To read my work, please click the Publications tab above. To read my most recent work, please click a link to the right. News and announcements are below. Everything else — my bio, my presentations, my teaching experience — can be found above. Thanks for your interest!
If you attended the “Digging Deep: Using Research in Creative Nonfiction” panel at Conversations and Connections today, here is my recommended reading list for hermit crab essays that (might) borrow their structure from research. (And if you didn’t attend the panel, perhaps you’ll be interested in them anyway!)
My own work that I discussed (because I know for sure how research influenced the structures of these pieces!):
- “War Weary from a Dangerous Liaison,” Modern Love, The New York Times, 16 Nov 2008
- “The Heart as a Torn Muscle,” Brevity, Jan 2015
- “Out of Bounds: The Origin of an Essay,” Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, April 2015
To help increase your powers of observation, try the quick-diary or X-page exercise (same content, slightly different form) from the excellent book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry. Then buy the book — it’s terrific!
- From the pain scale: “The Pain Scale” by Eula Biss
- From a syllabus: “The Professor of Longing” by Jill Talbot
- From Google maps: “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge” by Dinty W. Moore
- Also “Grand Theft Auto” by Joey Franklin (you can read the first part here)
- From a Trivial Pursuit card:“The Six Answers on the Back of a Trivial Pursuit Card” by Caitlin Horrocks, which you can read by subscribing to The Normal School here
(I posted this the morning of the conference so you’d be able to see it right after (or even during!) the panel. I’ll make any updates to this list this evening, but please feel free to share your own suggestions in the comments. Thanks!)
As PANK‘s Reviews Editor I was part of a panel about women and book reviewing at this year’s AWP in Minneapolis. It was called “Diversity in Reviews: Why Reviewing Matters” and my fellow panelists were Robin Becker, Camille-Yvette Welsch and Alyse Bensel.
Here is the last paragraph of my paper:
I want to leave you with this thought: I don’t want to discount love. Some books are assigned and some we choose based on a pre-publication description – almost like a classified ad – and the reading experience that follows can be lovely or a trial. But at least every so often I recommend reviewing a book you just plain love – especially if you are new to reviewing. I have one pitching strategy that has so far been 100% successful (and this is the strategy I used when I first started reviewing): I read a book from the new releases shelf at my local library, fall in love with it, and say so (and why) in my query letter. Love isn’t always rational (as so many stories remind us). Sometimes we should just fall, and then try to tell others the tale.
If you’ve really fallen in love with a book (one that was published within the last year, or one that’s at least ten years old for our “Books We Can’t Quit” series) and you want to review it for PANK, tell me the tale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s AWP was tremendous — over 10,000 writers descending on the lovely city of Minneapolis where the people are kind and the donuts amazing. Far too much happened to cram into one post, but I wanted share that Assay Journal has a terrific series of posts about nearly every nonfiction panel, including three that I attended and wrote about:
- Everyday Oddities: Natural Fact and the Lyric Essay
- Revising the Personal Essay
- The Past Is a Place: Former Minnesotans Remember
If couldn’t make it to AWP this year or want to read about a presentation you missed, check out this wonderful resource. Thanks, Assay!
One of the (many) lovely things about Brevity: A Journal of Concise Nonfiction is that after you publish a piece with them they ask you write something about how that piece came to be.
Here is how my essay “The Heart as a Torn Muscle” came to be: “Out of Bounds: The Origin of an Essay.”
Thanks for reading!
My essay “Mirror Glimpses” has been reprinted in Leslie Pietrzyk’s literary journal Redux! It was originally published in the print-only Emrys Journal, where it won the Linda Julian Non-Fiction Award in 2009. But now you can read it here.
Thanks for reading!
Here’s one of the nice things she said:
‘The Heart As A Torn Muscle’ by Randon Billings Noble takes an old age problem – the longing to be with someone who isn’t your partner, and spins it on it on its head. It’s captivating and refreshing, without taking itself too seriously (which it easily could have). It’s written as a ‘how to’ and is very clever. Here’s one of its gems:
‘No horoscopes. No tarot cards or tea leaves. If you must, you may steep yourself in stories of passion and price. Years from now you can indulge in what-ifs. But for now, right now, put your hand to your chest and feel what beats. The only muscle you can’t live without needs to stay whole.’
Click here to read the whole review!
A slim book but not a slight one, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary was hard to pin down.
Here are my thoughts about it at The A.V. Club (a sincere ring of The Onion): “Ongoingness marks The End of A Diary but embarks on a new way of thinking.” Thanks for reading!