Friday, December 10, 2010

Suggested gifts for writers, or those who love good writing

Anyone who really knows me understands that I am not the biggest fan of the Christmas season. I dislike the annual frenzied, consumer-driven ritual it has become, and the constant, media-inflicted we-must-save-the-American-economy guilt.

However, if you love Christmas and/or feel the need to buy gifts, you might as well support good writing, and publications that deserve to continue. [Note: These are not paid promotions...]  Here are a few of the things I am giving to others and to myself:

I Just Lately Started Buying Wings is by Writing Home friend, Kim Dana Kupperman.
    "In this collection of essays, Kupperman looks at major life events—divorce, death, falling in love—with a candor and wisdom that gently places the reader into scenes from her life. We experience her mother's crazed neglect, her father's distance, a new lover's exquisite beauty. ...Kupperman proves that she has found her own wings, and is soaring." [from my review]
     For more on this book, see the NYT book review and NYT Paper Cuts interview with Kim.

A wonderful surprise arrives in my mailbox every three weeks in the form of one story magazine, which provides just what it says—one short story—in a pocketbook-sized issue. While other short story markets continue to dry up, OS keeps plugging away, publishing more than 140 short stories since 2002. I have to admit that it's the size that prompted me to subscribe to it—it's just a little bigger than the early issues of my own (defunct) a very small magazine. But it's the stories that keep me reading and wanting more.

Amazingly, The Sun magazine has been continuously publishing intelligent writing since the mid-1970s and, in recent years, without the support of advertisements. What began for publisher Sy Syfransky as a venture put together in a friend's garage and hawked from his backpack on the streets of Chapel Hill, N.C., is now a respected prize-generating enterprise; stories and essays from The Sun are regularly picked for Pushcart, Best American..., and other publishing awards.
      The long interview, at the front of the magazine, is almost always provocative and interesting; "Readers Write," at the back of the magazine, offers lyrical glimpses into readers' lives; and the fiction and essays in the center of the magazine showcase some of the best writing around. My only criticism of The Sun is that is can veer toward the dark and depressing a little too often. But not to read it is to miss out on things that feel important and necessary.
    The Sun is currently struggling, it seems, to stay afloat, requesting contributions and suggesting that subscribers give friends gift subscriptions. So, if you subscribe to The Sun (as a present to yourself), consider also giving gift subscriptions to people you know who cherish good writing.

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