The Galleys are in


The galleys for my forthcoming book (The Subway Stops at Bryant Park) came in the mail this week. What a thrill. The book comes out officially in May, but now is when we begin to try to create a buzz for the book. I’m sending galleys to something called “long lead” publishers – those publishers who need a long lead time in order to publish a review. So I’m sending them out with personal letters to places like The New York Times Book Review (a girl can dream), as well as venues that might want to sell the book, or places where I might do a reading (libraries, bookstores, cafes, etc.) If you know of any that I should be contacting, say the word.

Beautiful Mom- Audio

My childhood friend Erin deWard narrated a short story of mine, “Beautiful Mom”. It may only be available for a few days as they are posting new work every day in December to promote their audio book site. I’m so tickled though, to have my story read out loud, and to have it be read by such a good dear friend of mine who is so talented is great too.

What to Buy: Holiday 2016 Book Recommendations

A lot of people ask me what books to buy for friends and loved ones, and so I’ve compiled this handy-dandy list of book recommendations in three categories (YA, poetry and fiction). Feel free to share your own recommendations.
~~~ 1) YOUNG ADULT: El Deafo, by Cece Bell. This is a graphic novel. The author is deaf and tells the semi-autobiographical story of a deaf kid in grade school. It was sweet and funny and all, but more than that, I felt that I came to understand, the tiniest bit, what her world was like as a deaf child, and how annoying well-meaning but clueless friends can be. (other recs: The Book Thief, The War That Saved My Life, Roller Girl (also a graphic novel), and The Whys and Wherefores of Littabell Lee, an old book from the 70s that I rediscovered and loved this year)
~~~ 2) FICTION: I’m tied between Olive Kitteridge by Eliz. Strout and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Olive Kitteridge is a collection of connected short stories. If you want to write short stories, you should read this. If you like crabby, broken-hearted, middle-aged protagonists, read this. In All the Light We Cannot See, well, be ready for something different. It is about WW2 and is sometimes horrifying, but there’s great beauty too, and a young blind protagonist I will never forget. And the chapters are incredibly short … like a page or two tops. For some reason, this is a selling point for me. (other recs: The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt and Byrd by Kim Church)
~~~ 3) POETRY: I haven’t read a lot of poetry, but my sister gave me Mary Oliver’s book The Leaf and the Cloud, and I was transported. Her work relies a lot on the imagery of nature, which I love. And while it’s accessible, it’s also suitably complex so that it won’t bore more sophisticated readers.

2016 book list


my current bedside table

Following are the books I’ve read so far in 2016. Around December 1st, I will write in detail about the 5 or 6 books from this list that I think would make great holiday gifts.

I have put a single asterisk next to any book that I heartily recommend. This designation means I enjoyed the book immensely. If it has two stars, it means it was at the very top of my list, that it’s a book I keep thinking about, and is likely a book I will recommend for years to come.

If you have a question about a particular book, ask. Most of the books without stars are still fine books, but for one reason or another, did not rise to the level of favorite.

Books I’ve Read in 2016

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (fiction)

*Blue Nights by Joan Didion (memoir)

** All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (fiction)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (fiction)

**Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (fiction)

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (fiction)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (nonfiction)

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (memoir)

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (nonfiction)

Poetry for Young People: William Butler Yeats (poetry)

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (nonfiction)

**The Leaf and the Cloud by Mary Oliver (poetry)

Lydia’s Party by Margaret Hawkins (fiction)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Feed by M. T. Anderson (fiction, YA)

*A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (fiction, YA)

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (historical fiction, YA)

*Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh (nonfiction, medical)

Looking for Alaska by John Green (fiction, YA)

**The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (fiction, YA)

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (fiction, YA)

*Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (fiction, YA, graphic novel)

Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn (fiction, middle grade)

The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton (fiction, YA)

**El Deafo by Cece Bell (fiction, YA, graphic novel)

Neverhome by Laird Hunt (historical fiction)

*The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (fiction, YA)

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles (fiction)

**Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (fiction, connected short stories)

Smash Cut by Brad Gooch (memoir)

*Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon (nonfiction, travel)

The Conscious Cleanse by Jo Schaalman (nonfiction, health)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (fiction)

From Tickfaw to Shingaloo by Dixon Hearn (fiction)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (nonfiction)

*Byrd by Kim Church (fiction)

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

*An Innocent Abroad (nonfiction, short travel essays by various authors)

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

**The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (fiction)

*The Whys and Wherefores of Littabelle Lee by Vera Cleaver (fiction, YA)

The Laws of Medicine by Siddhartha Mukherjee (nonfiction, medical)

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (nonfiction)

Extreme Medicine by Kevin Fong, MD (nonfiction, medical)

**Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty (nonfiction, medical, death studies)

Best Short Stories from The Post, 2016 (fiction, short stories)


They say that good things come out of everything, and certainly we writers mine our lives for material all the time. This humor piece came when I began, for the first time in my life, to write poetry as my hysterectomy surgery neared.

This piece started off serious and poetic, but I kept making myself laugh, and there’s nothing better than that, other than making OTHER people laugh. I then sent it to McSweeney’s, a place I’ve always felt was THE place to get published – cool and aloof. Plus they always took like 6 months to reject my work, and that seemed impressive.

I heard back in 4 days that this “was a keeper”, and so in a difficult time, I give you the humor.



The Absence of Sound

2016-03-03 09.07.55.jpgNeworld Review has published “The Absence of Sound,” a story from my upcoming collection. It’s set in the library stacks that lie beneath Bryant Park, and the protagonist, Timothy, is a librarian at the New York Public Library.

This story started with a vision of the main character, a surprised-looking introvert, and it unfolded from there. When I sit in Bryant Park with my mother, we often watch people throw money in the fountain there, so I wove that in as well. Here’s the link:  The Absence of Sound in the Neworld Review




Comparable Titles



My publisher is trying to compile a list of “CompTitles” for my short story collection. It’s a tricky business. These titles are used to help distributors figure out how to market the book. They can use the titles as a good short hand (“This is like an Olive Kitteridge set in New York City”) when talking to bookstores so that the bookstores can figure out how many books to order/pre-order.

What they want is very specific though. A comp title should be a book published in the past 3 years that is also a short story collection, best if by another debut author, published by an independent press. If there are other connections (like it’s set in NYC, or in a park, or that the stories are all connected by place), that is also a help.

If you have any ideas that meet the above criteria, I’d love to hear them.

Writers, let your freak flag fly

Brevity Blog and Brevity Magazine are publications I have long admired. It was, therefore, a total surprise and honor that they accepted an essay I wrote on Wednesday about writing. I sent it to them Wednesday morning, and here they are, already publishing it! I don’t think I’ve ever had something written and published so quickly!

It’s a piece about what I think the phrase, “Writing takes bravery” means.