Monday, February 27, 2012

egg man

I thought I'd recycle some old content in case my current students make the mistake of showing up at the Less United States of Kudera. We are, after all, on the eve of teaching Chris Offutt (but I haven't yet decided what to teach the retired "egg man"). I have a feeling if this is my sample, I'd never make it as a Spark Notes writer although I like to believe I'd improve given time and pay. These paragraphs were originally written in haste for an online version of my contemporary literature class during the summer of expectation (Yiyi was born near the end of the second semester). And, well, here they are:

Chris Offutt’s The Same River Twice, like Paul Auster’s “Portrait of an Invisible Man,” is a memoir with a compelling narrative structure. In this case, unlike Auster’s fragmented approach, where paragraphs and even sentences stand alone as their separate scenes or sections—at times, almost like epiphanies or aphorisms—Offutt has two main narrative strands—a past and a present—that intertwine and then merge toward the end of the book. It seems possible you can compare this narrative approach to a movie you have seen or perhaps another book. Thomas Pynchon’s V—yes, that is the full title—famously introduces us to the same narrative strategy, and if you look at a V as an intersection between two lines, you can see Pynchon’s title alludes to the dual narration. Unlike Pynchon’s novel, in Offutt’s memoir, the author is the main character in both strands of narration. In any memoir, thus, the writer is also the “protagonist” although Offutt uses honesty, self-effacing humor, and humility to create a likeable “I” more than a self-absorbed narcissist.

Offutt’s Title: On page 54, Chris Offutt elaborates on the origins of his title. “You can’t step into the same river twice” is an aphorism you have probably heard before. It comes from Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic philosopher who lived and thought before Plato and Aristotle. The saying literally implies that because the water is always moving, whenever we step into the river, we are stepping into a distinctly different part of the water; we are never in exactly the same water. As a metaphor applied to our lives, our current experience with anything from our past—parents, cities, towns, old algebra textbooks—cannot be completely the same as our previous experience with that person, place, or object. Maybe you have had this experience of returning to a favorite place or film and being surprised or disappointed by the changes? For a film, once you have seen the entire film, your second viewing cannot be the same as your first because you will remember more and more of the film as you are viewing it a second time.

Chris Offutt’s next paragraph on the top of page 55 offers an ironic twist to Heraclitus’s “deep” idea, pointing out that for Offutt’s practical neighbor, “the river is always the same, moving past his house, providing food.” I enjoy the way Offutt mixes low- and high-brow philosophy, humor, and anecdote; it is exactly when he approaches pretentiousness that he brings us back to earth (sometimes literally). For your further contemplation, consider this saying also attributed to Heraclitus: “Water flows through a rock.” Yeah. What is the “deep” thought under the surface of that one?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lynn Levin

Excited to report that Lynn Levin has confirmed that she will be joining us on March 21 at Moonstone Arts Center to read from her story published in The Rag. And it takes place in Baltimore, so we're even more  thematically consistent than we thought we were. Wow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Reading Schedule

Here's an informal 2012 reading and signing schedule for the neverending Fight for Your Long Day tour (follow this link for 2011):

January 6, Friday, 7 to 9 p.m. Moonstone Arts Center, (with Abeer Hoque and Don Riggs) 110A S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA

March 13, Tuesday, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Spill the Beans Ice Cream Parlor, 102 N Clemson Ave, Clemson, SC

March 17, Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. Novel Places (with Eric D. Goodman) 23341 Frederick Road, Clarksburg, Maryland

March 21, Wednesday, 7 to 9 p.m. Moonstone Arts Center, (with Kim Gek Lin Short, Eric D. Goodman, Lynn Levin, and The Rag) 110A S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA

March 22, Thursday, 12 to 2 p.m. Farley's Bookshop, 44 South Main Street, New Hope, PA  18938
March 24, Saturday, 1 p.m. The Ivy Bookshop (with Eric D. Goodman) 6080 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209

April 12, Thursday, 1:30 to 2 p.m. SEGS Faculty Readings @ McKissick Theatre, Clemson Literary Festival, Clemson University, Clemson, SC

April 14, Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. (signing only), Books-A-Million, Anderson Shopping Mall, Anderson, SC

