Monday, October 2, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events on Spokane's KPBX, Arts (P)review

I recently sat down with Karin Emry in the old Spokane fire station that now houses Spokane's KPBX. We talked about my new book, Unexpected Weather Events, and it was actually the first time I'd held a copy (her copy), so that was really lovely. I read from the book, talked about grief and the stories, as well as how I'm finding writing time these days. I didn't think to take a picture, but luckily, she remembered to record the discussion. She edited it down to a segment for this week's Arts (P)review. The recording will be available for a few weeks, so if you missed it, you can listen again: https://www.spokanepublicradio.org/show/thursday-arts-preview/2023-09-28/sep-28-2023-minecraft-at-the-mac-unexpected-weather-events-ewus-risograph-residency


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Sunday, October 1, 2023

How did that book release party go, Erin Pringle? Very well, thank you!

It's true! Unexpected Weather Events has been released into the world. The Shadle Library room was exactly right and beautiful; over sixty people attended, I read two stories with only one coughing fit (I'm recovering from a bad cold), and then my friend Neil Elwell and his friend Ken Danielson played wonderful music while people mingled, bought books, and I signed them. 

Thank you to everyone who came, and to everyone who considered it. And thank you to the Spokane Public Library and Sharma Shields for making the event an official library event and helping to publicize it.

This is a pretty nice place to live, I think. You people are swell.

(All photos and film below are by Sharma Shields.)








Music by Neil Elwell (guitar) and Ken Danielson (percussion)

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Couldn't attend? Let's find another time. Event calendar here: http://www.erinpringle.com/p/events.html

“Reading Unexpected Weather Events is like looking into a snow so mesmerizing and crystalline you are unable to turn away, at once illuminated and profoundly lost. They are stories of winter madness—troubling, tender, and hallucinatory—stories of connection and misconnection, of love and grief and isolation in the increasingly dangerous and tenuous reality of our contemporary condition.” — Polly Buckingham, author of The Expense of a View and The River People

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (October 1, 2023)

 

Poems:

  • Night Letter by Diane Thiel (from her book Resistance Fantasies)
  • Under Stars by Tess Gallagher (from her book Under Stars)
  • Ghosts by Jack Gilbert (grime his book The Great Fires)

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

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Unexpected Weather Events by Erin Pringle--now listed on Small Press Distribution (SPD)

If you have a favorite bookstore, please let them know about Unexpected Weather Events. The book is now up on the distributor website, which is where they’ll hunt it down:

https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781736765968/unexpected-weather-events.aspx

Your conversation might go like this:

You (approaching book counter): Oh my goodness I can’t find my favorite writer’s newest book on your shelves!! (Hands to cheeks for emphasis and bewilderment.)

Bookseller: Gracious me! How can that be? Let me help you. What’s his name?

You: Her name is Erin Pringle.

Bookseller: Thinking then typing.

You: Pringle like the potato chip.

Bookseller: Backspacing. More typing. Hmm. I can order it for you. It retails at $25.

You: Great! I’d much prefer to order it through your store than through [insert infamous online bookstore and seller of everything else].

Bookseller: Thanks so much for your support! 

You: I remember when a paperback cost 1.25.

Bookseller: Or even 5.99.

You: But bread was 10 cents.

Bookseller: And gasoline 99 cents/gallon.

You: My mother quit smoking when a pack cost 50 cents. Too rich for my blood, she said.

Bookseller: Nodding.

You: Thanks again for keeping culturally important spaces in the community.

Bookseller: Thanks for reading!

You and Bookseller start to dance together among the aisles, and others join.

(Curtain)

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Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (9/24/23)

 

Today I'm reading Anne Sexton's poem "The Maiden Without Hands" from her collection Transformations.

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

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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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Mczyzniejewski on The Whole World at Once: "Pringle writes haunting, stark narratives that send her characters out to investigate"

My time with Erin Pringle’s stories in The Whole World at Once was well spent. Pringle writes haunting, stark narratives that send her characters out to investigate what they can’t understand, be it a snowy ravine, the death of another, or the imminent death of the self. Curiosity is a solid trigger for any story, and Pringle handles her sleuths with an adept hand, getting close enough to look over their shoulder, though not close enough that we know their names. Mortality, and their existential relationship with it, makes for some tremendous pondering. - Michael Mczyzniejewski from his review of The Whole World at Once

I'm not sure how I missed sharing this wonderful review of The Whole World at Once, my last collection of stories. This review came out in 2020, three years after the book's publication and a few months after my novel Hezada! I Miss You was published (which corresponded with the pandemic). 

