The Blog

On Lavender and Longing: André Aciman's ALIBIS

Jericho Parms

In her 1990 A Natural History of the Senses, a grand tour through the luscious world of sight, sound, taste, and touch, Diane Ackerman wrote of the many writers “gloriously attuned” to that oddly powerful sense of smell. Among them, Proust held an affinity for lime-flower tea and madeleines, Woolf ruminated her “parade of city-smells,” Coleridge pondered the aroma of notebooks, Milosz mused on the freshness of his linen closet, Joyce recalled childhood odors of urine and oilcloths, and Flaubert recounted of the fragrance of his lover’s slippers.


Joseph Holt

Some writers’ blurbs beg for expansion into full-length memoirs. Take, for instance, that of Deni Y. Béchard, a writer “born in British Columbia to a loving and health-conscious American mother and a French-Canadian father with a penchant for crime and storytelling.” Here is a writer born into not only a conflict of cultures, but also conflicts of care and violence, self-preservation and self-destruction. In Cures for Hunger, his memoir of youth, Béchard attempts to reconcile these conflicts.

Goodbye to All That, and Hello

Sarah Kosch

Well, it’s official. I am a full-fledged member of the real world. Maybe it’s too soon to make the call, but five days post-cap-and-gown, not much seems different. Classes are over. Homework is done. Iowa City is emptying. There’s an abandoned bed in the dumpster of my apartment and an outside trash-bag radius that is exponentially expanding further and further outward. My roommates have gone home for the summer, and there’s all the room in the world for my food in the refrigerator now. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix. It could be just any other summer. But part of me knows I’m in denial, or at least avoidance. The summer I’m imagining is the same sunny stretch I always think of, the slow heat, lightning bugs, thunderstorms; the idealized summer I will never let go of, no matter how old I get.

How about a little novella that we can sell for 99 cents?

Russell Scott Valentino

A writer whose name I've now forgotten came to town earlier this spring and did a little craft session on self-publicity. I think he was a memoirist primarily, with a couple of books out, one of which had sold pretty well. He had a lot of suggestions, some of them very concrete, like "tweet three times daily," and "go to book festivals," and "see who the best, most prolific reviewers are on Amazon and make contact with them." I wrote these and other things down in my notebook one by one, my heart growing heavier with each tidbit. I am still trying to make sense of my reaction.


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