Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Radio Prophecy with Fadiman and Barzun

The following is transcribed from a portion of a radio episode entitled, “What Inventions Have Benefited Mankind the Most?” broadcast in 1954 as an installment of the NBC Radio program "Conversation."

Host Clifton Fadiman is joined by radio personality Fred Allen, Columbia University professor and author Jacques Barzun, and inventor Alfred M. Goldsmith.

Readers/listeners will immediately recognize the now ubiquitous and baleful devices the speakers speculatively describe. 

(You can hear the whole episode HERE)

Clifton Fadiman: I want to get back to what we might expect in the realm of the future.

Dr. Alfred M. Goldsmith: Well, if you want to go to the communications field, of course you can go direct to the dream of person-to-person communicaton anywhere. Tesla expressed that back in the 1880s. He said a time would come when everybody would carry, presumably in his vest pocket, a little communication set of some sort which responded only to his personal signal much the way a telephone does.

Fadiman: Is that theoretically possible?

Goldsmith: (Emphatic) Oh yes. And he said that when that time came, if you wanted to talk to your friend you would call him on this device, and from the depths of a mine or the center of an ocean or the midst of a desert or the streets of a crowded city you would hear his voice answering. And he ended very dramatically: ‘And if you didn’t hear him answer you would know he was dead.’

Jacques Barzun: Oh no, no, that doesn’t follow. He may not want to.

Goldsmith: Well, he assumed that this thing would ring so violently that he would answer finally—

Barzun: Well then that’s not an improvement. That’s appalling!

Fadiman: You know Dr. Goldsmith, this is a very dismal picture that you draw. That means that I, in this future paradise of yours, am at the mercy of about three-and-a-half billion people who may want to phone me.

Barzun: That’s right. Absolutely. I’m busy!

Goldsmith: Not only can they call you and demand an answer. But still worse in this quasi paradise, they could even turn on their television attachment and see you at any hour of day and night.

Allen: Whatever you were doing? I think we’d better not go into that.

Fadiman: Better reform! Or declare this moratorium that Fred suggested.

Allen: That’s what I say. That’s the thing to do.

Goldsmith: I was waiting for Mr. Allen to tell us what he thinks about this idea of universal portable television/audio communication.

Allen: I think we’re worse off because today you can escape from the telephone. You can get out of the house. But if you’ve got the bell tied on you or built in you or growing in you or something—

Goldsmith: In your pocket.

Allen: In your pocket.

Fadiman: I’ve often been tormented by the vision of a future, Dr. Goldsmith, in which we have invented, uh, we have really perfected mass communication to the degree that it will be possible to bind together in one great instananeous network all the human beings of the earth, and that by a system of translation machine such as we have up at the United Nations, they’ll all be able to understand anything that’s being said. And they’re all tuned in at one moment to listen to a central message — and here are billions of people all listening — and the nightmare is very simple: What are they going to hear? Who’s going to say something worth

Allen: This sounds like George Orwell’s 1984, only on a worse scale!

Barzun: Yes, well here maybe I can introduce a hopeful note to take care of Mr. Fadiman’s trouble. As one who’s been teaching too many years, I can tell you that no matter what you announce to whatever group of people, there will be more than half of them not listening. 

Allen: You mean they’ll lower their earlids.

Barzun: Yes, exactly.

Fadiman: That’s consoling.

Barzun: And the other half won’t probably won’t get it quite straight. So that the pleasant diversity, which I think is what you’re aiming at, will continue.

Fadiman: Well, I’m all for the multiplication of mass impressions. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I just think that at the same time we ought to be trying to work out better and better things to say, as well as better and better ways of saying them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reading Trilling

“The situation,” wrote Lionel Trilling in his book Sincerity & Authenticity, “in which a
person systematically misrepresents himself in order to practice upon the good faith of another does not readily command our interest, scarcely our credence. The deception we best understand and most willingly give our attention to is that which a person works upon himself.” (Italics mine.)

