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He Lives!

Every Halloween he rises from the dead to terrorize Catholic school girls and lonely housewives. Beware!

teen vamp

For the story on how I became Hollywood’s Teen Vamp, here’s a pretty good essay I wrote years ago for the Oxford American, I Was a Teenage Vampire.

Happy Fourth of July

Hanabi (Japanese fireworks), from “Pyrotechnics: The History and Art of Firework Making,” by Alan Brock (1922).
via Stephen Ellcock

Hanabi (Japanese fireworks)

Detail of “Ascent of the Blessed” by Hieronymus Bosch, ca. 1500-1504

Hieronymus Bosch, Detail of Ascent of the Blessed, ca. 1500-1504

A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER at New Orleans Book Festival

I’m looking forward to talking about A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER at the New Orleans Book Festival this Saturday, November 7. I’ll be on at 1:00-1:30 in Tent 2 at the Big Lake. Come find me!

A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER is an anthology of everyday invocations by 64 authors, from Outpost19 Press of San Francisco. Contributors include Wendy Brenner, Nic Brown, Jaime Clarke, Clyde Edgerton, Bob Hicok, Catherine Lacey, J. Robert Lennon, Rick Moody, Dawn Raffel, and Matthew Vollmer (who also edited). My two pieces are “For Aging Rock Stars” and “For a Teenage Girl Embarking Upon a Weeklong Carnival Cruise with her Parents.”

Susan Larson, of WWNO’s The Reading Life, says, “This book is AMAZING—moving and witty and sweet and sometimes even shocking—a little bit of everything we pray for in our private moments.”

ABookofUncommonPrayer-MVollmer-cover

LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER E-Book Promo!

Random House has launched a special promotion for the e-book edition of LETTER TO MY DAUGHTER. For two weeks you can get it for $1.99, half the price of a cafe latte. A bargain, I’d say.

Here’s a link: Amazon.com

Letter to My Daughter Cover Final

Walker Percy’s “The Moviegoer”: An Appreciation

Thanks to writer Kevin Rabalais for sharing this short tribute I wrote to Walker Percy on his blog Sacred Trespasses.

walker percy

Here’s the full text:

In Part 2 of our guest posts on reading New Orleans, novelist George Bishop discusses Walker Percy’s timeless novel of despair, movies and the search:

Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer: An Appreciation

New Orleans was always our Paris, our Emerald City, our Rome. I grew up a hundred miles away in the small town of Jackson, Louisiana, and then Baton Rouge, and the rare excursion to the big city was always an adventure for us. New Orleans was exotic, rich, dirty, dangerous, debauched, historic, decrepit, rowdy, bohemian . . . We loved it.

I eventually moved to New Orleans to attend college at Loyola University, and it was there that I first read Walker Percy. The Alabama-born author, who lived across Lake Pontchartrain in Covington, had once taught at Loyola, and his novels turned up regularly on reading lists in the English Department. I’m glad they did: Percy’s The Moviegoer, which won the U.S. National Book Award in 1962, became a revelation for me, offering a wholly new way of seeing the city.

The story, set in mid-century New Orleans, is narrated by Binx Bolling, a young single man who may or may not be suffering from PTSD after military service in Korea. Binx is on a quest, his “search,” as he tells us early on:

“What is the nature of the search? you ask. Really it is very simple, at least for a fellow like me; so simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. . . . To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

And from there, without any drama or gun fights or chase scenes (there’s one car wreck, but a mild one), Binx pokes around, wandering here and there, in and out of the city, its neighborhoods and movie houses, looking for . . . something. The evidence that he’s not alone, the small events and accidents that might lift him and others out of the numbing everydayness of their lives. He’s Holden Caulfield grown up and moved from New York to New Orleans, his red hunting cap traded for a stockbroker’s suit, his Central Park replaced by Audubon Park, but his dissatisfaction and skepticism the same.

This, I thought, was a New Orleans I might feel at home in.

I went on to read everything else of Percy’s I could get my hands on, and finally, after decades of travel, I moved back here. I live and write in the Bywater neighborhood now, and I still like to re-read The Moviegoer from time to time. It helps remind me that besides its hurricanes and floods, its Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, its tourists and drunks, its stubborn poverty and violence and racism and classism, New Orleans can also provide, for those who need it, a quiet, thoughtful, brooding place.

A good place, Binx would say, for searching.

* * *

George Bishop is the author of Letter to My Daughter and The Night of the Comet. The Night of the Comet has received widespread praise since its release, with glowing reviews in People, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, Shelf Awareness and Publishers Weekly, among others. It was a featured selection in Reuters “Book Talk” column and was chosen as the September book of the month for National Public Radio’s “The Radio Reader.” Kirkus Reviews named it one of the “Best Books of 2013.”

