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July 2012

The Limits of Discipline

Dispatches from PS Blog Editor Claire Harlan Orsi

Have you seen the new ballet documentary, First Position? It’s great. You watch, utterly enraptured, as five extremely talented young dancers compete in an international competition for awards/scholarships and/or positions at a company. You see them sweat, suffer physically and emotionally and sacrifice their time (and the time of their parents) to the pursuit of their chosen art. Spoiler: they all succeed! Hard work and sacrifice beget success!

Around the Office: Marianne Kunkel

Short interviews with Prairie Schooner editors and staff members.

Marianne Kunkel is the Managing Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Ph.D. student in poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a specialization in women’s and gender studies. Her poems have appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, River Styx, and elsewhere, and her chapbook, The Laughing Game, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.


First Job

PS reader Vanessa Blakeslee remembers writing her way through her first summer job

The summer before I entered ninth grade, my parents purchased a local landmark just south of the Poconos called Hilltop Drive-In—-not a movie theatre, but the kind of place where customers line up to order hot dogs and sundaes at sliding windows. I spent the months leading up to my fourteenth birthday learning how to stack loops of soft serve ice cream atop cones, jot orders, count change. Long lines snaked out to the parking lot at night; my peers and I darted from the cash registers to the sundae station, arms and t-shirts sticky with the fine mist of milkshake spray, the air stuffy from the lack of A/C and the bubbling fryers that churned up pierogies and French fries. I had my first job, one that would show me all the merits and drawbacks of punching a time clock and sweating for the pay which was handed out every two weeks.

Thoughts on Comic-Con

This is the sixth installment of an ongoing series written for the blog by Richard Graham. Richard is an associate professor and media services librarian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studies the educational use of comics and serves as the film and art history liaison. His posts examine UNL’s, Nebraska’s, and the larger literary world’s connections with the comics medium.

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


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.