Greetings from Pasadena ☀️
I started Bookish in mid-March 2023 after talking with Sean Singer about his poetry-focused Substack The Sharpener. Sean’s enthusiasm for his experiences compelled me to look into what was going on here—previously, I’d only heard about Substack in passing, and have since discovered a bona fide carnival of ideas, reflections, bons mots, photographs, but above all, highly engaging essays and posts from writers I admire—ones both new to me and more familiar.
With Bookish, my focus is on literary and literature-adjacent topics including the craft of writing, the publishing and entertainment industries, and making a life as a writer, which requires an adept handling of or at least a kind of stoicism in the face of disappointment and frustrated aspirations.
Since 2010, I’ve published four books with a corporate press, Bloomsbury, and three books with three indie presses: 7.13 Books, Tortoise Books, and Northwestern University Press. Each is a work of fiction—novels and story collections. As both a writer and a writing professor, the trends that affect writers and readers are frequently top of mind. This subject matter is where Bookish is rooted.
I’ve experienced critical highs: as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a recipient of the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, two Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Awards, Ploughshares’ Zacharis Prize, an O. Henry Award, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, among other honors, and some lows: i.e. the dubious honor of being a midlist author; in other words, a writer with a middling sales track, which, candidly, is the fate of most authors. The duality of critical success and commercial misfire is fodder for some of the essays I’ll share here, too.
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