Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If You'll Be at this Funeral in Seattle They Call AWP

Here's where I will be:

Wandering around the book fair mostly, beer in-hand if I'm lucky. On Saturday I will be buying a lot of books.

You might catch me at the  Future Tense/Magic Helicopter/Publishing Genius/Mammoth Editions booth, which is #Q24, by the North Hall.

Or I'll probably swing by and hang out at the Spork Press table at R3

And the Civil Coping Mechanisms table at L15.

And the Atticus Books/Atticus Review table at L17.

I'm reading at this BRUNCH RANCH, along with Aaron Gilbreath, Melissa Broder, John Dermot Woods, Megan Cass, Feliz Molina, Donald Dunbar, and Bryan Coffelt

I'm also reading at this AWP HEAT READING that raises funds for VIDA. I'm reading between 4 and 5 with a bunch of other people whom I don't really know, except for the excellent Jessica Handler.

Lastly, I'm reading at this SPORK, ACTION BOOKS, BLACK OCEAN & WONDER READING with Kate Durbin, Laura Glenum, Zachary Schomburg, Ben Fama, Elissa Gabbert, Monica McClure, Lucas de Lima, Abraham Smith, and Ruaun Klassnik.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on IWAFDCSI

I'm probably breaking some law by doing this, but I figured I'd post the body of this profile/review here, since you hit a paywall at the AJC's site:

Jamie Iredell weighs in on body issues, substance abuse in essay collection

BY TRAY BUTLER - FOR THE AJC
On a busy Thursday evening at Marlow’s Tavern in Midtown, Jamie Iredell sits far away from the happy hour ruckus in a quiet corner of the bar, nursing a can of PBR, fixated on his laptop. The Atlanta author is scrutinizing a story on screen, a submission for his current writing workshop.
In person, Iredell comes across at first as scholarly and soft-spoken — a distant echo of the brash, self-deprecating boozer who narrates much of “I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac,” his new collection of envelope-pushing personal essays published by Future Tense Books. But once the PBR is finished, Iredell relaxes a little and a more sociable personality begins to emerge.
“Human nature is really built on contradictions,” says Iredell, 37, a creative writing teacher at SCAD. “That’s OK. It’s good to embrace it and say, ‘I felt this way yesterday but I feel another way today.”
While most of the pieces in the book were written within the past three years, the source material spans the author’s life. The titles alone suggest years lived fast and, as Iredell admits, often foolishly, with entries like, “How to Survive an Abusive Relationship,” “The Most Disgusting Things I Did While I Was a Smoker” and “A Brief History of Opiate Use.”
Taken as a whole, the personal stories in “Insomniac” form a raw and candid memoir of benders, dysfunctional love affairs and the author’s lifelong struggle with body image.
He moved to Georgia a dozen years ago to pursue his PhD at Georgia State University. Iredell and his wife Sarah, who is an attorney, live in Midtown with their 2-year-old daughter. “Insomniac” is his third book, following two genre-spanning fiction titles, “Prose. Poems. A Novel” (2009) and “The Book of Freaks” (2011). He’s also fiction editor for Atticus Review, an online literary magazine.
In “Insomniac,” Iredell writes with blunt humor about the many roles he’s played over the years: the “big-boned” white kid growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood of Castroville, Calif., (the “artichoke center of the world”); the undergrad in Reno, Nevada, who kept a bottle of Jack Daniels and three hits of acid in his desk; the depressed grad student who hung out in Atlanta metalhead dive bars wolfing down burgers and beer — among many other things. His warts-and-all attitude to these whiskey-soaked disclosures may bring to mind Jack Kerouac or Charles Bukowski, though Iredell’s confessional essays typically aim for more introspection and intellectual heft.
“When you’re 17 or 18, you think the Beat writers are like the best thing ever,” he says. “But after about 25, you’re just like, ‘My God, this is self-indulgent (expletive) .’ I can’t read Hunter S. Thompson anymore. I can’t read Bukowski.”
An ambition to rise above self-indulgence is undeniable in the opening piece, “FAT.” The disturbing personal essay considers the societal pressures the author has faced regarding his weight. It’s a forceful contemplation of body “norms” that reveals how physical issues affect both women and men.
“I’m clearly not somebody who is svelte,” Iredell says during our conversation at Marlow’s. He orders a whiskey, which he nurses, but resists a shared appetizer of crispy asparagus fries. “I’m not morbidly obese. I’ve been this way my entire life. And dealing with that has been a source of pain and, I hate to use this word, but tribulation with my family.”
In the essay, he seeks to uncover the roots of his so-called “heaviness” and suggests that genetics were partly to blame, making him stand out in a household of marathon runners. This seemingly innocuous investigation of family history has caused some awkwardness with relatives, Iredell says, but he doesn’t regret what he wrote. As both an essayist and a teacher, Iredell has spent years pondering the tensions between honesty and privacy when sensitive memories are involved.
“You have to tell the truth, but tell it eloquently,” he says. “There’s only one way to really write nonfiction, and that’s for you to be the worst person on the page — but at the same time to be sympathetic. The audience is thinking, ‘Wow, this guy is so awful, yet I see myself in him, I see redemption inside of him.”
The narrative arc in “Insomniac” follows the reckless, suicidal twenty-something of the earlier essays as he grows bored with hook-ups and hangovers. “What It’s Really Like,” one of the book’s strongest pieces, explores the progression from teenage binge drinking through the unpleasant tolls of alcohol on an aging body. The narrator eventually discovers stability in marriage and parenthood, even if his private quest for self-acceptance remains unsettled.
Despite tensions with relatives, Iredell says he finds writing personal essays “a hell of a lot easier than fiction.” He attributes this to his gregarious nature, a disposition that may not be obvious to the casual observer — and one not normally associated with writers.
“While I don’t care for crowds and things like that, I’m not really introverted,” he says. “When I’m writing nonfiction, I feel like I’m talking to a good friend or someone I just met. I’m OK with telling that person how I feel. I’m not afraid of who I am. I’m not ashamed of it.”
A long pause follows. The evening din of Marlow’s has grown tenfold as the dinner crowd takes over. The author is a drink deeper into the conversation, and his intensity and previously mentioned gregariousness have only grown more obvious.
“Let me revise that,” he says finally. “I’m ashamed of a lot of things that I’ve done in my life, but I’m not afraid of them.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

