Monday, October 16, 2017

The Whole World at Once has Crossed the Ocean: New Review

Writer, editor, and teacher, John Richard Kenny lives over in Dublin, Ireland and has published a review of The Whole World at Once (Vandalia Press/West Virginia UP 2017). And what a review. Glad I woke up today:

"This is an astonishing collection, beautifully written, heartrending, and deeply affecting."

Read the full review here:
https://johnrichardkenny.com/2017/10/12/book-review-the-whole-world-at-once-by-erin-pringle/


Friday, October 13, 2017

Wares and Words at Spokane Zine Fest 2017

Sewing the cover design for digging
I am so very excited to take part in the Spokane Zine Fest this year. Spokane Zine Fest is a day-long event in which people creating zines, printing with small presses, and selling chapbooks and other handmade word art gather up and share their work with the community, and much of the work, if not all, is for sale. So, basically, the most awesome event ever.

As long as I've been making stories, I've been making little books to put them in--so, I mean, let's go back all the way to age three? Four? I know I have a copy of the book somewhere, as my mother just sent it the other day or month. Therefore, you can imagine my delight!--my absolute delight!--when I learned of the festival and then learned I could have a table at it. 

Delightful!

While I will have the more traditionally printed copies of my books for sale, The Floating Order, The Whole World at Once, and the two story chapbooks from The Head and the Hand and Awst----that didn't seem quite enough. My rumbling brain rumbled. And as it rumbled, I began to imagine handmade ways to take part. And then I began making a mental list of supplies. And yesterday, I started printing and cutting and pressing the pedal of the sewing-machine.


Now, I'm happy to reveal some of the results that I've made, and will be for sale at my table. 

1. A Mourning Story 
This is a newly written piece made especially for the Zine Fest. It hasn't been published. I've printed it on transparent vellum and quilted that to the image of a crazy quilt that's housed in the Indianapolis Museum of Art and from 1885. So, the story, the image, the sisters in the story, and the writer are Midwestern. I really like how this turned out. 

Close-up of one quilted corner of A Mourning Story

Close-up of a quilted corner of another quilted
version of A Mourning Story
2. Digging
Digging is one of my favorite stories, and definitely one of my best read-aloud stories. I wrote this in San Marcos, Texas, originally published it with Lake Effect, and included it in my first story collection, The Floating Order (Two Ravens Press 2009). The history of the story nearly contains the history of my writing career. The story is fairy tale set within a war zone, in which only two children remain alive.

Covers for the story "digging" before tying loose ends
First page of the story "digging"

3. Why Jimmy
The story received second-place in the Austin Chronicle Story Contest, years ago. This is the other story that I read aloud when I'm asked to do so because of the narrator's captivating and energetic voice. The story also appears in The Floating Order. It follows a child's recollections of how she and her cousin Jimmy came to live with their grandparents, and how it happened that her cousin melted to the roof of the house.


Cover of the story Why Jimmy
First page of Why Jimmy; pages are stitched into the cover 





4. Trolls
This is one of my lost stories, in that while it was published (Whistling Shade 2007), I didn't include it in The Floating Order, and just left it to the wind, and the wind and time took care of tending it until now. This seems like a good opportunity to bring its life back to awareness. One day, a soldier appears at the narrator's house, as he is being pursued by trolls.
Production line

Cover of trolls

First page of Trolls, book complete and story stitched into cover


In sleepless and grand conclusion, I look forward to meeting everyone tomorrow and the experience of participating in the festival. (My own table! My stitchery!) Come by for a visit and to purchase my wares and words for your favorite people, including yourself.
three chapbooks: digging, trolls, and why jimmy
made by erin pringle
Measurements:
Digging - 4x6ish
Why Jimmy - 5x7ish
Trolls - 4x6ish




Event Details
Spokane Zine Fest 2017
at The Bartlett (228 West Sprague, Spokane, WA)
11 AM - 5 PM
Saturday, October 14
Free and open to the public: you and you and you and you, too





Thursday, October 12, 2017

Grief as Fractured Prism: New Interview with Michael Noll at Read to Write Stories

My broken stained glass (CC)

Read to Write Stories is a twice-weekly blog that provides writing exercises and interviews with contemporary writers. It is the virtual living room where page-storytellers gather to discuss what they're up to, why, and the craft behind the words on the page. And then everyone leaves with a new writing exercise to ensure that the tradition of printed storytelling continues.

