Party people

I’ve been FiveChaptersized! My story “Shadow Families” will be serialized by FiveChapters, the wonderful online literary journal, this week. Read Part One here and tune in Tuesday through Friday for the rest.

FiveChapters publishes one short story every week. Stories start on Monday and unfold over five installments, ending on Friday. It’s digital and sort of a throwback at the same time…I love that.

One of the first online literary journals ever, FC’s been doing it for years. Check out all the great stories in their archive, as well as the growing list of story collections published by FiveChapters Books. You can also read more about FC Editor David Daley herehere and here.

Mama drama in Manila

165-coverToday I’m happier than a kid in a candy shop that my story, “The Kontrabida,” has just come out as the 165th issue of One Story magazine. Before I was a One Story author, I was a One Story reader, so I feel extra psyched to land in such great company. “The Kontrabida” follows Esteban “Steve” Sandoval, Jr. from New York City, where he lives, to Manila, Philippines, where his father is dying of cancer. Back in his childhood home, Steve uncovers new information about his parents, calling into question their lifelong roles as the family bida (hero) and kontrabida (villain), along with Steve’s own ideas about himself.

“The Kontrabida” was VERY lucky to find itself in the capable hands of One Story co-founder, Editor-in-Chief and author extraordinaire Hannah Tinti. It’s a cliché to compare editing to surgery, but that’s exactly the kind of precise, expert, down-and-dirty work that Hannah did on this story. She truly is as great an editor as she is a writer, which—as anyone who’s read her bewitchingly wise and funny story collection, Animal Crackers, or her luminous, heartbreaking novel, The Good Thief, knows—is saying a whole lot.

You can get a copy of “The Kontrabida” here, or read a Q&A about the process of writing it here.

While you’re at it, subscribe to One Story and get a single short story delivered to your mailbox, Kindle or iPhone every three weeks!

Pop fiction

“He hovered over us as we poured ketchup saying: good enough good enough good enough. Birthday parties consisted of cupcakes, no ice cream. The first time I brought a date over she said: what’s with your dad and that pole? and I sat there blinking.”

–George Saunders, “Sticks” (one of my favorite short-short stories about a dad)

“I don’t like to be clapped at,” the waiter said.

“I should have brought my whistle,” my father said. “I have a whistle that is audible only to the ears of old waiters.”

–John Cheever, “Reunion” (my other favorite short-short about a dad)

Listen to Richard Ford read and discuss this story  on The New Yorker‘s fiction podcast with editor Deborah Treisman. (Cheever inspired Ford to write his own “Reunion” story, set in Grand Central Station, here. And I love Nathan Englander’s quiet, melancholy riff on the father story, also called “Reunion,”  here.)

Happy Father’s Day.

“Miracle” in Mizzou

My story “The Miracle Worker” appears in the new Winter issue of The Missouri Review. It’s the tale of Sally, a Filipina teacher who takes on a disabled student, Aroush, in Bahrain in the 1980s. I’m thrilled that it found a home in Mizzou.

TMR has been around for thirty-four years–publishing the work of so many authors I idolize, as well as putting great new voices in print for the first time. A personal favorite: Cheryl Strayed’s (later Best American) essay on Alice Munro. As a reader, I especially love finding longer stories (rare among literary journals) and global settings (an eternal obsession) in its pages.

Associate Editor Evelyn Somers Rogers worked on the story with me. She is a writer’s dream: smart, kind, supportive and über-professional.

This issue’s theme (and The Missouri Review has had some good ones–“Pick Your Poison” and “Messy Art” among them) is “Weird.” Or, as Editor-in-Chief Speer Morgan puts it, the ways life reminds us that “[t]he strange is just an instant or a membrane away.” Clearly, TMR gets me.

Taking off

Headed upstate to the Adirondacks tomorrow for a monthlong writers’ residency, in a place that is not only remote but designed to stay that way. (By policy, where I’m going, cellphones can’t.)

Here’s my favorite writer, on the power of travel and leaving behind your daily routine:

…I was happy because of the shedding. I loved taking off. In my own house, I seemed to be often looking for a place to hide–sometimes from the children but more often from the jobs to be done and the phone ringing and the sociability of the neighborhood. I wanted to hide so that I could get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself. I lived in a state of siege, always losing just what I wanted to hold on to. But on trips there was no difficulty. I could be talking to Andrew, talking to the children and looking at whatever they wanted me to look at–a pig on a sign, a pony in a field, a Volkswagen on a revolving stand–and pouring lemonade into plastic cups, and all the time those bits and pieces would be flying together inside me. The essential composition would be achieved. It was being a watcher that did it. A watcher, not a keeper.

–Alice Munro, “Miles City, Montana”