12 Winters Blog

Quiddity fall release gala, and Men of Winter proofs

Posted in October 2010 by Ted Morrissey on October 24, 2010

This past Thursday I attended the fall issue release gala for Quiddity international literary journal and public-radio program at historic Brinkerhoff Home on the campus of Benedictine University at Springfield. As usual, it was an enjoyable and stimulating evening (even though the guest of honor, issue 3.2, was a no-show as its cover was still drying at the printer’s — a not uncommon occurrence at release parties). Most of the usual cast of characters were present: Joanna Beth Tweedy (founding editor and host of the radio program), David Logan (prose editor), Judi O’Brien Anderson (poetry editor), Michael Gammon (layout and web design), Pamm Callebrusco (associate editor), and Marianne Stremsterfer (art editor), plus loyal interns John McCarthy and Stacie Lynn Taylor.

Best of all, there were readings by David Bertaina, poet and translator of Semitic languages; and by Tracy Zeman, “nature poet of the sublime.” As if that weren’t enough, Croatian artist Magda Osterhuber was present to discuss her paintings that were being exhibited in Becker Library Gallery, a short walk from (historic and haunted) Brinkerhoff Home.  Throw in some food and wine and acoustic-guitar folk music, and you’ve got a pretty splendid way to spend a Thursday evening.  Work by Bertaina, Zeman and Osterhuber are included in Quiddity 3.2.  Here is 3.2’s table of contents, which also allows you to hear some of the work included in the issue — a feature that most literary journals don’t offer. The Quiddity radio programs are archived here.

On the Men of Winter front, the publisher sent me the page proofs, which I returned yesterday with corrections — so a release date begins to loom larger and larger, though it isn’t set in stone just yet.  I mentioned in a previous post that the first chapter of my novella Weeping with an Ancient God was published in The Final Page. A new edition of The Final Page has since been posted, and it seems the journal doesn’t archive their older issues — in other words, the excerpt, “Melvill in the Marquesas,” was available online for a few weeks, but, alas, is no more. A couple of editors of other journals expressed an interest in it after it had already been taken by The Final Page, so I may see if someone is interested in “reprinting” the excerpt; or I may just archive it here at 12 Winters Blog. I was really hoping it’d be floating around on the web for a few months, in anticipation of the novella’s publication.

In my novel in progress, the Authoress, I surpassed the 300-manuscript-page mark, and I’m very much enjoying the writing process. I had come to a chapter (the nineteenth) whose function I understood, but the narrative particulars of which were fuzzy, to put it mildly. But I’ve worked through some of those issues and now have a definite bead on the chapter, which is a much better feeling than the murky one I had just a few days ago. I liked another idea, but the narrative timeline just wouldn’t support the development I had in mind — which worked to my benefit as the new trajectory is superior in just about every way. For me, writing a novel is a bit like filling up a hallway closet with stuff, and everything I need to complete the project is in there — sometimes it’s just a matter of sorting through its accumulated contents to find the items I need.

I’m still reading — and enjoying! — Adam Braver‘s Crows over the Wheatfield (though I cheat every now and then, and read some Gogol).

tedmorrissey.com

Filmmaker Jovanna Tosello and a little Gogol

Posted in October 2010 by Ted Morrissey on October 3, 2010

In my last posting I neglected to mention a recent (exciting!) development regarding my forthcoming novel Men of Winter — perhaps it slipped my mind because it’s just too darn cool to be true. A couple of postings ago I mentioned attending the Route 66 International Film Festival and seeing a short animated film, The Magical Porno Theater, that was a real mind-bender. As I watched the film, I started ruminating about the fact that I really wanted to have some sort of video piece associated with my novel (I’ll use the somewhat crass term “a book trailer”), and wouldn’t it be terrific if the Magical Porno filmmaker, Jovanna Tosello, would develop something incredible based on Men of Winter? So I took a chance, found her on the web and hence her gmail address, sent my heart-felt kudos about her film and gingerly floated the idea of her putting something together based on my book, if she had the time and interest (expecting, quite frankly, for her to say thanks, but no thanks). I suspect you can guess where this blog is headed: she said yes. Wow. As I told her in my email, I would rather there was a video out there that drew attention to my book that was also a piece of art in itself, as opposed to any old trailer whose sole purpose in the cosmos is to sell a couple copies of Men of Winter.

Jovanna apparently originally hails from Reykjavik, Iceland, but now lists her location as Los Angeles. According to her website, she has a BFA in character animation from California Institute of the Arts, and she’s working on her MFA in animation and digital art at USC. You can check out The Magical Porno Theater on Vimeo, along with some of Jovanna’s other animated film work — and I highly recommend it. You can also find out more about Jovanna and view her work at her blogger site. To say that I’m thrilled to have Jovanna’s talent and creativity lending their services to my modest novel doesn’t begin to describe it.

In other news, I’ve been reading Adam Braver’s Crows over the Wheatfield, and his work always reminds me of the Russian masters, and as such I developed a yen for some Nikolai Gogol and have been reading a bit from Dead Souls (1842), a novel I’ve been curious about for some time. I wasn’t expecting it to be so downright funny. One of my favorite lines thus far occurs when the main character, Tchitchikoff, and his driver have lost their way at night in a terrible rainstorm, and they come upon a house, immediately to be greeted by some “ill-tempered” dogs — Gogol writes, “[O]ne, throwing back his head, gave a prolonged howl, with as much care as though he had received wages for it” (p. 41, 1966 Airmont edition, trans. Zoe Girling).

Meanwhile, I’ve been working away on the Authoress, my novel in progress, and am feeling very good about the way the narrative is shaping up. The writing is slow, but it progresses. I’m nearly finished with chapter 18 and am at the 290-plus manuscript page mark. It’s all rather nebulous, but I hope to have a complete draft of the novel by next summer, in about another 100 pages or so.

tedmorrissey.com