This week, I'm super lucky to be the writer in the living room with Michael Noll.

The story under discussion is "How the Sun Burns Among Hills of Rock and Pebble," which is the first story in The Whole World at Once. Finalist for a Kore Short Fiction Award and a Pushcart nominee, the story was originally published in minnesota review, then as a chapbook by The Head & the Hand Press. It follows a sister's disappearance and the sister who is left.

From interview:
Erin: All these stories are written in the world of death, the mourning of it, the attempt to stop it, the happening of it, and the grief following it. Each death is different in how it’s mourned, which I didn’t know, but now I do, and so as I would try to show grief, how it works. But one story wasn’t enough to sing grief or end mine. 

Read to Write Stories will soon be available as a print book, with new interviews and exercises for the curious writer (and writing student). If you enjoyed the interview and exercise, please let Michael knowhttps://www.facebook.com/Read-to-Write-Stories-435606919843085/ 




Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I Love My Local Letterpress Artist: TypeBee Printshop

Thanks to Breanna White and crew over at TypeBee Printshop for these wonderful business cards. They are made on an old, working letter-press in Post Falls, Idaho, situated in the warehouse behind DOMA Coffee. In fact, if you love DOMA coffee, and bought it in a bag, guess who printed the bag. TypeBee Printshop.



I'd originally learned about Breanna and TypeBee from an article about her that ran in Spokane's weekly, The Inlander. As soon as I read it, I wanted to meet her because she went to school in Illinois, was an artist, interesting words came out of her mouth, and luckily, she was nearby. It took about a year before I had a good reason to email her, beyond a fan letter, which I couldn't write out of the awkward. But once I met her, I did! And then I got to tour her shop, see the wedding invitations, business holiday giveaways, broadsides, calendars, posters, prints, and more that she makes.

Black Lives Matter letters laid out
for pressing for Spokane's MLK parade. The
type is from MLK's era.
Letterpress cabinet where the different type is stored. 

Close up of the blocks that she has used for different projects.


Breanna White running the press

Breanna White running the press


video

Breanna also has a desk press that she uses for demonstrations and workshops that she teaches at the local library and around town, and so she showed my son Henry how to work the small press.


     

It was a wonderful day, and now, time has passed, and I have these really elegant business cards, a great story to go with them, and better than all of that, a connection to another artist making her way in the world, within the Inland Northwest.

Learn more about Breanna White and TypeBee here:




And if you have a project in mind, 
I know she'll be awesome to work with.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Meet Me in Missoula

Fact and Fiction Bookstore, Missoula, MT (link to origin site for picture)



Northwestern writers will soon leave their own cities and towns to pour into Missoula, Montana to read, meet, talk, learn, and generally celebrate all things literary at The Montana Book Festival. I will be one of those writers.

The festival runs Wednesday, September 27th through October 1st and will host a number of interesting panels, readings, and activities that writers, readers, and community members can participate in. Rather than taking place in one main area, the festival will be popping up in local bookstores, art galleries, bars, event centers, hotels, and more. Sort of like a flash mob everyone expects.


Aside from other places, chairs, or quiet corners, here's where I'll most definitely be:

Saturday (9/30/17) 
12:30 PM 
Panel: "Embracing the Unhappy Ending: Why Sad Stories Matter"
Panelists: Donna Miscolta, Wendy Oleson, Erin Pringle, and Melissa Stephenson
Where? Fact and Fiction Bookstore220 N. Higgins Avenue

2:00 PM
Reading: "A View of The Whole World at Once"
Polly Buckingham and I will read from our new story collections.
Where? Fact and Fiction Bookstore, 220 N. Higgins Avenue


I hope to see you there, or to run into you at any of the other cool events. I'll be the writer chasing alongside her child who's riding his balance bike down the sidewalk. To view the daily festival schedule, including evening events (!), visit the festival website or go directly to the schedule here.

Montana Book Festival 2017: website



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fuse Spokane Book Club: Barefoot Dogs in October

Please join the Fuse Spokane Book Club this October to discuss Barefoot Dogs by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho. Stark and beautiful, Barefoot Dogs is collection of stories that follows a wealthy Mexican family forced into exile after the patriarch is kidnapped. 

