Because I was determined that my life be about more than my worst hours on earth —River Bend Chronicle by Ben Miller

Type treatment by Eric Tran, Lookout Intern

Because I was determined that my life be about more than my worst hours on earth —River Bend Chronicle by Ben Miller

Type treatment by Eric Tran, Lookout Intern

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 http://www.lookout.org/Rybickireadings.html.)

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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: http://www.cancersupport4u.org/that-cancer-showtrade.html. “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.

How was your weekend? On Friday we had a (belated) picnic to celebrate the release of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle. Thanks, Ben, for the tasty bubbly!

How was your weekend? On Friday we had a (belated) picnic to celebrate the release of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle. Thanks, Ben, for the tasty bubbly!

Review of Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision in Financial Times:
"Sometimes, you look at a really intricate piece of work and you think something quite banal. You think: “How in the name of all that is holy did they get the ship into the bottle?” That is exactly what I found myself thinking as I read these stories – each of them meticulously made, miraculously precise, and so fully populated that you marvel one mind could invent so many distinct human beings from scratch."

Review of Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision in Financial Times:

"Sometimes, you look at a really intricate piece of work and you think something quite banal. You think: “How in the name of all that is holy did they get the ship into the bottle?” That is exactly what I found myself thinking as I read these stories – each of them meticulously made, miraculously precise, and so fully populated that you marvel one mind could invent so many distinct human beings from scratch."

Ben Miller Review in Star Tribune.

"Miller’s prose throughout combines that knack for close observation and gently mocking tone, such as when he romanticizes his neighbor Mr. Hickey but bemusedly remembers how the man’s sister tried to equip him with a gun. His mother comes in for the harshest treatment, as he catalogs her self-martrying attitude and emotional disorganization, symbolized by a massive handbag he calls Moby Purse."

Read the rest here!

Designing the Interiors of The Debut Voices of Lookout Books Chapbook

Lookout Books is getting excited about AWP. We hope you’ll stop by our table at the Bookfair, and that you’ll attend The Debut Voices of Lookout Books, which is happening this Friday at 1:30 p.m. This reading will be the first time all four Lookout authors are in the same place, and the event will be followed by a book-signing at our Bookfair table. You’ll be able to grab signed copies of all our Lookout titles. We’re also excited about unveiling the limited edition chapbook that we printed in-house to commemorate the Debut Voices event.

We did a blog post about creating glyphs for the chapbook (read it here). Now we’re going to share how we designed the interior of the chapbook, which features complete stories from our three prose authors’ Lookout titles and two poems from our Lookout poet . Here’s a look into the process of designing and printing the book:

As the interior designer, I met with the interns doing cover design and together we decided on a trim size of 6” x 6”. Then I got to work on designing a page layout, asking for feedback as we worked.

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1. An early version, with handwritten feedback. We needed to feature the author name more prominently, to group the name and title differently, and to give the text more room to breathe with some larger margins.

After taking everybody’s suggestions into account, I came up with the final layout, threaded the pieces into the InDesign document, had multiple people copy-edit printouts of the document, and then started printing.

 

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2. Printing the book in The Publishing Laboratory. The new interior is pretty different from the one pictured above.

I spent the better part of two days printing, trimming pages on the guillotine trimmer, binding on the perfect binder (someday I’ll chuckle wistfully at the memory of my rookie mistake that spread glue all over the machine, and the hours we spent chipping away at it), and giving the bound books a final trim.

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3. A bound chapbook awaiting trimming. The bow-tie covers are in honor of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle. There are four cover designs total, each with a glyph that symbolizes that author’s work.

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4. More bound chapbooks, resting under the weight of the entire English language.

Hands-on experience is one of the major reasons why I’m a Lookout intern. We really like all the emailing and editing and marketing that goes along with the job, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about spending a couple weeks actually making a book. It was definitely a learning experience: fun, exciting, and occasionally exhausting. We did a print-run of only 38 copies, so snatch one up as soon as you can!

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5. Finished!

—Kathleen Jones, Lookout Intern

Three Great Memoirs about Place

With the March 12 release of Ben Miller’s River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll Amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa, the Lookout interns wanted to celebrate five strong memoirs about place.

Only three are listed here since River Bend Chronicle is a soon-to-be fourth. (Rounding out our list will be the forthcoming joint effort by Lookout Interns and PubLab TAs that will focus on lives subject to the cruel whim of the Adobe Creative Suite and there’s always a disturbing amount of doughnuts.)

