A story about a short story with at least three lives

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I have a story in Kink, a new anthology that came out last week edited by R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, two writers I love and admire enormously. Kwon’s moving story of the genesis of the anthology is worth your time. My story’s title, “Best Friendster Date Ever,” one of my favorite titles, suggests what is easy to confirm: the story is not new, and in fact, this is the third anthology this story has been in. And in that is a story.


TV Diary

I hoped watching The Durrells In Corfu would offer an escape from the dark of winter, but instead, found a meditation on the male bumbler.

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Last month, as the winter began, I was hoping to escape but there was nowhere to go: the surge of cases due to holiday travel had filled the hospitals across the country, and the weather was cold, which made socializing into cold walks with friends where we wore masks and yelled to each other from across the street. Indoors, I tracked the bad-faith contesting of the election by conservatives, the attempt to overturn the results in the courts and in state legislatures, and the botched vaccine roll-out by the Trump administration, all of it seeming to culminate in the assault…


The stories we have about apocalypse don’t seem to take in how they are actually happening in real time. So what are they even for?

A painted tableau of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the sky parting behind them, soldiers in disarray below them.
A painted tableau of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the sky parting behind them, soldiers in disarray below them.
Victor Vasnetsov’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, through Wikipedia Commons

I have a new essay at the New Republic, a review of the new novels by Don DeLillo and Jonathan Lethem. I wrote about how their novels seem to describe different parts of the same apocalypse — the DeLillo describing the day it happened, and the Lethem telling a story from years later, in the aftermath — and so I wrote about them together and thought through the implications of that, and how while these novels might not warn us about the future, they might still tell us something about our present. Here is an excerpt:

In my speculative fiction…


Internet Diary 1/2–1/9

1/9/2021 Chelsea, VT


Internet Diary 12/22–12/29

Dreams, recipes, links, unsent tweets, facts that stick around.

A dark cloud against lighter clouds, framed on three sides by tree branches.
A dark cloud against lighter clouds, framed on three sides by tree branches.
Somewhere in the Catskills in 2018. Author’s own.

“I’m sorry, I can’t read anything right now, but have fun with it!”


Your Questions Answered

The first spell you cast as a writer, you cast on yourself.

A highway in Vermont, lined with trees, and white clouds and mountains in the distance against a blue sky.
A highway in Vermont, lined with trees, and white clouds and mountains in the distance against a blue sky.

What is often lost in talk of craft in writing is the exploration of sentiment, and as a result what is almost never discussed is how sentiment is described or even conjured, so this is a good question for aiming at that topic directly. So much advice about writing acts as if the emotional states in a piece of writing are already figured out and they just need to be described for the reader. …


Your Questions Answered

To prepare for a MFA in writing, focus on community and a writing practice first.

It is MFA application season, and I’ve received a number of variations on this question from students to which I have a single answer, and so I’ve decided to offer that answer here.


A misremembered quote, self forgiveness, and attending to the unmade decisions of a draft.

A French engraving from the late 19th Century with a series of eyes in a sky chasing a figure who is running from them.
A French engraving from the late 19th Century with a series of eyes in a sky chasing a figure who is running from them.
Paul Constant Soyer’s Crime et expiation, after J. J. Grandville, from the Met’s Open Access Art Collection.

I deal with writers’ block several times a year, usually in the form of other people’s writers’ block. Specifically, I find myself every year with a few students trying and failing to write their stories for class. Teaching creative writing inside of a liberal arts institution means putting creativity on a clock — the quarter or semester — and over the 25 years I’ve been teaching writing, I’ve learned my blocked students are usually high-achieving young people who are used to being able to power their way through a paper, get the answers, get the grade and move on. …


Computers cursed writers with a potentially infinite revision process. Using handwritten drafts during NaNoWriMo brought me home.

Last Sunday night on Twitter I ran across one of those Tweets that tells you about yourself. By which I mean, I learned something I thought was a deeply private humiliation is in fact a glass mountain many other writers try to climb: the practice of using determined aspirational file names (“FinalFinal.v.3.docx”) to try to announce to ourselves that this time — really, really this time — we are going to finish that novel.


Searching for a house in 2019 meant confronting my lifelong alienation from this country. Buying one felt like betting on this country, and me.

Surrounded by trees, a dark wooden cylinder of a house rising three stories out of the ground.
Surrounded by trees, a dark wooden cylinder of a house rising three stories out of the ground.
The house that got away, but began the dream of owning a house.

Four years ago, I moved north from New York City to Bradford, VT. I’d taken a job at Dartmouth College, and I needed to travel back and forth from New York to wherever I was teaching writing less than I had been — working outside of New York to be able to afford your life in New York had become an untenable, unhappy-making proposition. So I took an apartment in Bradford while I searched and got to know the surrounding towns.

Alexander Chee

Author of the novels THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT and EDINBURGH, and the essay collection HOW TO WRITE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL.

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