Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Twelve Days Until Book Release: The Countdown Begins

Today begins the official twelve-day countdown to the book release party for my newest story collection Unexpected Weather Events. And so I bring to you 12 blow-mold snowmen, as one of the stories in the new collection features two snowmen decorations that have been in the story's family for several generations:













Hope to see you in twelve days at Shadle Library in Spokane, 2 PM (October 1). 

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Sunday, September 10, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee 9/10/23

 

Poems:

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๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: https://www.facebook.com/erintpringle 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (8/27/23)

 

Poems:
  • What is This Air Changing, This Warm Aura, These Threads of Air Vibrating Rows of People by Ariel Yelen (from Poetry/March 2022)
  • Contentment by RรผลŸtรผ Onur, trans by Hรผseyin Alhas and UlaลŸ ร–zgรผn (from Poetry/March 2022)
  • A Great Nowhere by ร–ykรผ Tekten (from Poetry/April 2022)
  • Tablets VI by Dunya Mikhail (from Poetry/April 2022)

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๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: https://www.facebook.com/erintpringle 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Unexpected Book Events: Release Party at Shadle Library, Spokane


Recently, a number of Spokane libraries underwent large renovations. The main structure may have not lost its main walls, but enough has changed that it's difficult to walk in and remember the original library. Our neighborhood library, Shadle, was one of those. Library construction is likely happening in many places outside of Spokane--adapting buildings to the changing needs of the communities they serve. Our new Shadle Library features a large indoor play area whose accompanying shrieks of delight reverberate from wall to shelf, and would have led every long-ago librarian to faint dead. Children whirling down slides in a library would have been something akin to a librarian's version of Dante's inferno.

Books now sit on portable shelving, here and there stand self-serve kiosks that provide check-out services. Of course, the days of card catalogs are long gone (I'll never get over that), but now the catalog is not only on the computers but also on large touch-screens that are attached to the ends of a few bookshelves. Checking in a book means setting it on a conveyer belt that whips it out of sight and registers your accomplishment on a screen. 

In fact, on Sundays, only a security guard mans Shadle Library, and everyone is left to use the library without the steadfast eye of a librarian. It's bizarre to me, but according to the information board, it's a cost-cutting solution, and according to my son, nothing that calls for surprise.

The previous version of the Shadle library had one meeting room that I remember. Maybe two, but I'm hard-pressed to conjure it. Now, it has several, and one very large one--all with the functionality of a university classroom. Fancy ceiling projectors, drop-down screens, microphones, surround-sound speakers, a bevy of moveable tables and chairs on wheels, as well as a computer set-up that connects to a laptop (yours or the library's) to control all of these gadgets. 

Shadle Library Event Room

Like a perfectly created conference room without stuffy carpet or generically interesting art, the large event room in Shadle Library looks more like a modernist theatre, but with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out into the surrounding park. 

Not only that but library cardholders can also use these event rooms for free. (There are a few exceptions.)

So, as soon as I knew that Unexpected Book Events would appear on October first, I reserved the large event room in Shadle Library for the book-release party. And as I have done the past three book releases, I went about creating the posters, hanging them around town, and adding the event to the various online calendars that residents and visitors sometimes check when they need activity ideas. 

Imagine my complete and utter surprise when months later, a librarian emailed me out of the blue and brought it to my attention that the book-release party could be an official library event, which would add it to the library's public event calendar and event newsletter. It also came with the added support of a person to set up the room. A person to set up the room? And with an hour of leeway included, which means I don't have to pull my wagon of things into the library six minutes before the start of the release party and set the room up with the speed of magic or Mary Poppins.

And that above graphic? All the library's doing. I didn't have to find free online design programs to do it, enter my email for a 30-day trial, spend an hour inserting images and then another hour after the program crashed my browser. I didn't have to send the order through FedEx, only to pick up my order and discover that the black for inserted graphics was a lighter black than the background black. It certainly didn't look like that on my screen. (Okay, I had already done this for the book-release party, but the above graphic I didn't do.)

