25 November 2009

Short Story Accepted in ZYZZYVA

It's official! I finally got my first short story accepted by a west coast literary journal! I got my contract in the mail today from Howard Junker + just found out that my short story, "Sixty-Seven Dollars for My Favorite Dictator," about a crazy + wonderful Peruvian family in Chicago, is going to be published in the Spring issue of ZYZZYVA . The beautiful thing is, I just sent HJ that story last week. But in all fairness, I'd workshopped it in Aimee Bender's class + then revised it several times. But still, how rad is that?

I've been submitting stories to ZYZZYVA since I first heard of it in Portland, Oregon in late 2002 where the journal has quite a following, and for good reason. It's one of the best journals in the West Coast + probably one of the top 15-20 literary journals in the whole country. I'm pretty sure the first thing I submitted was a very drafty version of "City of Sand" years before it was ready for print + was sad when HJ didn't write any feedback on my rejection letter. The rumor used to be that Howard Junker commented on every story, which the rejection note even commented on. Later on, I'd cheat and send ZYZZYVA stories every Christmas I was with my mom in Solana Beach for a month (since the journal only accepts writing by West Coast writers). Anyway, seven years later, now that I'm living in LA + working on my PhD + working with amazing writers + building my weight up, so to speak, I finally got a story accepted, sent in good faith, of all things. Ah, perseverance + karma: that cosmic cocktail. Anyway, be on the lookout for my story, coming achew in the Spring. Holla!

17 November 2009

Isabel Allende Reading

LB + I went to Isabel Allende's reading at SC tonight + I have to say that she was everything I had ever hoped for in author. By that I mean she was:

1. Engagée
2. Passionate
3. Political in the service of humanity
4. Smart + strong
5. Deeply human, vulnerable + personal
6. Moving
7. Intriguing
8. Unapologetic
9. Openly self-critical + playful
10. Inspiring

In a world filled to capacity with team-playing fiction writers who mostly work at universities as tenured faculty, it was such a relief, such an extraordinary pleasure to listen to a famous writer speak boldly about what is most beautiful + most troubling in this world. She was critical, spunky, powerful, delightful, honest, inspiring, emotional at times but also so deeply human--Isabel Allende was everything that literary fiction writers aren't, can't + don't want to be + that's why I fucking adored her. She was a writer not living nor obsessed with the writerly world. She was free, the very opposite of diplomatic or glib. It was like she was channeling the spirits of her family into her words. It was part reading, part exorcism.

Maybe there's still hope for us yet. . .

01 November 2009

Halloween in LA

Today was epic:

1. Met up with Keith + Alex. We drove to Los Feliz, watched half of the SC game in this dark, off-the-radar bar where a guy thanked Alex for playing a country song on the jukebox that was almost awful but not quite

2. Went to Lisa's house, met the family, watched the Trojans get destroyed by Oregon--boo!--talked with Fox + her husband Yale, whose Kentucky accent got stronger + stronger the drunker her got (the culprit: Maker's). By the the time we'd left Lisa's place, Theis (from Denmark) + Yale (from the Republic of Kentucky) had made a united pact of hicks, then all of us claimed we were going to do a road trip to a rodeo on the southern border of California that Alex somehow brainwashed us into signing up for. Then, fuck, I dunno: everyone was making drunk plans to go to Denmark to visit Theis in Copenhagen + to drive to Baja California + rent palapas. It sort of got out of hand. . .

3. Then, we drove to Silver Lake + parked on a 90-degree street + went to this two-house party that two of Alex's friends were hosting. I felt like I was in a movie, like the kind where Ralph Macchio gets jumped by a group of angry Cobracans who are all a little taller, a little cooler + way more wealthy: there were hundreds of people there, all in variously committed costumes, many of them getting down to 80's music + 90's rap. We saw geishas, a dictator, Melanie Daniels with little birds attached to her shoulders, ninjas, maids, a priest, a grunge dude, a fake (real?) cholo with a fake (real?) beard, lots of grim reapers, demons + cat ladies (one with a whip), a guy in a chicken outfit, Olympians, a robot, a rocket, Conan the Barbarian, a frog, a large pickle, Abraham Lincoln, a break dancer, Princess Lea, roller derby girls, a wide assortment of ghouls + zombies (several from "Thriller"), a few insects, a number of schoolgirls (just another pretext for sluttiness, but I'm not complaining), a chainsaw psychopath (complete with fake chainsaw), the Joker, batgirl + a lot of rif-raf too. Strangely enough, Keith + I just happened to wearing very similar-looking burgundy/red soccer zip-ups + dark colored pants (totally accidental but unforgivable too) + the only black dude I saw at the party (besides Keith) walked up to us + said: yo, you guys are like B-boys, right? + we paused for five long seconds + then were like: yeeeeeah, that's what we are. That's exactly what we are. At least I got to dance to an ODB song with Lisa, that was kinda fun

4. Maybe one of the most classic things to do in LA: eat Mexican food (for the second time that night, by the way) at 3:am at El Gran Burrito. Theis asked me what it meant + I was like: um, it means the great burrito. But my vegan burrito was rad. And though the salsa counter both delighted/frightened me (tried really hard not to think about Hep C + disease vectors), when you're starving + it's late + you can't drink anymore, this joint is awesome. If the (very cheap) food doesn't win you over + my burrito was $3.50, by the way, then the people-watching will. We saw a bunch of Asian Heidis dressed in leiderhosen (they looked kinda hot, to be honest), two transvestites (one dressed in a thong), some high school kids, a few fake cholos (real?), a bunch of guys dressed as superheros, several Latino families out for a late snack + some girls dressed as servant girls. It was awesome, man. Here's the salsa bar in all of its amazing glory; so much color + spice. Need I say more?