Ladies’ Night Good News

A thread, with news. 13 years ago, in my first year in the NYU MFA program, I wrote a story called “Ladies’ Night at the Arctic Club.” 1/

The very first draft, for reasons I’ve totally forgotten, was titled “Reading Moby Dick in the Original Spanish.” 2/

The story is in the form of a diary kept by a woman who finds herself isolated in a house in winter. She can’t recall how she got there. 3/

She’s there with one other character, also a woman. She tries to reconstruct her own memory; she tries to hide her memory loss. 4/

Her world is surreal—she spends her days with a troll in the barn—which doesn’t help her attempts to understand her new reality. 5/

The story is based on a kayak trip with my friend Jessica Anthony, and a winter I spent in New Hampshire with my girlfriend at the time. 6/

This was 1995. My dad returned from the Peace Corps that year, discharged early with Parkinson’s disease. This informed the story too. 7/

I included it as the title story (draft 8) in my thesis. Which I turned into a homemade, limited-run (100 total, 7 left) chapbook. 8/

Ladies' Night at the Arctic Club chapbook

The story went up to a 12th draft, a draft I now dislike. Draft 10 got accepted at a good journal, but I totally believed in draft 11. 9/

So totally, I pulled the story. Now I think I made a mistake. The story has legs. Edward Albee liked it. (Emily Raboteau can confirm.) 10/

It was also the only story I’ve written that got an encouraging response from The New Yorker.* Which certainly keeps you going. 11/

This week’s good news: “Ladies’ Night at the Arctic Club” was a finalist in the Yalobusha Review 2017 Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction. 12/

The contest theme was “fairytale, folklore, and myths.” I’m happy to see my story in this good company. 13/

I worry, though, that at the rate I’m going with “Ladies’ Night,” the story won’t get collected in book form until I’m quite old. 14/

I keep shopping it around in a book ms, currently titled A Mohel Mulligan and Other Stories. 15/

But I joke to Emily that my book—ultimately—will be called Having Sex in Apartments and Leaving Each Other Voicemails: Stories— 16/

—given how many of my stories are becoming dispatches from a strange country. Which all fiction should be. But maybe not like this. 17/

Stories in which the strange country I’m reporting from is the 1990s. Before the wearable tracking devices came, and altered it all. 18/

I am grateful to Yalobusha Review and to contest judge Catherine Lacey for including my story. Thank you. 19/

PS I still write my extremely rare tweets in a text editor. I recently tried to count how many unpublished tweets I’ve written. 20/

It’s a fair number for something so absurd. A few hundred. I think I just can’t handle the fact that you can’t edit tweets. 21/

I like strict old-school limits: 140 characters, or 420. 22/

TYOLA: Nine Copies Left

Will I go so old school as to compile these tweets as a blog post? Yes. I will. 23/

PPS * I still have the New Yorker email, of course. (“I read and liked it […] It’s strange and disorienting […] I was impressed.”) 24/

OK. Back to trying to finish the novel. 25/25