Hannah Tinti

And After

Thanks to all the well-wishers who’ve been getting in touch after Hurricane Sandy. The banks of the Gowanus did break, and flooded a lot of the neighborhood. Even so, we fared much better than our friends out in Red Hook, Rockaway, Staten Island, Queens, New Jersey and all over Manhattan who lost power and had their homes destroyed. It’s been a rough week all around. But what is heartening is how much everyone is volunteering and giving what they can and trying to help others. For those who live in other states and are looking for ways to contribute, here are a few links. First of all, WNYC has done a great job explaining where and how to give aid (as well as how to get around without subways). Red Hook Recovers has been organizing recovery for the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Occupy Sandy has been posting lots of info about volunteering and donations. You can also follow them on twitter for updates. The Park Slope Armory is being used as an Emergency Shelter for people without power or who have lost homes. NYC Service is another great site for getting information on how to help. The Food Bank for New York City gets free food to those who need it.  And finally the Red Cross has also been taking donations for disaster victims across the Eastern Seaboard. If anyone has any additional sites/places/suggestions, comment below. Good luck and stay safe.

Selected Shorts: Happy Halloween
from Edgar Allan Poe & Neil Gaiman

Here on the shores of Gowanus, Brooklyn, we are all awaiting the arrival of hurricane Sandy, wondering how many dead bodies may wash up on our doorstep when the canal overflows. It all feels appropriate for Halloween, somehow, and makes me wonder what kind of wild tale Edgar Allan Poe might have penned if he lived next to a superfund site. Poe has been on my mind for a few weeks, ever since I had the great pleasure of spending an afternoon with Neil Gaiman talking about his work. We covered three famous pieces by the master of the macabre, all featured on this week’s special Halloween edition of Selected Shorts: “The Tell-Tale Heart” (read by Terrence Mann), “The Black Cat” and “The Raven” (both read by Rene Auberjonois). Neil Gaiman is a fearless explorer of the dark side, intelligent and witty, with an imagination just as wild as Poe’s. It was a treat to get his insight into these wonderful tales and to hear him talk about his own writing process. You can listen to the program at WNYC, on podcast at Selected Shorts, or on your local public radio station. For those wanting more, you can check out Neil Gaiman’s essay, entitled: “Some Strangeness in the Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties of Edgar Allan Poe,” or click below to listen to our extended interview, where Neil recites selections of Poe from memory, talks about the influence of the master on his own writing, and contemplates what would happen if Poe had made his famous raven a parrot. Happy Halloween!

Neil Gaiman on Poe, Parrots, Unreliable Narrators, and the magic of reading aloud:

Selected Shorts: Great Beginnings with Etgar Keret

This week on Selected Shorts, we’ve got three great stories about fresh starts and new beginnings. The first is Etgar Keret’s “Healthy Start,” which is a part of his collection, Suddenly A Knock on the Door. It starts with a simple premise–a man gets mistaken for someone else at a restaurant. But when he decides to continue the ruse, it becomes a habit, until each day he pretends to be someone else. Next we have a story by Ann Beattie, “Hoodie in Xanadu.” Set in Key West, a place where people go to re-invent themselves, the narrator, Flora, discovers her neighbor is hiding something magical and unexpected behind his door. The final story, “Best Worst American,” by Juan Martinez, is a short-short that turns Walmart into an extraordinary landscape, where a man gets the chance to thank somone who gave him the confidence to start a new life. You can listen to this inspiring program for free over at WNYC, on podcast, on the Selected Shorts site, or the old fashioned way, on your local public radio station. I had a great time recording this show with guest co-host, Etgar Keret, who called into WNYC from Tel Aviv. You can listen to the extended version of my interview with Etgar below, as we discuss his writing process, as well as each of the stories at length, over cups of coffee 5,000 miles apart.

Etgar Keret on loneliness, Kublai Khan, and Walmart:

Selected Shorts: Island Magic

I’ve been on the road, and have fallen behind on my Selected Shorts posts. But wanted to make sure everyone had the chance to listen in to this great program that ran recently, with two amazing stories: “Vaclav & Lena” by Haley Tanner (read by Sarah Steele) and “Swept Away” by T.C. Boyle (read by Rene Auberjonois). Both stories involve islands and magic. Tanner’s “Vaclav & Lena” (recently picked as one of NBA’s  “5 under 35″)  is set on Coney Island, and follows two young friends learning English and training for their first magic show. Boyle’s “Swept Away” travels to the Scottish Isle of Unst, where the wind is so strong it blows cats, cars and young lovers over the edge.  You can listen to these wonderful stories over at WNYC, or by podcast or by scrolling down here on the Selected Shorts website. I also had the chance to do extended interviews with both authors, which you can listen to below. This is my favorite part of doing Selected Shorts–getting the chance to talk with inspiring writers about their process, in depth.