But for now, books that have been released:

 

1. A Childhood: The Biography of a Place by Harry Crews

Harry Crews was perhaps the greatest (or at least most relentless) of the many post-WWII literary firebrands from the South, as evidenced by this gripping memoir detailing the death of a father, a little run-in with polio, hog-killing, poverty, feuds, and other particulars of the life of a six-year old in 1940s Bacon County, Georgia.

Like River Bend Chronicle, A Childhood faces change—of place, of culture, of identity—head on: “I have had to rely not only on my own memory,” Crews says, “but also on the memory of others for what follows here: the biography of a childhood which necessarily is the biography of a place, a way of life gone forever out of the world.

 

2. Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street by Lee Stringer

Before he was a homeless drug addict living beneath Grand Central Station, Stringer ran a successful graphic design company, which just goes to show you that you shouldn’t take those blessings for granted. I know the cover of your Moleskine tore today, but things could be worse. You might, like Stringer, have to fortify your living space “with enough cardboard baffles to hold any rats at bay (the secret being, of course, to never bring food down here. It’s the food that attracts them).” You might have nothing to do all day but scrape together enough money to buy drugs and then use said drugs in a crawl space beneath the subway. But then you might find a pencil and start writing. “After that there were four things I did every day,” Stringer says after finding his pencil. “Hustle up money, cop some stuff, beam up, and write. And in the end I wound up dropping the other three.”

 

3. The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness by John Haines

No one writes about snow and killing animals (and animals killing) better than Haines. Where Miller chronicles the junkification of life in urban Iowa, Haines gives us a record of a time before there was “urban” anything, a record of “[t]hat intuitive relation to the world we shared with animals, with everything that exists,” which “once outgrown, rarely returns in all its convincing power.”

He doesn’t just tell stories about a place, but uses that place to tell stories. In the book’s opening essay he says, “To one who lives in the snow and watches it day by day, it is a book to be read…The same text has been written there for thousands of years, though I was not here, and will not be in winters to come, to read it.” Later in the essay he comes across tracks in the snow and reconstructs the scene of a fight between a bull moose and three wolves. “What might have been a silence, an unwritten page, an absence,” he says, “spoke to me as clearly as if I had been there to see it.” I know. You wish you could write like that.

 

—Eric Cipriani, Lookout Intern

New drafts of the covers for the limited-edition Debut Voices of Lookout Books, featuring the writing of all four Lookout authors. Come check out the final product at AWP!

New drafts of the covers for the limited-edition Debut Voices of Lookout Books, featuring the writing of all four Lookout authors. Come check out the final product at AWP!

Five Cover Letter Tips for Submitting to a Literary Journal:

1.      Like all writers, we love animals, but after a while we get a little tired of hearing about your pets. If you have three turtles, we don’t think, oh but those three turtles probably need some fancy flies that could be bought with the money from publishing this story. We’re happy you have things in your life that you love—but this is a cover letter. Let’s get to your story!

 

2.      It’s usually best to keep the letter brief. Sure, we want to know that you’ve been published by the Paris Review, the New Yorker, and Agni—Hooray!—but then you’re fine with the phrase “and many other journals.” Listing another twenty places feels unnecessary. Plus the block of text makes our eyes glaze. Pick the top three or four—maybe five—and keep some mystery in this relationship.

 

3.      That being said, give us a little more than a two-word cover letter reading “story attached.” If you could write a salutation, the genre of your piece and a brief “thanks for reading,” we really would appreciate it. We want to be drawn in to your work and, let’s be honest, everyone likes a little charm. 

 

4.      Avoid all caps if possible. It’s unfortunate for all of us that Submittable won’t let you use italics. BUT PLEASE DON’T SHOUT THE TITLE OF YOUR STORY.

 

5. Many journals, including ours, are partially staffed by students, so we know it’s confusing that our genre editors turn over every two or so years. But as fiction editor, I’d rather you address me as “editor” than someone who hasn’t been involved in the magazine in eight years. It makes us think you haven’t read (or, come on, Googled) the magazine in eight years either. We want to invest time in you; invest a little time in us.  Let us know you read and know us as a magazine.

 

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Ecotone’s overwhelmed fiction editor. Ahh!


— Nicola DeRobertis-Theye, Lookout Intern, Fiction Editor of Ecotone