Details:
Oct. 11, 2017
6 PM-8 PM
Spokane Library (downtown), floor 2, Level-Up Classroom
Free and open to the public

Book Details:


More information about the book itself: https://booksarenotaluxury.com/tag/barefoot-dogs/

About the group: The Fuse Book Club is an arm of the Immigration and Inclusion Action Team; we meet the second Wednesday of every month to discuss books by writers of color. Fuse Washington is the largest progressive organization in the state. Learn more about Fuse Washington.



Please join us!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In My Defense: Waiting Years to Visit Riverside State Park

Swinging Bridge at Riverside State Park
photograph by Erin Pringle, CC license

Never an avid trail walker, I do remember walking as a child with my aunt and uncle, grandmother and mother in Wesselman Park, in Evansville, Indiana where my mother had grown up and we visited once or twice a year. Then there was Fox Ridge, which is any easy drive from Casey, IL, where I grew up, and so my mother and I went once a year, or every other. My sister liked walking trails, and took her family when she thought of it, and she was good at thinking of it.

The time I spent with wet leaves, unidentifiable wildflowers, and leaf-covered skies, came less from nature parks and more from bicycling a mile down the rural road to Ruley's, which, may not be how it's spelled but was how it was pronounced.

Rue-lee's.

Roolie was the sound of the name of the old man who once owned the tree-covered property, or maybe his was just the house closest to the woods where my brothers took me to sled then roam, and later find old vases, part of cups--the bits of people's ghosts they left behind or purposely dumped. I never have known. Which is probably why broken things in the ground tend to appear in most every story I write.

Riverside Wildflowers
photograph by Erin Pringle, CC license
But even for my limited adventures, I didn't roam that much. I was not a Tom Sawyer, not an Anne of Green Gables. Though I did read both and loved Anne. Not so much her love of nature but her love of high romance and her wish for the glamorous-never that wasn't her life. Now that I think of it, most of the books I read, and loved, were set in nature. Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, My Side of the Mountain, and all the books by Mary Downing Hahn. .

Though this tendency toward reading rural settings may not be a proclivity so much as impossibility of escaping as a child reader since there has long been a symbolic connection between the child and nature, and a tendency to romanticize one as symbolic of the other. Isn't Rousseau's Emile a much healthier and better boy the closer his knees are to crawling through the field? And the enchantment of Kate Greenaway's children seems not fully possible without their flowers and green grass. Dorothy and Alice both leave countrysides to more crowded places, and so those places are more nightmarish than ideal. A warning, then, of leaving nature. Or perhaps, like myself, I read a vast number of children's books by writers with social anxiety, and so of course the books are set in nature. They were simply set where people were not.

River view from Riverside State Park
Erin Pringle, CC license
So, maybe I did spend a great deal of time in nature, it was just the imagined sort, and so, compelling in a way the cornfields and country roads around me were not. Sometimes, I would be passenger to my father's long country drives. He carried a gun and camera everywhere he went--moreso the camera than the gun, but he shot with both, and while I assume he took more pleasure from the photograph than the death, I can't say. He collected as many cameras as he did guns. But when he needed peace and calm, it was to the country roads he went. He'd grown up rural, too. More rural than me. And while I'm not his age yet, the age he was when I was a child, I am closer than I have ever been, and have begun feeling, more deeply, the urges to find a country road and follow it. And a raw belief that I'll feel better once I do, the more free, the more myself, the more in the world I will feel, instead of hovering outside of it, pushed there, perhaps, by the awareness of others.

The thing about living far from the place where one grew up is feeling somewhat lost all the time. Not in a pervasive way, but it hovers, that feeling. Whereas my faraway hometown and the entire area of it is in my bones. I know every road to home from every direction, and as far as two and three towns away, if not further. The way animals know where their dens are, or at least the way they seem to. The longing for that knowing hovers in me, too. Perhaps both feelings will fade as time moves on. I somehow doubt it. Maybe I don't wish for it, either, the fading.

But I began all of this to share with you that I finally visited Riverside Park after nearly a decade of living in the Northwest and a meager ten minutes from it, and I assume you would wonder why it took me so long. Because I've never been much of a trail taker. Because I've never known how to see the beauty of nature as more interesting than people. Because I lived smack in the middle of it instead of in an urban place that might send me running to a trail faster. Because I didn't fit in my hometown, and so lots of people assumed I'd be happier in a much different place, and much different meant a city. And so I thought I'd be happy in a city, too, and still have a tendency to avoid nature rather run to it--after years of blaming it for a life that didn't seem to suit me, even though it was mine.