I first jotted this quote in my journal a few summers ago while reading Sincerity & Authenticity for the first time during my earliest stage of work on my new novel. I’d originally come to Trilling seven or eight years before, after finding him invoked numerous times in the iridescent essays of Cynthia Ozick. This month, as I occasionally do, I’ve been revisiting Trilling’s work. In part this reading is research. In greater part, my revisiting of Trilling is purely inspirational. How could passages like the following, for example, fail to inspire a serious writer?
“A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.” (Preface to Beyond Culture)

“Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.” (Preface to The Liberal Imagination)

“Whenever we put two emotions into juxtaposition we have what we can properly call an idea. …The force of such an idea depends upon the force of the two emotions which are brought to confront each other, and also, of course, upon the way the confrontation is contrived. Then it can be said that the very form of a literary work, considered apart from its content, so far as that is possible, is in itself an idea.” (“The Meaning of a Literary Idea”)

“All literature tends to be concerned with the question of reality — I mean quite simply the old opposition between reality and appearance, between what really is and what merely seems.” (“Manners, Morals, and the Novel”)
Trilling’s observations bring me to reflect on the nature of the insincerity and inauthenticity we find all around us today. Aren’t these qualities, thanks to the almost total invasion of media into personal life, thrust upon us all with a new force? Due to something in the construct of our new media formats — their portability and total ubiquity, but also the sensibility behind their function and design — we do not first choose to be inauthentic but find ourselves, within these systems and environments, and amid these tools, being so almost reflexively (Facebook profiles, self-promotional webpages, blog posts, tweets, etc.).

Alongside Trilling’s texts from The Liberal Imagination and the selected essays in The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent edited by Leon Wieseltier, this month I read for the first time Adam Kirsch’s book Why Trilling Matters, in which Kirsch shows so eloquently how Trilling embodies a total faith in literature, a faith that looks more and more passé. 

“The best way to describe Trilling’s uniqueness as a critic,” Kirsch writes, “is to say that he was always less concerned with writers than with readers, less interested in the way novels work than in the way we put them to work in our lives.” 

And later: “This way of thinking about artistic vocation, not as a withdrawal from the common life but as a tool for confronting that life, is fundamental to the way Trilling reads literature. … To Trilling, literature was above all the medium in which he made himself, and his essays, with all their dignity and vulnerability, are the record of a soul being made through its confrontation with texts. … [Trilling] speaks directly to our current loss of faith in literature—which is, as he understood, fundamentally a loss of faith in a certain ideal of selfhood.” 

For Trilling, Kirsch says, “the demotion of literature is part of a larger demotion of the self. … And the attenuation of the self will inevitably have consequences that go beyond the literary.”

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Monday, November 09, 2015

Totality of Vision: John Williams' Stoner

I first learned of John Williams’ Stoner the same way most of this novel’s contemporary readers have: by noticing, in many different places, the peculiarly ardent recommendations the book inspires. I liked the cultish quality of many of these recommendations, and the recurrent phrases employed: “under-appreciated”, “well kept secret”, “neglected masterpiece,” etc. Having read Stoner’s rear cover synopsis more than once, I was finally drawn by the book’s academic milieu, thinking that Williams’ treatment might somehow inform my own approach to 1950s academia in my novel-in-progress. So I bought a copy. Still, though I kept it at hand for several months, I never managed to read past the opening 10 pages or so. In those 10 pages I could see a narrative clarity at work, but somehow I resisted it, dipping into multiple other books instead. 

What finally brought me back to Williams’ book, what finally “hooked” me and got me to commit to the full experience of Stoner, was my frustrated reading of a highly lauded contemporary novel. This other novel was a massive critical success, a prize-winner, and had come to me with the glowing praise of a reader I respect. But as I proceeded through the book’s first third, I felt myself to be constantly at arm’s length from the narrative, unable — or not inspired — to get any closer, unlikely to “sink in.” I don’t simply mean that the book’s characters, events, or voice did not absorb me. I mean that there seemed to be something in the book’s narrative execution that actively repelled me, making real immersion impossible. I couldn’t put my finger on it. The writing was respectable, intelligent, perhaps even graceful, and the narrative events were clearly heading somewhere. Still, I couldn’t help feeling the book wasn’t for me. One evening, after reading for an hour or so, I shut that book and picked up Stoner. The contrast could not have been more dramatic. Suddenly, after my months of poking noncommittally into the novel’s opening pages, Stoner was alive to me, and I was sunk. The narrative clarity I had idly admired before seemed now to be just one element of a magnificent authorial command. 

