Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dispatches by Robin Hemley—
from Manila to McSweeney’s

Robin Hemley, Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and soon to be an upstreet author, is spending the year on a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Philippines with his family. During this time, he’ll be writing regular dispatches from Manila, which will appear as a column in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Robin’s wife, Margie, is from the Philippines, and he has spent considerable time there since 1998, when he was researching Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday (Nebraska, 2003).

Robin, who is also a faculty member in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program, will be the subject of the author interview in upstreet number five. His latest book, Do-Over!, will be released by Little, Brown in the spring of 2009.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lamb novel to be released November 11

The Hour I First Believed (Harper, 2008), the third novel by best-selling author Wally Lamb, will appear in bookstores November 11, and is currently available for pre-ordering. Wally, whose earlier novels, She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much is True, were both Oprah’s Book Club selections, was interviewed by Editor/ Publisher Vivian Dorsel for upstreet number three. Here’s what he said about how the idea for his new book came to him:

Lamb:The Hour I First Believed, the novel I’m writing now, started not with a voice or an image, but with an anecdote that a cousin of mine told me. She and her family live in Paducah, Kentucky, the site of one of the school shootings; I think it was about a year and a half before Columbine. Her two younger daughters went to that school, and were friends with the sister of the kid who did the shooting and killing. His name was Michael Carneal, and my cousin’s daughters knew his older sister. So, my cousin was telling me this story about that day—the confusion, and the horror of what had just happened. I believe Michael had been apprehended and taken away, and the school was in chaos, and his older sister was walking in a daze down the corridor, just sobbing and saying, “But in four years here I’ve never even been absent, I’ve never been in trouble.” She was just moaning, at least in the version that I heard. And that was a couple, three, four years before I sat down to write this novel. Every time I remembered the story my cousin told me, tears would come to my eyes, and sometimes tears would fall, and my heart went out to that poor girl and everybody in the school, including this very disturbed kid who had brought the gun to school. I didn’t want to write about a school shooting, but it wouldn’t let go of me, so I started researching Columbine, just because there’s so much out there about Columbine, and lo and behold, that’s where the novel begins, in Littleton, Colorado, at Columbine High School. —“A Conversation with Wally Lamb,” upstreet number three, ©Copyright 2007 Vivian Dorsel

You can read Chapter One of The Hour I First Believed on Here’s how it begins:

They were both working their final shift at Blackjack Pizza that night, although nobody but the two of them realized it was that. Give them this much: they were talented secret-keepers. Patient planners. They’d been planning it for a year, hiding their intentions in plain sight on paper, on videotape, over the Internet. In their junior year, one had written in the other’s yearbook, “God, I can’t wait till they die. I can taste the blood now.” And the other had answered, “Killing enemies, blowing up stuff, killing cops! My wrath will be godlike!”

My wrath will be godlike: maybe that’s a clue. Maybe their ability to dupe everyone was their justification. If we could be fooled, then we were all fools; they were, therefore, superior, chaos theirs to inflict. But I don’t know. I’m just one more chaos theorist, as lost in the maze as everyone else.

It was Friday, April 16, 1999, four days before they opened fire. I’d stayed after school for a parent conference and a union meeting and, in between, had called Maureen to tell her I’d pick up takeout. Blackjack Pizza was between school and home. —The Hour I First Believed, ©Copyright 2008 Wally Lamb

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thanks to Chapters Bookstore—
and to photographer Craig Swinson

We’d like to thank Chapters Bookstore, 78 North Street, Pittsfield, MA, for making its wonderful events room available for two readings by a variety of authors from the first four issues of upstreet. These photographs, taken by Craig Swinson, show the second reading, featuring poets Lisken Van Pelt Dus and Aaron M. Beatty, and hosted by upstreet Editor/Publisher Vivian Dorsel, which took place on Thursday evening, October 30.

The earlier reading, on September 25, featured poets Michelle Gillett and Cynthia Saunders QuiƱones, and creative nonfiction writer Frank Tempone. Chapters’ versatile reading/ writing/ events room was also used for two sessions of a fiction writing workshop, “The Reminiscent Narrator,” conducted by Vivian Dorsel in connection with Pittsfield’s community reading project, The Big Read: To Kill a Mockingbird, which took place during October.

Chapters welcomes members of the community who would like to use their room for reading, or for working on their own writing. Once again, we are pleased to have a bookstore in Pittsfield’s central business district—“upstreet,” to us.