Just. 

Wow.

I would also like to note that I'm billed as a "local author," which I haven't been before. I've lived here for thirteen years, but I don't think that you can decide when you become "local." 

My first book came out when I was in my sixth year living in Texas--three of those as a graduate student, which renders a status that makes one feel more transient than local. The Whole World at Once came out seven years into my living in Spokane, but five of those years I'd spent raising a small child, which meant I knew the neighbors, Bernie Sanders supporters, and our child's preschool teachers. 

As someone who came out of an MFA program in Texas and not the nearby MFA program, I lived not on the far outskirts of the local writer community but positively out in the boonies--all of my writing people were back in Austin. 

In 2020, Hezada! I Miss You marked ten years of living here, but the whole novel is set in the rural Midwest, which makes claiming "local writer" status seem . . . silly, even if I physically wrote the whole book in Spokane. 

But now, friends, it's 2023. Probably half of the stories in Unexpected Weather Events are set in the Northwest. The other part, of course, is in that rural Midwest that haunts all my work.

All of this is to say that the BOOK RELEASE EXTRAVAGANZA for Unexpected Weather Events will occur on October 1st, 2023 at 2 PM. Shadle Library, Spokane. And you're absolutely invited.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Sharma Shields on Unexpected Weather Events: "Nostalgia falls here like snow, death like a lightning strike"

Sharma Shields has been reading books again (I don't think she stops), and she's writing about those books in the most recent issue of Trending Northwest. Lucky for me, she has included Unexpected Weather Events in her list. About it, she writes, "In her latest fiction collection, Pringle writes with mesmerizing compassion and clarity about suicide, queer identity, grief, and family. Nostalgia falls here like snow, death like a lightning strike, hope like a break in an evening storm. This is fiction that paints—gorgeously—the full complexity and emotional range of our lives as humans."


