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Posts Tagged ‘narrative nonfiction’

The Morning News 1

Three Feet by Six Feet by Three Feet

What sounded like a scream jolted me awake at 5:54 a.m. Less than two feet away, the man in the neighboring capsule had awakened from a nightmare, but the way he followed it with three quick sneezes made me wonder if his cry was actually the first in a series of predawn sneezes. There in my narrow capsule, at the top of two stacked rows of sleepers in a warren of hallways, I rolled on my side, my knees pressed against the tan plastic wall, and squeezed my eyes shut. I couldn’t fall back asleep.

Every sound was magnified in the polite, labored silence of the capsule hotel: a humming fan; a rattling curtain; a strange mechanical whoosh, whoosh. As time passed and the Tokyo sky lightened outside, the sound of rousing sleepers filled the hall. Men cleared their throats. One crinkled a plastic bag. Others coughed and sniffled. When a guest lowered a piece of luggage from his capsule, it hit the carpeted floor with a reverberating thud. This hotel contained 630 capsules spread throughout its many floors in what entomologists might describe as a human hive. In the neighboring cell, a man… Continue Reading

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har_hires

POSTCARD — February 10, 2014

Nothing Is Strange

A trip to Murakami’s jazz club

By 

Murakami at Book House You. © Tatsuya Mine

Murakami at Book House You. © Tatsuya Mine

Before he became a novelist, Haruki Murakami was a jazz fan. He got into it when he was fifteen, after seeing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers perform in Kobe in January 1964.The lineup that night was of one of the most celebrated in the band’s three decades of existence, featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Wayne Shorter on sax, and Cedar Walton on piano. “I had never heard such amazing music,” Murakami later said. “I was hooked.” Ten years later, he postponed his university studies to open a jazz club in suburban Tokyo, naming it Peter Cat, after one of his pets. In 1977, he and his wife, Yoko, moved the club to Tokyo’s central Sendagaya neighborhood, where he wrote his first two novels, which led to later books whose titles referenced doo-wop like the Dells’ “Dance Dance Dance” and jazz tunes like Fuller’s “Five Spot After Dark.” The music equally influenced his writing style, which he sometimes conceived in terms of jazz rhythm, improvisation, and performance. Continue reading here…

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I’m grateful to have an essay listed as a Notable Essay in this year’s Best American Essays, alongside pieces by many friends, colleagues and exceptional writers. Guest editor Cheryl Strayed and series editor Robert Atwan selected my essay “\’Ra-Di-Kel\” from Hotel Amerika, about the resurgence of the word ‘rad,’ cultural recycling and aging. (You can hear me read it here.) High fives to fellow notable essayists Leslie Jamison, Frank Bures, Roxane Gay, Colin Rafferty, Eva Holland, Brian Oliu, Steven Church, Nicole Walker, Ned Stuckey-French, Joe Bonomo, Rolf Potts, Ann Patchett, Gwendolyn Knapp, Rich Cohen, Atul Gawande, and someone named David Sedaris. I hope to see more of his work. http://www.hmhbooks.com/hmh/bestamerican/essaysbookdetails
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In the book’s table of contents, J.D. Daniels’ absorbing, voice-driven Paris Review essay “Letter from Majorca,” which you can read here first. The first section slayed me.
Also included, Frank Cassese’s Guernica essay “It Doesn’t Mean We’re Wasting Our Time,” which involves written correspondence with David Foster Wallace. Prose writers will especially enjoy it.
And another absorbing Sun magazine piece by BAE regular, the inimitable Poe Ballantine. Sample “Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel” here, and buy the book this October.

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Am happy to share this roundtable chat I had with writers Courtney Maum and Bart Schaneman over at Vol. 1 Brooklyn. The subject was travel writing and chapbooks. Tobias Carroll asked the questions, and I was as excited to hear Courtney and Bart’s answers as I was to have to think about these topics myself. Here’s the link:

 

http://www.vol1brooklyn.com/2013/05/13/talking-travel-chapbooks-and-a-sense-of-place-with-courtney-maum-aaron-gilbreath-and-bart-schaneman/

 

Make sure to order copies of Courtney’s chapbook Notes from Mexico here at The Cupboard, and Bart Schaneman’s Trans-Siberian here or over at Thought Catalog. You can still order my chapbook A Secondary Landscape here at Future Tense Books.

 

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