Monthly Archives: November 2020

What I Remember Pub Day and Praise

What I Remember of My Love Affair with the Bird and Other Stories is available from the Cupboard Pamphlet as of today! You can buy a copy from their website for $10. The book is a collection of ten of my short-short stories, almost all of which were published in literary journals between 2007 and 2013. It’s 60 pages long, perfect bound, and has a gorgeous cover.

The Cupboard Pamphlet publishes marvelous work. I’m completely delighted and honored for these stories to be joining their catalog, and I’m grateful to Kelly Dulaney and Todd Seabrook for having selected it to be #43 in their quarterly series.

If you, like me, can’t get enough of the anthropomorphic marigold piano and its hibiscus background, you can enjoy the Cupboard Pamphlet’s tweets this past week, and the teaser images they’ve made based on the cover, from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and today.

Finally, I’m also grateful to Chris Adrian, Jessica Anthony, Abbey Mei Otis, Matthew Sharpe, and Gary Shteyngart for their kind words about the book. You can read the following on the Cupboard Pamphlet’s book page, in addition to their amazing description of the book—I think my favorite two sentences are the last two: “So turn back the border. Your own country’s catastrophes will have to satisfy you”—but I’m going to share them here as well, below.

We’re still drowning in our own country’s uniquely catastrophic version of the world’s present catastrophe, which obviously makes it impossible to do any conventional book release things like in-person readings. But if we do anything like a Zoom reading—or if I come up with any ways in which this small book can do some small good in the world (Barthelme: “[A]rt’s project is fundamentally meliorative. The aim of meditating about the world is finally to change the world”)—then I’ll mention it here on this unpredictably, sporadically updated personal website.

But for now: blurbs.

Like Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme had a really smart, really funny baby.
Chris Adrian, author of The Children’s Hospital

What I Remember of my Love Affair with the Bird is a brilliant flock of short-short stories. These hilarious, deadpan recollections and ruminations somehow transmogrify into incisive commentary on 21st century consciousness in just a few pages. Flawed, despairing first person narrators seeking hope abound, with revelations that dance on the head of a pin. I didn’t want this collection to end.
Jessica Anthony, author of Enter the Aardvark

What I Remember of my Love Affair with the Bird gives us stories like tiny and tumultuous countries to be traveled through, banished from, remembered with the ache of exile. Hopkins leaps effortlessly between the mundane indignities of life in our global present, and marvelous impossibilities; both are revealed as equally inexplicable and inescapable. The geopolitics of a whole nation is mapped onto a body, the body is doing its best, its best is not nearly enough. You can wait for weeks at the border checkpoint, you can apply for a special visa, you can throw yourself into the water, you can trade your life for a stranger’s, you can close the book but you can’t ever really leave.
Abbey Mei Otis, author of Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories

Can flash fiction be political, as well as intimate, weird, melancholy, funny, philosophical, and evocative of a whole world? The answer, in this beautiful collection by Tom Hopkins, is a resounding yes.
Matthew Sharpe, author of The Sleeping Father and Jamestown

A brilliant and much needed antidote for our fearful times. This is flash fiction as it’s meant to be. Thoughtful, smart, provocative and oh so funny.
Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success and Super Sad True Love Story

Good News: a Cupboard Pamphlet Chapbook and Beyond

A landscape painting of the countryside, painted in the late nineteenth century.

1) What I Remember of My Love Affair with the Bird and Other Stories is on its way! It’s available for pre-order now; the book will be officially available starting on Friday.

I seem to only write updates here on this site semiannually these days, but I’ll write another post soon with more notes about the book and the lovely things some very smart people have had to say about it.

In the meantime, I also made a few updates to my publication history page. More on those changes, below.

2) A month ago, I finished writing the book I’ve been thinking of and referring to as The Years of Living Autobiographically: Book III. (Back in late March, I posted an excerpt: entries I’d written during the previous month, the month during which everything in the U.S. changed.)

Now my working titles for the three books are as follows. I’m worried that these may cross the line into affected and grandiose, but as of this writing, this is what I’m working with.

The Years of Living Autobiographically

Book One
(2011-2012)
Fly Away, Tiny Lazarus

Book Two
(2015-2016)
To Be Alive Should Be Enough

Book Three
(2019-2020)
An Origin Myth for the Stars

I feel like I have even less of an idea of how to pitch this than I did before. I imagine the final product looking something like One Hundred And Forty Five Stories In A Small Box, the beautiful box set of three story collections by Deb Olin Unferth, Sarah Manguso, and Dave Eggers. I imagine the books being right at home at a press that publishes “experimental books about death,” which is what this trilogy is, really. Or with a press that publishes, say, “work that extends or challenges the formal protocols of nonfiction.”

But since I haven’t found a book contest for Oulipian trilogies about death—not yet!—I’m guessing this will most likely come to fruition as a kind of secondary deal to the following:

3) I’m still looking for a home for Intercalated Days: A Novel. I’m still sending queries to agents, and as I wrote on my publication credits page, I’m also now querying small presses, and I’ve entered the novel in book contests.

Onward.

4) Unrelated to writing news: the picture above is the afternoon sun falling on a nineteenth-century painting, lighting up a detail of the landscape; the structure caught in the light is a mill. The shape of the light, to my eye, looks like a speech bubble. Which feels like a metaphor for writing, or any new creative undertaking? In the sense that everything we do contains echoes of and indebtedness to everything that has come before. (Jean Rhys: “All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. And there are trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.”)

5) Also unrelated—except that it’s related to everything in America, all the horrific and deadly unfairness and institutionalized cruelty and endemic sexism and racism, and also the nihilistic death cult that threatens to drag us all down with it in its petty, suicidal, revanchist fever dreams—is the Electoral College, the worst Confederate monument of them all. It should be abolished. (Previous notes on this subject on this site, over the past two decades: “The Electoral College!” from 12/4/2000, right before the disastrous Bush v. Gore decision, a short film which may or may not still be visible; “Possible Outcomes,” from 10/14/2004, a kind of speculative utopian fiction of how we might escape two never-ending wars, then both still so young; “13 December 2004; or, A Few Things I Know About the Electoral College from Reading Books,” which I posted 11/11/2004, and which is comprised of the things I could remember from the research I did to write the script to “The Electoral College!” video; “The Truth About the Electoral College,” which includes that script, and another attempt at making the Flash Player thing work. Sort of related, I guess, as one more speculative-comedic progressive-realpolitik fiction: “I’m with Senator Coco.” Back when we had some sense of how outlandish and combative American right-wing politics were becoming—the intellectual/strategic spawn of Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich—but we still had no idea (or at least, I still had no idea) how bad things would eventually become.