Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to work!

So, it's been a long and eventful summer. I left my post as publishing intern at Bitch Media (sniff), travelled back to Australia to see my family (yay! and sniff), and landed a position at the literary journal Portland Review as their first ever book review editor (yay!).

(This guy is from the front page of Portland Review's tumblr).

Summer reading highlights have included Wild by Cheryl Strayed - an excellent memoir about transformation, both spiritually and physically by the hands of nature (specifically the Pacific Crest Trail, hiked by a young Strayed with no backpacking experience - motivated by a divorce and the death of her mother).

 I saw Strayed, a local author, read at Powell's Books when Wild was first released, then I saw her book everywhere. And it was not just an association thing. She got some serious marketing $$ set aside from her publisher (Knopf). She was featured in Vogue to Outdoor magazine, on the IndieNext list, and Oprah Winfrey even re-launched her book club. Reese Witherspoon bought the film rights to star as Strayed in the movie version (which was distracting as I read the book - I kept picturing Witherspoon. But she is a good fit for the funny yet serious determined and strong clueless hiker Strayed depicts herself as). I'm not trying to be cynical about the marketing $$; this book deserves this attention. As a book publishing student who took a 'bookselling' class last quarter I just payed close attention to what a big publisher can do to help a book, well, sell.

Another memoir I read by a local author was Lidia Yuknavitch's The Chronology of Water (Hawthorne Books). Unlike Wild which depicted a certain chunk of time in the author's life (the hike), The Chronology of Water depicts scenes from childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in a fluid, non-linear, and metaphorical way, with water being the 'element' that ties the scenes together. This technique interests me more in the mechanics of writing creative nonfiction as it is how I seem to approach mine.  Yet this memoir, because of this technique, was a little more difficult to read. Also, Yuknavitch, though fluid and metaphorical, speaks directly and clearly about harrowing subjects - rape, incest, birthing a stillborn child, as well as titillating ones (some HOT sex scenes including one with, um KATHY ACKER!). The Chronology of Water is more of a writer's book - one that would be enjoyed by those interested in literature, transgression, the writer's inner life, and technique, where as Wild is more of straight up memoir I would buy for friends and family who don't read a lot (but should!). But I don't want to compare these books- they are both amazing in completely different ways. I just bought Yuknavitch's first novel, Dora: A Headcase which I will be writing about soon.

So, I thought that Labor Day would be a good time to get back to work, and get this blog going again. Thanks for reading! :)

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