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Sonya Unrein
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Sonya Unrein

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chicken recipe for dinner
Wonderful spicy Parmesan taste, great texture, moist and oh so easy. You can never have too many great chicken recipes.This one of the best.
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Yes, this is a video called “Shit Book Reviewers Say.” But we weren’t going to put that in the headline, because we know you’re as sick of that meme as we are and we really need you to watch this excellent compilation of book-critic clichés, starring Washington Post fiction editor Ron Charles, who officially wins our Good Sport of the Week Award. If you’ve ever winced at the overuse of “compelling,” decided that “post-9/11″ wore out its welcome a...
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How is using a 30-second video clip substantially different from using text excerpts (often out-of-context) from print news stories or op-eds in ads? Brokaw was presenting the news of the day, not an opinion or off-the-cuff remark at a political round table show. If news is meant to be seen as serving the public good and not solely as a commodity, then it shouldn't be in a protected, copyrighted class.
A senior adviser to Mitt Romney says the campaign's new TV ad will stay, despite NBC's demands that it be taken down. Does the ad qualify as "fair use?"
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Our author, Robert Garner McBrearty, on his new collection of short stories, LET THE BIRDS DRINK IN PEACE:

"My stories usually start right where the time of calm ends. I place my characters right at the moment of change, when they find themselves in new, precarious situations. For instance, four men find themselves on a life raft when their fishing boat goes down and they make awkward stabs at spirituality as they attempt to survive. A private investigator has a crisis of conscience about the woman he’s following. In “Alamo Dreams” a modern couple find themselves besieged in the Alamo.

"As a writer, I think of myself sort of as a “non-traditional” traditionalist. The “non-traditional” part often shows up in quirky, even somewhat absurdist stories. Two western outlaws discuss the merits of decaf over regular coffee. The “traditional” shows up in my desire to tell real stories with movement and change, stories I hope that matter to people’s lives. One of my early writing teachers said to me once, (no doubt too generously), “You write delightfully. In the sense of giving real delight.” When she said that, it registered with me that that was what I wanted my stories to do – to delight, to transport, to carry readers away. I sometimes think of my reader as being a poor soul at 3am in a bombed out building, and one of my books is discovered amidst the ruins. With nothing better to do, the reader begins to turn the pages, at first skeptically, and now with a growing interest, as if there’s a friend out there, someone speaking amidst the ruins. I wonder if that’s why one of my favorite books is Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. That’s sort of what that Alamo story is about, people trying to love amidst this crazy, chaotic, yet beautiful world, and I think that’s a theme that runs through my new collection Let the Birds Drink in Peace.

"By delight, though, I don’t mean “light.” Keep in mind I’m a guy who found Crime and Punishment a “delight” to read, though I did skip the original Russian."

A free story from this collection is available in three formats on the Conundrum Press site:
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Also one of the best things I've read this year.

This is my review, on Goodreads: I was convinced upon having read Richard Ford’s <i>Independence Day</i> years ago that my immersion in those pages imbued me with new powers of observation and insight into the minds of prospective home buyers and sellers. This job training by proxy was in addition to the effect of several hours of intense counseling, having been steeped thoroughly in the worldview and psychological state of its main character, Frank Bascombe. When I’d finished the novel, I felt qualified to go get a real estate license and begin a new career that would allow me to find inner equilibrium, face my personal demons and heaviest regrets, and make the world somewhat better for those clients I would soon serve. This was a passing dementia, but strong, nevertheless.

While <i>Canada</i> on its face has nothing to do with the more contemporary Bascombe trilogy, it is every bit as rich and complex if you’re looking at how a character can communicate his thought processes and state of mind from within the story. The narrator, the now-adult Dell Parsons, recounts the time he was fifteen and his world was detonated by his parents’ hapless reaction to external stresses. While the events themselves are riveting, the value of the novel lies in Dell’s recollection and storytelling, his ability to explain how children (or adolescents) think and react and construct coping mechanisms for events beyond their control. There is also a case to made for optimism, a commendation for people lucky enough to be born to choose the least-bad from an array of poor and poorer options.

Dell emerges as a singular personality, separate from his identity as a son and twin brother from a family of outcasts; the now-adult narrator has been able to see the maturation and articulate it within the narrative. Is it coming-of-age? Well, it’s not so easy to boil the novel down to a “this” or “that.” It’s Dell’s story, first. But it’s also a clear portrait of a primitive and clannish America of 1960, before civil rights and Vietnam or the looming horror of our now post-9/11 and our utter surrender to our ugliest inclinations. <i>Canada</i> doesn’t romanticize the era; cast-offs and poor people and minorities are at the forefront, and cruelty pervades. Yet in the middle of all that, in the formative part of his life, Dell is still a child, even at fifteen, with an aching need to be loved and recognized as part a family of man. And then he lives his life accordingly.

