Post #88: The Next Big Thing

Things You Should Be Reading

The Next Big Thing is a self-interview project where writers with projects in the works or books coming out answer ten questions about what they’re working on, then tag other writers. I’m thrilled to be participating. Many hugs and hurrahs to my dear friend, and fellow Bread Loaf alum, Kara Waite, for tagging me. Read Kara’s interview here!

Now…here goes.

What is the working title of your book?

Izzy’s Intervention.

Where did the idea come from?

Honestly, the confluence of inspirations and false starts has put the multiple entry points (re: ideas) into a blender and pressed “Pulse.”

But since that’s a lame answer. Here. This sticks out.

After my grandfather died, they divided up his stuff. I got a pocket watch, and a few articles of clothing. Though I wasn’t in the room, the image of my father and his sisters going through their own dead father’s possessions has stuck around, even haunted me a bit, as have those few treasures I inherited. In my novel, the protagonist is the eldest of three children, and his deceased father’s belongings have been collecting dust in his basement for three years.

What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Fiction

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m seeking representation, so hopefully, eventually, the latter.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I could see a late 90’s Ethan Hawke playing Izzy. Or maybe a long haired, + 30 pounds Paul Rudd.

Julian, the protagonist, I could see being played by someone handsome but kind of non-descript. Peter Krause maybe.

Darcy, their sister, is Gwyneth Paltrow all the way.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

How do you stage an intervention for someone when you could use one yourself?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I write quick, so, like, six or eight months. But the rewrites? Whole different story.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always been fascinated by stories with compressed time frames. Wonder Boys. Saturday. Mrs. Dalloway. Ulysses. Izzy’s takes place over a single weekend and I liked the challenge of drumming up enough conflict to sustain a narrative over a short time span. The movie The Big Chill was hugely instrumental, too, and the theme of a collection of people coming together in the wake of death was pinched from Kasdan’s movie.

Beyond that, I also wanted to see if I could find homes for a number of themes I’m interested in: interracial marriage, African refugees living in Vermont, and famous fathers.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Here’s a few…

There’s a lot of booze and pot (and sex) in the book, but it’s really a story about two brothers affected in very different ways by their father’s suicide. One has gone internal and remained stoic, hiding his growing list of problems. The other has turned to drugs and is coming unraveled in a very visible way. Though the novel is centered around a family coming together to rescue one of them, in truth, they both need to be saved.

It’s a novel I intended to be thoughtful, funny, and fast paced. The kind of book you might get carried away by and read in a single sitting.

Throughout the book, the protagonist carries around a perhaps magical squash ball that used to belong to his father and goes by the name Othello’s Testicle.

And here’s a final tidbit that you totally don’t need to know: in the novel, the deceased father was a famous fantasy author, and the series of books he’s famous for are books I actually wrote in my twenties when I thought I wanted to write fantasy.

Thanks for reading!

I’m tagging these fantastic writers:

Alan Stewart Carl–My great friend and former Bread Loaf & AWP Boston roommate. Alan is a phenomenal writer, has published a heap of short fiction, and is about to start seeking representation for his debut novel.

Mary Albee–Mary is a dear friend and poet from Burlington, Vermont. Mary recently released her debut collection of poems, Bewildered Obsequies.

Ron Dionne–Ron is a fellow NY Pitch and Shop alum who last year published his debut novel, Sad Jingo. It’s available on Amazon! I thought it was boss, and so will you.

Post #78: New Acquisitions

Book Reviews, Things You Should Be Reading

I need more books in my house like I need a hole in the head, but somehow or another I found my way to the bookstore yesterday and picked up a couple new acquisitions. There’s just nothing like a new book, is there? The smell. The crisp, unbroken spine. The promise of what’s inside that you haven’t yet discovered. The buzz never fails.

And, yet, my house is full of books I haven’t read. There’s dozens. And I’m not talking clunker hand-me-downs or boxes of thrift store throw aways. I’m talking about never read, bookstore fresh books that I bought and never picked up because I bought other new books before I could read them. Which brings me back to the hole in the head.

French philosopher Jacques Lacan wrote about Objet Petit a (object little a, for those non-francophiles), which he described as the object of unattainable desire. It’s like this. It is not the objects you acquire, or the thing itself, whatever it may be (new tits, a car, leather gloves, earrings, paperbacks, lamps etc), it is the desire to acquire that we over and over again trick ourselves into believing will be satisfied and quieted by said acquisitions. Except it isn’t. We’ve all felt this desire and we will all feel it again. Every time I buy new books I am compelled not just by the desire to read and to experience stories I’ve not yet experienced–it’s not just an adventurer’s buoyant gusto at work–but also a small but persistent voice inside my brain (let’s call him The Idiot) that tells me I’ll be happier if I get stuff that I don’t already possess. The name works because it’s idiotic behavior. Picture me. Or picture you. You stand there, whatever it is you don’t need tucked under your arm, or in a basket, staring around the store, beating yourself up for spending money you don’t have on stuff you don’t need. You put the things back. You pick them back up. You walk over there. You come back. You scan the wall. You put the things back. You pick them back up. And do so until you either buy them or leave empty handed and say to yourself, “I should have just bought them.” Either way, the feeling persists. Soon after the purchase, be it days, or even hours, the desire is back and must again be quelled. The Idiot is not easily satiated or mollified. He is an Idiot of massive appetite with a great big fork and knife. And my Idiot is most often hungry for pages with writing on them.

Anyway, so I bought a couple of new books, okay? And, so sue me, they were both hardcovers. And aside form that Lacan interlude, and some lingering guilt, I’m genuinely excited about them.

every-love-storyI’ve already started Every Love Story is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max. It’s sad and kind of wonderful so far. Even if there’s something porn like and oddly voyeuristic in reading about a person who you know was mentally ill and committed suicide. Still, who doesn’t like porn? But I’m fascinated by Wallace and his life and work and though I’ve put it off, I was going to work my way around to this one eventually.


9780812993806_custom-f9472c743ae546a0b19bf6a1c8ce3a89971d1a83-s6-c10And  now waiting in the wings is George Saunder’s new story collection Tenth of December. I love Saunders. Have you read him? If not, do yourself a big one and get on it. His collection of essays The Braindead Megaphone is a personal favorite and I’m looking forward to reading more of his fiction. If I haven’t gotten bogged down in a pile of new books by the time I remember I even bought it, I’ll let you know how it is.



Post #57: Stocking Up

Things You Should Be Reading

Excited to have grabbed some new books from Phoenix Books in Burlington yesterday.  I went in to buy one and ended up brining home three.  Oh well.  It’s hard to feel bad about money spent on books.  I’ll let you know how they are.


I’ve long wanted to read Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin.  It’s been lauded and recommended by a number of trusted friends.  It was time to give it a go.






Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad is a book I’ve been meaning to read ever since it won the Pulitzer last year.  Plus, it’s got a chapter that’s a Power Point presentation.



The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt was the real surprise here.  I was scanning the shelves at random looking for something choice and liked the sound of this one about a pair of brother hit men in the old west.  The real kicker for me was the Los Angeles Times quote on the cover which says “If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, he might have concocted a story like Patrick DeWitt’s bloody, darkly funny western.”  Doesn’t that sound awesome?  I know, I know.  You shouldn’t judge a book by its…but I loved that quote.  And look at those guys.