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Monday, August 21, 2023

Yes, You Should Read The Full House and the Empty House by LK James

Yes, You Will Enjoy The Full House and the Empty House by LK James

    Almost every thrift store has a section of shelves brimming over with children's books. It's an easy section to get lost in--both as a book and as a reader. Many of the fictional titles, if not most, are the purposely didactic (and often pedantic) stories that teach a lesson or wrap a moral in dull writing and unimaginative illustrations. Of course, children and adults do need reminded to check their emotions, to pursue kindness, to be aware of bullies, and to use tissues and employ polite language--though often the books are so terribly created that one hopes that the readers will learn such valuable lessons and cultural values elsewhere. 
    But then, and reader you know exactly what I mean, and then there are the wildly interesting children's books that capture something in the story--something like catching an unknown creature after dark and under a marvelously patterned sheet--something that is not fully identifiable and, thus, compelling. We see this, of course, in Shaun Tan's works, such as Rules of Summer, or in Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Tan's originality and interest come in the collision of meaning that occurs between language and illustration--things are never what they seem, and what they seem is often difficult to pinpoint. Sendak's charm and depth often come from the drawing style itself and how unreasonable or unpredictable behavior (of children, adults, or both) can lead to a world that functions by similarly mysterious rules. The pleasure from reading Tan or Sendak does not come from a surprise ending or the resonance of characters' behaviors finding punishment or praise as often happens in fairy tales, but in the experience of the story and the sort of hushed undertones of darkness and mystery that pulse between the pages.
    LK James is not Shaun Tan, and she's not Maurice Sendak, and she's thankfully unlike many other children's books creators. She is fully LK James, and The Full House and the Empty House is both her first children's book and our first chance as readers to begin learning what we mean when we say an LK James' children's book. 
    I first learned of LK James when she illustrated my novel Hezada! I Miss You. At the time, she was designing all of Awst Press's titles, and so it was a matter of fact that she would do mine. The result was exactly right, if you as me, and there are innumerable authors who do not share that sentiment about their own covers. So pleased was I with the process and result, when Awst chose to publish my next book Unexpected Weather Events, even though LK James was no longer designing their books, I asked if she could, and luckily, both Awst and she agreed. And, again, I'm thrilled by her cover. 
    Recently, I asked her if I could interview her, and she agreed. Look for that post in the coming months. But it wasn't until I began thinking of the questions and spending time at her website looking at her work that I learned that she'd written a children's book. Or that she'd gone to school for English Literature before studying visual art and working as such an artist.
    Long story short, I ordered The Full House and the Empty House, and now I have it. 
    It does not take long to read. 
    One might find that to be an obvious statement; however, many children's books suffer from unnecessary text that distracts and detracts from the story, art, and experience. 
    The language of The Full House and the Empty House is minimal and right, which makes both the story and the illustrations receive more weight. All is precise. What happens in the story is not what turns the page but the sheet used to catch the aforementioned creature. Like with any well-told story, what makes The Full House and the Empty House so compelling comes from what the story asks us to wonder without providing any answer that fully satisfies. 
    Why is the full house so full? 
    What happens to empty a house so thoroughly? 
    Why is it that neither house holds humans, only the signs of humans--their lives and their absences--and yet both houses have no concern for their intended purposes or the people who do or do not live within them? 
    It was refreshing read a children's book that not only invited the eye to roam within the page, but one also with a storyline so deceivingly simple that the child listener will want to hear it again and again. One house is full, the other is not. One makes noise when it dances, the other does not. Each enjoys the sound of the other but neither suffers from wishing to be the other.
    The book is enjoyable read to oneself and I'd imagine a good book to dwell inside with a child listener. The conversation it invites will be an interesting one--What do you think our house would sound like if it danced? Why do you think each house is pleased by the other? --and any questions will allow reader and listener to experience the pleasure of sharing a book and experience together.        
    Published in 2019, just before COVID shut everyone away from bookstore and libraries, this book may have suffered for it. But! This is absolutely a book that needs rescued from the long, littered beach where children's books wash up month after month, wave after wave, year after year.  
 
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Sunday, August 20, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (August 20, 2023)

 

Today's poems are both by Tony Hoagland from his book Donkey Gospel.

  • Hearing Aid as Memory
  • Arrows

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๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: https://www.facebook.com/erintpringle 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events on KYRS with Neal and Erin


KYRS's Neal and Erin
Six years ago, Neal and I met for the first time at Spokane's KYRS Community Radio on the occasion of the forthcoming publication of The Whole World at Once. We became friends within that hour interview, and I renewed my love of radio and  returned to his radio show to talk about books or to tell stories. Not long after, his co-host Heather left the show, and I took her empty chair. For the next four years, Neal and I co-hosted an interview show on KYRS called Personally Speaking where we met many of the actors, artists, and musicians working in the Spokane area. A few years ago, we reached the show's conclusion; we swore to meet up at least once a month for a drink and conversation but have not juggled that very well. 

So, when I knew my next book was slated for publication, I sent him the manuscript, and he asked when we should do the interview. Neal continues to volunteer at KYRS, hosting a weekly music show, and helping in the recent relocation of the station from the community building to the newly renovated central library.

I had not seen the new studio yet, and it's much shinier than the former studio with its exposed brick walls, ghostly sightings, and long history. It's probably not even worth comparing the spaces, in the same way one gets nowhere comparing a vintage store to Target. 

In its new location, the station's accessibility has allowed it to take on an even more present community presence, as it now functions as a gateway for locals to learn about broadcasting, use the attached studios for recording, and other outreach opportunities. Whereas before, a code was needed to enter the door to the three flights of stairs to the studio, now you can simply walk into the library, go to the third floor, and sit outside the glass window and watch a radio show in progress.