I read the book’s whole first half that day, and afterward I couldn’t stop dwelling on the contrast between the experience of reading Stoner and the experience of reading the contemporary novel. I jotted a few notes: 
Stoner: lucidity and totality of vision. Descriptive, authorial, authoritative — but always insightful rather than explanatory.” 
That seemed right, but I didn’t yet know exactly what it meant. “Explanatory” was a reference to that prize-winning contemporary novel where, in a meaningful moment, one character smiles at another. Something in the author’s treatment of this moment had rendered it, for me, not illuminating but simply too well understood. With reference to Williams’ writing, what did I mean by “totality of vision”? And how did this quality differ from, say, the clumsy handling of that smile?

Stoner is the concise life-story, birth-to-death, of William Stoner, a child born to stoical Missouri farming folk in 1891 who by seeming accident attends university and is educated out of all meaningful connection to his kin. He falls in love with learning, trains to become a professor, marries a woman beyond his social rank, suffers her manic-depression and growing animosity, has a passionate affair with an ex-student, is exposed publicly and ends the affair on the threat of losing his career, becomes increasingly alienated from his colleagues, former friends, and daughter, and later, following several dispirited years of doing paces in an academic post long since drained of passion, becomes ill and dies sometime after World War Two. Early in the book, Williams describes one of Stoner’s professors at the university as having a disdainful, contemptuous quality, “as if he perceived between his knowledge and what he could say a gulf so profound that he would make no effort to close it.” This could just as well describe Stoner for much of the book, and it’s a kind of key to Williams’ own narrative approach in the novel, from the first pages to the last. The novel’s most excruciating scenes are those in which Stoner is subjected to his mentally ill wife’s cruelty, manipulativeness, and coldness, and even here Williams’ narration never breaks tone, never detours into semi-rhetorical, analytical, or speculative perceptions. Instead, we’re held — enthrallingly — in the emotional immediacy of one profoundly knotted moment after another, well before each moment has slackened and become interpretable. In fact, these moments are never interpreted for us, even afterward. Instead we’re invited to live them alongside the characters and make of them what we will. This is what I would characterize as a totality of vision: Williams’ narrative voice never deigns to be wiser than the narrative moment itself.

I spend quite a lot of time thinking about — brooding about — how in the current publishing industry the forces of consumerism and the lingo of commodification are so often applied to the reading experience. It’s widely taken for granted that the reader, who is essentially viewed as a consumer with glasses, should become an insatiable subject, a billable creature always wanting more: the next plot development, the next page, the next installment in a series. More and more. But reading is not consumerism. And the cool mastery, lucidity, and totality of vision in John Williams’ writing reminds me that what I treasure most in my own reading is the experience of coming to the end of a sentence, of a page, of a chapter, and thinking: This is perfect just as it is. This is just enough. I wish to exist in this awhile, because clearly this accommodates that kind of pleasurable loitering. Clearly, to wish for more would spoil this.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Three More Days! Every Pledge Counts.

The Atelier26 IndieGogo fundraising initiative closes on Monday, August 31st. That's three more days to make a pledge and/or to help us spread the word to potential supporters (those other avid readers in your life).

If you've been meaning to pledge, there's never been a better time. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Your pledge is tax-deductible (and brings you beautiful books)
  • The use of all funds is overseen by our fiscal sponsor, an external nonprofit arts organization
  • Your pledge will go directly to the up-front expenses of reprinting and promotion necessitated by our new national distribution
  • Your pledge will have a direct impact on the size of the initial People Like You print-run (we want to go big!)
  • Your pledge will allow us to make the most of the opportunities before us and sustain our place in the lives of readers.
Thanks to 77 generous donors, we're at 26% of our goal and will have the privilege to send out many books, including scores of Margaret Malone's brilliant debut People Like You. We'd love to send out even more!  Click over to see the literary goodies we're offering and the deductions that come with them, and help us make the most of these final three days.

