Survivor Lit is a brand-new and very good magazine run by Kirsten Ott Palladino. I am thrilled to be involved, even in my small way, with a review of the new anthology, Whatever Gets You Through. Visit Survivor Lit for my work; stay for the rest of it.
I’m returning to reviewing books! More info on that soon enough. Here are five of my past favorites. (Of course Lenard Nimoy makes an appearance.)
Mr. Spock emphatically did not like my review of his coffee-table book of photography, Shekhina (Hebrew for “the feminine aspect of God”).
What Would Madonna Do? Tragically, Magde had no comment on my review of an anthology ABOUT her.
Wall-E meets Gravity’s Rainbow as Ryan Boudinot births the next generation of sci-fi fantasy in Blueprints of the Afterlife. It runs a gorgeous gamut: complex, blunt, evocative, grimy, and disgusting; full of pain, of hope, of pure bliss.
Poetry of the Fun
I seek the funky/ the impudent, the Tokyo/ nightlife of haiku.
Hopes flung like whole fish!/This splendid idea does/not a great book make.
A good book, however, yes.
A new article of mine just posted on Richard Hugo House’s blog:
Hugo House asked me to write a little something in support of my class, Get Published: The Book Review.
In Novmber of 2002, I interviewed Leonard Nimoy for his book, Shekina.
How I Got That Story
Book Review Rule #1: Keep your ears open. Always.
I was working in a Jewish bookstore when a massive controversy 86’d Leonard Nimoy’s big speaking event. Such a scandal!
Rule #2: Know who’d want to publish that story.
I was on the phone to The Stranger like a hobo on a ham sandwich. Looking back, I should have tried The New York TImes first. The story went international, ultimately to be parodied on Saturday Night Live. I knew a freelancer at The Times who covered Jewish-y/city-y stuff. However, I had never written for The Times, and I had, regularly, for The Stranger. Bird in the hand vs. bigger publication? A question we will address at the upcoming workshop.
Rule #3: Know your subject.
I had years of experience with the concept of the Shekina. I knew its importance to the various slices of Jewish culture, and I knew what it meant to me.
Rule #4: Be prepared to be inspired.
I call this the “Who knew?” principle. Jews usually define Shekina as the female essence of God. During my research, however, I learned that Shekina translates literally from Hebrew as “Divine Presence.” The Shekina of Jews was given its female essence by ancient Kabbalists (who pre-dated Madonna by centuries.)
None of the above factored into the published piece, or even into my pitch. So what? I loved learning it. It was fun talking to Leonard Nimoy, too, if you go for that sort of thing.
Rule #5: Hit your deadline and your word count.
You can ask Josie Davis over at PLOP! how I butchered Rule #5 in my recent piece on Madonna. Fortunately for me, she still wants me to review for her.
Rule #6: Write the review that the book deserves, even if it is a negative review; even if it’s about Leonard Nimoy.
Read my final piece, and see if you can tell which part Nimoy objected to. My criticisms were well-supported and the piece well-balanced. I didn’t intend to take pot-shots, but I wasn’t afraid to do my job: critique.
Rule #7: Publicize your publication.
My upcoming workshop at Richard Hugo House will cover this essential area in depth. I might slap up a post about it, if comments demonstrate the interest. HINT HINT.
Saturday, Oct. 13, 1-5PM at Richard Hugo House.
There is no reason that your book review shouldn’t be published right now, by someone other than yourself.
Participants in this 1/2-day workshop will leave understanding how today’s publishing works for them, and with a plan for submitting at least one piece. More here.
“When Alle spoke to my nonfiction writing class at the University of Washington, she was at once inspiring, funny, and concrete.
She arrived highly prepared and provided a map of publications, what type of material they publish, and how a writers approaches them most effectively. She had designed her presentation to draw forth student participation and used specific examples drawn from students’ experiences and needs. Her presentation was extremely valuable.” —Carolyn McConnell, formerly Senior Editor, YES! Magazine.