Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Deeper Sense of Place (updated)

Hi everyone -- just wanted to give you and update on my upcoming class in late August. We'll do some writing exercises and discussion, we'll talk about 'reading like writers,' and then do some in-depth, craft-based readings of a few great travel and place pieces. My list of writers, so far: John Jeremiah Sullivan, Annie Dillard, Tom Bissell, Terry Tempest Williams (and others.)

Also, at the suggestion of two former students, I'll have some practical writing-life material too (encouraging stories, as well as horror stories, from the the freelance world, publishing, etc.) I'll talk about a whole bunch of stuff that I would never even think about posting to this blog, including some things that will make your ears fall right off when you hear them.

In other news, for the first time since hiking the Pacific Crest Trail,  I consumed a piece of prickly pear cactus. This time, it happened right in the middle of  downtown Santa Cruz, where I attended the Festival del Nopal, otherwise known as the Cactus Eating Festival. The festival was fun, but I thought the cactus was disgusting. So slimy! So insipid! So hard to chew! Maybe I'm too close to the subject matter to give you an objective assessment. On the good side, someone took the time to remove all the little prickly things -- a huge improvement over my last experience.

Meanwhile I've chosen the two things I'm going to read at SJSU -- one that is part of a long work in progress, and a small stand-alone piece that's going to be published really soon.

And, finally, thanks for all the Cactus Eaters emails that keep flowing into my inbox. Each one is appreciated. (For some reason, I am getting quite a few of them lately.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Travel writing class returns (new and expanded) on August 25th!

hi everyone --I just wanted you to know that I'll be teaching an expanded version of my place writing/travel writing class once more at the Capitola Book Cafe this summer. The class is set for August 25 at the Book Cafe  from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I am putting together a list of readings and preliminary assignments. Last class was wonderful but the time passed by so quickly (only two hours.) This new format will give us much more breathing room and allow you to delve more deeply into each exercise and exploration. Bring a sandwich and brown bag for a 'working lunch,' and I'll see you all soon. Almost forgot to mention that you should register directly through the Book Cafe (and not through this Cactuseaters blog.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Introducing Catamaran literary magazine

I've become involved with this brand-new magazine based right here in Santa Cruz, CA. The first issue -- which is forthcoming this fall -- will have all kinds of surprises, including my Q & A with one of my favorite fiction writers, but I should keep my mouth shut for the time being and let you find out for yourself. Look for it in an indie bookstore soon. Anyhow, if you take a look at the link I enclosed, you will see a Catamaran video with all of us gathered at the beautifully refurbished Salz tannery site, which is now a major center for the arts on the Central Coast.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Amy Ettinger & Dan White reading announcement at SJSU

It's official. We're now part of the line-up for the fall season. Here is the announcement that has been posted on the Web. Hope to see you all there, and to clarify, this will be in San Jose. We will both read brand new material. (no Cactus Eaters recitations.) I am excited and nervous.  I'm thinking of reading two short, somewhat related pieces, one from a book-length project, and the other a stand-alone essay.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Now reading .... updated

Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? I got plenty of strange looks from people who saw me reading this on the bus in Santa Cruz. They must have figured it was a self-help book in reverse. In one sense it is. This memoir does not provide any soft and fuzzy pathway to creativity.  Winterson's adoptive mother is an accidental mentor who shaped her daughter's language while providing a reason for her creativity. The mom -- identified here as "Mrs. Winterson" -- gave her something to work against. What really struck me here is the amount of light Winterson lets in. The ultra-religious mom is frightening -- she sometimes locks her daughter in a coal hole -- but never comes across as a monster. Worth re-reading to see how she pulls this off. I would have gone through this a third time but it was borrowed and I had to give it back. ILL doesn't mess around.

Graham Greene, Brighton Rock.

Charles Yu, How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

Kenneth Gross,  Puppet: an essay on uncanny life