That is to say, I wish I had visited years ago. I fell so in love with the place and so immediately that the only way I can figure out why it took me so long is to tell you this story.

It felt good to be there. I liked the rocks in my path and under the path and along the path. I liked the sound of the rocks against the river. The ducks floating by and quacking as though grumbling. The Vs of geese honking from here to there. The groups of women on horses following ribbons tied here and there to tree branches. The lone woman on a horse, now and then. The great weight of horses. The strangers I encountered now and then who said Good Morning with their mouths and eyes. Watching my son exclaim over the bridge, the spiderwebs on the bridge, the stairs leading up from the bridge to the trails. His eagerness to stop every few steps to examine another rock and decide whether it would be a good rock to pocket, as he has a fondness for pocketing rocks. My partner moving steadily beside, ahead, or behind me, her face against the light, her love for the river there, though we didn't speak of it. The silence. The stones under the water. The pebbles that looked like the pebbles I grew up with. Round and gray, soft. The smell of nature that I remember. The new smell that is a Northwestern one, of so many pine needles on top of so many more.

Also, I took a camera, and I think I will again.


River, Riverside State Park
Erin Pringle, CC license



Sunlight in Riverside State Park
Erin Pringle, CC license


My Face
Nature selfie, CC license




Sunday, September 3, 2017

Five Poems on Memory: New work up in 5x5 Literary Journal

It's nearly the end of summer, and I'm about to return to writing in the mornings. My mind is having a difficult time with my body since my mind is attempting to jump forward in time so that writing can begin, while my body is stuck in clock-time. Or maybe my mind is, too, and my wishes are what are jumping forward. Regardless, it is a good time to have new work published as a sort of summoning.

Thus, I'm pleased to announce I have new pieces from my memoir project available in the new issue of 5x5 Literary Journal. You can read the pieces (for free, no less) by following this link on the technological device of your choice: https://issuu.com/5x5literarymag/docs/5x5_issue_5



You can also follow 5x5 on Facebook (click) and explore their website here: https://5x5litmag.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

New Review of The Whole World at Once: "Each story is beautiful in its heartbreaking simplicity and raw emotion"

Mattoon, Illinois is about a forty-minute drive from where I grew up, and its newspaper, the Journal Gazette & Times Courier covers news and views from the city and surrounding rural areas. It's close enough to where I grew up that I remember walking through its antique malls as a child with my older brothers; in my teenage years, I spent many a late night roaming the aisles of its super Walmart, and in college, I sat in the beautiful, but crumbling (at that time), train station as I waited for the train to take me to Chicago for college and later with my best friend for a trip to New Orleans.

Casey, Illinois is where I grew up, but Mattoon, Illinois is part of the landscape of my life, memories, and imagination, which is the landscape where my stories live. And so I am SO pleased to have someone from the area not only read the book but also incredibly honored that she found it worthwhile on all counts: from theme, content, to the style itself. Reviewer Elena Pruitt writes . . .
"People who grew up in rural areas will feel an eerie sense of stories they've grown up hearing or stories they've lived, a sense that this could happen or has happened here, and yet the pervasive thread of grief opens these stories up to anyone." 
Continue reading the review here. Then, share it with all of your friends, Midwestern or not. :)

"Review: Author weaves stories showing depth of human experience of grief" by Elena Pruitt, Journal Gazette & Times Courier.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Giant Nerd Books in Spokane now carries The Whole World at Once

Spokane's Giant Nerd Books on Monroe Street, now carries signed copies of The Whole World at Once. Have you been to this wonderful bookstore? Giant Nerd Books has the lure of discovery from the moment you walk in, from its mid-century reading chairs to its tall, tall ceilings--perfect for its ingredients: books, books, books, artwork, books, books, comics, and more books. (They have all the Oz books, from the early 1900s. All. The. Oz. Books.)

Giant Nerd is definitely a place to check out if you haven't, whether you're out to discover The Whole World at Once or any world between two covers. Learn more about the store and its owner, Nathan, from The Spokesman Reviewhttp://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/mar/23/giant-nerd-books-is-a-book-hunters-passion-project/

Thanks to all local bookstores that support our reading habits. And to community members who support our local bookstores.

*
The Whole World at Once is a collection of stories that trace rural landscapes and the surreal experiences of living, beauty, and breathing in a world after loss. A girl goes missing from the county fair, and her sister is still searching for her a year later; a soldier returns home from war only to plant landmines in the backyard; a widower tries to dig up his wife's garden in an effort to save all he has left. (2017, West Virginia University Press/Vandalia Press). 