And so now I have a new tool in my kit, a way to see my life play out and try to make the most of my days, a way try to avoid judging too harshly those people I know who are unable to see their lives with that same spirit that things might improve. Ford’s writing is generous, and he evokes for me one of many artists who produce a superlative spirit of American writing. I admire and respect the work, and will not apologize for my belief that some books make us better.
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In which I try a favorite author’s earliest book only to find some welcome familiar faces Title: Ghostwritten Author: David Mitchell What it’s about: In a series of nine interlocking short stories, David Mitchell takes us from a terrorist’s hideout in Okinawa to the booth of a late-night radio DJ in New York City. Ghostwritten (2001) was his debut novel, but many readers, like myself, will have come to Mitchell through Cloud Atlas, his 2003 best ...
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Oh, fun. Let me know what you think.
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Republican politicians are treading into murky (read: sexist) waters in the contraception debate.
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Interesting and chocking read, thanks for sharing. Does having to cover for birth control violate the religious freedom?! And they are taking this question seriously? And the gravely concerned people on this panel were men, only men. Religious men. What is this? This doesn't even belong in politics, this shouldn't even have to be an issue. Religion is something we do in our spare time. It ought not be a concern for the government.

"Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed, we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about, and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are."

This... forgive me but... obsession in other people's genitals and what the neighbors do or don't do in their bedroom... it can't be sound. These people need professional help.
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Melissa Storm originally shared:
For those of you wondering how I got 200 bloggers to review my book as part of its launch. Here's the very detailed answer.

I hope you like it, and don't be scared! It's a lot of work but totally worth it too :-D

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“Homage to Hemingway” by Julian Barnes, New Yorker, July 4, 2011

I’ve never read anything by Julian Barnes before. He’s among the many writers I know by name alone. I loved this story, maybe because I have writing on the brain and this story is about a notable novelist whose writing fortunes are slipping as the conventional wisdom condemns “the aging white male author.” It’s heartbreaking, really, that the work of an individual, even a white male author, can be so cruelly dismissed.

The story is in three parts, which mirrors the Hemingway story “Homage to Switzerland,” which the protagonist uses as a writing sample in his workshops. He’s surprised to see that Hemingway is out of vogue and judged on his reputation, not on the text itself, and the protagonist is slowly stripped of his authorial power as the students question his (and Hemingway’s) motives. The story also notes how his novels are dismissed by publishers and fall out of fashion, even as he tries to capture his own experiences in them.

For writers, this story is a goldmine of meta-fiction in terms of the blurring of lines between author and the text.

Sample prose (thematic):

“He left it at that, hoping that his students would reflect on the assumptions we automatically make about people…He also hoped that they would reflect on life’s influence on art, and then art’s influence back on life.”
“He thought of trying to explain something he had recently noticed about himself: that if anyone insulted him, or one of his friends, he didn’t really mind—or not much, anyway. Whereas if anyone insulted a novel, a story, a poem that he loved, something visceral and volcanic occurred within him. He wasn’t sure what this might mean—except perhaps that he had got life and art mixed up, back to front, upside down.”

Sample prose (funny):

“He liked his students, all of them, and believed the feeling was reciprocated; he also been surprised how each, regardless of ability, wrote with an individual voice. But everyone’s critical sympathies ran only so far. Take Gunboy, as he thought of him, who turned in nothing but Gen-X stories set in a rough part of Chicago, and who, when he didn’t like someone else’s work, would shape his hand into a revolver and ‘shoot’ the author, adding the gesture of the gun’s recoil for emphasis.”

There is a critical moment when he loses the class completely after being challenged by a female student who doesn’t think Hemingway has anything to say to her (or the other students or by extension, anyone who currently lives or reads today.) He reprimands her and says, “Then try listening more carefully.” I was buoyed by this, because I hate the lazy analysis and its subsequent meme that writes off an author so blithely. If I were a teacher, I’d say read the book with care, and ignore your own likes and dislikes. Evaluate whether or not the craft was strong enough to determine its success or failure. Every close reading generates a better reader on the other end if not obscured by the tiresome politics reading stirs up in writing groups and classrooms.
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You didn't hijack the thread. That's why it's here. The short story in question was in the NYer; not sure if Barnes has a collected works version or not. I appreciate your comments a lot.
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Book editing, book design
Indesign, editing, preservation of the subjunctive mood (were, not was)
  • Independent contracting
    editing/design/consultation, 2008 - present
    I work with authors who want to self-publish books, starting with a manuscript and ending up with a professionally designed book.
  • Conundrum Press
    Senior editor, 2011 - present
    Production and editing of small press books, fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry
Professionally and privately in love with literature.
I live and work in landlocked Colorado. It's not as snowy as you think.
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Sonya Unrein's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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