12 Winters Blog

Writer Meagan Cass in town, and some War and Peace

Posted in February 2011 by Ted Morrissey on February 13, 2011

This past week I was delighted to be among a group who took writer Meagan Cass to dinner at Bella Milano in Springfield, Illinois. The table arrangement did not facilitate my being able to talk much writerly shop with Meagan, but she was warm and witty, all the things a young visiting writer is supposed to be, and we all stayed long after the meal was concluded to continue to talk, in fact about three hours all together — so clearly no one was in a rush to leave her company. Earlier in the day, at a presentation I was unable to attend, she spoke of contemporary narrative’s forebears, like myth and fairytale, and how they can inspire and inform technique today. I was able to touch upon her topic at dinner, and she mentioned that her story “The Candy House of Roscoe, New York” (published in Carve Magazine) makes use of fairytale tropes in particular. I brought up her “Candy House” story as I had read it earlier in the day and enjoyed it very much. One of Meagan’s stories that I enjoyed even more is “My Highest Recommendation” (published in Minnetonka Review). The story is funny and touching and intriguing — all the things a great short story ought to be, which is no doubt why it won the journal’s 2007 Editor’s Prize.

Meagan has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and a PhD from University of Louisville Lafayette, and she lives in California, where one of her interests, apparently, is the LA Feminist Book Club.

I finished reading Anna Karenina last weekend, and even though my life runneth over with great books I’m eager to read I had to run out and purchase War and Peace, as I’m still very much in a Tolstoy kind of mood. Our local Barnes & Noble had several versions available, and I took several minutes to look them over before deciding which I preferred. I’d read the Constance Garnett translation of Anna Karenina and obviously liked it a lot, and her version of War and Peace was available in a couple of different editions; but ultimately I decided on the newer Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky translation, published by Vintage Classics. So far I feel I chose wisely. I like the liveliness of the translation itself, and I appreciate many of the edition’s special features, like a list of principal characters, including their various nicknames and their relationships to one another — my only complaint is the book’s weight: holy cow, it’s softback, but it must weigh twelve pounds; it’s like holding a bowling ball while you read. I feel like I should wear steel-toed shoes while lugging it around just in case it slips from my grip.

On the writing front, I continue to work on my novel in progress, the Authoress, and I continue to like what’s happening on the page. I’ve still yet to set up a reading in association with the release of Men of Winter. I spoke to the owner of a coffeehouse in Galesburg, Illinois (Carl Sandburg’s and my hometown), and he sounded very enthusiastic about hosting a reading. In fact, I got off the phone thinking it was a done deal and it was just a matter of finding a date. He wanted me to email him further information, which I did immediately … it’s been going on two weeks and he hasn’t responded. Who knows? On a happier note, my publisher, Punkin House, has found a major distributor for its books, and I’m looking forward to finding out more details. In a couple of weeks I’ll be at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, where I will, among other things, read the first chapter of Men of Winter.

Also, an editor has expressed an interest in interviewing me with regards to my novella Weeping with an Ancient God, an excerpt of which was published in The Final Draft last fall under the title “Melvill in the Marquesas” (since archived at this blog); the interview is supposed to take place later this month or beginning of March, but we’ll have to see what happens there. I’m hoping to bring out the novella along with a collection of previously published stories later this year.

tedmorrissey.com

Men of Winter (purchase print paperback edition)

Pathfinding: a blog devoted to helping new writers find outlets for their work (my Punkin House author’s blog)

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