Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Briefly Noted

A monthly book review in brief from the staff of Prairie Schooner.

Volume 1, Issue 2. July 2012

Wheeler on Roberto Bolaño's The Third Reich | Dawes on Sadie Jones' The Outcast | Lipscomb on Rachel Maddow's Drift | Orsi on Sara Levine's Treasure Island!!!


Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer. The Third Reich. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

Reviewed by Theodore Wheeler

"An Absurdist with a Sentimental Streak"

Timothy Schaffert pays tribute to the late Gerry Shapiro, whose story "The Last of the Cowboy Poets" appears in the current issue

Gerry Shapiro was an absurdist with a sentimental streak. His fiction never warped so far into fantasia as the literary vaudeville of S.J. Perelman and Woody Allen’s early New Yorker stories, but he did practice his own brand of mordant slapstick. His urban and suburban worlds could almost pass for normal, and most readers can likely relate to his characters’ various predicaments--and, indeed, many of his finest stories were inspired by his own personal experience. What results from this mix of portraiture and comic distortion is not unlike Inge Morath’s series of photographs depicting everyday people in everyday poses, but wearing paper bags over their heads--paper bags with cartoon faces drawn by Saul Steinberg. The effect is sad and lackadaisical, charming and distressing, arrestingly artificial and profoundly human, all at once.

More Congratulations for Richard Graham!

Richard Graham, our estimable comics guest blogger, has received another nomination from one of the most prestigious awards in the comic industry, a Harvey Award! Earlier this year he also received an Eisner Nomination. Richard's book, Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s, which showcases the federal government's use of comics to disseminate information to the public, is on the ballot along with such luminaries as Alan Moore. You can find more information about the award here.

The Curious Case of Thomas Coryate, Renaissance Traveler to India

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts by guest contributor Nabina Das on Indian books and authors.

Trying to read a concentrated academic tome called In Defiance of Time by Dr. Angus Vine is perhaps not quite the way to relax, especially on a writing residency in bonnie Scotland, which is more like a retreat. But once I stumble upon the chapter “A Peripatetic Education: Antiquarian Travellers and the Apodemic Arts,” my interest is heightened by the accounts of a gentleman traveler of antiquarian interests. Not to be put off by the rather long and mysterious title of the chapter, further readings about an Englishman’s travels across continents spur some refreshing thoughts related to writing itself.

Four Questions for Fleda Brown

PS Managing Editor Marianne Kunkel interviews Brown on her poems featured in the latest issue

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Manhunt: An Unlikely Moral Catharsis

This is the fifth in a series of guest posts by Hali Sofala and Eric Jones on the connections between gaming (video and otherwise) and the literary.

The Complications of Writing from Life

On Fictional Memoirs, Reality Fiction, and more

At the recent Nebraska Summer Writer’s Conference I took a workshop called “Two Truths and a Lie,” the object of which was to explore the intersections between memoir and fiction, self-writing and other-writing, autobiography and the novel…you get the point. It was taught by Michelle Tea, herself the author of several hybrid books that she referred to as “fictional memoirs,” a term I don’t think I’d heard before. Tea’s books, which are amazing sort of punk queer coming of age narratives, are all deeply informed by her own history but slide between non-fiction and fiction in representing specific characters and situations.

Why You'll Love It

In this series, a Senior Reader talks about what drew them to a current Prairie Schooner story

In the first installment of this series, PS Senior Fiction Reader Robert Fuglei writes about the story "Bath," by Robert J. Stevens which appears in the current issue (Summer 2012).

P(rivate)S(paces) w/ Garth Risk Hallberg

in which Prairie Schooner contributors give us a glimpse into their writing spaces and sensibilities.
Garth Risk Hallberg

Garth Risk Hallberg is the author of the novella A Field Guide to the North American Family. His stories and essays have been published in Best New American Voices, The New York Times Magazine, Prairie Schooner, New York, Glimmer Train, Slate, Canteen, and The Pinch, as well as at The Millions, where he’s a contributing editor. A 2008 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Fiction, Garth teaches at Fordham University and Sarah Lawrence College.

Dispatches from the Nebraska Summer Writer's Conference

A week after NSWC's conclusion, PS staff reflect on the experience

From Arden Eli Hill, PS Editorial Assistant:
The Nebraska Summer Writing Conference was lots of fun and helpful for pulling me out of my summer writing slump. Michelle Tea's Two Truths and a Lie workshop was a great way to start each day. Tea was energetic, engaging, and knowledgeable. I was also impressed by the quality of work of my fellow participants and hope to read more of their writing in the future. There are many events I'm glad that I attended, in particular "Identity and the Writing Process," a panel which focused on writers of color. Panelist Carleen Brice's sense of humor and ability to get straight to the heart of audience questions was a key part of the panel's appeal. The conference went by too quickly and I'm already looking forward to next year!

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