Sunday: Flash Fiction/NonFiction Writing Workshop on Ekphrasis [Adult] 12/04/2022 11:00 AM – 01:30 PM ET
Location West Windsor Arts Center 952 Alexander Rd. West Windsor, NJ 08540
Description The definition of ekphrasis is “the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device.” Writers should bring in a meaningful photo of someone they will write about in the workshop. It can be a family member, a historical person, or even a photo of themselves. This is a flash writing workshop, so writers will be creating a 500 word or less piece by the end of the workshop, which will be critiqued and shared in the class.
It’s not every day that I get to talk to a former work colleague who just happens to be quite the communicator. Lyle Smith has a podcast called The Story Forge, and he was kind enough to let me be on it. I haven’t talked to Lyle in decades, but you’d never know from how easily we chatted. Actually, I think it’s all because Lyle is just really good at this. Please have a listen!
On September 23, 2020, I had the great pleasure of reading with poet Ysabel Y. Gonzalez for Warren County Community College‘s first-ever Virtual Visiting Authors Series. If you missed it and want to check it out, you can totally do so by way of YouTube. Enjoy!
First in a promising new series, Sung J. Woo’s Skin Deep introduces Siobhan O’Brien—a 40-year-old Korean American adopted in infancy by an Irish father and a Nordic mother. For the past two years, the laid-off newspaper reporter has been apprenticing under Ed Baker, a private detective in the upstate New York town of Athena. Now that she finally has her PI license, Siobhan is eager to assume more professional responsibility—but when Ed dies of a heart attack and bequeaths her the agency, she suffers a crisis of confidence. Siobhan strongly considers liquidating the business’s meager assets and starting over, but then her dead best friend’s little sister, Josie Sykes, shows up at the office. Two weeks ago, the dean of Llewellyn—a formerly single-sex liberal arts college in nearby Selene, New York—called to advise Josie that her adopted 18-year-old daughter, Penelope Hae Jun Sykes, was taking a leave of absence. Josie has since been unable to contact Penny, and is deeply concerned for her welfare—especially given that the girl has a serious medical condition. Siobhan agrees to assist, enrolling as a continuing education student at Llewellyn to provide cover. Her investigation reveals a newly coed campus full of furious feminists, a suspiciously robust police presence, and a tight-lipped college president who has ties to a yoga retreat with cult-like roots. A diverse cast replete with vividly sketched characters—the majority of them female—elevate this fun take on the classic PI novel. Siobhan is a snarky, smart, and refreshingly relatable narrator whose burgeoning romance with a widowed lawyer adds to the tale’s emotional complexity without detracting from its central puzzle. Snappy dialogue complements the breezy plot, which, like Siobhan, never takes itself too seriously. Kinsey Millhone fans, this one’s for you.
Katrina Niidas Holm / Mystery Scene (https://www.mysteryscenemag.com/component/content/article/26-reviews/books/6934-skin-deep-2)
There’s a running joke in Skin Deep where its Korean-American narrator Siobhan O’Brien, who was adopted by a Norwegian mother and an Irish father, has to explain her Irish name to almost everyone she meets. It’s not really funny, of course, but Siobhan deals with it in the same droll fashion she does almost everything. As the novel opens, the owner of the private investigation company where Siobhan is training dies leaving the agency to Siobhan. There isn’t a lot of money or much in the way of assets, but an old friend soon hires Siobhan to search for her missing daughter, a student at the exclusive Llewellyn College. The college recently admitted its first male students, a move which has not been well received by all parties, and the more Siobhan investigates, the clearer it becomes that there is something rotten in the state of Llewellyn — and plenty of very strange characters. At times, the bonkersness of it all did get out of hand, but the mystery is complex and well-plotted, and Siobhan is a great character: funny, smart and independent. This is the first in a series of Siobhan O’Brien novels, so if you like her, stay tuned!
So here’s something that I don’t encounter very often — an academic paper on one of my books. This one is for Love Love, and it’s like…super academic. Like it’s got an abstract and everything. Here’s the gist:
Recently, new Asian American novels are using the trope of adoption in unconventional ways. Sung J. Woo’s Love Love and Bich Minh Nguyen’s Pioneer Girl both employ the motif of adoption in their plot, yet unlike the representative Asian American literary works featuring adoption such as Gish Jen’s Love Wife, Chang-Rae Lee’s Gesture Life, and Jane Jeong Trenka’s The Language of Blood, they portray cases of homoracial, inter-country adoption. Instead of visiting the country of origin in Asia with questions of biological relatives and reasons for adoption, both protagonists travel domestically to San Francisco in order to explore their identity. San Francisco becomes an intriguing city of origin for both Asian American protagonists who walk the city as flâneur figures with a postmodern sensibility. Kevin Lee in Love Love observes San Francisco as a cosmopolitan city. Lee Lien in Pioneer Girl considers it a place of reinvention in the West. While the history of Kevin’s Korean American birth father belongs to the social and cultural history of 1970s San Francisco, and not to the ethnic histories of Asian America, the adoption mystery of Rose Wilder Lane beckons Lee Lien deeper into an American literary history. As San Francisco is marked as “origin” or “birthplace” on the map of Asian American itineraries, not as destination of Asian migrations, narratives of adoption offered by these novels suggest the changing mode of Asian American literature that interrogates and problematizes the ways in which Asian American identity and experiences are defined, represented, and imagined.
If you missed the book launch and want to take a look at it, please, be my guest. I read for a bit and then we had a nice chat with a bunch of lively Q&A. Big thanks to Laura and Annie at Odyssey Bookstore for hosting me!
(I, for one, will not be watching this, since I was in it, and also, I hate my voice.)