Tag Archives: Abducted By Circumstance

Taking a strong circumstance

My newest 225 Magazine piece is up on the website. This one is a profile of David Madden’s new book Abducted By Circumstance.

In really sad news, a little birdie just told me that it looks like the 2010 Louisiana Book Festival will be canceled. Time for an enormous half million dollar fundraiser, y’all. We can do it. Me? I pledge to volunteer my time and I’ll draft two or three of my friends. No, FIVE! Just don’t cancel the festival!

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Where Y’At?

Last week, I got a gig working on a film and I’ll be doing this for a bit. Film jobs have their ups and downs, but all in all, I am really, really glad to be back on another show. The company is great (and it better be, with 12-hr days!) and it just really gets my blood going.

Jamey always says the universe gives you what you want and you’d just better be clear on what you want. I’ve taken liberties with what she says, but I think the message is generally correct. 🙂 Shortly before this gig came up, I was telling a friend in a coffee shop, “My whole body hurts when I see movie vans and I’m not working on a show.” So, the universe gave me what I needed and I’m glad it did.

The bounty of my Netflix queue offered up Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, which started filming at the tail end of The Final Destination, just a few blocks from us. Then, on Friday, at the end of my long-ass work week, I got my issue of Entertainment Weekly. The Summer Movie Preview issue, no less, which highlighted two movies filmed in New Orleans, around the same time: Jonah Hex and The Expendables. I see that Jonah Hex filmed at Lafayette #1, a cemetery near my house. I’ll be looking for that now.

So that’s where I’m at lately. I’ll carve out some time for the book, somehow, because I’m this close to finishing it. This close means I’m at page 231 of what will be about a 300 page manuscript.

Today, I swung by the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s Meet the Authors event, which featured some friends of mine. David Madden was representing his newest book, Abducted By Circumstance, and also a story that had been reprinted in Best of LSU Fiction, edited by Nolde Alexius and Judy Kahn. Then, there was presentation by Scott Ellis, author of Madame Vieux Carre and Elise Blackwell read from her newest novel, An Unfinished Score.

Let me tell you about this event. You’d kinda have to know about New Orleans in order to fully appreciate what I’m about to tell you. If you do know New Orleans, imagine the prettiest day imaginable. Bright sun, but not too hot. Absolutely clear, a sweet breeze blowing in. Lots of tourists, but not too many. You’re in the Cabildo, the upstairs room with all the windows overlooking Jackson Square and past that, the little amphitheater that’s on the river side of Decatur, right on the levee. Everything is beautiful and happy, for a moment out of time. You’re in a room with writers you admire and some you know and love. Everybody’s got new books (which you buy, that’s what credit cards are for), everybody’s dressed for spring, everybody’s digging the mint julep tea. Then, Elise Blackwell reads from her book, about a viola player, about music, and from the square below, teeming with Tarot and palm readers, musicians and street performers, an unseen man starts singing opera in this big, round voice that reaches up into the room, dueting with Elise’s voice perfectly. That’s what happy is. That’s what New Orleans is.

And then, there’s always Stanley’s afterward, with Maurice. And a few hours after that, there’s gonna be watching Treme at a great bar with friends. Actually, that second part would be in about an hour, y’all, I got to get going…

But before I do, here’s some pictures, cause you know I’m all about giving you presents.

David and I

Judy Kahn, Scott Ellis, David Madden, Elise Blackwell, Nolde Alexius

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Filed under book news, bragging on, Friends, literature, music, New Orleans, writing updates

Some bragging on and some poetry

This is an extra cool bragging on post, for me, for a couple of different reasons. First, it involves two of my mentors and former bosses. I was lucky enough to see earlier versions of both of the works while they were still evolving. And both of them are poets and taught me a lot about poetry, at a time (like I mentioned in my last post) when poetry was a larger part of my life.