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Whole World at Once: Book Giveaway on LibraryThing

Library Thing Logo that says Library Thing: What's on your shelf?

This is just a quick reminder for those readers who don't follow my Facebook or Twitter (hint, hint) that there is one day left to enter to win a copy of The Whole World at Once from Library Thing. Enter by July 18th, 2017 (7:58 PM) for your chance to have luck draw your name to receive this book in your mailbox one soon summer day.

The Whole World at Once is a collection of stories that revolve around loss and take place in the strange, placeless rural Midwest.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Whole World at Once at Montana Book Festival

Pencil drawing of a shack whose form is made of books.
Got the good word that I'll be at the 2017 Montana Book Festival in Missoula. So, mark your calendars, friends.

September 27-October 1

I'll provide more information as I get it. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

First Friday Spokane: Hypothesis at the Richmond Art Collective

Last night, we took part in Spokane's monthly First Friday art tour by visiting the show Hypothesis held by Spokane's Richmond Art Collective. Our friend Ira Gardner is a member of the collective and was showing some of his recent photography, so we wanted to learn what his mind has been up to behind the lens.

The Richmond Art Collective uses a small gallery in the space behind Spaceman Coffee, on Sprague. Above the gallery are art studios where the artists do their work. The show was well attended, and the space added a heat and energy to the experience of meeting the artists' work, which ranged from photography to sculpture to installation to painting. The arts potluck nature of the gathering provided a little something for everyone and couldn't help, I imagine, but cause interesting discussions afterward. Next to each piece was a short background of the work and what the artist is exploring. These were written well, and helped attach the artist's questioning experience in a way that was interesting and not didactic or patronizing. Ira said that one of the ideas behind the show, or driving it, is for the artists to share their work with each other and every three months, share their work again, and start affecting each other's work by this sharing. Hypothesis. Transformation. How? In what way? How fundamental these words are to art and seemed clearly underlying the work chosen for the show. It will be interesting to see how the work starts intersecting as time passes because the artists all seem unlike one another, not in their questioning, but in the way they question through their mediums.

Ira Gardner showed two pieces, both black and white still-lifes of a leaf and pine branch. The lighting and placement of the pieces transformed the pieces into a kind of metal sculpture that blurred both the medium and the viewer's relationship to nature. Are we looking at a photograph of a sculpture of a leaf or a leaf? Is there a difference? Is the leaf both art object and sculpture? It made me wonder about meditative space, and what kind of mental silence art automatically creates by the fact of itself for the viewer. Perhaps something like the white space on a page for poets, the darkness that falls between scenes of a film, or the silence of the ellipses that Samuel Beckett used to his advantage and turned into a tool of transformation.

This quiet space that art itself brings with it had been on my mind because of the conversation that happened on the drive to the gallery. We were explaining to our three-year old why people would be more quiet than usual at the art gallery.
Why? he said.
Because, I said--trying to think it through myself--Because in our culture, people have a tendency to be quiet as a sign of reverence. Like in the library, people are quiet around the books because they appreciate the books. The books are important to them.
A few beats later, I remembered concentration. Everyone moving along the walls, looking and thinking.
And concentration, I said. We are quiet so we can think about what we are looking at.

And we were. Everyone moving around each other to get to the art. Stepping back, stepping forward. Our bodies turning into sculptures themselves that we moved around, giving each other space and silence, and the quiet goodness of seeing people we knew amidst the art, and then the space transforming somehow to allow us to speak, and then return to the meditative as we separated and became different versions of ourselves again. As though caught by light, made central in the eye of another, and then let go.




Richmond Art Collective
228 West Sprague
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RACSpokane/

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 30: The Whole World at Once at BookPeople in Austin, TX

Got my haircut today, packing tomorrow, and then I'll return to Texas where I lived for nearly a decade, all begun in 2003 when I moved to San Marcos to attend the MFA in Fiction program. So many of my favorite faces still in live in Texas, and I'll be happy to see them again and meet yours if our faces haven't met yet. I have a full heart. Let's pin our hearts to our sleeves and let them look at each other.

I'll read a few selections from The Whole World at Once, followed by a conversation with Owen Egerton. The event begins at 7 PM, this Friday, June 30. The event is free and so very welcoming to the public.