April 19, Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m. (1/2 hour TBA) skype visit to Dr. Ann Green's "Writing Teacher Writing" graduate class at St. Joseph's University

November 14, Wednesday, Writer's Harvest, Loaves and Fishes, Thanksgiving Hunger Benefit at Clemson University, 7 p.m., Strom Thurmond Institute

Thank you and have a nice ice cream.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kim Gek Lin Short, Eric D. Goodman, The Rag and more

An Evening of Literature with Alex Kudera: Starring Kim Gek Lin Short, Featuring Eric D. Goodman, and Introducing The Rag.
Please join us at Moonstone Arts Center on Wednesday evening March 21 at 7 p.m. for readings of original fiction and poetry from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Wine and snacks will be served, and signed copies of recent titles will be available from various authors.

Kim Gek Lin Short was born in Singapore and spent her childhood in places like Manila, Jakarta, and Calgary. She moved to the States during the wonderful terrible 80s and lived in Denver, San Francisco, and Brooklyn before settling in Philly where she co-curates the reading series General Idea, and is an editor at Coconut. Kim’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in numerous publications such as Absent, Caketrain, and No Tell Motel, and in anthologies like Narrative (Dis)Continuties: Prose Experiments by Younger American Writers. Her books include The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits and the lyric novel China Cowboy, both from Tarpaulin Sky Press, and the chapbooks The Residents (dancing girl press) and Run (Rope-a-Dope), a 2010 Golden Gloves winner.

Eric D. Goodman is a full-time writer and editor. His novel in stories, Tracks, was published by Atticus Books summer 2011. He’s also the author of the childrens' book, Flightless Goose. Eric's work has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Pedestal Magazine, Writers Weekly, The Potomac, Barrelhouse, JMWW, Scribble, Slow Trains, and New Lines from the Old Line State: An Anthology of Maryland Writers, among others. His second novel, Womb, is currently with his agent. Visit Eric on Facebook, Twitter, and at his literary blog, Writeful. Learn about his latest work, Tracks, at

Alex Kudera’s debut novel, Fight for Your Long Day, won the 2011 Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for Best Fiction from the Mid-Atlantic Region. It is an original academic tragicomedy told consistently from the perspective of the adjunct instructor, and reviews and interviews can be found online at Inside Higher Ed, Academe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other locations. In 2012, Atticus Review is running Nathan Holic's graphic-novel interpretation of Fight for Your Long Day in monthly installments. Many of Kudera’s stories survive in slush piles across the continent or huddled together in unheated North Philly storage space, but The Betrayal of Times of Peace and Prosperity is available as a 99-cent single wherever e-books are downloaded. Alex received his masters in creative writing from Temple University and currently teaches writing and literature at Clemson University in South Carolina.

The Rag seeks the true grit of the literary world. Our writers never pull their punches; the results are unfiltered and sometimes disquieting, but this is contemporary literature--always fresh, always relevant. The way people are reading literature is changing. E-readers are rapidly replacing the demand for print, and some fear that a sinking print market will ultimately drown the future of contemporary literature in its undertow. We disagree. We see electronic publishing as an opportunity; it allows us to turn back time to an era of affordable distribution and open competition, one we believe will aid in putting the literary magazine back into the entertainment market. We view the changing market as a challenge, and we’re rising to the demands of literary consumers by bringing a print aesthetic to the digital world. Our readers are enjoying some of the best writing on the market, but on the screens of their Kindles, iPads, Smart Phones, and PCs. We invite you to join in experiencing the future of contemporary literature. We invite you to join The Rag.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nathan Holic

I first learned of Nathan Holic as Lavinia Ludlow's partner in alt.punk, so this guy must be versatile. He can write fiction, edit and coach others, and draw shockingly handsome and svelte adjunct instructors with one arm tied behind his back and two fingers stuck in his mouth. But I suspect the fingers belong to his little bundle of sunshine, all he has to keep him going in this cold, relentless, backbreaking world!

Okay. Enough is enough. Here's Nathan's artistic rendering of some of the first chapter of Fight for Your Long Day. The plan is for new drawings to appear once a month at Dan Cafaro's other joint, Atticus Review.

Fight for Your Long Day, Nathan!

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