1. Wonderful magazine Bitch announced the Bitch Media Fellowship for emerging writers. Every three months, a writer will receive a $1500 stipend to work on one of four subjects:

  • Reproductive rights & justice
  • Pop-culture criticism
  • Technology
  • Global feminism

Make sure that the young writer in your life hears about this opportunity; it could be just the break that she needs.

2. The Seattle International Film Festival just announced a new screenwriting contest. This sounds like a neat opportunity:

Each submitted screenplay will receive at least one page of written feedback from SIFF's team of trained screenplay readers. Finalist scripts will be read (and further adjudicated) by a panel of film industry members, with the semifinalist and grand prize-­winning scripts handed over to Catalyst alumni (filmmakers, actors, and producers), all of whom have screened feature films at SIFF in the past and maintain an active and engaged presence in the indie film community.

So far as consolation prizes go, a page of feedback is incredible; it's arguably what fledgling screenwriters need most. The winner will have their screenplay read at SIFF.

Portrait Gallery: Anastacia Renee Tolbert

Each week, Christine Larsen creates a portrait of a new author for us. Have any favorites you’d love to see immortalized? Let us know

Anastacia reads tonight, but don't forget to check out her poem "Rattail" that we published about a month ago.

Meet the Short Run vendors: Casandra Lopez of As/Us

Our October Bookstore of the Month is a special one, because it’s a bookstore that will only exist in the world for one day. The Short Run Comix & Arts Festival will take place this year on October 31st at Fisher Pavilion in the Seattle Center, and for that one day, it will be the largest bookseller of independent literature, zines, and comics in the Seattle area. Every week this month, we’ll highlight a different Short Run exhibitor, to give you a better idea of the scope and breadth of the festival.

Casandra Lopez moved to Seattle two years ago to work at North Seattle College. To hear her describe it, the literary journal she founded with friends, As/Us, practically burst into the world, from conception to submissions to reality in a matter of months. The magazine is geared toward “more lyricism in the prose” than other literary magazines, she says, and on the website, they’re running more elaborate pieces — full-color art, say, or dance interpretations of poems — that expand on the print magazine experience.

The idea of As/Us keeps getting more expansive. “Originally, we created it to publish the works of women of color,” Lopez tells me. “We still do that, but we also collaborate and highlight other underrepresented writers” like incarcerated writers, a queer issue, and an issue spotlighting native youth writers. Lopez will be selling four recent issues of As/Us at her Short Run booth, alongside her chapbook Where Bullet Breaks. (You can read the title poem from that collection at Hobart.)

Lopez was introduced to Short Run last year by local writer Elissa Washuta, who As/Us will be sharing a table with this year. Lopez admits that she didn’t know anything about Short Run before exhibiting last year, but all it took was one show to make her a believer: “I just thought that everybody there was really supportive of independent presses,” she says. They were “supportive as in purchasing copies, but also wanting to know about our magazine and what we do. It was a really positive community.”

The support Lopez received last year at Short Run was so overwhelming that she barely managed to break away from the As/Us table to walk the floor. She managed one quick spin around the exhibitor tables, buying a few zines and a print by Sarah Rosenblatt. For her, that’s the one happy problem of Short Run: there’s so much there, it’s impossible for a hardworking vendor to experience the show. This year, “I’m hoping that before it gets a little hectic I’ll have a chance to go around to look at what’s available,” she says.

1. David Sedaris will be reading at Benaroya Hall on Sunday, November 15th, 2015. I'll be introducing him, as I've done at every one of his annual Benaroya Hall appearances for the better part of a decade. The best part of introducing David Sedaris is that when you're done introducing him, you get to watch David Sedaris read. He's simply one of the funniest, best readers in the world. Tickets for this performance are very nearly sold out. The man never seems to have a bad night. Hell, he wore culottes last year and he still won the crowd over. How did he do it? Three words: clever dick jokes.

2 One week before David Sedaris reads at Benaroya Hall, Gloria Steinem will be there in conversation with Cheryl Strayed. This event is put on by the wonderful women's writing community Hedgebrook, and it's not to be missed. Steinem, of course, is a feminist legend, and Strayed has become a literary voice of her generation. They'll be celebrating the launch of Steinem's new memoir My Life on the Road. Of course, Strayed knows quite a bit about memoirs, and about roads, and about literature. I expect these two to burn down the stage together.

