.

There was this study done (I was told this, so can’t cite) that showed that people were far more likely to see a movie if the trailer gave away the plot than if it did not. This might seem counter-intuitive–you might think we want to be surprised–but people are mostly interested in seeing things they expect to happen happen.

Profile and Stories

1. A profile of me exists in the Harvard Gazette. Really.

2. Three pieces from I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying appear in Issue 3 of The Literarian, the Center for Fiction’s lit mag. The awesome Dawn Raffel is the editor.

Here’s an excerpt from “We Were Not Always Like This”:

The cops came so quickly we hardly earned the cuffs. Later, in the station, Randy cried, on the hook for his weapon of minor destruction. I tried to be sorry, too. Yet I felt only wonder at our idea of pleasure.

Kelly Luce rocks the Good Men Project Weekend Fiction section this week.

Link Roundup

Here are some links from the world of Matt over the last week:

1. The Wigleaf Top 50 chose the first of the Epidemics stories as one of the 50 best stories under 1000 words published online last year. Lots of good stuff on this list from people who are far more interesting than me. Thanks to Scott Garson and Ravi Mangla and Lily Hoang.

2. I said something about reading and (while?) being snobbish here on Shome Dasgupta’s blog. Thanks, Shome!

3. Chris Newgent is running a contest to win Our Island of Epidemics over at Vouched Books. I will judge tomorrow. Click here and leave a disease in the comments.

4. HTMLGIANT threw Bill Knott week and I popped in for a visit. Kyle Minor assigned me some reading, and I asked Bill two questions he didn’t answer. I don’t think.

5. MAKE Magazine made a couple of my nonfiction pieces available online. Here (“Valentine’s Day”) and here (“5”).

6. For some reason, Ethel Rohan trusted me to blurb her beautiful book, Hard to Say, which is forthcoming from PANK. How badly did I screw it up?

Cut it out, Spring

So spring is here, and with it its annual beatdown of my nose and eyes. I write about crying in birthing class, cat hair, threats, learning Korean, and sadly even suicide, in this week’s column: “Perpetually Unprepared.” Check out an excerpt:

How strange it is to be certain that in your future is fear. Sometimes Cathreen threatens to talk about me with our daughter in Korean, jokes I will never understand. I am learning in class how to say it is sunny outside.

Also, heard in the Korean grocery store yesterday that people shouldn’t buy drinks imported from Korea. Because the Japanese radiation is getting into the Korean water and making people sick. Not sure how true this is, but it’s scary. And that’s good enough for me.

Craft Notes: Anne Carson

This from The Beauty of the Husband:

Printing a passage in italics is a primitive way of soliciting attention
warns Fowler’s English Usage,
appending as an example of this miserable mode of emphasis
“To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.”
But emphasis is too general a word
for the dip and slant
of mindfulness
that occurs in cognition just
there: singe it.
The wife goes to the mirror.
She looks

at a wife’s eyes, throat, bones of the throat.
It does not surprise her,
she cannot recall when it ever surprised her,
to realize
these bones are not the bones of the throat.
A blush tears itself in half deep
inside her.