Monthly Archives: September 2010

River City Reads

I’ll be in Richmond on Sunday to read from and discuss Mattaponi Queen with River City Reads, a citywide book club. The event will take place at six in the evening at Gallery 5; there will be snacks and conversation, and I’m planning to make some of Loretta’s Hot Pepper Jelly to bring along. Style Weekly‘s Valley Haggard wrote about the event this week; click here to read “The Belle of the Ball.”

The best recent Richmond photo I have is of my brother, Sky Boggs, holding a pineapple before we rafted the James River this summer:

I'm not sure why, but a pineapple is required when you go rafting with Sky and his friend Griff

If you’re in Richmond this weekend, please join me at Gallery 5! 


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Tar Heel Pride!

Ron and his lovely wife, Ann

Congratulations to Ron Rash, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize! I was so honored to be shortlisted with Laura, Robin, David, and T.C. Boyle, but it was particularly exciting to hear “Appalachia” in the description of the winner’s work (if I could not hear “Tidewater,” that is). During his brief and gracious thank-you, Ron said how much he learned as a young writer from Irish writers, including Seamus Heaney and Frank O’Connor. You should read Ron’s beautiful winning collection, Burning Bright, if you haven’t already.

A few more photographs from Cork:

Pat Cotter, the festival's tireless director, with Liadain O'Donovan, Frank O'Connor's daughter

Frisian poet-writer-musician Nyk de Vries reading flash fiction in downtown Cork

with Laura van den Berg

Cork, with a view of the Metropole Hotel


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How I Feel

Lucky to be here, and honored to have met so many writers I’ve long admired, like Ron Rash (pictured above) and Tess Gallagher (yes, I finally said hello, and she was so kind) and newer discoveries, like Tania Hershman, Madeleine D’Arcy, and Nyk de Vries (a Friesian writer I predict will soon take the U.S. by storm). Does feeling lucky already mean I didn’t hunt for four-leaf clovers?

No, I did:

(A tiny one, my favorite kind, from Kinsale.)


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I’m writing from Cork, the arts-loving Irish city that is home to the Munster Literature Centre and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival. It seems like every street in this city has a book store or a performance space, and the readers and audiences at the festival have been wonderful so far. Here’s a photo of Owen Hill, reading last night from his funny and quirky collection, LooseEnds:

The reading stage was designed by a local set designer, which I thought was a cool touch. Every night Patrick Cotter, the festival director, has spoken powerfully about the story and its importance as an art form, and so far we’ve heard from Tania Hershman, Robin Black, Claire Keegan, and Aidan Mathews.

There are signs all over town about the festival:

It’s kind of hard to see, but the bottom middle book image is Mattaponi Queen. It’s a thrill to see my book in Ireland, home to so many important short story writers, and to hear so many fantastic (and famous) writers read their work. This morning I saw Tess Gallagher at breakfast, but I was too shy to say hello. Last night I had drinks with Louis de Bernieres!

I hope to take some better photos today, but here are a few more.

From the Butter Museum:

At the Cork Museum, we learned that Cork was once home to giant deer:

I’m off to a reading now, but I’ll try to post again soon.


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Huffington Post Short Story Discussion; New Work

Critic, poet, and fiction writer Anis Shivani is hosting a weekly series on the short story in the Huffington Post. My responses to his questions, along with responses by Lori Ostlund, Gina Ochsner, Anne Sanow, and Marisa Silver, posted today. Click here to check it out. Anis also convinced me to share some of my new work on Scribd; you can read it here.

I liked what Lori had to say about taking time to get the work right: “I think that we need to slow down and do what is best for our work rather than rushing to meet the demands of the publishing world.”

And what Gina said about playfulness and the story: “It’s a completely malleable form, open for endless experimentation. When I’m reading a terrific short story, say something by Millhauser or Munro or maybe Gombrowitz, I’ll think to myself: Wow! This writer is having fun. And wow–look how mischievously he or she has infused and amplified energy in the piece via voice, or language, or narratorial design.”

I was excited to see Anne’s recommendation of a new Salvatore Scibona story in A Public Space.

And I liked Marisa’s description of process: “When I write a story, I feel like I am taking a particular moment in space and time in the life of a character, bringing a big hammer down and smashing that moment to bits and then looking at every single shard that I can collect off the floor. I don’t try to fit them together correctly. I try to find out how the new jagged edges might bump up against one another, how they might scratch, how the unlikely juxtaposition of pieces might allow me to see more deeply and accurately what that person is experiencing at the moment of the story’s telling.”

Thank you for hosting us, Anis!

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