Please stop harassing women

On her blog, cartoonist Julia Wertz describes her interactions with a male fan that are pretty much textbook harassment. He ordered a book of Wertz's cartoons and included the instruction "I’d be enchanted if you rubbed your vagina on it.” Wertz refunded his money and refused the order, which then made the fan mad. He insisted that he wasn't harassing her — after all, he says, he framed the instruction as something that he almost wrote in an e-mail to her, it wasn't a real instruction. Wertz says he was proud of his commments, explaining on Twitter that "the vagina remark was meant to ‘enlighten’ me, and was not sexual, and saying I should have been flattered by the praise that preceded it." I've read the dude's Twitter feed, and I can tell you that she's not mischaracterizing him. I'm not going to link to it here, because he doesn't need any more attention and he would likely misinterpret it anyway.

The title of this Note was originally "Please stop harassing women artists," but that would be stupid, of course. Men need to stop harassing women, full stop. Still, we need to acknowledge that the internet has left women artists vulnerable in new ways; artists are expected to respond to their fans directly, they often sell and ship their own work themselves, and they're telling personal stories that clueless harassers can interpret as welcoming signals. I don't have any solutions. I'm in awe of women for dealing with this type of bullshit day in and day out. I wish I could do more to help.

But let's generate some positivity out of all this: if you don't know Julia Wertz's work, you should definitely acquaint yourself. Maybe buy one of her books directly from her. I've read all of them, and I can tell you that every one of Wertz's books is funny and crude and surprisingly poignant without any of the sentimentality that weigh down many autobiographical comics. Go take a look.

And if you harass women, please stop. Okay?

Korean War

You are the North and I am the South.
My tanks aim for you. I shoot you a thousand times.

Your missiles launch into my oceans. You raise monuments to scorn me.
You eat clams cooked in gasoline.

I drink milk and cider. I raise skyscrapers of businessmen.
You build towers of empty rooms. You refuse me from where I am most loved.

I clean a wintermelon of its guts and seeds cling to my wet fingers.
Aren’t you the North, and I the South?

Phantom, disease, you’re trembling. There is no patience in my country.
There is no safest place in yours.

The heart stiffens at the sound of church bells. I wonder where you sleep now.
You are the North and I am the South.

I cannot see the sky beyond the ceiling.
I cannot forgive you for cutting me out.

I see all my ground, and you, walking over me—before you were
the North and I was the South.

A photographer captures a mass execution on film.
Men and women tied to posts, blindfolded—Korean spies.

The man nearest to the camera fiddles with his blindfold
until it rests comfortably over his eyes.

Dee Lockett at Vulture says:

Ten years after Edward Cullen and Bella Swan made vampires virtually inescapable, Stephenie Meyer is back to turn your tweens once again. In celebration of the first book's anniversary, Meyer has rewritten Twilight with the genders of the saga's star-crossed lovers reversed. Meet Beau and Edythe, main characters of the newly feminist reading of the series now dubbed Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined, out today. In this version, Bella is Beau, a teen boy who moves to Forks, Washington, and finds himself enamored with the vampire Edythe, the female version of Edward. Meyer explained on Good Morning America that the idea behind the new 442-page book was to put to rest repeated criticism of the original series that it reduced Bella to a "damsel in distress" trope.


The Seattle Antiquarian Bookfair is this coming weekend, October 10th & 11th

The Seattle Antiquarian Bookfair is our sponsor again this week, and we're starting to get excited about the fair. It's this Saturday and Sunday, October 10th & 11th. Tickets are a huge bargain — only $5 for both days! — and you'll get to take in the best of what Seattle Center has to offer before or after you visit. Check out the video on our sponsor page to get a feel for what you'll see there, and be sure to tell them you heard about it on the Seattle Review of Books (and, keep your eyes peeled for us there. We'll be checking it out).

Our partners are what let us bring you all the content you've see. If you check us to find out what we've published every day, take a look and see what our sponsors have to offer. You may be pleasantly surprised. It's all part of our campaign to make online advertising something that benefits readers and publishers both.

This has already appeared on the Seattle Review of Books, but it's making the rounds again. If you haven't already, please read Vijith Assar's excellent column for McSweeney's about the way various grammatical tricks can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Whenever you see passive voice in the media, your first thought should always be, "who are they protecting, here?"

(Via Boing Boing, which is somehow, still, remarkably, a leading source of "via"s on the internet.)

1. Saturday, October 3rd was 24-Hour Comics day, in which cartoonists write and draw a full comic book in a single day. Local cartoonist Henry Chamberlain just posted his 24-hour comic, which stars the Fremont Troll, at the Comics Grinder.

2. Over at Okey Panky, Isaac Cates contributes a handful of comic strips based on a comics game of his own invention: select two comics panels from a deck of previously-created panels. Your job is to illustrate two panels that connect them. (My favorite part of the game: in the end, all four panels, including the middle two you've created, go back into the deck, thereby adding to the possibilities for future installments.) What follows is a wonderful meditation on poetry, comics, and the connection between the two. The form and content of Cates's "essay" mirror each other beautifully.

