Friday, September 30, 2016

Recent Posts from Elsewhere

In the leadup to the 1/1/17 release of my new memoir, Should I Still Wish (University of Nebraska Press, available now for pre-order), I've been writing longer posts in a couple of other places. Here's a preview with links to each:

1. Patton Oswald's Appearance on Conan O'Brien

The University of Nebraska Press Blog / September 26, 2016 / 1,292 words

...Oswalt has spent the week before Mother’s Day making a thoughtful time for his six-year-old daughter, one that allows her to sidestep with extended family, more or less, the holiday. And yet, for reasons beyond his control, the plan falls short. The ticket agent laments. What a beautiful figure she makes for the unpredictable nature of grief and the many masks it wears, how it speaks with understanding while impolitely forcing its way into too many conversations and experiences, hiding both everywhere and in plain sight. In Oswalt’s telling, like a witch in a fairy tale, grief offers unpalatable truths. Even her candy is “made from pine bark and ink.” We may guard vigilantly against grief, Oswalt seems to suggest, but grief is clever and unrelenting. It is closer than we think.

Contributors on Craft Series / The Missouri Review / June 15, 2016 / 1,306 words 

Certain family stories seem to have no beginning. My great-grandmother’s love of professional wrestling is one such story in my extended family. It was curated over the years to include a cooler of beer (that, in subsequent tellings, grew warm and cheap), an easy chair (floral-patterned, with a lever and swing hinge), and, in the pre-cable days of local broadcasts, a television with magical receptivity for broadcasting the squared circle day and night. With each retelling, Granny’s wrestling passion became a caricature, and eventually, a euphemism. Whatever else the news, one often said, “Yep, still watching wrestling.” Or so I imagined. I heard these stories second and third hand, after her death, and to this day, I can’t quite say who told them to me, or when, or why.

The Art of Words Series / Microsoft Blogs / September 16, 2016 / 1,012 words

As a congressman and senator, and later as the president of the United States, John F. Kennedy kept a coconut on his desk. The coconut was old and dried. Etched across its husk was a simple message: “11 Alive. Need Small Boat.” “11” was a designation for Kennedy’s patrol boat, which he commanded in the Pacific during World War II. One night, after the patrol boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, killing two of his crewmembers, Kennedy had risked life and limb to take his crew to safety on a nearby island, where, lacking pen and paper, Kennedy had improvised a distress signal, the coconut. Kennedy eventually flagged down a local fishing boat and gave them a coconut, which they took to a nearby Allied naval base. For his cunning and valor, Kennedy received the Navy Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart, two distinguished war decorations. But what Kennedy displayed for the rest of his life was the coconut.

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