Indiana Review #IRFictionPrize

Observations

The Indiana Review offered up an #IRFictionPrize twitter contest, asking writers to provide a title for this short:

“You were stranded on a desert island with a copy of IR and a newborn piglet. You did the only thing you could do to survive.”

IRSow

They picked my entry as one of two winners, which I’ve lovingly converted into a sort of piggish Rothko print. Thanks to the IR crew for selecting it and putting out such a wonderful publication! Here’s more on the 2015 IR Fiction Prize and how to submit.

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Q&A with Bret Anthony Johnston

Observations

This summer I had the chance to read Bret Anthony Johnston’s fantastic new novel Remember Me Like This. He was kind enough to answer my questions about it and share a bizarre experience at a clown convention in Houston that prompted his story “Paradeability,” which appeared in American Short Fiction, Issue 53.

Find it here: “An Interview With Bret Anthony Johnston,” American Short Fiction.

Kevin Wilson & the American Short Fiction Podcast

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I’ve been hooked on Kevin Wilson’s stories since I got a hold of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth a few years ago. They’re always humorous without feeling light, managing to find strange and exciting ways towards emotion.

I’ve had the chance to listen to a reading of “Pig Week” at a bar in Washington D.C., a sampling of The Family Fang to a packed hall at AWP, and a great story of a young couple coping with a troubled household (including a boy who’s absorbed in video games) at Sewanee in 2012. Each reading had it’s own ambience, but the constant was Kevin’s modest demeanor and smart stories.

So it’s really an honor to work with American Short Fiction to publish his story “The Horror.” And I couldn’t be more pleased to offer his reading from that story as our first ASF podcast.

Interview with Monica McFawn– new fiction & sassy horse chat

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Monica’s fantastic story “Ornament and Crime” is up with American Short Fiction this month. I asked her a few questions and received the gems below. For more, go read the interview:

I used to think that this was sad—it must be terrible not to have the wherewithal or desire to make a nice space. It seemed like a missing sense. But as I was conceiving the story, I thought about how taste itself is a kind of a burden, a way of seeing that can bring both pleasure and agitation.

There’s a saying in architecture—truth to materials—that basically means that building elements should be left exposed. The beams are beautiful—why obscure them with a drop ceiling?

Eragon’s a bold, sassy, in-your-face type of horse.

Monica McFawn Interview

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1908 Olympics

What happened when the Olympics gave out medals for drawing, music, and literature?

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A lot has changed for the Olympics over the last century, mostly due to a shift away from amateur competitors to professional athletes. But entire disciplines have been tossed aside, too.

The Olympics from 1912 to 1952 weren’t just about sports, but art. Medals were given out for painting, sculpture, literature, music and architecture. The only caveat being that the pieces must be inspired by sport.

But a good deal of suspicion surrounded this outsider organization that suddenly began judging art. Songs were assessed by sheet music, leading to some confusion, and the medals were spotty—some years there were no winners at all, and in 1932, for instance, Josef Suk won silver for this song, though no first or third prizes were awarded.

 

 

In Amsterdam, 1928, the winning architect submitted his design for a completed project: that year’s Olympic stadium. That same year, a sketch of two rugby players won the gold in drawing.

 

A Frenchman and International Olympic Committee president Pierre de Coubertin, submitted his own poem “Ode to Sport” under a pseudonym, winning Germany a gold in mixed literature in 1912.

Following a hiatus during WWII, an American named Avery Brundage took charge. He was passionate about amateurism, and maintained that the purity of the event was threatened if it were to be “swayed by the weight of money.” Because artists often sold their pieces after the closing, the events never return.

Recently the Olympics have given the arts another try. Since 2004 the committee has given significant cash prizes for sculptures and graphic design. But still, no medals yet.

Some highlights of the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam:

From The Empire Project

Tristan da Cunha: the Remotest Island in the World

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Remotest island

From the nearest port in South Africa, it takes six days on a fishing boat to reach the small island of Tristan da Cunha. Fifteen hundred miles out into the South Atlantic, simple white homes with bright colored roofs sit in rows on green fields. A sign reads “Welcome to the remotest island,” and behind it Queen Mary’s Peak towers nearly 7,000 feet high.

The most remote inhabited island stayed mostly under the radar for two hundred years.

The island was first spotted by a Portuguese explorer in 1506, but it was 300 years before a permanent British settlement appeared. The island was originally annexed to prevent the French from rescuing Napoleon, who was then held prisoner on another Atlantic island called Saint Helena.

There are 277 inhabitants that share the land, and they also share their names. Nearly every resident is related to a handful of ancestors. Unfortunately, a large number of these founders suffered from asthma. This caused the rate of the disease to be extremely high among the population. But the community’s isolation proved invaluable for researchers, who eventually used islanders to determine the specific gene associated with the disease.

The volcano erupted in 1961, forcing the islanders from their quiet lives and into the media spotlight. Evacuated to Britain, where they became public curiosities. Reporters questioned them about cars, crime and television, which they first encountered after coming to Britain.

But after several years most decided to return home, where they continue to live out their lives.

Listen to the segment at KMUW.org

  1. Photo credit: Jon Tonks.

The Resurgence of Records

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It seems like every new technology tries its best to kill off the vinyl record.

Digital music is the furthest we’ve come from running needles through intricate grooves, but record orders keep coming in. Metal stamp plates continue using thousands of pounds of pressure to squeeze vinyl pellets into the iconic disks.

But the continued interest in records brings new experimentation.

The Swedish band Shout Out Louds pre-released their new record “Blue Ice” by sending out ten box sets including a bottle of water, a mold and instructions on making a proper ice record. It might ruin your turntable, but for a block of ice it sounds surprisingly good.

Videos of wooden records are making the rounds, too. A tech-savvy San Franciscan named Amanda Ghassaei has made beautiful laser-cut albums from bands like Joy Division and Radiohead.


If wood seems too easy, try wood glue. Here’s what a few layers sound like after they’ve been patiently poured into shape.

The German artist Bartholomäus Traubeck took this even further with his project called Years. Using a PlayStation Eye Camera, he was able to play a tree trunk by scanning the surface and sending that data to a computer program. This signal could be made to sound like anything, really, but the interaction with the rings of the tree and the resulting track is haunting.

Listen to the segment at [KMUW].