WORD on the street (NYC: on the W between Lexington and 5th Ave.)

WORD on the street, Friday 3/12 (W between Lexington and 5th Ave.)The Sun and Anchor introduces WORD ON THE STREET. Here Roving Vintage Bloggers ask smart, funny (and friendly) readers what they’ve chosen and why.

We can’t be everywhere, so if you’re reading a V/A title you love, send us a photo and let us know!

Julianne, reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

1. Why did you choose this book?

The cover seemed interesting.

2. Do you like it?

Yes, (but she is only on page 6). 

3. What are your favorite books?

Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and A Confederacy of Dunces (by John Kennedy Toole).

4. Do you judge books by their covers?

Yes. (see no.1)

5. What did you have for breakfast?

Nothing yet.

WORD on the street, Saturday 3/13 (Greyhound station at White River Junction, VT)WORD on the street, Saturday 3/13 (Greyhound station at White River Junction, VT)

Anna, reading The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008

1.Why did you choose this book?

I was looking for something random to distract me from classes. It’s from the Dartmouth College library.

2. Do you like it?

Yes. 

3. What are your favorite books?

I’ve read mostly books on neuroscience.

4. Do you judge books by their covers?

A cover should be intriguing.

5. What did you have for breakfast?

A bagel with cream cheese.

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From Imperial Life to Green Zone

The highly acclaimed, National Book Award Finalist and nationally bestselling IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, is getting an exciting second life in the upcoming major motion picture, GREEN ZONE. Starring Matt Damon, it opens wide March 12, 2010, and offers the fullest, most intimate account of life in the Green Zone: the sheltered bubble where idealistic Americans planned the occupation while Iraq fell apart.

Check out the preview here.

The Green Zone, Baghdad, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority set out to fashion a new, democratic Iraq. Staffed by idealistic aides chosen primarily for their political affiliations and views on issues such as abortion, the CPA spent the crucial first year of occupation pursuing goals that had little to do with the immediate crises of a postwar nation. In this acclaimed firsthand account, the former Baghdad bureau chief of The Washington Post gives us an intimate and remarkably dispassionate portrait of life inside this Oz-like place, which continued unaffected by the growing mayhem outside. This is a quietly devastating portrait of imperial folly, and an essential book for anyone who wants to understand those early days when things went irrevocably wrong in Iraq.

CHECK OUT THE ALL-NEW FOREWORD from Paul Greengrass, director of GREEN ZONE, included in the new special movie tie-in edition of IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY, after the jump. Continue reading

Ask a Vintage Expert: Vintage Publicist Turned Writer Gives his Two Cents

The Sun & Anchor asks writers and editors about what goes on behind the scenes. Next up — Award winning writer (and Veteran Vintage Publicist) Ethan Rutherford on Bad Advice

Bad Advice

Write what you know, write what you know.  I’m not sure who first came up with that little nugget of wisdom, but it’s everywhere.  It’s in the air.  It gets passed around like a cold in writing workshops and “how to” books.  And, if taken the wrong way, it’s just a terrible, destructive piece of advice, almost as misleading as “show don’t tell”.

Why?  Because if taken the wrong way—which is what you do as a young writer, you take everything the wrong way (I still take things the wrong way, I can’t help it)—it’s the sort of set-in-solid-stone advice that will shut down your imagination before it even wakes up.  This is fiction we’re talking about, the realm of boundless dramatic opportunity.  Your characters can do anything you want them to do, anywhere you want them to do it.  Your imagination is a muscle; so flex that mofo.  Don’t give your emotional experience to a character just like you—you know, we know, where that leads: to someone, sitting at a desk, writing about what it was like to become a writer.  That’s fine for non-fiction.  But for fiction?  A reader—or, I should say, this reader—wants to be flung far and transported; I want to immerse myself in the fully imagined lives of characters I’ve never—would never—encounter, in situations I would never find myself in.  I want to be surprised at the recognition something shared between myself and these characters, linking us.  And further away you are from that character’s experience, the more surprising that recognition is when it comes, and the harder it hits.

So if the goal of a story is to make the strange familiar, why not begin with the strange?  Why not write what you don’t know, but are interested in exploring?  John Gardener has written that a successful ending ought to be both surprising and inevitable.  The problem with writing what you know is that, from the outset, you know how you are going to demystify the experience, and while you often stick an ending that’s inevitable, rarely is it surprising (to you, to the reader, to everyone).  Set the stakes a little higher.  Wade into a pool that you think might be just a little too deep.  Let that story gallop ahead of you, so when you do, finally, lasso it, and bring it home to the Recognizable Corral, you’re not sure exactly how you’ve done it, and are just as amazed as everyone else.

ABOUT: Ethan Rutherford’s fiction has appeared in Esopus, New York Tyrant, VERB, Faultline, American Short Fiction, Fiction on a Stick, and the Best American Short Stories 2009.  His stories have received Special Mention in the 2009 and 2010 Pushcart Prize anthologies, and he is the recent recipient of a SASE/Jerome Foundation Grant for Emerging Writers, as well as a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. In 2009, he received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota.  He’s just finished a collection of short stories, and is at work on a novel. Click here to read some of his work.