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Letter sent on May 19, 2017

May Gray

There’s a thing that happens down here on the Pacific coast the more south you go. They have it in the north, too, but we’re spoiled and little else to lament. The thing is called “May Gray” and it entails waiting to don board shorts and flip flops until afternoon. The cloud cover looms over the shoreline. Some call it a blanket. For most, it’s less comforting.

Anyway, May Gray gives way by the end of the day. If there’s are two things San Diegans won’t tolerate it’s billionaire-baby tax-payer-funded stadium projects and obstructed sunset views. We are the world’s capital of the green flash and nothing, not even May, can sucrure that amount of funding.

That’s where I live.

Where You Live is the brand new collection from writer Andy Roe, a Jones fellow. This week we let Andy take over. He picked the five featured stories. Monday we started with “At the Pizza Hut, the Girls Build Their Towers” by Roy Kesey. I LOL’d. Noticeably so, which offered me a chance to evangelize The App to the good folks in line at Cabrillo Pharmacy. The rest of the week featured two stories by Andy himself plus “Body Scan” by the indefatigable Sara Lippmann and “Pearl” by Mary Miller.

Last week I missed a chance to meet Andy in person. It was late on Friday (you know, 7PM or something) and it was the end of the week and I had a chance to sit with Steph and D and watch a couple of episodes of “Blackish.” We ate burritos. I savored a Mikkeller Pils. Horchata for the lad and his mother.

Meanwhile, in my part of town, Andy was giving a reading. I bailed for the comforts of home. I’m sure he’d agree it was better time spent. But still, it’s rare in San Diego to get that close to one of my writers. Usually, I have to go to New York for that.

Not meeting Andy in person bummed me out though because I found out he’s moving to the Bay Area now. Packing up this week as a matter of fact. Not that I won’t meet him. I will. I’ll have to meet him up there instead. I’m bummed because SoCal needs to keep its artists. Especially the greats.

There are some writers, as Andy says, you’ll follow anywhere. After this week, that’s how I’m feeling about him and him.

Below, you’ll find a link to his new collection. You’ll also find his brief statement about why he picked the stories he did this week. Or, as he says it, how Kesey, Lippmann, and Miller are writers he himself would follow anywhere.

Where You Live by Andrew Roe.


Andy says:

Sometimes your stories talk to each other — and sometimes you’re fully aware of this, and sometimes you’re surprised by the unexpected conversations that occur.

Previously I’d never thought about how “How to Talk to Children About Death” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” might be in a dialogue, but as they now bookend this collection, I see how they interact and inform, and I wonder why this wasn’t on my radar before: The former story deals with the parental conundrum of explaining death to young children, while the latter deals with an older man facing down the last phase of his life. Our awareness of and grappling with our mortality is there from the beginning, haunts us until the end.

As for the stories that come in between: I chose them because I’m a big fan of these writers — Roy Kesey, Sara Lippmann, Mary Miller — and I’ve always felt awriterly kinship with them. Their language sparkles, shimmers, and their characters often share similar preoccupations as the people who inhabit my stories — there’s a striving for connection and understanding, a prevailing unease with themselves and the world, a simmering dissatisfaction with the way things have turned out.

Kesey, Lippmann, Miller: they are among the small group of writers that I’m willing to follow anywhere.

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

Fellow Jones alumna Kristi DeMeester has a new novel out this month. It sounds like reading Salvation on Sand Mountain only with actual apocalyptic consequences. I got my copy this week. Looking forward to digging in and creeping out. Click here to buy.

The last words today are from Meg Pokrass. She has a poem called “America” which is a response to “the nightmarish world of Trump.” And yet, I find it sympathetic. Indeed, therein is the rub. What is life without pathos? It begins:

I drive a hummer in America
because it is mighty.
A mighty woman in
a mountainous car.
Nobody can faze me or tousle
my spirit in that impossible thing.

Go read the rest here.

Alright, that’s it from me this week. ICYMI, the latest app update is live. We’ve got story ratings and reviews and new author pages. We’re gearing up for a fun summer of light, short fun reads. Upcoming author weeks include Sonya Larson and Emily Carpenter. Next week, we’re featuring stories by:

Pia Z. Ehrhardt
Corinna Vallianatos
Maria Pinto
Nadine Darling
Sarah M. Chen