SuperstitionReview staff are preparing for the launch of Issue 6. With just 4 weeks left in our publication process, Section Editors will finish reading submissions, and our web designer will publish the content on the magazine’s webpage. We are still accepting submissions at http://superstitionreview.submishmash.com/Submit until October 31.
Our Nonfiction Editors have confirmed works from Paul Lisicky, Madeleine Blais and Ira Sukrungruang. Paul Lisicky has been published in Five Points, The Seattle Review and Brevity. His pieces Lighten Up, It’s Summer and The Queen of It will be published in Issue 6. Madeleine Blais worked for the Miami Herald from 1979-1987 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. Her nonfiction essay entitled Another Martini, Another Lobster will be featured in our upcoming issue. Ira Sukrungruang is the author of Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy; his nonfiction essay The Wide Open Mouth will be published in Issue 6 of Superstition Review.
As a reminder, the Superstition Review Reading Series is featuring Melissa Pritchard. The reading is on Monday, November 8 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union Pima Auditorium on the Tempe campus.
On November 8th the Superstition Review Reading Series will feature Melissa Pritchard at Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus. Her reading will take place at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union’s Pima Auditorium. Pritchard has published several books such as Phoenix: A Novel, Late Bloomer and Devotedly, Virginia: The Life of Virginia Galvin Piper. She has also published her essays Finding Ashton and A Woman’s Garden, Sown in Blood in O, The Oprah Magazine, and The Collagist 4, respectively. I had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming reading and Pritchard’s latest novel The Odditorium.
Superstition Review: How is The Odditorium different from your other works?
Melissa Pritchard: The Odditorium is a collection of seven stories and a novella. Most are based on unusual or enigmatic historical figures, all look at the ways architecture exerts subtle or unsubtle pressures on human consciousness. So they are different in those ways from most of my previous stories. More than half of them do not approach narrative in a traditional or conventional way. I experiment in one story, “Watanya Cicilia,” with a pastiche of historical documents, songs, research and fiction, contrasting the Wild West Show and the real, genocidal story of the West. “The Hauser Variations,” based on the life of Kaspar Hauser, a German boy kept in an underground dungeon throughout his childhood and then mysteriously released into a second tragic fate, is based, in terms of narrative strategy, on Bach’s Goldberg Variations. In another story, “Patricide,” two sisters meet in a haunted hotel in Richmond, Virginia, its courtyard said to be a place where Edgar Allen Poe once played as a child. In this hotel, one of the sisters goes mad. So I was less interested in the traditional structure of plot and expected emotional release than in ethics, history, architecture and the effects of these upon both historically based and purely imagined characters.
SR: What has in been like working with Bellevue Literary Press?
MP: We are in the earliest phases; I accepted their offer to publish The Odditorium in January, 2012, and had a lengthy phone conversation with the publisher, Erika Goldman. I was so impressed with her aesthetic understanding of the collection, her excitement over the departures I had taken in terms of subject and form, I became convinced this was the proper home for these pieces. The BLP website is terrific, too, as is their history with Bellevue Hospital and New York University’s Medical Center. They publish elegant books at the nexus of art, science and medicine, and only publish two fiction titles a year. One of this year’s fiction titles, Tinkers, by Paul Harding, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, resulting in a flurry of attention for the press, with articles and interviews in The New York Times, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and other media venues. It’s a tiny press operating out of Bellevue Hospital, and they do terrific work. I come from a family of surgeons, doctors and nurses, and have always been fascinated by science, medicine and the history of medicine, so this could not be a better place for this book, as a number of the stories deal with medical histories, issues and questions.
SR: How has your time at ASU influenced your writing?
MP: Because my time to write is limited, I have to be disciplined. Sometimes I find it quite difficult, having time and energy to both write and teach. A fragile balance at best. On the other hand, teaching keeps me awake to current trends in literature, to remaining relevant to students year after year, and I am blessed to work with some incredibly gifted students, both graduates and undergraduates. I always say my students teach me in equal proportion to what I teach them. At least I feel that. Also, ASU has always been tremendously supportive of my outside work–traveling for research, traveling to conferences, traveling for reportage or for humanitarian work, which I also do. I am extremely grateful for the university’s support.
SR: What are you most looking forward to as the Superstition Review reading draws near?
MP: I have a background in theater, in acting, so I always love reading my work aloud in a public setting…for me, it is as close to performance as I come these days. I love an audience and I love hearing the piece I’ve chosen come alive in the room, seeing the reactions of the listeners, answering questions afterwards. It is truly a wonderful exchange. This past summer at The Glen, a writing workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, part of Seattle Pacific University’s MFA Program, I read my collection’s title story, “The Odditorium,” to a full house. It is a comic piece about Robert Ripley of Believe It or Not fame, and other audiences have responded with laughter and lively commentary afterwards. This audience was dead silent. The room was dark, I couldn’t see anyone. I kept reading, on and on, by the little glow from the podium light. Afterwards, no one even asked questions! I was horrified, sure I had failed, sure the story had been a failure…I wanted to crawl under a carpet had there been one. What I found out later, was that the story had gone over so well, people couldn’t react, they went silent–stunned. I won’t repeat the praises I later heard, but then I became overwhelmed the other direction–was my story really that good? So one never knows, and one always doubts. Also, I’m always a little nervous before a reading, hoping it goes well, that I don’t disappoint people who made the time and effort to come to my reading when there are dozens of other things for them to do….I am also always scared no one will show up, and thrilled to pieces when they do. Finally, I’m looking forward to meeting all the staff and interns at Superstition Review. They’ve even managed to arrange to have copies of A Public Space #11 mailed from New York to be available for sale on the night of the reading. (I’ll be reading a story, “Ecorche, The Flayed Man,” from that issue.)
