Coming Soon: Blue Metropolis

My Picks at Blue Met I’d like to tell you that the event you shouldn’t miss at the upcoming Blue Metropolis literary festival is one in which I’ll be participating, but that might seem like shameless self-promotion. Seriously, though, the reason I attend this and other literary festivals – besides being invited to do so – is for the surprises. Not the authors I know, but the ones I don’t know. And my event, on May 3 at 3:30 at the Las Américas bookstore, features two other writers who intrigue me: the Mexican-American Luis Alberto Urrea, and the single-named Ondjaki, … Continue reading Coming Soon: Blue Metropolis

How Passover Made Me a Writer

How Passover Made Me a Writer The two big spring holidays are in the books now, Easter and Passover, both of which, in their own way, are meant to usher in spring. This year I had the honor of attending a Seder (the Passover service; the word means “order,” though some Seders, depending on how much wine the participants drink, can be quite disorderly) at a friend’s house, with his friends and family. As well as eating mountains of food, the guests read from the Haggadah (the word means “the telling”), which is essentially the Exodus story, plus all sorts … Continue reading How Passover Made Me a Writer

Write What You…

The Hoary Old Chestnut I was a little surprised to see in a recent edition of The New York Times that two writers, Zoë Heller and Mohsin Hamid, were debating the old “Write What You Know” question. It has many gray hairs, that one… I don’t know if the two writers chose that question, or whether it was assigned to them. This piece of advice – “write what you know” – that is famously used in creative writing programs does have one advantage: it gets people thinking. It worked that way for Heller and Hamid, and it will for us … Continue reading Write What You…

Notes & Queries

I came across another oddity the other day: a literary review that comes out of Windsor, Ontario, called Canadian Notes & Queries. The place really has its share of surprises, and now I feel slightly bad about making friendly fun of the town back when I was talking about Wayne Grady’s novel Emancipation Day. I’ll have to go down there sometime soon and perform some acts of mea culpa, because Windsor apparently does have a lively literary scene. What’s more, the latest C N & Q bills itself as “The Montreal Issue,” and it features a variety of off-center takes … Continue reading Notes & Queries

Do I Have a Dog in that Fight?

Do I Have a Dog in that Fight? No tengo vela en ese cemeterio – last summer, a fellow baseball player from Nicaragua told me that as we watched two other players in some dispute or other, probably beer-fueled. Whatever the action was about, he figured it had nothing to do with him; he didn’t have a dog in that fight. I had occasion to think about that expression lately when a writers’ website put out a call to answer the following question: How do you know if there is a novel in a story idea? The real answer is: … Continue reading Do I Have a Dog in that Fight?