Viva Readers! Atelier26 HQ

P.S. Have you seen the advance praise for People Like You?
P.P.S Our authors are busy this Fall. Are they reading near you?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Going for 40% This Week! (New Bonus Perk = $20 Bookstore Gift Card!)

In the 17 days since our Next Big Chapter campaign launch, 60 of you have pledged your support and collectively brought us to the 22% threshold! Your pledges are matched by your moral solidarity in helping us get the word out about our quixotic literary mission. Thank you for your retweets, FB shares, and other links. For all of it, we’re more grateful than we can say. 

We have just 14 days to go, and we’re driving toward the 30% mark, but with your continued help in sharing via social media and word of mouth, we believe we can get to 40% funded by this time next week.

Here’s to maintaining the terrific momentum!

We've drawn a name from the hat: Congratulations to supporter William Summers, who receives this week's bonus perk, a stylish “Read Local” mug!

Each week we’ll send out one or more BONUS PERKS. If you’ve pledged $15 or more since our campaign launch, your name remains in the hat! 

A $20 gift certificate to your local independent bookstore! (Goodness, think of the paperbacks!)
PLEDGE BY: 11:59 p.m. PST, Sunday, August 23rd

I'm just back from the Catamaran Writing Conference in Northern California, where I had the opportunity to participate in a distinguished publishing panel and to share the values and vision of Atelier26 Books. It was my first such opportunity, and I spoke from the heart, outlining my idealistic reasons for founding this tiny publishing operation, and sharing the gratifications that come of forming nurturing relationships with gifted writers. What I said, in part, was that in founding Atelier26 I was seeking to answer a number of important questions, including: 
  • How to publish mindfully
  • How to publish, as much as possible, from the writer’s perspective
  • How to publish as beautifully as possible? 
  • How to be small, and still create meaningful, significant relationships with readers? 
  • How to be reasonable and sustainable in our aims, to grow steadily, to remain relationship-oriented, and to focus on culture (rather than a “marketplace”)?
I was unabashedly earnest and enthusiastic. How could I be anything else? It feels so right to share the good news of this press and its authors. And the coming chapters are so very exciting!

Yours quixotically, in gratitude,
M. Allen Cunningham, Atelier26

Atelier26 Next Big Chapter Funding Goal:
Amount Raised as of Today:
$2,590 (or 22%!)
Remaining Amount to Raise:
Fundraising Days Remaining:

Monday, August 10, 2015

You Can Help Us Push Toward 20%!

We’re ten days into the Atelier26 Next Big Chapter Campaign and 16% along, and we think that is tremendous! With three weeks remaining, it may be a photo finish, but we’re confident we can get to our goal. As we move further into this second week of fundraising, please help us spread the word about The Atelier26 Books Next Big Chapter Campaign, via links from our Facebook page, retweets from our Twitter account, or other shares from the sidebar on this page.

Thank you to all our awesome supporters!

OUR FIRST BONUS PERK RECIPIENTS!: We’ve drawn two names from the hat, and it’s our pleasure to announce that supporter Sarah Berry receives a copy of Kyle Minor’s acclaimed short story collection Praying Drunk, and supporter Tracy Burkholder receives Forest Avenue Press’sThe Night, and the Rain, and the River!

We’ll send your bonus perks out shortly, Sarah and Tracy. Congrats!

THIS WEEK’S BONUS PERK: Each week over the course of this campaign we’ll send out one or more BONUS PERKS. As long as you’ve pledged $15 or more since our campaign launch, your name will remain in the hat! This week’s perk is…

A stylish READ LOCAL mug! (Because authors, publishers, and bookstores in one's own community are where it's at, right?)

PLEDGE BY: 11:59 p.m. PST, Sunday, August 16th

A PREVIEW OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU: This spring, Margaret Malone’s short story “The Only One” appeared in Propeller Quarterly. Read the story entire online, and whet your appetite for the book's exciting launch! 

