Thursday, April 27, 2017
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Laura van den Berg Archive

Laura van den Berg

Bed Head

March 25th, 2009
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

I have fallen out of love with desks and chairs. Truman Capote was onto something when he said, “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch.” Mr. Capote, I must agree: writing in bed is, like, the best thing ever.

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Laura van den Berg

Joy Williams is the Bomb

March 2nd, 2009
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

Okay, so this isn’t the first time I’ve publicly shared my love for Joy Williams, but did anyone else catch her piece on Flannery O’Connor in the NYT Sunday Book Review? Did anyone else love how Williams completely circumvented writing the traditional “review” of Brad Gooch’s new biography and instead invoked an incredibly poignant and idiosyncratic portrait of O’Connor? By far one of the most interesting things I’ve read in the NYT Book Review in some time.


Laura van den Berg

The Right Stuff

February 7th, 2009
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

Ah packing. Some people seem to do it effortlessly: one sleek rolling suitcase that somehow contains everything they need. A place for everything and everything in its place. I am not one of those people. I like to think that I’m simply of a different era, meant to travel in a time when it was customary to use steamer trunks, but the truth is I just don’t do minimalism well. I do it so poorly, in fact, that I’m still scarred by my experience of lugging two massive, non-rolling suitcases through the Paris metro, in the throes of summer, sweating and staggering as effortlessly chic French breezed past. I got lost, transferred approximately one million times, climbed endless flights of stairs. I distinctly remember thinking: in hell, this is what people would do all day long.

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Laura van den Berg

Welcoming The Rumpus

January 27th, 2009
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC- 

As space for book reviews continues to dwindle in many print publications, it’s always exciting to see new, high-quality venues for reviews and dialogue about arts/culture. Which means the launch of The Rumpusoverseen by Stephen Elliot, with Andrew Foster Altschul serving as the books editor, is a good reason to celebrate. A recent press release calls this online publication “a single source for books, music, movies, art, sex and politics…The site has already compiled a formidable selection of original content, including interviews with Malcolm Gladwell, James Frey, Steven Soderbergh and Mary Roach, and essays by Po Bronson, Dan Chaon and Robin Romm, just to name a few. Also unique to TheRumpus.net is its stable of exclusive blogs, with authors such as Rick Moody on independent music, Jerry Stahl on life after 50, Bitchy Jones on the intersection of dominance and domesticity, political humor by Will Durst, and tales of an ‘anonymous Chicago cop.’” (more…)


Laura van den Berg

Reasons to be Happy About 2009

January 9th, 2009
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

Well, for starters, we’re about to get a new president. And there are so many awesome-sounding books coming out this year. Here are a handful of titles I’m especially looking forward to picking up in 2009: 

The Sky BelowStacey D’Erasmo, January. (It’s out! Buy it!)

Live Nude Girl: My Life as an ObjectKathleen Rooney, January. (See if Kathleen, along with her book tour partner in crime Kyle Minor, will be coming to a bookstore near you during their epic tour.)

Big World, Mary Miller, February. (Disclaimer: I’m reading a ARC now. It’s really good).

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Laura van den Berg

New Issue of Memorious

December 30th, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

As a staff member at Memorious, an online journal of new verse and fiction, I’m super excited to be announcing the release of the Fall 2008 issue. This fifth anniversary issue of Memorious features poetry and prose from Kevin Prufer, G. C. Waldrep, Kelle Groom, Todd Hearon, and B.J. Hollars, as well as a conversation between Alexander Chee and Sigrid Nunez, an interview with Larissa Szporluck, and some pretty awesome emerging writers.

About Memorious: the first issue of Memorious was published in 2004. Work first published in Memorious has been selected as a finalist for the Million Writers Award and has been reprinted in Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and Best of the Web. In our archives you can find work from Bob Hicok, Kim Chinquee, Major Jackson, Denise Duhamel, Steve Almond, and Benjamin Percy, to name a few, plus interviews with Pablo Neruda, Robert Creeley, Bill Knott, and Jim Shepard. 

