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Peter Anderson

Short answer: look for publishers, keep on looking, then look some more. Longer answer: Though I’m no expert on getting published, I hope recounting my recent experience might be helpful to aspiring writers. My debut novella, Wheatyard, was recently accepted for publication by Kuboa Press, and is scheduled for release on April 30, 2013. I started writing [...]

Last week I finished reading Richard Wright’s Native Son, which I first read during high school. Overall I found the book to be rather uneven – there are some stretches of excellent, riveting narrative (particularly the span between Mary’s murder and Bigger’s capture), but also passages that were overwhelmed by sermonizing dialogue where the plot [...]

Changing Neighborhoods

Sometime around 1998, when I was making my first tentative steps toward writing fiction, I began mentally formulating a novel named Sense of Place. The story was set on the northwest side of Chicago, around the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Elston Avenue, just west of the Chicago River. I lived just east of the [...]

Jane Addams and the snare of preparation

As a young woman, the great social reformer Jane Addams despaired over having too much academic learning, instead of real-world experience. She saw a clear dichotomy between the abstract world of books and contemplation, and the often gritty lives of real people in the everyday world. Prior to founding Hull-House, the pioneering social reform project [...]

Twain on the installment plan

Like many other readers, during 2010 I was drawn into the hype surrounding the publication of The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 by University of California Press. As the story goes, Twain decreed that his autobiography not be published until 100 years after his death, primarily to allow those individuals that he excoriated or [...]

Sholom Aleichem

Lately I’ve been working my way through Selected Stories by Sholom Aleichem, whom I’ve never read before but am greatly enjoying. In his story “You Musn’t Weep – It’s Yom-Tev”, a young boy struggles to maintain the innocence of childhood while his father is slowly dying from an unnamed disease (probably pneumonia) and his mother and [...]

Justice, Illinois

This morning my commuter train was momentarily delayed in Justice, a small town just beyond the southwest side of Chicago. The train was stopped next to a subdivision, at the end of a cul de sac. From where I sat, the near view was wide and I could clearly see the first few houses on [...]

Reading the Real

I had an interesting sensation this morning as I left my commuter train and made the six-block walk to my office. During the commute I started reading Volt, the debut short story collection by Chicago native Alan Heathcock. The first story, “The Staying Freight”, is set (as apparently are all of the others in the [...]

“…who called themselves widows…”

I’ve come across an odd phrase in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895) that I thought I’d share here. I’m reading the book as part of my Summer of Classics, and though I briefly considered abandoning it as August ended, I’m enjoying it just well enough to keep reading. In this passage, the schoolmaster Phillotson [...]

Summer of Classics

For the past five years my summer reading has been devoted entirely to the classics. No current critical darlings, no edgy new novels from indie presses – just time-tested chestnuts that I should have studied in high school or college. My formal education only flirted at the edges of the humanities – required reading at [...]