Like many others, my author events for March are canceled as a result of COVID-19. While I'm disappointed, I'm also in complete support of #CancelEverything and #SocialDistancing.
The California poppies are blooming, wonderful to see on my daily walks. Here's a picture. I've seen enough images of the coronavirus, lovely as so many of them are.
I've begun writing my "plague diary," documenting what's happening in the broader context, culturally, politically, and in the personal context.
Here are some authors with new books that have either just published or are about to, so you can purchase or pre-order. Annie Kim (EROS, UNBROKEN), Mari Coates (THE PELTON PAPERS), Kate Milliken (KEPT ANIMALS), Helen Fremont (THE ESCAPE ARTIST), and Joan Frank (WHERE YOU'RE ALL GOING and TRY TO GET LOST). I've read, sometimes a couple drafts, and/or edited and/or blurbed all of these new books, so I can recommend them with confidence. I recommend getting books directly via the authors' websites, if available, through their publishers, if an option, through your favorite local bookstores (who may be delivering), through Bookshop, which supports local bookstores. Or something else.
Lots of wonderful news to report since July ?!). Most recently, A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST has been longlisted for the Northern California Golden Poppy Book Awards. Such an honor - the list of fellow fiction nominees includes esteemed authors.
My story “In the Beginning” (included in the book) has been nominated by The Gravity Is the Thing for the the 2020 Best American Short Stories anthology, the 2021 Pushcart anthology, and the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology, and The Museum of Americana nominated “A Man with Horses” for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology.
Three "best" lists included A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST: Entropy Magazine’s Best Fiction of 2019; the Independent Book Review’s 30 Impressive Indie Press Books; and Large-Hearted Boy’s Favorite Short Story Books of 2019.
Shelf Unbound's Feb-March issue included a (nowhere else to be found online) excerpt of the book and my brief thoughts on the short story.
I chronicled a November day for How We Spend Our Days.
Some podcasts for your listening pleasure! The New Books Network podcast and the iconic First Draft.
My book was selected by The Book Maven (Bethanne Patrick) for her curated list of 5 books for LitHub and Bookmarks ran a Q&A piece on my selection of 5 Great Books of Hybrid Forms.
Newish interviews appeared at Bomb magazine; Electric Literature; and Fiction Advocate. (Former student, intern, and celebrated short story writer) Nancy Au and I had a conversation about our books at Lit Pub: “Language and Laughter: Two Writers in Conversation.” And the Write or Die Tribe interviewed me for their Spotlight Series.
I created a playlist for A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST for the Large Hearted Boy!
Please see Interviews & Press for more, including reviews of the book from the Arkansas Review and Mom Egg Review, and the Events page for an updated listing of where I'll be in early spring, including the AWP Conference in San Antonio and the Virginia Festival of the Book.
I'm grateful and honored for the support!
This is me before heading out to the beach on publication day with my new book A Girl Goes into the Forest, July 16. The beaches in West Marin are wonderful to escape to, and that's exactly what I needed to do that afternoon before driving into the city later that night in preparation for the next day's book launch celebration at The Bindery.
I'll be endlessly grateful to Michelle Dotter and Dzanc Books for saying yes to my manuscript straight off, for seeing what I was too close to the book to see, for the exhilaration and work in getting the word out about "A Girl Goes."
The book was already well reviewed, and it's been wonderful (wonderful? holy understatement!) to have more reviews come in from the San Francisco Chronicle, Necessary Fiction, and Barrelhouse Magazine. New interviews at The Rumpus (thank you, Kate Milliken) and TBR (thank you, Leslie Pietrzyk).
I created a playlist for "A Girl Goes" for the Largehearted Boy, an amazing project and expedition into discovery. And the book was included on two "Most Anticipated Books" lists: The Millions and CRAFT literary magazine.
Bookmarks published 5 Great Hybrid Books, a wonderful conversation I had with Jane Ciabattari about, well, the topic (and I loved that the National Book Foundation tweeted it out!)
The book launch party was beautiful. Caille Millner is brilliant and was a brilliant interlocutor. The Bindery was SRO, with an extra crew of lovely people in the overflow room, and books sold out, and Sugartown was excellent, and the champagne delicious, and I imagine the cake and chocolates were, too, but more than all that, I felt palpably engagement of everyone. For that, there are no words. Only gratitude.
