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A Winter Weekend’s Reading

If you’re looking for some writing-oriented reading this weekend you can find plenty to keep you occupied (and thinking) in online offerings from the January-February 2006 Poets & Writers magazine. I found so much of direct interest to me in this issue I’m still marveling over it.

My interest was piqued first when I saw that the magazine had published a complimentary letter penned by a friend of mine. That was a good sign! (No, that’s not one of the online offerings I’m pointing you to. But I have to say it made me smile as I read on.)

I can’t say I’ve read all of David Foster Wallace’s work, but his story, “The Depressed Person,” remains a favorite. So I was more than just intrigued to find Joe Woodward’s piece, “In Search of David Foster Wallace,” in the magazine.

Then, because I’m a pretty active book reviewer (I should probably be writing a review right this minute instead of blogging–the book in question is reprovingly within my peripheral vision) and try to help others learn about book reviewing I was also interested in Timothy Schaffert’s Q&A with David Ulin, who now edits the Los Angeles Times Book Review.

As if that weren’t enough, Daniel Nester’s article on Stephen Elliott’s new anthology addresses one of my favorite topics: “politically inspired fiction.”

And finally, there’s Kevin Larimer’s report on the outcome of the most recent Winnow Press First Fiction competition. Or maybe lack of outcome is a better term, since no prize was awarded. I certainly can’t say I’m an uninvolved party here, both because I know very well which little bird alerted Mr. Larimer to this piece of news and because yes, I am one of the 300 people whose manuscripts the press found, in the words of publisher Corinne Lee, “so disappointing.” I suppose I’ll just remain grateful to (and perhaps in a very human way will prefer the judgments of) the editors of the five journals and two contests that published and “prized” the stories included in this manuscript collection (a shortened one, due to the contest’s page limits) in the past. And I’ll be grateful, too, to Winnow Press for returning my contest fee.

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