Yours bookishly, in gratitude,
 M. Allen Cunningham, Atelier26

Atelier26 Next Big Chapter Funding Goal:
Amount Raised as of Today:
$1,945 (or 16%!)
Remaining Amount to Raise:
Fundraising Days Remaining:

Friday, August 07, 2015

Why We Publish

Take a look behind the scenes at Atelier26 Books. If you like what you see, consider pledging your support and receiving some fabulously unique literary perks!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Celebrate Short Fiction This Saturday at Another Read Through in Portland

>Saturday, May 9, 2015 / 1:30 p.m. > PORTLAND, OR   
M. Allen Cunningham reads from Date of Disappearance in a lineup of fellow short fiction writers Stevan Allred, RJ Samuel, and Evan Morgan WIlliams in celebration of National Short Story Month.

Another Read Through
3932 N Mississippi Ave
Portland, Oregon 97227

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

M. Allen Cunningham Presents Partisans at Powell's Books, April 6th

Monday April 6, 2015 / 7:30 p.m.
Powell's Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd 
Portland, OR 972014

A riveting meditation on war, art, ambition, perception, and subversion, Partisans is a lost work by the mysterious writer G.P. Leed, edited according to Leed's designs as indicated in manuscripts discovered after his disappearance. One half of Partisans concerns a war in an unspecified past, the other half centers on Leed himself as he struggles to survive in an unspecified future.


Cunningham's presentation will include audio-visual elements in addition to his reading from the book. Learn more about Partisans.

Here's an audio teaser:

Monday, March 23, 2015

Audio Excerpt: A Reading from M. Allen Cunningham's Partisans: A Lost Work by Geoffrey Peerson Leed

Will you join me at Powell's Books on Hawthorne, Monday April 6th (7:30 p.m.) to hear more? Details for this and other upcoming events HERE.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Special Pre-Order Offer Ends March 8, 2015

Only three days left to get 50% off an additional title when you pre-order Partisans!

"Always, everything we see challenges us to understand.
The extent to which we take up the challenge by our own wits and
without resorting to prior interpretations is the extent
to which we escape oppression." 
G.P. Leed
To use your 50% discount on your second Atelier26 book, enter that book's Promo Code into the box at the checkout:
  • For Elizabeth Rosner's Gravity : enter GRAVITY
  • For Harriet Scott Chessman's The Beauty of Ordinary Things : enter TBOOT
  • For M. Allen Cunningham's The Honorable Obscurity Handbook : enter HONORABLE
  • For M. Allen Cunningham's Date of Disappearance : enter DATE
  • For Cunningham's The Flickering Page : enter FLICKERING
Discount limited to one copy of a single title per customer. Offer only applies when pre-ordering Partisans.
Offer expires Sunday March 8, 2015.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


and get 50% off another Atelier26 title! (details below)

 "Always, everything we see challenges us to understand.
The extent to which we take up the challenge by our own wits and
without resorting to prior interpretations is the extent
to which we escape oppression." 
G.P. Leed
To use your 50% discount on your second Atelier26 book, enter that book's Promo Code into the box at the checkout:
  • For Elizabeth Rosner's Gravity : enter GRAVITY
  • For Harriet Scott Chessman's The Beauty of Ordinary Things : enter TBOOT
  • For M. Allen Cunningham's The Honorable Obscurity Handbook : enter HONORABLE
  • For M. Allen Cunningham's Date of Disappearance : enter DATE
  • For Cunningham's The Flickering Page : enter FLICKERING
Discount limited to one copy of a single title per customer. Offer only applies when pre-ordering Partisans.
Offer expires Sunday March 8, 2015.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pre-Order Partisans Now
Partisans is now available for pre-order from Atelier26 Books!
Copies ship in late-February / early March.
Place your order HERE

