Book Review: Hallow This Ground

 

In essays that take us from the field where flight 93 crashed on 9/11 to a bumpy road between two concentration camps at Treblinka, Colin Rafferty contemplates the personal in the public memorials marking some of history’s most tragic events. Part memoir, part new journalism, part lyric, and part immersion, Hallow This GroundRafferty (Indiana University Press, 2016) is more than a collection of essays. Rafferty leads the reader to a complete whole as thematic ties bind these essays together even as, individually, they stand alone.

At a time when Civil War monuments are hotly debated, Rafferty reminds us that a memorial, no matter which side of history you are on, is at best an approximation of the people and events it attempts to honor. And as we see the experience of each place grow personal for the author, we can’t help but bring our own experience to the read as well, creating a book that is so many things at once—warm, thoughtful, timely, informative, and wholly enjoyable.

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A tease of The Journal (Winter 2017)

To say there’s a bit of sex weaving its way through this latest issue of The Journal (issue 41.1) would be too crass, too shthe-journalallow, and only somewhat near the mark.

Poets Miguel Murphy (p. 18) and Adam Day (p. 66) are turning sex around (yes, all puns intended), turning it sideways (literally, you’ll see), making it new yet familiar, painful yet pleasurable, and you’ll be conflicted, unsure if you should be smirking or feeling guilty when it’s over. Then you’ll go back for more, wondering if you should but unable to stop yourself.

And don’t think you can slip away into some prose when someone starts reading over your shoulder. Kathryn Nuernberger’s nonfiction (26) will turn on you in pleasing ways as well, bring even more meaning to what the French call, “the little death.”

There’s much, much more to be loved in this issue but this is, after all, just a tease.

Errors

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This spring they’ve been adding up:

  1. Soooooo many typos. In emails and manuscripts. On Facebook and Twitter. Maybe because I’m left-handed. Perhaps because I’m a four-finger and two-thumbs typist. Probably because I’m forever in a hurry and rushing through things without proof-reading well enough.
  2. There was that bike crash I had right before AWP. The one where I broke my left wrist and pinky finger, got a concussion (which only added to the typos), cracked my mandible, added three manly new scars to my face, and made me miss AWP.
  3. Like, a month ago, my essay “Errors” came out in the journal, Salt Hill, along with a lot of other excellent work (I’m really digging the story “Bald Bear” by Becky Mandelbaum), and I really should have thanked Jacob Collins-Wilson, the nonfiction editor at SH) and mentioned all of this a lot sooner, like, a month ago.

What November Really Means in Publishing

BlueCubiclePressSo when your editor says your chapbook will most likely be out in November, you figure there’s a 75% chance that will actually happen, a 20% chance it will be out in December, and a 5% chance it will be some other time, like January or February, or maybe part of a two-year backlog. What you don’t expect, or at least I didn’t, is that the chapbook would be out in early September, a full two months early, and both look and read with the quality you expected it would when you expected it to be out in November.
I can’t say enough how much I appreciate Blue Cubicle Press and its publisher, David LaBounty. And even if you couldn’t care less about some chapbook titled, Something L.A., the press has a great collection of work-themed books, chapbooks, and journals. All worth reading unless, of course, you’re Paris Hilton and you’ve never actually worked a day in your life. Then, all that stuff about work and the various comedies and dramas that play out in that world may just seem alien to you.

So, if you’re not Paris Hilton, here’s the link to the press: Blue Cubicle Press

And if you’re not averse to a chapbook about interning at an advertising agency in L.A. and meeting a few famous people in a rather awkward way, here’s the link to that: Something L.A.

Something Nonfiction This Way Comes

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The proof for my creative nonfiction chapbook, Something L.A., arrived on Monday. (It will be out in November 2015 as part of Blue Cubicle Press’s, Overtime Chapbook Series). I was excited to see it, then worried about line editing, then excited again when I started the edits because I really love this essay.

Today the line edits are complete and on their way back to the editor, David LaBounty, and I’m still excited about this project. Hooray writing!