I won’t lie. It hasn’t been the brightest week.
Alan Cheuse, 1940-2015
Last Friday afternoon came the sad news of Alan Cheuse’s passing. Very shortly thereafter, I went to work on a statement for the Fig Tree Books website. You can read it here. But I’ll point you also to a couple of online appreciations and tributes I’ve found especially memorable: Bethanne Patrick for Lit Hub and Susan Stamberg for NPR.
Most of all, though—and turning to happier thoughts—I’ll point you to one of Alan’s essays about his own writing life and to his recent interview with Michael Silverblatt of KCRW (I loved this conversation when I listened in at the time), so you can figuratively and literally hear Alan’s voice.
Reminiscing for reBar
One bright spot in the past week: a new piece of mine went live on the reBar Project site. Essentially, the project (to which I was introduced by my friend Sara Lippmann) encouraged me to think about this question: “If you could do one thing differently about your B-Mitzvah (that’s Bar and Bat) what would it be and why?” You can see how I responded here.
And another bit of light: For the first time in five years, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference has accepted a panel proposal that I’m a part of! I’m grateful to David Ebenbach for coming up with such a great idea (and for inviting me to be a part of the group). Here’s the session info such as it exists right now (without date, time, location):
Succeed Better: The Many Ways Our Words Can Bear Fruit. (David Ebenbach, Erika Dreifus, Anna McCormally, Margaret Luongo, Dawn Dorland Perry)
Faced with Amazon rankings, bestseller statuses, and zero-sum “top writer” lists, you might think that success is all about numbers—but numbers are the palest measure of what our work can do in the world. The writers and editors on this panel will share personal stories about how writing can lead to poignant encounters, salved wounds, changed lives, and empowered people. This conversation will broaden the definition of success to encompass the things that mean the most.
Will I see in Los Angeles next spring?