If you have a little spare time, or need some good reading to help you recover from the holidays, go visit us! And, for the writers out there, if you think Memorious might be a fit for your work, you can check out our guidelines here



Laura van den Berg

Mini-Interview with Kodi Scheer: Winner of the 2008 Dzanc Prize

December 17th, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC–

Independent publisher Dzanc Books has selected author Kodi Scheer as the winner of the second annual Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service. She will receive $5,000 to support a proposed project of running a creative writing workshop for cancer patients and their caregivers in a Michigan hospital. A native of Blairstown, Iowa, Kodi is a graduate of the Universities of Iowa and Michigan. She is currently working on a short story collection, Gross Anatomy, and her stories have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review and Quarterly West. This week, she took the time to answer a few questions.

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Laura van den Berg

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

November 21st, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

So I’ve been working my way through the Best American Short Stories 2008 this fall. I always buy these anthologies with the intention of reading them all the way through, but usually end up reading a few stories and then setting the book aside, a pattern I was determined to break this year. I must admit that, last night, I approached Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove with some reluctance. I liked the first paragraph, but had a sneaking suspicion that, in the end, I might find the story gimmicky, disappointing. As it turns out, I was completely mistaken. I loved this story. I loved the inventiveness, the ever-increasing depth, the beautiful prose, particualry in the final paragraphs. If any readers have read this story, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’d also be interested to hear how people approach the annual “Best American” anthologies in general. Do you buy them? If so, do you really read them? If not, why makes you pick them up year after year?


Laura van den Berg

Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon

November 13th, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

This Saturday, I will be participating in the Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon. As a participant, I will spend the day writing to raise money for Dzanc Books, a terrific independent publisher that also supports literary magazines, small presses, and writing programs in public schools and beyond. In 2007, I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the Dzanc Prize; in addition to providing monetary support, the prize allowed me to teach creative writing in a Massachusetts prison, which proved to be a rewarding and enlightening experience. Fundraising projects like the Write-A-Thon will aid Dzanc in continuing these kinds of charitable programs.

If you’re interested in sponsoring an author or participating yourself, there are more details on the Dzanc Books site. If you’re passionate about indie publishing and have the time/extra cash to get involved this Saturday, I encourage you to do so—it’s for a great cause!



Laura van den Berg

Joy Williams at Bookslut

November 9th, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

For all you Joy Williams fans out there, I want to point out a new interview with Williams over at Bookslut, which is exciting since this super-brilliant author (in my humble opinion, The Quick and the Dead is one of the best books ever) usually stays somewhat under the radar. Williams talks to interviewer Tao Lin about a fluorescent mineral room in a Wyoming geological museum, book critics, and the “non-expressible,” among other things, and there’s a neat little feature that displays the original answers, composed on a typewriter, that Williams mailed in. Check it out. 


Laura van den Berg

Finally Sarah Palin Is Good For Something

September 22nd, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC

Besides jokes for nighttime talk show hosts, SNL impersonations, tabloid fodder, and inducing terrifying visions about the end of the world, or at least the complete and utter downfall of the once prosperous USA. For those who find themselves appalled by Sarah Palin’s politics (from her flirtation with book banning to her downright frightening views on choice to her ignorance about global warming to her practice of making woman in Wasilla pay for their own rape kits), her lack of knowledge about foreign affairs (as I heard someone say recently: just because I can see the moon from my backyard doesn’t mean I’m qualified to be an astronaut), and her snide, shallow, divisive, anti-intellectual rhetoric, there’s good news! If you haven’t heard of this project already, or even if you have, please consider making a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s “honor.” The suggested address for the donation is: McCain for President, 1235 S. Clark Street, 1st Floor, Arlington, VA, 22202. (more…)


Laura van den Berg

Greetings from the South!

September 8th, 2008
by Laura van den Berg

BLOWING ROCK, NC-

I’m writing my inaugural Nervous Breakdown post from a cabin in the mountains, where I’ve been living for just over a week. This is a temporary move: my boyfriend (also a fiction writer) and I jumped at the opportunity to take a “time out” from the real world and live in a free house through the spring. I’m coming from Boston, so rural North Carolina is requiring a bit of an adjustment (so many McCain/Palin signs!), and as I’ve been settling in, I must confess that there have been both feelings of exhilaration—freedom!—and anxiety. (more…)