I remember reading the review and messaging Michael about it. I maybe even promised to send him a copy of Hezada! but I don't think I did. I guess that was the way of life back then. Covid affecting our physical environments led to a shift in how we stored our memories. Or how I did, anyway. 

Regardless, he said some super awesome words about the stories, and it's damn fine luck when your book falls into the hands of someone who can spin such words and wants to.

It's easy to forget that writing a book is for someone to read--to absorb the feelings and thoughts that you carefully created over so many hours and years and find the experience worthwhile in a way that affirms both your experiences of reality. 

Now it's three years since he posted his review, and I'm back at the point of marketing a new book of stories (Unexpected Weather Events); I'm at the Sisyphus part--at the bottom of the hill, pushing the ten-ton boulder called Publicity up Nobody-Cares hill, yelling about it every step so that readers will emerge from hiding and start whisking the book away. If I'm lucky, a reader will find these new stories worthwhile, too. It's a magnificent bonus when awesome words appear a few years later. 

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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Ann Tweedy reads Erin Pringle's Unexpected Weather Events

You've likely heard me read a number of poems by Ann Tweedy on Wake to Words. I happily met her work when we read together at a Hugo House reading, and the two of us later read at Last Word Books in Olympia, WA. Now she lives in the Dakotas, so I'll need to make a trek out there to read with her again. One of the best parts of our writership or frienwrit is the support we give each other's work. Although it's not typical for fiction writers to have poets blurb their books, I'm not typical and neither is Ann. So, when I asked if she'd read Unexpected Weather Events and blurb it, she said yes. I had no idea, of course, that she would write something as beautiful as this, and I'm absolutely honored and humbled. Because Ann Tweedy tells the truth, make no mistake.

๐Ÿ•ฎ
Ann Tweedy, on UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS

In prose rich in metaphor, Pringle masterfully and hauntingly narrates the interior lives of children and adults facing life’s greatest struggles. Pringle’s characters are inspiring and courageous as they encounter unthinkable catastrophes. 

In these stories, we see from the eyes of children watching a parent die from cancer, witnessing a parent’s ongoing struggle with mental illness and the debilitating effects of medication, and experiencing a holocaust-like mass killing of residents in their town. We see adult characters who escaped horrific childhoods question the viability of their own happy lives to the point that everything begins to crumble. 

Pringle’s stories deftly and unsentimentally address heartbreaking and sometimes taboo topics like the grief of miscarriage and the destructive force of homophobia. Often, the lines between reality and delusion blur, and the reader becomes unnervingly ensnared in the protagonist’s confusion. 

Many of the stories are quintessentially Midwestern, infused with wide cornfields and an ethos of practicality and personal limitation that is brought into stark relief by Pringle’s uncritical presentation. Pringle’s many gifts as a writer are in full force here. Particularly striking is Pringle’s ability to powerfully and convincingly evoke a child’s point of view. As always, Pringle’s work will break you open and at the same time fortify you.

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Monday, August 7, 2023

Yes, you should read Lord of the Flies by William Golding (even if you've lived under a rock for the past 50 years)

Upon finishing Lord of the Flies,
barefooted
Lord of the Flies by William Golding came into the world in 1954, and while I am typically not a fan of the question regarding whether a book can live past its epoch, I repeatedly wondered this while reading. Is the book of its time, such that it can't fully reach us in our present? Or am I uniquely numbed to terror, listening nightly to true murder stories, such that I am not shocked to find a group of choir boys descend into chaos, murder, and tyranny?

A few years ago, I bought this copy of Lord of the Flies in one of those weak moments in a bookstore when you find yourself at a display shelf of new covers on old books, and decide that yes, you need this book, despite the fact that you can locate it in every library and used bookstore in the same city.

(I somehow missed every class and professor who assigned this book, yet found myself reading The Great Gatsby three or four times. This is neither here nor there but simply the power-ball situation that is syllabi book lists.) 

And this week, I finally read it. The book has saturated our culture to the point that nothing was surprising about the story or its pointed questioning of the world. When left to our own devices, child or adult, will some kind of internal, ethical compass save us from our human desire for power? What in us gravitates toward reasoning, democracy, and community? What external forces prevent us from descending into an irrational death spiral in which we take out anyone who seems weak as a way to solidify the group?