Haley Tanner, on Coney Island, magic tricks, and how she turned this story into her award-winning novel, Vaclav & Lena:

T.C. Boyle, on Scottish accents, the isle of Unst, the importance of being read to, and his new novel, San Miguel:

Boston Noir 2

Out of all of my stories, the one with the longest legs has been “Home Sweet Home.” I first published it in Epoch. From there it was picked for Best American Mystery Stories. Then it appeared in my collection, Animal Crackers. Then it was included in an anthology called Fiction Gallery, put out by Gotham Writers Workshop. And now, it has crawled out of the mist once more, chosen by the good people at Newtonville Books, Jamie Clarke & Mary Cotton, to be included in Boston Noir 2, the latest collection of crime stories based on place, published by the amazing Akashic Books. Special thanks to Dennis Lehane for deeming me worthy to appear alongside Joyce Carol Oates and David Foster Wallace. And long live Pat & Clyde, forever murdered on pot roast night!

Gowanus, pt.52

Selected Shorts: One Story

Last spring, Selected Shorts hosted a gala evening to celebrate One Story’s 10th Anniversary. Four One Story authors, Seth Fried, L.Annette Binder, Tom Barbash and Jim Shepard came to New York City and introduced their stories to an eager audience, then listened in while four outstanding actors performed their pieces live on stage. When One Story’s Publisher Maribeth Batcha and I launched One Story back in 2002, we wanted to create a new kind of magazine, one that would support up and coming authors, create a community of readers, and celebrate the creative form of the short story by publishing authors one at a time. Since then, One Story has published 180 authors from all over the world and become one of the most-read literary magazines in the country.

The first story in this week’s program is “Nephilim,” L. Annette Binder’s heart-rending portrait of a lonely woman with gigantism. “Nephilim” was published in One Story in the fall of 2010 and went on to win a Pushcart Prize. According to Genesis, the Nephilim were the offspring of fallen angels and ordinary human women. They were giants, and supposedly so hungry, that they ate everything, and nearly destroyed the earth. But there are different kinds of hunger, and Freda, the giantess in this story, still hungers for life, even as her condition keeps her from experiencing it. L. Annette Binder captures that longing so well—you can feel Freda’s emotional aching, along with the physical aching in her bones. Rise, L.Annette Binder’s first collection of short stories, includes “Nephilim,” which is performed on stage by Colby Minifie.

Author Tom Barbash re-imagines his childhood home in “Ballon Night,” which was published by One Story in July 2007. The story is set on the Upper West Side of Manhattan the night before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, when all of the giant balloons are inflated.  Barbash grew up on this “Balloon Block,” and has fun putting a dark spin on the ritual of “Balloon Parties.” The story captures how holiday parties–where people from your past and present come together–can sometimes represent your entire life.  “Balloon Night” will appear in a new collection by Barbash, forthcoming in 2013. Tonight, it is read by Tom Cavanagh.

Our last story is by short story master Jim Shepard. “Cretan Love Song” slices through time to 1600 B.C., and the moment when the volcanic island of Thera erupts and eclipses Minoan civilization, changing the landscape of the world forever. It’s an extraordinary, and extraordinarily short piece. Yet in those few pages Jim Shepard captures this historical moment perfectly, while plunging deep into its emotional center by focusing on one man’s final moments. Jim also graciously stepped in to be my co-host for the radio program. His short story “The World to Come” was One Story issue #16. “Cretan Love Song” is performed by Joe Morton.

Unfortunately we couldn’t fit all four pieces from that night at Symphony Space into an hour radio program, and so Seth Fried’s story, “The Adventure of the Computer Program,” will appear later in the season (I’ll write more on it then). For now you can find Seth’s issue of One Story, “Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre,” in his marvelous collection, The Great Frustration. Meanwhile I hope you’ll check your local time/public radio station, download a podcast of this program, or simply click below to hear three amazing stories, brought to you exclusively by One Story magazine.

Gowanus, pt.51

Tin House

A section of my new novel has been published in Tin House magazine. A big thanks to the editors for giving me a chance and to the readers who have been so kind. I’ll be helping launch the issue next week at Union Hall.

Gowanus, pt.50