The photograph shows a marquee on an exterior stone wall above glass doors. It reads: Book People Presents with four author names and 6-30 Erin Pringle 7 PM
BookPeople Marquee, photo by Wendy Walker
(Used with permission)
BookPeople
603 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-5050
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/412524905801089

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fictions and Words in Austin, Austin, Austin, Texas! June 30, 2017 & July 1, 2017

BookPeople (photograph from BookPeople)
This is the wonderful week that I'm travelling to Austin to take part in writing-related affairs. On Friday, June 30 at 7 PM, I'll be reading at BookPeople, followed by a discussion with Owen Egerton about writing, grief, and my new book of beautiful, strange fictions, The Whole World at Once.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I'm joining a group of fine folk at the Agents and Editors Conference to discuss working with independent publishers. The Agents and Editors Conference is organized by The Writers' League of Texas.

Let's say goodbye to June and greet July together in the best of cities, Austin, Texas. And maybe dance and get a Texas tattoo and sing to the moon.


Friday, June 30
BookPeople
603 North Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/412524905801089
Free and open to the public

Saturday, July 1
Agents and Editors Conference
Hyatt Regency
208 Barton Springs Rd.
Austin, TX
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/170358963428943
Attendees must register to participate in this three-day conference.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Austin, Texas is the coolest place in the U.S.

The Whole World at Once at BookPeople
photograph by Laura Long
While also being the hottest. So, let's meet in the sweet, sweet air-conditioning of Austin's
wonderful bookstore, BookPeople.

Friday, June 30
7 PM

I'll read one or two selections from The Whole World at Once, followed by a live Q&A with Owen Egerton about the writing of the book, fictions, and more.

Please add me to your calendar. I'll love to see your face.

BookPeople
603 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-5050

Event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This June Thursday: Hugo House Reading, Seattle

If you're in the Seattle area tomorrow night (Thursday, 6/15), make plans to attend a wonderful evening of words presented by The Hugo House. The Hugo House is one of Seattle's best literary resources, providing writing space, lectures, events, and resources to community members as well as hosting near and far writers to keep the words flowing to and from the region.

Thursday's reading is at 7 PM and will feature four Washington writers: two poets, two fiction writers.

Address: 1021 Columbia Street, Seattle, WA 98104
Need directions? Click here.



Event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Magic and Win The Whole World at Once on Goodreads


"Lucky Horseshoe" by Hillary H via Flickr,
used under CC license
Because I grew up as pretty much an only child, with siblings decades older than me, I read books alone, and didn't really discuss them with anyone. And I loved to read. Loved the way the images moved through my mind, the whole experience--even going to the library itself was marvelous, and all the librarians knew me, of course. I don't remember talking with them about the books I was reading.

Maybe I stopped talking about books, or thought I shouldn't, when I checked out a teenage romance when I was in first grade, and the librarian informed me that the book didn't have any pictures.
I know, I said.
Or wanted to say.
Probably I said nothing.
But I checked it out on my mother's card or maybe, by then, my own yellow card. And I read it, and then refused to go into the "children's section" after that.

This eventually led to my belief that books were like these wonderful secrets made just for you. The idea of a book club is completely antithetical to my way of experiencing and thinking about books. Talking about books out loud somehow kills the magic. Why would anyone do it?

I am slowly understanding book clubs, but it still makes me nervous for someone to recommend a book to me or ask me what I'm reading.
Oh, you know, I'll say.
Stuff, I'll say.
Dead authors, I'll say. And Jack Kaulfus, I'll say. Which is true.

So, you probably already know about these giant, virtual book clubs, like LibraryThing or Goodreads. Goodreads is like the book-readers version of social networking. You can rate books, leave reviews, chat about books, recommend books to friends, attend Q&As with authors.

It's a terrifying place.

Unless part of your reading experience is a social one, which probably it is. And that's good, right? Because you and me, we both exist, and we both read. So, here's the deal for two lucky people, or two people who are chosen amid odds that they probably won't be chosen:

From June 7, 2017-July 4, 2017, you can visit Goodreads to enter to win one of two copies of The Whole World at Once.

To enter, follow this link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/239625

They encourage the two book winners to review the book that they win.
But I understand if that doesn't happen.
Because magic.