The answer in Lord of the Flies is that a few people will have an ethical, well-meaning compass and follow it, no matter the cost to themselves, but for the most part, everyone else will kill you first and worry about it later, if at all.

It was, of course, novel for Golding to situate such questions within the world of children; much of the story's horror comes from the collision of the murderous adult world with the idealized perception of children as innately good, prone to kindness, and perfectly innocent. 

Lord of the Flies begins with a plane crash on a remote island, with a couple dozen surviving children--perhaps members of a church or boys' choir. No adults survive the crash, and so the remaining children eventually gather, begin trying to create a livable situation and tend an ever-burning fire such that a nearby ship might see and come rescue them.

All manner of books and stories have since explored the same theme and questions. Most popularly, the Hunger Games series, any number of Stephen King books (e.g., The Running Man or The Long Walk), the well-known story "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Sower, and innumerable others. 

This isn't to say that writers should stop exploring the human heart, its drive to be all-powerful and revered, or how murder and war are a terrifying cycle from which no one can seemingly save us, child or adult. Unlike fire putting out fire, war does not seem to put out war. 

What I do think is that Lord of the Flies is a well-told story, but it will not shake anyone to the core now that we live in a world where children shoot each other in schools, roadsides, and homes. Where children bully each other online until the bullied child dies by suicide. Where children haze each other until someone accidently dies, and everyone feigns surprise. Where adults with guns barge through schools, malls, concerts, parades, and movie theaters. Where we can daily find images, should we choose to search--of dead immigrant children washed onto beaches, drowned with their parents, or if by luck, starving into a slow death. Children left in pieces in bombed cities or left to live, blind and torn apart by landmines left over from old wars.  

In Lord of the Flies, the children elect one of the older children, Ralph, to be the leader. The children talk about themselves as tribes and savages. There's another kid who wanted to be leader, and eventually, that desire for power leads to the mayhem and murder that come toward the end of the book. Early on, the children go about the business of creating a mirror of what they know: shelter, food-finding, a democracy in which every child is allowed to speak as long as he's holding the beautiful conch shell. Later, once the child who yearned to be leader successfully kills a wild pig with the help of others, the monstrosity of the killing starts the slow plunge toward anyone now being seen as nothing more than a wild pig--or less than, since the children who later die serve no purpose other than to terrify the others into following the new leader/tyrant.

Here are some reasons to read it:

  1. Everyone else has read it, so you ought to read it in order to understand how deeply the book has permeated the culture;
  2. It will shed some light on the era of its publication, and the concerns that come out of WWII and the Holocaust; 
  3. You'll be reminded of how saturated our lives are with murder and death, such that this book does not feel full of terror as it must have many decades ago;
  4. Should the book-banners remember this book exists, it will be banned again, and one ought to know what others find worth censoring (I just learned that it's one of the top ten most challenged/censored books);
  5. To have an uninterrupted time dwelling on why people form groups and how that can go terribly wrong with the leader who takes power;
  6. The scene wherein you learn why the book has its title and then dwelling on that and its implications regarding the children;
  7. Perhaps you are a teacher and need to assign a book like Hunger Games that will not be immediately challenged by parents. I'd think that this seventy-year old book will have slipped off the radar of the well-meaning censors. (But, if it's still in the top ten challenged, I clearly know little about any of that.) You will need to deal with the book's savage/civilized duality and the writer's implications that native people are representative of destruction while white people are inherently "civilized." That the story exists without girls, except for the off-stage mothers that the children yearn for, should be factored in when selecting it and be a topic of discussion. "The Lottery" would be a well-chosen companion reading.
Overall, I'm glad to have read it, to meet the character Piggy beyond what I've picked up here and there, and to read how it ends. I did not expect to become endeared to Ralph but here we are. There were a a handful of images so vivid and shattering that the book is probably worth reading simply for those. One, for example, is the corpse of a parachuter that gets caught in the trees. 

Note: The edition I bought came sandwiched between introductions, notes, and theory, but I think you'll be fine reading an edition that contains only the story. But if you like the extra pages to expand your own illuminating thoughts, then go for a newer edition.

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Sunday, August 6, 2023

A Game of Telephone on Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (August 6, 2023)

Today is a departure from the usual poetry of Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee. I'll be reading the story "A Game of Telephone" from my forthcoming story collection Unexpected Weather Events. Reserve your copy now from Awst Press: https://awst-press.com/shop/unexpected-weather-events

This was recorded for a live Facebook event.  

