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In the spring of 1959, the Dalai Lama fled the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, beginning a trying journey over the treacherous terrain of the Himalayas in search of safety. On March 31st, he crossed the border into India, where he was welcomed with refuge and asylum. Meanwhile, on that same day in 1959, Lincoln, NE, was hit with strong thunderstorms and high winds topping out at 20 mph while the editors at Prairie Schooner worked tirelessly on the Spring Issue, which included work by one of Nebraska’s own, Dan Jaffe.
You might have heard the controversy surrounding novelist Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest book, The Buried Giant. People seem confused about what it is supposed to be – fantasy, allegory, literary, or all three – and while many reviewers praise and seem to respect the book, few claim to love it. I mention The Buried Giant only to say that if you have never read Ishiguro’s work and have been turned off by these reviews, you should really pick up a copy of his last published novel, Never Let Me Go (2005; Vintage Books).
[WARNING: This post contains a SPOILER regarding the central plot point of the novel (sorry, but I can’t think of a way to talk about the book without mentioning it). Continue reading at your own risk.]
Emily Schultz’s first novel, Joyland was published in 2006 by a small press (ECW). In 2013, Stephen King also published a novel called Joyland. Because his book was initially published in paperback only—not as an ebook—several readers bought Schultz’s book by mistake. As a result, Schultz received a few negative Amazon reviews but, on the plus side, a spike in sales and a sweet royalty check. Schultz chronicles how she spent the royalty money at Spending the Stephen King Money. Schultz got car repairs, a Macbook Air, and some new books out of the deal.
“I’ve had this sort of ongoing romance with the subjunctive . . . to imagine this possible future that didn’t look like anything you’d seen in the world around you.” That’s how Julie Marie Wade describes her interest in memoir in “Family Matters,” Episode 18 of Air Schooner. I like that: the romance of the subjunctive. That’s a real pleasure of the imagination, or a real nightmare, to set up a scenario and follow it to its furthest conclusion. Family matters present surely the biggest daydreaming minefield: it’s so easy to go back to petty conflicts, or strained relationships, or whatever, and conjecture other possibilities. In the episode, we hear Sharon Olds do this, too, in “I Go Back to May 1937,” which for me is essentially an episode of The Twilight Zone.
This post is part of our Lost Writer Wednesdays blog series, an eight-week series and companion to NETNebraska’s Lost Writers of the Plains radio programming. Each week, we’ll spotlight long-forgotten writers once published in the early days of Prairie Schooner. For the full multi-media experience, download the iBook in the iTunes store.
by Alex Douglas
Born in 1898 in Kansas, Dorothy Thomas grew up as one of ten children to a simple minister and his wife. After the death of her father, Thomas and the rest of her family relocated to Nebraska where she took the role as breadwinner for her family and obtained her teaching certificate at the age of sixteen. It was through her position as a teacher that Thomas was able to come up with the storyline of “The Steckley Girls,” launching her somewhat controversial career of writing.
Like the narrator of her newest novel—like Chantel Acevedo herself—Acevedo’s grandmother was a storyteller. Acevedo explains in a feature from the Latin Post that her grandmother inspired Acevedo to tell her own stories and showed her how to use the language of narrative. The Distant Marvels (Europa Editions), Acevedo’s newest novel, comes out in April. It follows Maria Sirena, a storyteller by trade: she tells stories aloud as her fellow workers labor in a cigar factory. After becoming sequestered with seven other women following Hurricane Flora, one of the deadliest hurricanes in history, Sirena threads the story of her own life with the tale of Cuba’s history in an effort to entertain her fellow survivors.
Yesterday I ate some chocolate, Dove-brand dark chocolate with almonds. I opened the purple foil and popped it into my mouth; beneath the chocolate lay a secret inscription. “Feed your sense of anticipation,” it read. What? Feed my what? Feed my sense of anticipation. Presumably the chocolate wrapper urges me to give myself something exciting, or, better, something both exciting and vaguely luxurious to which to look forward, like, presumably, more Dove chocolate. Or feed, indeed, my already anxiety-prone mind with…more anxiety? Sounds terrific. I’ll accidentally send a gossipy message to the subject of the gossip. I’ll delay working on a paper until the night before it’s due. I’ll take the wrong exit off the highway a half-hour before I’m due to arrive somewhere. And then I’ll think: How do I get out of this mess? I’ll certainly anticipate something.
This post is part of an ongoing series of blog posts on the theme of Women and the Global Imagination. In our Winter 2014 issue Alicia Ostriker curated a poetry portfolio on this theme, and we were so struck by its contents that we wanted to keep the dialog surronding this theme going on our blog. Viola Allo's essay considers the power of a global imagination, our collective ability to better care for women, to build a world where women and girls matter. We hope her words resonate with you.
The Chibok Girls as Our Imaginary Sisters and Daughters
On the night of April 14th of 2014, a government boarding school in the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria was attacked by members of the Islamic fundamentalist (terrorist) group Boko Haram.
The novel featured this week, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (2003; McClelland and Stewart), is unique in that it is part of a trilogy: the MaddAddam Trilogy. The sequels are The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013). I have not yet had a chance to read these sequels, but Oryx and Crake definitely left me hungry for more, and I can’t wait to devote time to them over the summer. Also, rumor has it that the books are being adapted into an HBO television series by Darren Aronofsky.
In our Winter 2014 issue Alicia Ostriker curated a poetry portfolio on Women and the Global Imagination, and we were so struck by its contents that we wanted to keep the dialog surronding this theme going on our blog. In her essay, Allison Williams explores cross-cultural difference and its effects on both creativity and productivity. We hope you enjoy reading. To read more on this theme, visit our store and buy or Winter 2014 issue (print or ebook), or become a subscriber to Prairie Schooner today.