(This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Cates is the inventor of the panel-selection game.)

Your Week in Readings: The best literary events from October 5 to October 11

MONDAY Your week begins with a weird, wonderful mashup of fiction and poetry at University Book Store, where poet Dennis Milam Bensie reads from his book Flit.The description for the event begins “Used twenty-one times in The Catcher in the Rye, the word "flit" was introduced by J.D. Salinger as a term for a homosexual man in 1951.” This book mashes up Salinger’s classic and 40 other works of fiction that use homophobic slurs to create a new narrative.

TUESDAY You’re going back to the U District tonight for a reading at University Temple United Methodist Church, where sci fi authors Greg Bear and Ann Leckie will read. Leckie is the author of Ancillary Justice, which Kate MacDonald reviewed for us back in August. She’ll be reading from the conclusion to the Ancillary series. Local author Bear will read from Killing Titan. You can get your church and your science fiction in the same place — how often does that happen?

WEDNESDAY This is a big night for SRoB. Our co-founder Martin McClellan will read from his brand new debut novel California Four O’Clock at Mercer Street Books. It’s an evening with books and drinks and prizes and that new-book smell. I’ll be on-hand to interview Martin about his book and the process of bringing it into the world, and it’s all free. Stop by and say hi!

But naturally, since there’s a conflict of interest here, we want to provide you with an ALTERNATE WEDNESDAY event, too, and this should really be something. At Hollow Earth Radio, local poet Anastacia Tolbert, who published a poem with us not so long ago, will read as part of the Furnace Reading Series, which combines readings with soundscapes and music and all manner of Hollow Earth-y goodness. Tolbert reads from her work “The City,” which is a story told by and about Seattle.

THURSDAY Joe Bar Gallery hosts a comic book art show presented by Short Run Seattle as part of Capitol Hill Art Walk. Otherworld features comics by artists including Hellen Jo, Keenan Marshall Keller, Krystal DiFronzo, Alisha Davidson, Darin Shuler and Bjorn Miner. Shuler and Miner are local, and the others are from all over the place: LA, Chicago, Toronto. This is your first October Short Run event. Go and have fun, but make sure you pace yourself; October is packed full of Short Run goodness.

FRIDAY Hugo House hosts a reading celebrating this year’s Best American Poetry. Editor Sherman Alexie will MC, and he'll be joined by poets including Natalie Diaz, Ed Skoog, Cody Walker, and Jane Wong. Those are five wonderful readers of their own work. Of course, this is maybe the only installment of Best American Poetry to ever be controversial. Hopefully, Alexie will discuss the controversy and perhaps allow for some audience conversation. That seems likely to me; he’s such a candid stage presence that whatever happens will be raw and real and unplanned.

SATURDAY Head to Town Hall for a reading from novelist Amitav Ghosh, who will finally deliver Flood of Fire, the long-awaited conclusion to his Ibis Trilogy. Ghosh, whose name I mistype as “Ghost” every single time, is one of the best novelists in the business today. He writes about Indian history and colonialism and the Opium War with China. If you attend the California Four O’Clock reading on Wednesday, be sure to ask Martin about Amitav Ghosh. He will be effusive.

SUNDAY It’s one of the best weekends of the year! Geek Girl Con is happening at the Washington State Convention Center all weekend long. There are panels about (real) science and (fictional) science and womens’ roles in horror movies and how to write book reviews (swoon!) and a panel titled “From Doom Patrol to Sense8: Trans Narratives in Popular Culture.” Geek Girl Con fills a necessary space in nerd culture, and it does it in a fun, supportive, intelligent way. This is a convention that deserves your love all weekend long.

The Sunday Post for October 4, 2015

Writing Better Trans Characters

Cheryl Morgan offers guidance on writing trans characters on Strange Horizons. Her audience here is SF writers, but nothing in her advice should be limited to that genre. Any writer could benefit from this read.

I reject the idea that trans characters should only be written by trans people because cis folk are bound to get it wrong. While there are some really fine trans writers, there simply aren't enough of us in the world to do what is needed. We have to be part of all fiction, not just fiction that we write ourselves.
Future Reading

Craig Mod, one of the best investigators we have into the form of the book and how it is changing, looks here at the future of reading, and the formats we may be reading in. This is a delightful, deep, and personal essay. Highly recommended:

From 2009 to 2013, every book I read, I read on a screen. And then I stopped. You could call my four years of devout screen‑reading an experiment. I felt a duty – not to anyone or anything specifically, but more vaguely to the idea of ‘books’. I wanted to understand how their boundaries were changing and being affected by technology. Committing myself to the screen felt like the best way to do it.
Why We Need to Build More Diverse Worlds in Fiction

We’ve been talking about diversity this week quite a bit on the SRoB. Bernard Hayman took a look at diversity in world building recently over at The Toast.