If you live in the Spokane area, I hope you can attend the book release EXTRAVAGANZA on October 1st, Shadle Park Library, 2-4 PM. You're absolutely invited. 

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

Friday, August 4, 2023

Read a Book in the Park: August 5, 2023

Read a Book in the Park

READ A BOOK IN THE PARK

I realized that as a writer, I can hardly fret over people buying but not reading my books if I myself have a difficult time reading books. Social media, true-crime podcasts, animals behaving hilariously on reels--all of these not only suck my time into the black hole of a quickly passing present, but also make it difficult for me to focus or transition to a concentrated activity that requires mental participation.

An idea was then born that seems silly when you first think about it: Read a book in the park. Together.

And so here we are. I'm officially inviting you to join me in Audubon Park tomorrow morning (Saturday, August 5) from 8-9 AM. We will read our books together--but silently, alone, and from our own blankets, hammocks, or other reading apparatus.

Bring the book you're reading or have been meaning to read.

Leave your cellphone in the car or at home. (Audio-bookers are encouraged to read a print book for this event.)

No book? No blanket? No worries. I will have both for borrowing--for all readers: infants to teens to those who crave Cormac McCarthy on a bright Saturday morning. Ha!

At the end of our hour of reading, we share what book we're reading or we don't. We pack up and move into the rest of our day, or we read for longer. The first time we gathered (and we've so far only gathered once), a reader remarked on the revolutionary nature of the event--how it felt like she was participating in a silent protest. 

Yes. I want my brain back. I want books back. If you feel the same way, join us. 

Then maybe we'll wind up reading in a park near you, and if you're not near us, I hope you read in your park.

Read a Book in the Park

  • Saturday, August 5
  • Audubon Park (Southeast side, closer to Northwest Blvd. than to Finch Elementary)
  • 8:00-9:00 AM
  • Free

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NOTE: More reading-in-a-park sessions have been scheduled. Our next one is Saturday, August 19 (same place and time). For updates, new reading meetups, or to share and enjoy pictures of books and parks, join the FB group Read a Book in the Park: https://www.facebook.com/groups/fusediversity

Erin Pringle talks writing with Spokane Public Library's THE HIVE

A few years ago when I had a writing residency at The Hive in Spokane, they interviewed me on the good old camera and microphone. I talk a little about my creation process, thoughts, and goals. Here's the result!


At the time I was working on a novel that I continue to draft. Since then, my newest book, UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS is to be published. In fact, at the filming of this interview (winter 2021), I didn't have a publisher for it yet, and it's saved on the desktop of that computer.

UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS
strange, sad, and beautiful stories
October 1, 2023
AWST Press

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Thursday, August 3, 2023

October 19: UNEXPECTED WEATHER EVENTS in Missoula, Montana

Meet me in Missoula 
Unexpected Weather Events by Erin Pringle
from AWST Press
 (cover art by L.K. James)

I'll be reading from my new book of stories, Unexpected Weather Events, at my favorite Montana bookstore, Fact and Fiction Books. I had a reading there for Hezada! I Miss You, and first met their acquaintance at a Montana Book Festival in 2017 for my last book of stories The Whole World at Once. I've always appreciated the friendliness and warmth of the staff, and have been extra pleased since the store was bought by Mara, who seemed to be the unofficial coordinator of the festival--if coordinating means knowing everything, answering every question, selling all the books, and directing confused writers to their events.

October 19

7 PM

220 N. Higgins Avenue



Have a BOOK-READING FRIEND in Montana? 

Send them my way!

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Sunday, July 16, 2023

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (July 16, 2023)

 

Poems:

  • Waking at Night
  • Cherishing What Isn’t 

(Both by Jack Gilbert from his Collected Poems)

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Liz Rognes on Unexpected Weather Events: "These stories visit the tender space between the living and the dead"

 “Erin Pringle crafts an immersive, vivid world where time can linger, sit down, or turn itself inside out as characters survive the beautiful complications and layers of their lives. These stories visit the tender space between the living and the dead, between right now and memory, between reality and dreams. There are ghosts and shadows and memories and forewarnings as the people inside these stories face the hardest parts of being human—climate change, cancer, suicide, war—while finding love and meaning in the sweet impermanence of safety.”

Liz Rognes, singer/songwriter RED FLAGS and TOPOGRAPHIES



Order Unexpected Weather Events from AWST Press, the publisher:

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