Q: What is Partisans about?
A: War, Art, Ambition, Perception, Subversion.
Q: You can't be any more specific?
A: How could I possibly be?
Q: Who was G.P. Leed?
A: A writer who worked in the Northwest Territory like me. A compatriot of anyone espoused to the humane imagination, the powers and possibilities of consciousness as opposed to mass perceptions or the dilutions and mediations of systems and 'high' technologies.
Q: Is Partisans a political book?
A: Ask the reader.
Q: Is Partisans an allegory?
A: No. Though many things are.
Q: Is it speculative fiction?
A: What other kind is there?
Q: How did you come to edit and publish G.P. Leed's lost manuscript?
A: Some questions cannot be answered.
Q: Will its publication put you in danger?
A: Probably. But that's true of every book. Art is the result of having been in danger.
Q: You're quoting someone, aren't you?
A: Yes. Of course everything is a quote in its way.
Q: Is Partisans a quote? What of?
A: Oh, Don Quixote and many other things. It's not for me to say but for the reader to perceive.
Q: Where is the Acknowledgements page?
A: Leed never included one. Why should I? Refer to answer above.
Q: Was G.P. Leed for real?
A: Was Jules Renard or Cervantes, or Janos Lavin?
Q: What are your hopes for Partisans?
A: They're no different than Leed's were, and those are plain to see on every page.
Q: Read the book, you're saying.
A: Leed himself writes, "Dare the reader to understand!"
Q: But would you really call most readers daring?
A: They'd better be.
Q: Who are the most daring among them?
A: Those who go first, naturally.

M. ALLEN CUNNINGHAM is the author of the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow (a #1 Indie Next Pick) and Lost Son (about the life and work of Rainer Maria Rilke), the illustrated limited-edition short story collection Date of Disappearance, and two volumes of nonfiction, The Honorable Obscurity Handbook and The Flickering Page: The Reading Experience in Digital Times. He lives and works in the Northwest Territory.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New at Tin House: GHOST CODA

My essay "Ghost Coda: A Rilke Pilgrimage, or: On Being Glad No One Knows You" can now be read on the Tin House blog. 

I first started working on this piece more than seven years ago, shortly after the appearance of Lost Son, my big novel about Rilke. In that time the essay has stretched into a meditation on the nature of artistic legacy, our changing attitudes toward artists of earlier times, the question of honorable obscurity, the power of certain inspirational zones and places, and the mysterious circuitry of inspiration across the generations. (How's that for a summary one cannot tweet?)

Here's the opening:

Spring, 2005
I stand in the doorway of the Bibliothèque Nationale reading room, the soaring sanctum before me, above me the ceiling a grandeur of opaque glass wreathed with names of great cities: Alexandria, Athens, London, Babylon, Jerusalem, Byzantium, Peking. I’m here in search of Rainer Maria Rilke. Strapped for cash, unschooled, twenty-seven years old and devoid of curricula vitae save years of ardent reading, I’ve already spent an absurd, obsessive half-decade writing a novel about him. It’s grown to more than one-hundred-fifty-thousand words. I hope to complete it in Paris.

The roundness of this room suggests a vast egg enclosing the world’s knowledge. I want to swim forth through the bluish light, amid the desks and along the curving walls shelved four stories high with books, but the clerk at the entry explains that I cannot come in. I lack the proper license: the coveted carte de bibliothèque. Malte, the main character in Rilke’s single novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), cherishes the card permitting him entrance to this room — not only for the learning the card allows him, but because the card puts an honorable seal on his otherwise dissolute life. A young scion of erstwhile aristocrats in Denmark, Malte has fled the land of his ancestry to fin de siècle Paris where he will live as a poet — or die a nobody, as his notebooks’ agitated first words suggest: “So, people do come here to live. I would have sooner thought that this is where one dies.” Malte’s health is failing him. Destitute, squalidly housed in the Latin Quarter, he fears he’s becoming indistinguishable from his neighbors: the sick, the desperate, the mad. His library card saves him, temporarily at least, from the spiritual degradation shown in those impoverished “husks of humanity” who ambulate the grim cobbled warrens around his apartment. “It is possible that one day it may occur to them to come as far as my room,” writes Malte while sitting in the hush of this salle de reference.
They certainly know where I live, and they will take care that the concierge does not stop them. But here, my dears, here I am safe from you. One must have a special card in order to get into this room. In this card I have the advantage of you … I am among these books, and then taken away from you as though I had died, and sit and read a poet.
Discontent to stand in the doorway, I decide I must get a card of my own. Fumbling through the necessary questions in my quasi French, I’m referred to one attendant after another. Finally, at the Accueil, an English-speaking clerk directs me across the library’s palatial foyer to the enclosed area marked “Orientation des Lecteurs.” Bureaucracy-phobes acquire nightmares here.