Monday, June 5, 2017

Meet Me in Hollywood, Kids

The New Short Fiction Series presents the L.A. Book Launch Party for The Whole World at Once
Photo by Hans Splinter, used under CC license

June 11, 7 PM
The Federal Bar
5303 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601

The Federal Bar,
North Hollywood
“Erin Pringle’s stories leave you no choice. They sing so gorgeously, break your heart so perfectly, that you’re forced to revise your understanding of loss, luck, and love.”Tom Noyes, author of Come by Here: A Novella and Stories

“Readers willing to immerse themselves in sorrow, and sometimes in narratives that twist and shimmer before taking definite shape, will find reflected in these stories the unsteady path of coming back to life—or not—after loss.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In these restless and relentless fictions, the unstoppable storyteller Erin Pringle is at it again. “It” being the most American of dramas—the endless conflict between mobility and stability."
Michael Martone, author of Michael Martone and Four for a Quarter

“There’s no writer working today who excites me more than Erin Pringle. Her stories stretch like planks off a cliff, past solid ground, offering breath-stealing views of grief, love, and mystery. I love this collection.”
Owen Egerton, author of The Book of Harold and writer and director of the thriller Follow

“A strikingly original collection. This book is poetic, yet has a deep sense of storytelling.”
Laura Long, author of Out of Peel Tree and editor of Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction and Poetry from West Virginia

Friday, June 2, 2017

Go to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA

Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA
(Photograph from ThirdPlaceBooks.com)
Last weekend, I read a few stories from The Whole World at Once at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. I hadn't been to the bookstore before, or Lake Forest Park, and I'm so glad for the experience. I should have taken more pictures.

The storefront is in a stripmall, which is visually deceiving because the inside is like this wonderful community building in which the bookstore takes up one side, and on the other is a food-court with a coffee-shop/bakery, BBQ place, and more. There are tables strewn about for eaters, readers, and a man who was drinking coffee while winding and unwinding yarn with clear intention and expertise. A children's play area is both close to the children's section of books and by the eating area, fortressed by tables where parents can eat while overseeing their children's imaginative play. In short, the bookstore is like an air-conditioned city center.

My son experiencing chess for the first time
Also, there exists a very large chess set perfect for anyone, and now that I've witnessed it, seems very necessary for teaching the moves of each of piece to an inquiring child.

The reading area itself was hidden in an intimate, cozy way amid the shelves, although the speaker system piped my voice throughout the store as I read. All the people working at the bookstore were kind and welcoming, and as I tend toward public shyness, I appreciated this very much.

And. So many books. So many. In only a brief amount of time, my offspring brought me a how-to guide on juggling, a book of Faulkner's letters, a John Wayne compendium, and a giftbox of what looked like anime graphic novels. Had there been more time, we could have easily spent a full morning here. After the reading, in the communal area outside the bookstore, a local band was playing dance music for a number of dancing couples and many more listeners.

If you're near Lake Forest Park, or near Seattle, go find yourself in Third Place Books. If you're a writer, this is a wonderful place to share your work. And if anyone needs help, ask for Lizzie.


The Whole World at Once (and my face)
at Third Place Books

Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE, #A101
Lake Forest Park WA 98155
Website: http://www.thirdplacebooks.com/lake-forest-park
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thirdplacelfp/
(Third Place Books has several other locations in the Seattle area, so check those out, too.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The End of Short Story Month: Read Eudora Welty's Collected Stories

Photograph from this article in the Library Journal
I live down the hill from a Free Little Library, and before I went to Texas for two weeks to save my flooded house, I stopped by the library to find a book. Usually, the books we choose from the library are children's books for our son, but on that particular day, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty sat there behind the small door.

That is not a pocket-book, my partner said, nodding at the book when she picked me up from the airport.

She was right. I guess people take light reading on the airplane. My light reading weighed a couple pounds, and might have counted as carry-on luggage had airport security felt like making an argument.

The copy of the book is large. Not just thick, but with large pages about two-hands tall. It was published a year near my birth year. Were I my mother, I would find this significant in a telling way. Because I'm a writer. Eudora Welty was a writer. We are women. We write stories. Continue the similarities necessary for symbolism, as you see fit.

But I'm not my mother, though I do share her tendency toward symbolism, so as I looked at the copyright page, I just imagined what my mother would say. Were Eudora born in 1913 like my grandmother, rather than in 1909, it would be easier to believe, rather than simply imagine, implications between numbers and lives.

