Yearly Archives: 2005

True crime writer Caitlin Rother

Here’s a recent Q&A I did with true crime writer Caitin Rother for The ASJA Monthly (asjamonthly.org), which I edit. Here it is. Her current book will be of special interest to the denizens of Orange County, CA, because it’s about a local murder that was much publicized in the news. In this Q&A, Rother talks about how she picks her subjects, how she does research, and how she writes.

My story “Message in a Bottle” just came out in The Big Click

IMG_3027So happy to post this link to my story, just out in The Big Click. If you read “Crazy for You” in USA noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series, this story takes place at the same converted motel as “Crazy for You.” New characters, same place, for a interconnected short story collection. Thanks to editor Seth Cadin for taking no time at all to decide he wanted it, and thanks to you for taking a look.

Why (not) to get an MFA

I am often asked what I think of MFAs and whether that’s the next natural step for writers who are serious about writing. This guy says it better than just about anyone (and thank you Ariella Jochai for sending me the link). Some will no doubt disagree with him (and me). MFAs are not what they use to be. If you can involve yourself with a writing community that you trust and have your work regularly critiqued, if you take part in literary events, and write a lot, and read a lot, you’ll basically be doing what you need to do to progress along the writing path. But don’t listen to me. Read Chris Brecheen’s blog. If you feel like it, post a comment here and let me know what you think.

LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov … a must read

lolita

“For me, a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books.” – Vladimir Nabokov, in “On a Book Entitled Lolita,” 11/12/56

When I mentioned that I was reading Lolita to a few friends and colleagues, they mostly gave me shuddered responses. The subject matter, of course, is dicey: Who wants to read about a pedophile? Especially those of us who have had close contact with pedophiles, it’s not a world we want to revisit.

Yet, Lolita is an iconic novel that sat on my shelf, one I never read, but thought I should read. I’d seen the movie years ago, but it had faded into the distant aisles of memory, with only images of its stars (Shelly Winters, James Mason, I think) hanging in front of the drawn curtains behind which stacked details from the film I could no longer remember.

Between novels, I’d pick up Lolita and give it a try, but pretty quickly it resumed its place on the shelf. And then last weekend I read an interview with Donna Tartt, whose new novel, The Goldfinch, just came out, in which she said, “My favourite book? Lolita. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll probably say something else.”

Done deal. I had to read Lolita. I ordered The Goldfinch and while I waited for it to arrive, I committed myself to Lolita.  As I read my 1989 copy, the Vanity Fair quote on the cover–“The only convincing love story of our century.”–dangled about.  I’d never thought of the novel as a love story, certainly no one had ever said as much, but it was, it certainly was.

The writing is perhaps the most gorgeous writing of any novel I’ve ever read. It’s not my favorite novel, but the writing is among the best, ever. Every writer in every genre should read Lolita, if for no other reason than to study from a master.

I’m excitedly onto The Goldfinch, now, and Lolita will resume its place on the shelf. I’ll no doubt be an evangelist for a time. Forgive me. That’s how it is when you read a book you know you’ll never forget.