SR: What are you currently working on creatively?
MP: I’m in between three pieces right now…a non-fiction piece about my miniature dachshund, Simon, a speech about Sr. Airman Ashton Goodman and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project that I will be giving at the Air Force Institute of Technology in December, and a novella set in 19th century Florence, Italy.
SR: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
MP: Read voraciously. Read the best work you can find. Read what interests you. Be observant. Practice empathy and compassion. Know that what you write ultimately reflects who you are. Write every day, even if only for an hour and be humble in your practice while aspiring to greatness. Be gentle with yourself, and always reward yourself in some small way after a writing session. Leave the writing at a place where you are eager to return the next day.
It’s finally here! Tomorrow, Superstition Review and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing are hosting a reading with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright!
Franz Wright, born in Austria and educated at Oberlin College, received the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his book of poetry Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. Critics have praised Wright for his poetry, exclaiming that “Wright oscillates between direct and evasive dictions, between the barroom floor and the arts club podium, from aphoristic aside to icily poetic abstraction.” The Boston Review has said of Wright’s poetry; “among the most honest, haunting, and human being written today.” Other works by Wright include Wheeling Motel, God’s Silence, The Beforelife, Going North in Winter, and many others.
The reading and book signing will be held on Tuesday, April 20th at the Pima Auditorium (Room 230) in the Memorial Union at 7:30 p.m.
The following day, April 21, a public craft Q&A will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Piper Writers House on the ASU Tempe campus.
Fiction Editor, Riki Meier, is a senior majoring in English Literature, part of The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Superstition Review: What do you do for SR?
Riki Meier: I’m a fiction editor, so I get to solicit work from authors I like, read submissions, and help determine which stories will be published in the next issue.
SR: How did you hear about or get involved with Superstition Review?
RM: I first heard about Superstition Review through WORD: Creative Writers @ ASU, another internship for which I’m serving, filling the role of President. As WORD’s President, I helped advertise the reading series to our members. I later learned through the Honors College listserv that Superstition Review was accepting applications for interns, and the opportunity just seemed too fantastic to pass up!
SR: What is your favorite section of SR?
RM: The Fiction section is my favorite, of course! Fiction is my passion. I love reading fiction (it’s a requirement for Literature majors) and I also write fiction as well.
SR: Who is your dream contributor to the journal?
RM: Oh–I have two dream contributors! There’s no way I could choose between them. I would absolutely love to be able to publish Toni Morrison or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They are both my literary idols.
SR: What job, other than your own, would you like to try out in the journal?
RM: Honestly, I’m so excited about my work this semester as fiction editor that I find it hard to consider any other positions at the journal!
SR: What are you most excited for in the upcoming issue?
RM: I am most excited about getting to contact my favorite authors and asking them to submit work. I think it’s a chance of a lifetime. When else will I be able to contact Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, etc., and ask them for a story or an interview? Just the thought of being able to interview someone like Marquez or Morrison is absolutely thrilling to me.
SR: What was the first book you remember falling in love with and what made it so special?
RM: Actually, the first thing I remember falling in love with when I was little was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” That story introduced me to magical realism, which I absolutely adore. It was also the first piece of literature that really got me thinking about larger social issues.
What are you currently reading?
RM: Right now I’m reading a lot of books on feminist theory, postcolonial theory, and cybercultural studies for research projects I’m working on. Other than my work at Superstition Review, I don’t have time to read anything else this semester, unfortunately. However, I have a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Carlos Fuentes’ The Death of Artemio Cruz piled up on my nightstand just waiting for the day after final exams!
SR: What would be your dream class to take at ASU? What would the title be and what would it cover?
RM: That’s easy! It’s an MFA class currently being taught at ASU by Alberto Rios called “Magical Realism.” Not only does the class study great works written in the magical realism tradition, but you get to learn magical realism writing from a great magical realism writer!
SR: What are your feelings on digital medium?
RM: Oh, that’s a loaded question for me as I’m studying an online book discussion group for one of my big research projects. New media allows for a new hybridity of virtual/physical, public/private, sacred/profane, work/play, and even male/female. It is through narrative discourse that discursive and cultural practices are formed and diffused throughout society, and these practices, in turn, work to form the framework within which identities are constructed. As media types and forms of expression evolves and extends to virtual environments, a deeper exploration of cybercultural studies is necessary to deconstruct and understand the new identities being formed.
I believe there is an intrinsic connection between literature studies and rhetoric studies, and that there is an evolution of literature and narrative in progress that is the result of technological advancements. Today, multiple narrative forms—including literature—are evolving and adapting to online and multimodal environments. I maintain we must study communities of practice to understand the impact these virtual environments have on narrative and on the people who produce and consume these narratives.