Book cover in full black with red lettering for the title and gold lettering for the author's name. All letters in full capital letters.
Cover of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty
The copy is also water-damaged. Not so bad to interfere with the words, but clearly the book is
rippled. Perhaps left in a basement box. Perhaps a bottom shelf over so many years by a window that tended to be left open.

Inside the copy is the New York Times obituary of Eudora Welty, cut carefully out. It ran from one page to another, and both pages are here. In the margins of only a few stories is blue-ink cursive in a woman's hand, or at least the cursive is small and careful and reminds me of the cursive from the weekly letters my grandmother wrote to my mother.

It's a copy, then, that was not only bought, but also saved. A copy read through. A copy owned by a person who took time while she read. A teacher? Maybe. A student, surely at one time, to have a habit of writing in the margins.

All of this is important to me. I'm one of the history of people that believes the book is a sacred object, one in a line of people who has inherited the memory of when books were incredibly expensive, always rare, for only the wealthy, kept from the hands of the class of people that encircle the trunk of my family tree and reach out.

I can't help but feel romantic about the physicality of a book, this place where someone's thoughts wait to enter the thoughts of another, all without speaking. So intimate, this.

Well, not every book does this to me. Not every binding. I started examining the book after I started reading the stories and realizing how wonderful they are.

What took me so long to find her? I think I read an excerpt of her talking about writing, on growing up as a reader. I might have even taught it to a class of 101 students, years ago. I've read a few of her commonly anthologized stories, "A Worn Path," for example, but the anthology stories didn't strike me like these have. 

Regardless. This is an excellent book of stories. I'm five stories in, 50 pages out of over 600 pages. If I wait to suggest this book to you, several years will have passed. That's how I read now. When I find a collection that is awesome, I force it to last. For example, when I read Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, I waited a year before reading the very last story.

But I want to tell you about this book now. It is a strange book. Her writing reminds me of Flannery O'Connor, whose work I very much enjoy. And Harper Lee. Not just because she's Southern, or maybe also because of that. She also reminds me of Patricia Highsmith. And all the writers I like, do have a tendency to have lived in the South, and to gravitate toward depictions of the grotesque, the not-quite, the school of you-won't-believe-it-but-yes-life-is-like-this, with a twist of dark humor in the voice, always there, too. Writers who write about characters who live in poverty but whose lives are not the butt of jokes because of that. Characters whose lives didn't turn out as happy stories might. Characters who find themselves controlled by others who don't realize how they're controlling the lives of others. Female characters, in particular, caught in lives orchestrated by a history of gendered expectations--whether they realize this, fight this, or not. Usually, not, though the writer does.

Maybe I gravitate toward fiction written in the 1950s because my mother was born in 1939. Once, when I asked my mother about feminism, she said, Well, it was a surprise. I hadn't even considered it.

Anyway. You might enjoy Eudora Welty's stories, too. Today is the last day of National Short Story Month in the United States. A perfect way to celebrate is to find a copy of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty and enjoy the pages between now and next year's short-story month. I won't be done with them yet, but we can check in, then.
  • Find The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty in a public library near you by using WorldCat.org.
  • Purchase The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty in your local bookstore by using IndieBound.
  • Locate the nearest Free Little Library near you, and hope that you have a neighbor who left it there; or, leave your copy there when you're done with it.
  • And, Amazon, has a copy, too.
Or begin by reading my favorite story so far, "A Piece of News." Here is one of my favorite passages from it, in which the main character Ruby imagines her death after reading an article in the newspaper about her own death, or the death of a woman with the same name, or (so many overlapping possibilities):

[…] At once she was imagining herself dying. She would have a nightgown to lie in, and a bullet in her heart. Anyone could tell, to see her lying there with that deep expression about her mouth, how strange and terrible that would be. Underneath a brand-new nightgown her heart would be hurting with every beat, many times more than her toughened skin where Clyde slapped at her. Ruby began to cry softly, the way she would be crying from the extremity of pain; tears would run down in a little stream over the quilt. Clyde would be standing there above her, as he once looked, with his wild black hair hanging to his shoulders. He used to be very handsome and strong!
He would say, “Ruby, I done this to you.”
She would say—only a whisper—“That is the truth, Clyde—you done this to me.”
Then she would die; her life would stop right there.
She lay silently for a moment, composing her face into a look that would be beautiful, desirable, and dead.

(Excerpt from the story "A Piece of News" by Eudora Welty)