Booklist calls The Night of the Comet “A quiet, occasionally bittersweet novel about the differences between desire and disappointment, expectation and reality.”

With thanks to Rhoda K. Faust for permission to reprint her photograph of Walker Percy.

To receive notifications of new posts from Sacred Trespasses, please sign up via our contact page with the subject “Subscribe.”

South India Writers’ Ensemble, Kerala

I’m looking forward to participating in the South India Writers’ Ensemble conference this coming weekend in Kerala. Drop by if you’re in the neighborhood.

Excellent food there.

siwe

A Book of Uncommon Prayer, No. 3

Great reviews for A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER, an anthology of everyday invocations by 64 authors, out now from Outpost19, San Francisco.

I’ve got two pieces in the collection, “For Aging Rock Stars” and “For a Teenage Girl Embarking Upon a Weeklong Carnival Cruise with Her Parents.”

“Editor Matthew Vollmer strips away the bylines of this truly exceptional gathering of authors (credits are given at the back of the book) and allows the power of the pieces to do all the heavy lifting, clear of accreditation. Throughout, the writing is frequently poetic and beautiful, circling back often to stories of parents seeking kindness and protection for their children as they mature and move through life. Perhaps the greatest success of this anthology is its ability to remind us that, despite our subjective dogmas or lack thereof, there is an ever-present mystery sewn into life, whether we call it god or science, and we are all part of a grand design worthy of contemplation and reverence.” – Mel Bosworth at Small Press Review

“This book is AMAZING–moving and witty and sweet and sometimes even shocking–a little bit of everything we pray for in our private moments.” – Susan Larson, The Reading Life WWNO, New Orleans

And here’s the cool book video again:

A Book of Uncommon Prayer from Outpost19 Books on Vimeo.

Independent Bookstore Day in New Orleans

IndiBookstoreDay

New Orleans is fortunate to have several terrific independent bookstores: Faulkner House Books, Octavia Books, Garden District Book Shop, Maple Street Book Shop, and Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop. They’re all great folks and great supporters of readers and writers.

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 9, we’re celebrating Independent Bookstore Day in N.O. with events at most of those places. (Yes, it’s one week later than the rest of the country, but we had a little thing called Jazz Fest last weekend.)

You can find me at Tubby & Coo’s after lunch. Get out and buy some books.

A Book of Uncommon Prayer, No. 2

Official release date for A BOOK OF UNCOMMON PRAYER is May 1, but you can get it now-Now!-online or from your favorite bookseller.

ABookofUncommonPrayer-MVollmer-cover

Here’s a sample selection, and then below are some direct links to the book, to make it way easy for you.

POST-GAME-DAY BLESSING

Bless the black g-string,
abandoned on the sidewalk
beside a green Gingko
sapling on Lee Street.
Bless the girl who
shimmied out of it
before dawn, drunk
on Curaçao or Triple
Sec or Mike’s Hard
Lemonade. Drunk
on lust and early autumn
and our team’s unexpected
win over Georgia Tech.
Bless our team, all defense,
no offense. Bless everyone
who must have been
downtown last night
with their car flags and
war whoops, mesh jerseys
and micro-minis. Bless
our star quarterback, on fire
with a 14-3 halftime lead.
We are on the first grade
class walking trip to the
library so everyone can
get their own cards. I am
chaperone, which means
herding kids out of traffic,
back over the curb. Bless
the curb, and the kids who
use it as a balance beam.
Bless the magical book drop.
Bless the girl with knotted
hair who tries to stuff orange
leaves into the slot. And
bless the librarian, too, who
reads a book, loudly, clearly,
to everyone about someone
reading a spooky book. Bless
the meta-story, and the mass
of first graders, descending
on the stacks like locusts.
Bless the red solo cups
on the return trip
congregating like plastic
flames, like oversized
maraschino cherries on
the early-morning lawns
of Phi Delt, Sig Ep,
any dilapidated white
house with a porch
couch on East Roanoke
Street. Bless the empty
bottles of PBR knocked
on their sides, mouths
open in wondrous O’s.
O rushing yards. O Bud
Light Lime in your crushed
cardboard case resting
on the elementary school
lawn. Bless my son and
his friend Major, who look
past the blue Trojan wrapper
on Jackson Street, the flattened
Miller Lite can on Bennett,
to the blue butterfly,
to the giant mushroom
blooming in the corner
of someone’s yard. It looks
like a piece of meat, says
my son. Or a tree stump,
says Major, matter-of-factly.
It is a mushroom worth
blessing. And Bless our team
for escaping Bobby Dodd Stadium
with a 17-10 win. Bless us for
being able to hold on despite
the onslaught.

– Erika Meitner

AVAILABLE ONLINE AT

outpost19.com

indiebound.org

powells.com

barnesandnoble.com

amazon.com