I receive a Christmas card from Ava Leavell Haymon every year. Not just any Christmas card, but a card with one of Ava’s poems and some artwork behind it. She works really hard on them, as I know firsthand since I worked for her. I didn’t get one this year. 😦 Or, I thought I didn’t. A few days ago, I opened up a belated Christmas card from Ava and her husband Cordell. On the back, they’d jokingly had printed:

Happy Holidays

Happy New Year

Happy Groundhog Day

All the best wishes, all the time-Cordell and Ava

It made me laugh. But even better than the sweet joke was the fine print beneath it informing me that her newest book of poetry is out at the end of the month from LSU Press. Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread was a manuscript when I was working for Ava and it contained some of my favorites of her poetry. It’s a rumination on the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, focusing on Gretel’s perspective. I always suspected Ava was a bit influenced by Russia’s Baba Yaga tales as well, but that could’ve been because I was studying them in my Russian fairy tales class at around the same time. The poems captured my imagination and I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished book. The first book event is at the Baton Rouge Gallery on February 28th.

I was an undergraduate when Jim Wilcox, concerned because I was working nights at a hotel and going to classes during the day, said, “You know, David Madden is looking for a new assistant.” So, I was introduced to David and got the gig and…worked two jobs in addition to going to classes. I kinda loved my night job at the hotel. I got so much reading and studying done! I continued to work for and with David for years. When I tried to quit as his assistant to focus on graduate school, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse–partnership in his literary agency, which I had been working on in addition to other duties. So then David and I were partners for a few years and because of that experience, I got to see books like Mary Manhein’s Trail of Bones, Richard White’s Kingfish and David’s own Thomas Wolfe’s Civil War and A Primer of the Novel go from manuscripts to published books I was proud of participating it.

David’s newest book, Abducted By Circumstance, is particularly special to me because I was still working for him when he wrote the first version of  “Abducted By Circumstances.” That version has traveled a far distance to become his new novel – not just as indicated by the setting, which is now the Thousand Islands of New York, but thematically and stylistically as well. David says I was the first person to read that first short piece and I clearly remember letting myself into his house one day for work and he, consumed with creative energy, asked me to take a seat, then read me what he’d been working on. Seeing now that it’ll soon be published, I feel like I’m witnessing the full arch of something profound. David always inspires me.

The cover and plot details aren’t available on Amazon.com, but I found the cover and blurbs on an interesting blog and you can read the plot details and pre-order by clicking the link in the above paragraph for the University of Tennessee Press.

[3.4.10 Update: David asked me to post this response on his behalf – “I imagine I know most of the folks Emilie knows, so I am glad to be in touch and to say that I hope to see each of you by and by, in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, on my front porch knocking at my door in Black Mountain, maybe Denver in a few weeks for AWP, and/or somewhere in the literary world or the firmament above. Fondly remembering, David.” He promised to send London Bridge info soon. Also, if you want to read a summary of David’s work and career that I wrote a few years ago, check out the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture – Vol. 9 Literature.]

While I was writing this, I got an email that Clarence will appear with Ethan Dilsdorf next month as part of the Readers & Writers series, for their 25th anniversary. March 21st at 8:30 p.m. on the LSU campus.

And now, I’ll leave you with a poem, as promised. I did, in fact, get a book of Lucille Clifton’s poetry from the library, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Just before I sat down to write this, I read a few poems, like savoring bon-bons before my work and I was gobsmacked by this one.

why some people be mad at me sometimes
they ask me to remember
but they want me to remember
their memories
and i keep on remembering
mine

[A 2.25.10 P.S./Update: I have now officially hit two new superlative records with the blog’s traffic. Yesterday was my busiest traffic day so far, significantly beating out the previous busiest day, which already made me happy. And, in just the first two months of this year, the blog has already had more traffic than the last 6 months of last year combined. While it might seem like I’m bragging on myself here, I’d actually like to take a moment to thank YOU for helping to grow my blog, for being somewhat interested in what I have to say. I hope to see lots more busiest days and personal records with your help. Thank you for reading.]

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Filed under book news, bragging on, poetry