It seems that I get busy doing other work (truth) or I get bored with this blog (also truth, unfortunately) and so I don't post here as often as I should.

But there have been things afoot in recent months.

My latest book, I Was a Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac was released by Kevin Sampsell's Future Tense Books on November 12, 2013.

The book is available there at the Future Tense site, as well as at Powells, Barnes and Noble, and of course at Amazon.

By the way, if you've read the book already, I would very much appreciate it if you shared your thoughts about the book (or just rated it) at Amazon or on Goodreads.

So far, there has been a little buzz about the book:

Gabino Iglesias wrote this amazing review at Verbicide Magazine that kinda blew my socks off.

HTMLGiant posted about the book's release.

Scott Daughtridge wrote another wonderful review for Atlanta's Creative Loafing.

Coleen Muir wrote yet another great review of the book for Heavy Feather Review.

Brad Listi hosted me on his outstanding podcast Other People.

Shane Hinton hosted me for the Monkeybicycle Podcast where I read the essay "A Brief History of Opiate Use," which was originally published here, at Thought Catalog.

Gina Myers interviewed me for The Fanzine.

Tobias Carroll interviewed me for Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Neil Serven may not have written a formal review, but it sure sounds like one, and it's great!

Not necessarily directly related to the book, but I contributed a thing about running and writing to Writers Recommend at Poets & Writers.

And the book showed up on a few personal end-of-year best-of lists here (I mean, Dennis Cooper! one of my heroes!), herehere, here, and here. Thanks all you wonderful readers!

All of this makes me feel




Monday, September 23, 2013

IWAFDCSI Tour 2013

I will be preaching across America this fall.

In the first week of October (10/2) I will be in Portland, OR, cheering on the writers (and hopefully crashing it so that I read w/ them) reading at Lit Hop

10/5-10/6: I will be sitting on a panel, giving a reading, and a workshop at Portland's Wordstock Festival

10/12: I'll be reading at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN. If you're not into my stupid words, check out my amazing homegirl TJ Jarrett, who's reading at the same time. 


11/5: I'm reading at Book Thug Nation, NYC. Reading w/ John Dermot Woods and Hugh Sheehy

Wednesday 11/6: Reading Mellow Pages Library, NYC. Reading w/ John Dermot Woods and Kendra Grant Malone

Thursday 11/7: Brooklyn Launchpad w/ Moonshot Magazine, NYC. Reading w/ Mark Cugini, Carrie Murphy, Eugenia Leigh, & Daniel Long.

Friday 11/8: Reading in Northhampton, MA, Reading w/ Chelsea Martin and Laura van den Berg

Saturday 11/9: Baltimore, MD. Will be awesome, because my homeboys Adam Robinson, Justin Sirois, and Joseph Young are the coolest dudes to hang with.

Sunday 11/10: Philadelphia, PA. Reading @ Tirefire w/ Amber Sparks and Lindsay Hunter.

Sunday 11/17: Ann Arbor, MI. Reading w/ Chelsea Martin & Michael W. Clune

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seems like I'm too busy to do much of anything these days. I watch a lot of Star Trek TOS right now because, well, damn. Everything else on Netflix sucks.

Here is what will likely be the cover of my next book


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What to post here in the wake of the epic Book of Freaks free-for-all? I don't know. I have been working on 2 books, both of which I have a goal of finishing by the end of summer. These are not first drafts, I should mention. I have been working on these books--both of them combined--for about four or five years. One is a book of nonfiction and the other is a novel. The nonfiction is in its 8th or 9th draft (I lost count and stopped numbering the files) and the novel is probably in its third draft. The latter of these two is more nebulous in that the process of writing it was quite different.

For the nonfiction I composed a complete first draft, and wrote multiple revisions, tried different things, added tons of material, etc. Now, though, I've taken much of the later material and reformulated it so that it works in the original first draft. I know that sounds probably more complicated than it actually is, so I'll just say that I went back to the drawing board.

The novel started as me simply transcribing dreams. I knew I wanted to write the novel, and I had some ideas as to who the characters were, and as such they were floating around in my head for some time. Probably because of that I started having very strange dreams that seemed to feature the very characters I was thinking of. What better way to characterize such people that to transcribe these dreams? That pretty much comprised the "first draft." It was short--maybe 20K words--very note-y and surreal (duh), like dreams. For a while I played around with that material, but then I had to work on other stuff because of deadlines.

Later, I thought a little more coherently about the characters, and a new character came to me, and I knew he needed to be fleshed out, that his story was integral. So I wrote it. I spent about six months and wrote a short novel about that guy. That turned out to be Part I of the current draft, so I consider it Draft 2 of the novel-at-large.

Thus I'd say I'm in the midst of draft 3, since I've been at work making the book into a book. I don't know how many drafts this book will require, but I honestly hope it's not 8 or 9. Fuck that. That's way too much work to put into anything.