Seeking Submissions: Richard Hugo House 2010 New Works Competition

Win $500 bucks. Read at Seattle’s Town Hall. With Phillip Lopate. Make Him Cry.

Per the Richard Hugo House Newsletter, your submission is sought for their well-regarded New Works Competition:  “… winner [of the 2009 contest–Ed.] Alle Hall [a-hem!–Ed.] gave us an insight into her ‘70s avatar—and so much more—causing visiting author Jennifer Finney Boylan to cry.”

She warn’t the only one, I tell you. Winning the New Works Competition was a career (such as it is, to date) high. There are not many places in the world where a virtually unknown writer could submit 1500 words and end up reading with Jenny Boylan and Vikram Chandra. I didn’t win the first time I entered, nor the second, nor the third. Fourth time’s a charm?

I only wish it were honorable to enter again this year. Phillip Lopate is one of my favorite essayists. To read with him in a venue such as Town Hall would be, I mean; like, wow.

This year however, it is someone else’s turn.

The Other “Other” Reader: Vikram Chandra

Rock on, Vikram Chandra, you hunk.

It is time for too much information.

  • The only blogs I read with any regularity are The Superficial and Go Fug Yourself. (I will not post the links. I will not enable.)
  • I once spent a night watching a full seven hours of Law & Order re-runs. This occured not that long ago. I am probably watching one right now.
  • I have a deep, deep fascination with crime stories set in Asia.

My lower brow is not relegated to words and images. It used to be that every so often, I felt an absolute need for plastic nachos from the 7-11. I am happy to report that I no longer crave utter shit-for-food. I hope I never say the same about shit-for-lit, Asian crime stories. The descriptions of Asian customs; the weird food, italicized, which better writers allow the reader to dechipher from context. I can’t say I admire the generally white protagonists who  fall in love with hookers. (Delusional, imperialists bastards.) I hotly object to the portrayal of the female characters, especially the sweet ones forced, Miss Saigon-like, into a life of skank. Above all, I abhor the writing. Yet I suck it up, the way I did articles about the effects of Olestra products. (Who could resist the term “anal leakage?”)

I have twice read Bangkok 8. I would gladly sludge through the shlock that could be Singapore Simpers As She Stabs The Imperialist Loser Who Has To Pay For Sex. However, Vikram Chandra’s latest novel, Sacred Games, means I won’t have to.

Chandra’s first book, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Published Book, as well as the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His  short story collection, evocatively titled Love and Longing in Bombay, also won the Commonwealth, this time for for Best Book.

One of the stories from Love and Longing gives us the character we follow through Sacred Games (which has won too many “Notable Books” from too may journals to post, here). It’s a Asian crime novel with compelling characters and gorgeous, floating prose. OK, so the female characters are beautiful. I’ll deal. Chandra has given me the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon of Chop Sockey Lit.  I’m sucking it up. All 900 pages of it.

(Who else gets to publish 900 pages? Maxine Hong Kingston. Once.)

Rock on, Vikram Chandra, you hunk. What’s your Avatar?

Get Yer Tix!

One of the “Other” Readers: Jennifer Finney Boylan

Ms. Boylan has the lightening wit of a Restoration comedy clown, and balls the size of England.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a long drink of water with ginger hair and the mouth of a sailor, which I’d lay money was true back when she was a man. If she ever was. Jenny—as she calls herself when not on Oprah as the go-to gal for sex-change dishing—defines her check-box as ” born transgendered.” She married, published (Remind Me to Murder You Later, Getting In) earned tenure, and fathered two children as James Finney Boylan. Until 2001.

Hello world. Meet Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Two memoirs later (She’s Not There, winner of the Lambda Award, and a follow-up, I’m Looking Through You), Jenny was touring for the latter when I caught her act at Elliot Bay Books. Every seventh word was unprintable (and I used to write for The Stranger). The ones that weren’t were unbelievably funny. Ms. Boylan has the lightening wit of a Restoration comedy clown, and balls the size of England. (Can I say that?) She is to the lit scene what Barak Obama was to the ’04 Democratic Convention, except that she is white. And now has a vagina.

What will this rock-star-hilarious, tranny-heroine say about her Avatar? And what will she think of my piece?

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