Next up: An in-conversation event Aug. 1 at Copperfield's Books with Jane Ciabattari. Come out and say hi, if you can. Please check out my other events here, which are coming up on no time.
Happy to see this review of A Girl Goes into the Forest published by Booklist online. "Pursell’s surreal stories together form a familiar picture of a world full of love and yearning, parents and children, lovers and their broken hearts, human contradictions, loneliness, longings, and failures to connect."
"A Girl Goes" arrives in the world in three weeks, with a book launch celebration taking place at The Bindery in San Francisco. I'm looking forward to seeing new friends and old there. Details available online.
I'm pleased to share new reviews for A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST, forthcoming from Dzanc July 16, 2019. From Publishers Weekly: “This haunting collection of 78 tiny but potent stories . . . stories are so sharp and disturbing . . . they are probably best consumed in small quantities.” And "Breadcrumbs for the Disenchanted"from Riot Material: “The elliptical intensity of Pursell’s tales brings to mind Yasunari Kawabata’s classic “palm-of-the-hand” stories, with revelatory flashes and glimmers registering in different tones. . . . A Girl Goes Into the Forest is also a survivor’s handbook, an oblique guide to self-preservation clothed in the skin and bones of modern lore.”
A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST has been named the THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN'S July 2019 Book Club Selection! You can sign up now through July 15.
Ever thankful to those who are interested in and have been supporting my new baby!
It's been a week or so of lovely news as A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST nears entry into the world.
The first review is in. "Pursell is a master of the atmospheric moment. Precise, delicate, yet bloody-minded in their refusal to look away from the most painful moments of our tender lives . . . Tiny tales that resonate far beyond their borders.” Kirkus Reviews
Ilana Masad talked with me about forests of long ago as communal places, losses as the inevitable living of life, the one and only play I've ever written, among other things (while experiencing her first tornado warning) at The Other Stories Podcast.
Thea Prieto and I talked about "Diving into the Wreck," patriarchal masks and ideals, little Kay (the boy in “The Snow Queen”) who gets a piece of the magic mirror in his eye and one in his heart, yearning for artistic expression, and more for the New Orleans Review.
Many thanks to these fine people who are taking an interest in my new book.
Many thanks to Janice Lee at Entropy Magazine for publishing my microfiction "Baby Bird." You can read the whole thing here, and while you're there, check out the whole series on birds.
I've been the grateful recipient of good writerly news.
Two nominations for the BEST SMALL FICTIONS. One from Waxwing for "A Girl Goes into the Forest" and one from Mom Egg Review for "Starflower [I Want her Back]." I love these journals for the amazing work they are publishing, and I'm so proud to have my writing included in their pages, and even prouder to have their nominations.
Connotation Press published three hybrids: "Laundry," "Exposed," and "Schematics" and made me featured writer with an interview: Signing my Checks as Mrs. Franz Kafka. Huge thanks to editor Jonathan Cardew.
The Gravity of the Thing published "In the Beginning." (From the website: The Gravity of the Thing is dedicated to the publication of innovative and defamiliarized writing . . .since the journal’s inception in 2013, has been named one of thirty best online magazines . . . We publish work that is aware of its literary form, writing that defamiliarizes in craft or content for an enhanced rendering of reality.)
Magnify listed A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST as a most anticipated book of 2019. “The ordinary lives of parents, daughters, husbands, wives, illness and grief are transformed in A Girl Goes Into the Forest. Here, the lucky reader enters a “forest” brimming with enchantments.... Assembled like a luminous mosaic of stained glass, these 78 tales read like prose poems—a pitch-perfect condensation of moments, inflected by Pursell’s uncanny ear for the lyric."
A GIRL GOES INTO THE FOREST is now available for preorder from the publisher Dzanc Books!
I'm very happy to have this essay up at Books by Women, and grateful to Barbara Bos for inviting me to write it: "Writing Needs Solitude AND Community, Or How I Keep on Keeping On." Discussed are how plans can get derailed by relationships, mainly those with oneself that we may not always be totally in touch with. Also, my finding my path again, which may not be everyone's way, but has been and is mine to date.