Wound up and out of sorts, I breach the shrine and install myself in a chair before a librarian’s desk, babbling. Gatekeepers make me nervous. And now I’m much too aware, in my tongue-tied foreignness, in my pullover and backpack and scuffed sneakers, that I cut the figure of a failed pretender, a would-be tourist-cum-scholar. Worse, I give the impression, despite myself, of knowing my own charade, knowing I cannot claim legitimate candidacy for the access I seek. The library wardens — officious, serious, and thoroughly French in their skeptical decorum — reduce me with every sidelong glance. They won’t grant a card to just anybody. As my stuttering interview concludes, I’m instructed to return with passport and proof official of my status as an author; e.g., a published book. I will thereafter be informed of materials in the library relevant to my research.

Rattled, I exit the marbled lobby, cross the cobbled courtyard to the ravine-like rue de Richelieu, and start back toward my cramped studio apartment on the Left Bank. As I walk I pocket my clammy hands and replay the interview. Did I call myself un écrivain or romancier? Which was more correct considering my motive? I know I said recherche — that was a kind of lie. But how can I explain that I’ve got nothing to research, at least not in the manner they mean? How explain that I simply wish to sit and work in that reading room, that the spirit of the room itself is what I’m after?

(continue reading on the Tin House site)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Exciting news from Atelier26 Books!

Here's the press release:
Atelier26 Books is proud to announce acquisition of the brilliant short story collection People Like You, the debut title by Portland writer Margaret Malone, for publication in late 2015 or early 2016. 

Margaret Malone is the recipient of fellowships from the Oregon Arts Commission and
Photo: Sabina Poole
Literary Arts, two Regional Arts & Culture Council Project Grants, and residencies at The Sitka Center and Soapstone.  Her writing has appeared in The Missouri Review, Oregon Humanities Magazine, Coal City Review,  Swink, Nailed,, and elsewhere, including recently the Forest Avenue Press anthology The Night, and the Rain, and the River. A Dangerous Writers alumnus, Malone has a degree in Philosophy from Humboldt State University and has taught creative writing as a visiting artist at Pacific Northwest College of ArtShe lives with her husband filmmaker Brian Padian and two children in Portland, where she co-hosts the artist and literary gathering SHARE.

With People Like You, Malone delivers an assemblage of characters and conundrums all at once funny, unsettling, subtle, and moving. Malone’s people exist, like most of us, in the thick of everyday experience absent of epiphanies, and they are caught off-guard or cast adrift by personal impulses even while wide awake to their own imperfections. They win us over completely although we know they are bound to break our hearts with each confused and conflicted decision they make.

“I’ve long wanted Atelier26 to be the vehicle for a phenomenal debut,” says press founder and publisher M. Allen Cunningham, “and in Margaret’s work you immediately hear the brave and startling sound of a born writer. Her voice is so assured—she’s got such a razor wit—and each of these stories is so beautifully controlled and alive to its own truth, readers will hardly know what hit them.” 

For Malone’s launch, Atelier26 plans a significant promotional campaign to booksellers and extensive events. “We’re going to grow our operations considerably on behalf of People Like You,” says Cunningham. “We’re giving it everything we’ve got, and we anticipate a passionate bookseller response. You can’t read Margaret’s work and not want to enthuse over it to anyone who cares about great writing.”

More details about People Like You and its exciting release are forthcoming in the months ahead. Visit and follow the publisher’s tweets at

Listen to a 10-minute recording of Margaret Malone reading from the title storyon LiveWireRadio (minute 20). More about Margaret Malone at:
Atelier26 Books, an independent press founded in Portland, Oregon in 2011, specializes in contemporary literature in fine trade editions showcasing the highest design standards. Atelier26 books are offered for sale through the publisher’s online storefront, and through an ever-growing roster of independent booksellingpartners around the U.S.