Today's Best Index Cards About Sharing Stuff on Social Media

I'm taking a social-media break and had some thoughts on how weird it is that so much of my headspace, and so much of the stuff I jot and share fairly regularly on social media, lives in a space that is not actually mine, is really mostly out of my control, and yet feels super personal in a way that is maybe not super comfortable.

(The cards above are like a baby version of the much better, much more precise ideas articulated in Sofia Samatar's Why You Left Social Media)

2018 Events

Here's where I'll be! If you're around please stop in and say hi:

Try Anything

The freaking New York Times wrote a super nice, super generous review of Best Worst American. I'm thrilled, beyond thrilled, particularly about the reviewer's appreciation of "Northern," my favorite story in the collection and its "botched buttock-surgery" angle. Also thrilled that the wonderful art for the review prominently features the kitten poster art from Best Worst American's "Your Significant Other's Kitten Poster." 

OK, no. The reviewer didn't say people had to buy 500 copies of the book. But please do so anyway, preferably via your favorite indie bookstore or via Small Beer Press directly.

"The abyss broke your microwave..."

Hi! The Rumpus just published my poem, Tap.

The abyss broke your microwave...

Tap is part of this ongoing series, which started for unclear reasons shortly after November 8 2016. "Tap," a sad and weird poem, is of course not at all inspired by this sad, weird tweet:

Evanston & Arkansas Lit Festivals

Hi! Do you live in or near Little Rock, Arkansas? Or maybe you're in Evanston or close to Evanston? I'll be reading and talking and signing books in those places super soon alongside some amazing writers. Please come and say hi. The details (lifted straight from the festival brochures) follow below:

  • Masters of Form / Little Rock, AR (Saturday, April 29, 11:30 a.m., Arkansas Studies Institute, Room 124):  John Kessel's The Moon & The Other is "reminiscent of Huxley's best work, and the emphasis on gender politics puts it in dialog with the masterpieces of Le Guin, Delany, and Russ," according to Hugo– and Nebula Award–winning author Kim Stanley Robinson. Kelly Link calls Juan Martinez "a master of the absurd" while Kirkus Reviews says his Best Worst American features "twenty-four semi-existential short stories that have appeared in McSweeney's and Selected Shorts" injecting "absurdity into everyday life and humor into the phantasmagorical."
  • In Celebration of the Short Story / Evanston,, IL (Monday, May 8, 2017, 6:00pm, Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Avenue, Alley #1): Two locally based fiction writers and Northwestern creative writing professors, Juan Martinez and Christine Sneed, will read from their new story collections, Best Worst American and The Virginity of Famous Men, and discuss what they see as the rewards and pleasures of reading and writing short-form fiction. 

Readings & Signings & AWP Panels!

I'm going to AWP in Washington DC and doing two panels, plus a signing, plus a reading for Best Worst American and would love to see you and talk with you at one of them. Or at all of them! Seriously. I'm also reading in Chicago and in Little Rock.

Here's where I'll be:

  1. Signing! Thursday, February 9, 10:00 am-10:30 am: At the AWP Small Beer Press table (Washington, DC)
  2. Talking!/Paneling! Saturday, February 11, 12:00pm-1:15pm, At this panel: "Immigrants/Children of Immigrants: a Non-traditional Path to a Writing Career" (with Ken Chen, Monica Youn, Marie Myung-OK Lee, and Irina Reyn). Location: Liberty Salon N, O, & P, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four (Washington, DC)
  3. Talking!/Paneling! Saturday, February 11, 4:30pm-5:45pm, At this panel: "The Short Story as Laboratory" (with Lesley Nneka Arimah, Carmen Maria Machado, Kendra Fortmeyer, and Sofia Samatar) Location: Marquis Salon 9 & 10, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Two
  4. Reading! (with Kelly Freaking Link!) Saturday, February 11, 6:00pm-8:00pm at Politics and Prose (Facebook event page here) (Washington DC)
  5. Reading! Thursday, February 16, 7:30pm-9:30pm at Women and Children First (Facebook event page here) (Chicago IL)
  6. Reading! Monday, February 27 at 6:30pm at Curbside Books and Records (More info here, Facebook event page here) (Chicago IL)
  7. Talking! in April at the Arkansas Literary Festival (Little Rock AR)
I'm so sorry for all the self-promotion! The robot says if I don't self-promote the h*ck out of this book he will do something unspeakable with this pencil. Blame the robot don't blame me. The robot demands that you buy 500 copies of my book thank you.

I'm so sorry for all the self-promotion! The robot says if I don't self-promote the h*ck out of this book he will do something unspeakable with this pencil. Blame the robot don't blame me. The robot demands that you buy 500 copies of my book thank you.

A Short Thank-You Note to Trump

So the photo below is me right after I took the oath of citizenship, which happened yesterday, a Tuesday, which meant we had to leave our baby with the sitter. The baby's an American. So is my wife. So, for that matter, is pretty much my whole immediate family. I was the hold out.

I'm pretty sure I was eligible for at least three years. I had been meaning to do it, but we were traveling a lot (we moved from Vegas to the Pacific Northwest to Amish country to Chicago) and the application is $680 -- a deal and a privilege, to be sure. You can't put a price on citizenship. But you can totally keep meaning to do it later because $680 feels like a lot.

And then you have an insane spray-tanned caricature spewing rhetoric so hateful, so inconsistent and bizarre, that you start laughing, and then worrying when half the country takes the joke seriously. And then the joke gets to be the presidential nominee of a major political party. That's when $680 feels like a bargain.

So thank you, Donald J. Trump. You're what it took for me and for (I'm guessing) thousands of others like me to take the not-insignificant leap from permanent resident to citizen.

In the elevator to the courthouse, a man saw a bunch of us in the elevator clutching our appointment letters. He said, "Trump, huh?"

We all nodded.

He said, "You're going to vote? You got to vote."

All of us nodded -- all of us, an elevator stuffed with nervous soon-to-be-citizens all worried we forgot some important document (the green card? the letter? were we supposed to bring our old passports?). But yes, we all said we were going to vote.

Against you.

We took the oath. The judge welcomed us, told us that the US was lucky to have us, that to swear allegiance to the US did not mean we abandoned the culture and the food and everything we hold dear from our old life. It was all moving, way more moving than I thought it would be.

I've been here for years. I've always enjoyed the privilege of the observer, an embedded outsider. I'd been holding on to that feeling forever, of being in the US and very much loving it but also not quite belonging, or thinking I did not quite belong. That feeling's gone, but it will come back, I'm sure. But still: what has replaced it is just as light, just as freeing, just as wonderful, just as strange. This judge made all of us feel truly welcomed.

The voter registration folk waited right outside the court. I filled out the form. It took all of five minutes.

Two Pieces in TriQuarterly

Two pieces of mine are up in TriQuarterly! While self-contained, they are excerpts from the novel-in-progress, whose second draft is about a month or two away from completion. The pieces are on the magazine's front page, but their Summer/Fall 2013 issue is HUGE (and awesome), and so it's easier accessing them via these direct links: