design by Lookout intern Katie Jones

design by Lookout intern Katie Jones

Friday Author Roundup

Thank goodness it’s Friday! To kick off the weekend, we’re once again showing our Lookout authors some love. Check out the recent happenings that caught our eye: 

The blog of the Antioch Review recently featured Edith Pearlman on how her short story “Decorum” (Fall 2013 issue) came into being.

Edith sat down with novelist Carrie Brown, on behalf of The Howard County Poetry and Literary Society of Columbia, MD, to talk about influential writers and how her past as a computer programmer “connects to the brevity and economy of her short stories.” Take a few moments and watch the wonderful interview. 

Benjamin Percy’s novel Red Moon will be adapted into a FOX TV series. Academy Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman and producer Ilene Staple are working to bring the story to life. 

An excerpt from Maggie Shipstead’s forthcoming novel, Astonish Me, is featured in the 2014 Spring/Summer edition of Buzz Books. The eBook collection includes forty exclusive pre-publication excerpts you can start reading right now, for free in the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Kobo formats. We’re excited to read a preview of Maggie’s new novel, which comes out April 8!

That’s it for now. Check back Monday for our broadside of the week, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Want to see what we find visually stimulating? Check out our Pinterest boards. 

Introducing “What the Ax Forgets the Tree Remembers” by Edith Pearlman


I first read Edith Pearlman's “What the Ax Forgets the Tree Remembers" when considering it for the Abnormal Issue of Ecotone, in which it found its first home. I remember being excited by its boldness, made to feel uncomfortable at moments, and ready to fight for it to appear in the pages of the magazine.

At the time, I was twenty-three, in UNCW’s MFA program, and feeling a little out of my league. I was also dating a woman for the first time, and coming to terms with my sexuality. Reading Pearlman’s complicated characters felt almost essential to me, and the story’s ending stayed with me long after—a piece of wisdom I’ve often returned to.

The story follows fifty-year-old Gabrielle on a path of self-discovery after she uncharacteristically volunteers for the local chapter of The Society Against Female Mutilation, an organization that hosts testimonial-driven seminars in church basements and hotel meeting rooms. A petite and attractive woman, Gabrielle “was without her high-heeled shoes only in the bath.” Before her sudden philanthropy, her only responsibilities in life included her concierge job at The Devlin Hotel and the “half-crippled aunt back in Pittsburgh” she visits annually.

After two marriages, Gabrielle devotes her welcome single life to her looks; she bikes to work, dresses well, and maintains a stylish haircut. She’s undergone a hysterectomy to do away with the “nuisance” of a period. But upon joining the Society Against Female Mutilation, Gabrielle finds herself truly helping others, maybe for the first time. Here she meets Selene, a woman who shares her testimony with the group, describing the pain of sex and childbirth after her ritualistic surgery, a procedure that her mother and her mother’s mother underwent in Somalia when they were her age.

Selene’s quiet and gracious presence affects Gabrielle. They become friends, and later, something more. Selene imparts the proverbs that become the story’s threads, as well as its title, the very wisdom that perhaps helps Gabrielle when things begin to change.

Pearlman’s description of the human body is precise and strange, and her characters equally so. Perhaps part of me liked Gabrielle’s simple life from the beginning of the story; maybe I was envious of her straightforwardness. By the end, though—and each time I reread the story—I’m jealous of Pearlman’s ability to create wholly Gabrielle’s world. A master of the short story, she pulls me in again and again, and each time, I’m surprised and made uncomfortable, and I look for someone else I can show it to.

Sally J. Johnson,
Ecotone Managing Editor

First Paragraph from “Alamo Plaza” by Brad Watson

"The road to the coast was a long, steamy corridor of leaves. Narrow bridges over brush-choked creeks. Our father drove, the windows down, wind whipping his thick black hair. Our mother’s hair, abundant and auburn and long and wavy, she’d tried to tame beneath a pretty blue scarf. He wore a pair of black Ray-Bans. She wore prescription shades with the swept and pointed ends of the day. He whistled crooner songs and smoked Winstons, and early as it was, no one really talked."

