Category Archives: News

Soon: WITTScast Does Poetry!

In Episode 27 the WITTScasters will take a brief break from fiction and try to put together an insightful half-hour of poetry discussion. The following poems will help form the basis of what they’re trying to say:

(Oh, and the light summer schedule is over, so Episode 27 will come out on September 2nd, just one week after Episode 26!)

Reminder: No New Episode This Week

We started this podcast with the idea of creating a virtual barroom that would mimic the actual barroom we used to meet at in our MFA days. Well, one of the other benefits of an MFA program is the sweet, sweet summertime. While we’re not taking the summer off by any means, we are relaxing our schedule a bit to accommodate the one-two punch of hyper busyness and epic laziness that summer so beautifully delivers. So for July and August, look for new shows every other Monday.

Come back and join us here July 15 for episode 23, when we talk about literary field trips just in time for your summer vacation planning. See you then!

The knot between authors and readers

The NY Times has reported that David Mamet will be self-publishing his next play, with facilitation from his agent. This is a big deal because it’s one of the first times a big-name literary author is bypassing the traditional publishing model.

I’ve previously referenced the squirrelly ethical dilemma faced by agents who want to facilitate their clients in self-publishing. It seems the agent has a strong motivation to choose the easiest, most profitable route — which is a challenge as well for home sellers dealing with a real estate agents.

But another reason the David Mamet news is interesting is because it raises an entirely different question: Is he really self-publishing?  Continue reading

Happy Sam Lipsyte Day!

When we say “Good things come to those who wait,” the emphasis tends to be on the waiting rather than the eventual, elusive good things. Well, today marks the release of Sam Lipsyte’s new story collection The Fun Parts, so rejoice: The waiting is over. Good things are here.

I’d have to sit down and make the list (don’t think I won’t do it), but Lipsyte’s novel Home Land is comfortably in my all-time top 10. For that reason alone, I probably think of him more as a novelist than a story writer even though he’s one of those tricky Richard Ford types who seems equally adept at both. I first read Venus Drive, his previous collection, on a flight from Indianapolis to Denver, which I remember because I made more use of the fold-down tray table on that trip than I ever did even back when airplanes were serving meals; on almost every page, some insight or line of dialogue made me set down the book and regather my wits, let my head catch up to what I was reading. Continue reading

“The Devil’s Bay”

Jon’s a little aww-shucks to post this himself, but Ben and I think you should check out the good Mr. Sealy’s new story “The Devil’s Bay,” available online in the new issue of Fiddleblack. The story is but one of many ways to highlight his versatility, as he seamlessly showcases the Carolinas through a Gothic lens and tosses around verbs like “bushwhacked” as if he had a lifetime supply to spare. Which he probably does.

Cheers, Jon!

On Burying the Hatchet

Just announced: The Hatchet Job of the Year for 2013, awarded by The Omnivore for the best (read: most savage) book review of the last 12 months. This year’s honoree is Camilla Long, for her Sunday Times review of Rachel Cusk’s memoir Aftermath. The full review is available here, wherein Long describes the author as “a brittle little dominatrix and peerless narcissist” and sums up the book as “acres of poetic whimsy and vague literary blah, a needy, neurotic mandolin solo of reflections on child sacrifice and asides about drains.”

Now, look. I’ve got opinions. Last year, I wrote online that The Tree of Life was the year’s best screensaver, and I earnestly think Taylor Swift may be one of the five worst people in America. It’s fun to be critical sometimes, let judgment run loose on some deserving work of art after trying to nice your way through the day. Being judged is an understood part of the bargain for anyone putting something creative out into the world for public (and commercial) consumption — I’d even argue that it’s essential, that good art only has meaning if we know what distinguishes it from bad art, and formal criticism helps us make those distinctions. When done right, it’s actually an art form unto itself.

But something about this award very much turns me off. Continue reading

What I’m Trying to Say: Writing Podcast Coming Soon

Greetings! Welcome to What I’m Trying to Say, a weekly podcast about the writing life. Hosted by fiction writers Jon, Brian, and Ben, What I’m Trying to Say is a virtual barroom chat about what we’re writing, what we’re reading, and how we can do it all better.

New episodes will be released every Monday (or close to it). Each week, we’ll check in to see how our own writing is going, discuss an issue related to craft or the writing life, compare notes on a piece we’ve all read, and recommend other good things to read. Occasionally, we’ll also interview other writers, prolific readers, and bookish types. You can check this page for new episodes and a list of stories or journals (most available online) we’ll be reading for future episodes.

In addition to the show, this blog will be updated regularly. Topics will include publishing industry news, micro-essays on craft, book reviews, writing exercises, recaps of our biggest triumphs and most spectacular failures, and some wolf-like baying at the moon. So keep an eye on this page and put it on your RSS feed.

We hope you’ll join us for all of it.

Got something to say? Email us at witts {at}

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @WITTScast.