What we learn about our own reality can often prove as fantastic or strange as anything in fiction. Anyone who has spent hours on a Wikipedia bender that starts at “toothpaste” and ends at “Tesla coils” understands that part of the appeal is not simply understanding the “what” of a thing, but the “why” and the “how.” Fiction encourages readers to engage with the reality we already know with our views slightly tilted — to see the world we live in with fresh eyes. The imagining and understanding of new worlds can encourage us forward in the real world, towards a different or better state.

Rahawa Haile’s short stories of the day, of the previous week, for October 3, 2015

Every day, friend of the SRoB Rahawa Haile tweets a short story. She gave us permission to collect them every week. She’s archiving the entire project on Storify

SRoB tipper Nick Hanover alerted me to this excellent Graphic Policy story by Janelle Asselin about former Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief Scott Allie, alleging that Allie frequently engaged in "out of control behavior while drunk and biting." Yes, biting. As in, his nickname around the office was supposedly "Bitey the Clown." Allie was removed from his job this fall after he publicly assaulted two people at a convention, but rumor has it that Dark Horse Comics in specific, and the Portland comics scene in general, has been covering up for Allie for years. (And in fact, Allie still works at Dark Horse, under the title "executive senior editor.")

As Graphic Policy notes, there's a long history of harassment and sexual assault in the comics industry, and professionals have demonstrated a willingness to cover up for decades' worth of bad behavior. The silence is starting to break, but that bad behavior is still everywhere in the industry.

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the comics industry, we want to hear your story. It's bad enough that this behavior is considered typical in comics; it's downright disgusting to think that the Pacific Northwest has been home to this culture of silence for decades.

The Help Desk: The joy of parenting and the Joy of Sex

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to advice@seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Dear Cienna,

I'm a single dad and my ten-year-old daughter apparently found my copy of Story of O. She confessed after I found her posing Barbie over Ken's lap for a spanking. How the heck am I supposed to explain something as complex as power fantasies to her, or at the very least help her from seeing her dad as a big creep?

Ermine, University District

Dear Ermine,

Awhile ago I met a nice Christian woman who believes sex before marriage is amoral but regularly masturbates her male dog before competitions because she says it relaxes him. I asked, but no: she is not married to her dog.

My point is people compartmentalize sex in individually weird ways. Reading Story of O doesn’t make your daughter damaged or you a creep – in my book, nothing short of competitively masturbating your pet in public while praying for the salvation of sluts does.

It’s not your job to explain power fantasies to your daughter. It’s your job to buy her ice cream and tell her that what she read was fiction and a bit above her reading level. Then, it’s your parental duty to purchase a copy of The Joy of Sex and give it to a cool female friend to give to your daughter (trust me, no young woman wants to get a sex manual from her dad). My grandmother bought me the Joy of Sex when I was about 10 and once I got over the horror of being handed a sex thing by a near dead thing, I treasured it (sex ed in Idaho in the 90s doubled as our “Faces of Meth” campaign). Hopefully your daughter will stop snooping through your erotica as she practices hundreds of new positions to put Barbie and Ken in, all while developing an appreciation for diverse body types and prize-winning bushes.

Just keep her away from your dog.



Jonathan Raban is the closest thing the Seattle literary scene has to a paterfamilias. His brilliant, incisive writing taught us how to think about the city around us, and he's influenced countless local writers from Lesley Hazleton to Charles Mudede.

Raban has been out of the spotlight for the last few years due to health-related issues, but I'm excited to report that he's reading at the Frye tomorrow afternoon, from 3 to 4 pm. It's free. I can't recall the last time Raban gave a reading; this is a big, important event for literary Seattle.

It's time to fund APRIL

The APRIL Festival — it stands for Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature — just launched a fundraising drive for their 2016 festival. A tremendous cast of local literary all-stars has put together a video for the project:

This is a worthy cause. APRIL puts on a number of events — most of which are free — featuring a diverse array of artists. You should think about donating what you can. Even ten bucks would help, although if you can spring for $25, APRIL co-founder Willie Fitzgerald will make you your very own literary meme. Really, who wouldn't want one of these bad boys?

These are people who care about non-corporate books. Do you care about non-corporate books? Do you care about like-minded book-lovers connecting in a fun and friendly environment? Do you want to support authors and publishers and readers? You do? Then give what you can, okay?

Make it hurt so good

Published October 01, 2015, at 2:00pm

Julia Cook review Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies.

Lauren Groff's short fiction is what you'd get if Carver or Yates tried to write a fairy tale. Does her new novel live up to her best work?

Read this review now