Today was my first interview about Unexpected Weather Events, and I'm lucky that it was with Neal since we have a flow to our conversation that makes for a good practice for future interviews. I'm also thankful to have such a good reader in Neal, for it's always different talking with someone who has read your writing and who enjoys reading, too.

We had an interesting conversation about houses and their function in my stories, I read one story aloud ("A Game of Telephone"), and we deliberated over the dread that comes into every story fairly early.

I hope that you had a chance to tune in and that you've marked your calendar to attend the book release on October 1st at Shadle Library, 2 PM. 

(The show aired live and a recording will be available in the future. I'll post that when the time comes.)

In sum, the new book was a good excuse to get together with Neal, the new KYRS studio is shiny and bright, we enjoyed a coffee at Atticus afterward, and we may return to the studio sooner than later, as a new radio series could be in the works. 

Stay tuned.  

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Inside the KYRS studio,
photo by Erin Pringle


 

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Reading The Member of the Wedding on Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (8/13/23)

Yes, You Should Absolutely Read The Member of the Wedding

Unlike all the other Sundays, today I'm reading prose because I find myself away from home and poetry. Please enjoy the beginning of Carson McCullers' novella, The Member of the Wedding. It's an absolutely fantastic book that I began a few weeks ago and quickly devoured. If you haven't read it, I hope that this serves as a gateway into the full book. It is definitely one of the best books I've ever read and one that I'll return to. The writing is thick and smart, wry and hilarious, deeply observant and packed with pitch-perfect sentences. 

The story takes place in the mid-century South and follows Frankie, a twelve-year old girl walking the tightrope into adulthood and the grim reality of such a balancing act. She lives with her widower father and spends her time with her younger cousin John Henry and her nanny/house-help Berenice. Frankie is finding herself less drawn to pastimes that used to take her whole summer, such as digging a swimming hole with neighborhood children or putting on shows in the back yard. 

Like Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Frankie is more interested in throwing knives than playing dolls, but as an older version of Scout, she's becoming more curious about the larger world, her place in it, and the town she's grown up in. When she learns that her eldest brother is to be married, she starts fantasizing about becoming a family with he and his bride after the wedding--despite receiving no invitation or even a gesture toward it. She decides that this will be her way out of town forever and into the world and goes about dreaming the dream until she has convinced herself of its truth in her attempts to convince others. 

She begins to experience the town and her home as though she will never return, and like the childhood she is leaving behind, she starts to feel both the loss and the excitement of living a different version of her life than she has until now.

Evidently, the novella became a movie only a few years after its 1946 publication (and again 50 years later), and was one of McCullers' best known or most heralded works--aside from The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

I so very much wish that I'd read McCullers before now, but I'm so happy and grateful to read her work now that I've cracked it open. Much like my experience first reading Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, I reveled in the discovery of every sentence and scene. McCullers is amazing. From the way she designs the telling of the story to her observations about the characters to the vivid, perfect details (from John Henry's quiet perfectionism to Berenice's blue glass eye and stories of her deceased husband to Frankie's meticulous pantomime pretending to be a jeweler in her father's store window). 

It's on-point, as the kids say. (Do they still say that?) 

Do yourself or your book-loving friend a favor and find a copy of The Member of the Wedding


 

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๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: https://www.facebook.com/erintpringle 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events: New Stories by Erin Pringle


๐Ÿ•ฎ 2024 ๐Ÿ•ฎ
APRIL
April 1: Casey, Illinois 
  • Hometown Reading and Book Signing
  • 2:00 PM (Central Time)
  • Casey Township Library (307 E. Main)
๐Ÿ•ฎ 2023 ๐Ÿ•ฎ
AUGUST
August 5: Virtual

OCTOBER
October 1: Spokane, WA
  • Book Release Party for Unexpected Weather Events
  • 2:00 PM
  • Shadle Library (2111 W. Wellesley Ave.)
October 19: Missoula, MT
October 26: Portland, OR
October 28: Olympia, WA
DECEMBER
December 14: Interview 
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