Suspend Your Disbelief

Joshua Bodwell

Contributing Editor

Joshua Bodwell is the executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. He is a regular contributor to Poets & Writers Magazine, and he recently served as the series editor for a three-volume edition of the collected short stories and novellas of Andre Dubus (David R. Godine, Publisher), with introductions by Ann Beattie, Richard Russo, and Tobias Wolff. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in magazines and quarterlies such as Ambit (London), Glimmer Train’s Writer’s Ask, Threepenny Review, and Slice. His journalism has garnered awards from the Maine and New England press associations. He was awarded the 2015 Marianne Russo Award for emerging authors from the Key West Literary Seminar.

Photo Credit: Curt Richter


Shop Talk |

Stories We Love: Two Stories and A Life

On June 9, 1992 I turned seventeen years old and my father gave me a single gift: a book that contained a short story that changed my life. The book was Septuagenarian Stew by Charles Bukowski and the short story was the first in the collection: “Son of Satan.” It’s a simple story, really, just six and a half pages long, propelled by curse-riddled dialogue and clipped, action-filled sentences. Classic Bukowski. But unlike many of Buk’s bum and whore populated tales, “Son of Satan” is told by an eleven-year-old narrator. After the narrator and his two friends accuse another boy […]

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Parsing the Percentages: Peeking Behind the Curtain of E-book vs. Print Book Sales

When media outlets that cover the American publishing industry report on book sales and e-books “vs.” print books, they often cite percentages of sales increases and sales decreases as evidence of the current state of affairs. In reality, percentages don’t and can’t offer a full picture. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) recently released book sales data for November 2011. The e-newsletter Shelf Awareness had this to say about the AAP report: E-books yet again had the biggest gain, but the 65.9% increase marked a slowing of what had been triple-digit increases for most of the preceding several years. In […]

Essays |

The Problem of the Author: On Not Reading Autobiography into the Writing of Andre Dubus

What is the difference between art and life, between the writer and the writing? In this essay on the late, great Andre Dubus, we learn how Dubus recognized “transformative moments” as authors Richard Ford and Anne Beattie, among others, weigh in on his talents, and his legacy.

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Do Americans Spend More on Books or Movies? Conventional Wisdom Is Often Wrong.

Borders filed for bankruptcy on February 16, and the bookselling behemoth will be pulled from the New York Stock Exchange today, March 21. This collapse of the second-largest bookseller in the U.S. hangs like a pall over the entire book industry. Just as the growing interest in digital reading devices has led some pundits to cry that the “death of books” is nigh, some would have us believe that the Borders book bungling is representative of the entire book industry. So how healthy is the bookselling industry really? On the day Borders filed for bankruptcy protection, Publishers Weekly put numbers […]

Interviews |

He Was Just There For Me: An Interview with Lily King

Lily King’s three novels stand as testaments to the power and endless variation of familial relationships. King’s latest novel, Father of the Rain, tells the story of a daughter’s life-long, primal loyalty to her charming and manipulative father. Interviewer Joshua Bodwell discusses longhand, autobiographical influence, puppies, and how to depict realistic sex, with a writer whose work remains “a beacon of tenderness and sincerity.”

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United States Artists: Propelling America's Creative Potential

United States Artists, the five-year-old philanthropic organization known for the fifty $50,000 fellowships it awards each year to “America’s finest artists,” has gotten into the Kickstarter business. Propelled by their mission to “invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society,” United States Artists has started a Projects portion of their website, designed to help several of their fellows launch projects. The new initiative caught my eye when Wesley McNair, a Maine-based poet whose work I greatly admire, announced “Letters Between Poets.” McNair himself was a USA Ford Fellow in 2006, and is much-revered for penning […]

Interviews |

The Rebel from Helena: An Interview with Maile Meloy

Through prose that is concise, confident, and empathetic, Malie Meloy evokes what David Foster Wallace called the “plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions” of life, and treats them with “reverence and conviction.” Joshua Bodwell talked with Meloy about her newest collection, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, the craft of writing short fiction, and the art of finding the right voice for a story.

Essays |

Ron Currie, Jr., Reads: Postcard from Portland, Maine

Spring is wet in Maine. The rivers swell and roadways succumb. Driveways turn to mud pits and basements flood. We take it all in stride, because living here is worth such minor irritations.

But this past spring, the rain seemed ceaseless. The normally bearable soggy months stretched into June and stole the beginning of summer from us. So, expecting Mainers to sit inside a bookstore on the first clear, balmy evening in early July seemed like too much to ask. Even the author Ron Currie, Jr., a Maine native himself, seemed hesitant to go inside Portland’s Longfellow Books for a reading and signing of his new novel Everything Matters! (Viking, 2009).

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Simon Van Booy wins world’s largest short story prize

On September 20th, at a ceremony in Cork, Ireland, the 34-year-old author Simon Van Booy collected the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and a 35, 000 Euro check for his collection, Love Beings in Winter (Harper Perennial, 2009). When last year’s O’Connor Award was given to Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, judges did away with even selecting a shortlist. This year, however, Van Booy one of six writers that made up an impressive, international shortlist: An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe); Singularity by Charlotte Grimshaw (New Zealand); Ripples and other Stories by Shih-Li Kow (Malaysia); The Pleasant Light […]

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