In a brief, but glowing, one line review, Barnes & Noble Review says some very nice things about my book (though they misspelled my name). Link here.
In twelve vivid stories, Ranbir Singh Sidhu paints tender, uproarious and incredibly insightful portraits of Indians living in America.
Harry Mathews has been a friend and supporter of my work for some years. He wrote a glorious blurb for the book, all heartfelt, for which I’m deeply grateful. One day, I’ll write a short piece on how we met, which was certainly amusing, and involved large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes. In the meantime, for those who don’t know his work, or want to know a little more about it, there’s a lovely essay by Blake Butler in Vice Magazine that sums up much of his work. Check it out here.
Easily my favorite of all Mathews’s work, and probably of all I’ve read from the Oulipo, The Journalist is the most concretely formulaic of his narrative concepts, but also his most expansive. Almost like a mirror to the practice found in 20 Lines a Day, the narrator of The Journalist begins writing down his thoughts about what happens to him every day. The act is meant to be a system of relief for the writer after having just come out of a nervous breakdown, but as the book goes on the narrator’s mania for his recording project grows and grows.
So last night the lovely and marvelous Lynne Tillman joined me in helping to celebrate the publication of GOOD INDIAN GIRLS at WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We had a great crowd, and a good conversation after we both read. All in all, a really lovely evening. Thanks to all who attended!
Melville letters are rare things, and this one is a fine example, pushy, in need of money, and at its heart a difficult, rebellious story which he was trying to sell called “The Two Temples.” Stephen J. Gertz tells the whole story over at The Booktryst.
And as a side note, the five dollars per printed page which HM asks for is more than I’ve ever gotten for the majority of my stories — and those are 1854 dollars!
Pittsfield May 9th Dear Sir -Herewith you have a manuscript.As it is short, and in time for your June number, therefore – in case it suits you to publish – you may as well send me your check for it at once, at the rate of $5 per printed page.- If it don’t suit, I must beg you to trouble yourself so far, as to dispatch it back to me, thro my brother, Allan Melville, No. 14 Wall Street.YoursH. Melville
A lovely new interview up over at W3Sidecar. Check it out here.
I can be stuck on a story for years—actually many of the stories included here were written in part, left unfinished, and then returned to years later to finish. Where that final push comes from I don’t know, except that time is mysterious, it allows connections to be made that otherwise wouldn’t have, and it allows a much deeper immersion into a character—someone I might have casually created without any clear goal in mind—to develop and emerge.
If you’re in New York City next Tuesday night, come out to a reading from GOOD INDIAN GIRLS at WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I’ll be reading with the marvelous Lynne Tillman. Details here.
7 PM, WORD Bookstore, 126 Franklin St, Brooklyn.
Read an extended excerpt from the title story over at The Aerogram.
That night she dreamed of a naked old man in a cowboy hat hopping cross-legged from one feathery cloud to another while his knees streamed blood and his limp penis flopped menacingly between his hairy thighs. The dream must mean something and she told herself to write it down and think on it, though she never did, and a week later, trying to recall it, all she could remember was a floating cowboy hat taunting her from the heavens. The memory held an erotic charge, though why, Lovedeep could not say.
In my view, one of the central purposes of art is to unsettle, and to destabilize our own fixed notions of who we are, and who our fellow humans are. If, after having read this collection, the ground is a little more unsteady under the reader’s feet, then I’ve done my job. There’s something of the natural provocateur in me, and I get bored when everyone is going along nicely and not questioning the larger structures of their own lives. So I do hope that it provokes, and that it reaches those people who are at the moment sitting a little too comfortably in their own lives.
Over at her Intermittent Visitors site, the marvelous poet and blogger Joanne Merriam has a brief interview with me up. What will you learn? That I’m a messy writer who hates getting out of bed, thinks you should ignore all writing advice, and oh yeah, still an Alasdair Gray fanboy after all these years. Take a look here. And check out her small publishing house, Upper Boot Books, here.
What is your writing process?
Messy and undisciplined, with no clear schedules. I write in bed when I can, and I often try and get away and write while traveling, where I can keep the laptop next to my head, wake, sit up with some pillows behind my back and pull the computer onto my lap and get immediately to work, often still half-asleep and remembering dreams.
Over at The Story Prize blog, I have a guest post up. Check it out here.
In presenting deeply conflicted characters, and sometimes unpleasant characters, I guess, in hindsight, I was looking for ways to broaden the emotional landscape of much of so-called contemporary Indian American fiction—though perhaps more accurately I was reacting to what felt like a strangled emotional territory. And also to make, in my own small way, a larger claim on the universality of experience, and that it doesn’t have to born out of exhausted tropes— the newly arrived immigrant, the clash of cultures, the relatively narrow emotional bandwidth of adapting to American middle class life.