—Brad Watson

Excerpted from “Alamo Plaza” from Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade. Copyright © 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington. Used by permission of Lookout Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Sunday Times Names Binocular Vision Fiction Book of the Year


Lookout Books would like to congratulate Edith Pearlman on her most recent success! The Sunday Times says:

"Pearlman’s UK debut at the age of 76 is a dazzling revelation. Written over a 35-year span, the stories in this collection winningly exhibit her impressive breadth of subject matter. Conjured up with atmospheric flair, locations range from London during the Blitz to condominiums in present-day New England via postwar Paris, Latin America, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Jerusalem. Characters — frequently cosmopolitan — are correspondingly various, as are tone and mood, which modulate between ironic comedy and pathos. Rich in social detail, the stories are alive with psychological and emotional subtlety. Long delayed, their arrival here is a cause for celebration.”

Be sure to check out the rest of the article to read more about Binocular Vision as well as the other Sunday Times picks. 

As we begin to prepare for the upcoming AWP conference in Seattle, we just can’t forget about Boston. In case you missed it, here’s a highlight from the conference featuring Andre Dubus III and our very Edith Pearlman reading and discussing their work. Thanks to The PEN/Faulkner Podcast Series for making this available!


Check out the podcast and look for us in Seattle!

John Rybicki Begins North Carolina Book Tour

Lookout is proud to announce that poet and Lookout author John Rybicki will be heading out on a North Carolina tour this coming week. The tour, made possible with generous support from the North Carolina Arts Council, will include stops at oncology centers, a library, and a bookstore.

Planning this tour for John has been such a pleasure, and we are so excited about creating some new platforms for him to read his incredible work and to share his powerful messages of grief, hope, and healing.

(For the full tour details, including venue addresses, please go to

Above: Tour kits sent to reading venues

On the evening of Sunday, April 7, John will be a guest on “That Cancer Show,” which airs from 8 – 9 p.m. on WPTF 680 AM in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and WSJS 600 AM in the Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point area. You can listen to the program on the “That Cancer Show” website: “That Cancer Show” is a program from Cornucopia Cancer Support Center in Durham.

On Monday, April 8, John will be offering a 6 p.m. workshop/poetry discussion and 7 p.m. reading at the Morrison Regional Library in Charlotte.

John will stay in Charlotte for the night of Tuesday, April 9, too, with an appearance at Levine Cancer Institute. This reading and program will be focused on the healing arts, and nurses, doctors, patients, families, and anyone whose life has been impacted by cancer are encouraged to attend. (Like the other stops on the tour, this event is also open to the public.)

On Wednesday, John will head to the Triangle. On the evening of Wednesday, April 10, he’ll be giving a reading at Cornucopia Cancer Support Center in Durham.

On Thursday, April 11, he’ll be reading alongside former NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer and the poet John Amen at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. Feel free to join the poets for an informal discussion at Foster’s Market, next door to the bookstore, at 6 p.m. The official program at Flyleaf will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Each of the above events is open to the public. John’s Lookout title, the poetry collection When All the World Is Old, is will be available for sale at each event, and you’ll have the option to get your book signed.

John’s tour will conclude on Saturday, April 13, when he gives a presentation at the North Carolina Writers’ Network Conference at University of North Carolina Greensboro. Pre-registration is required for this event.

If you’re able to attend any of these events, please let us know what you think. We can’t wait for the tour to begin. Many thanks to the wonderful staff members at Morrison, Levine, Cornucopia, and Flyleaf for generously hosting us. See you on the road!

Now that we’ve had some time to recover from AWP 2013, here’s a little photo recap of our time in Boston. We had several great panels, including a tribute to Edith Pearlman, a talk on successful indie publishing, and our own four debut Lookout authors reading together for the first time. They also signed books at our booth and got to talk with all our loving readers.

Oh, Steve

Oh, Steve

(Source: chupacupcake)

"My first gig was in a bar. A little magazine, which died thereafter, thought that an early story of mine would entertain the patrons. So I climbed onto a chair, and, unseen in the smoke and inaudible in the din, declaimed to an audience who heard nothing except the crack as one leg of the chair collapsed and the thud as I was projected onto the chest of a very fat man. One guy did clap—he thought it was part of the act." —Edith Pearlman, on her early writing career.
Read more on the Boston Globe Web site.

"My first gig was in a bar. A little magazine, which died thereafter, thought that an early story of mine would entertain the patrons. So I climbed onto a chair, and, unseen in the smoke and inaudible in the din, declaimed to an audience who heard nothing except the crack as one leg of the chair collapsed and the thud as I was projected onto the chest of a very fat man. One guy did clap—he thought it was part of the act." —Edith Pearlman, on her early writing career.

Read more on the Boston Globe Web site.