Category Archives: Interviews and Essays

The Reviews Are In…

I’ll be flying to Chicago tomorrow to say goodbye to a much-loved uncle. I write a great deal about the struggles and difficulties that we face when attempting to be “the right kind of man” in a culture that’s tugging us in a thousand different directions, a thousand different conceptions of manhood, and I should say that my uncle was definitely one of those guys who epitomized everything you’d want in a man, a family member, a father, and he didn’t even make it look tough. Great man, and we’re all going to miss him.

I’d planned to write a couple posts over the last two weeks to spotlight some different Nathan Holic links and interviews, etc., but the virtual world of my blog has to take a back seat to the real world. I figured I’d gather these links into a single blog post, and post them into various pages throughout this site, and boom: you’ll have them all in one place, and I’ll still catch my flight.

So what’s happening? What’s new for me?

“Don’t Critique Me”: I read with Chicago author Lindsay Hunter at Functionally Literate in downtown Orlando this past Saturday. The video should be available soon, and I’ll post it when it’s up (Lindsay was freakin’ awesome). We were old grad school cronies, too, so in anticipation of the event, I wrote an essay for the Burrow Press blog in which I found my old fiction workshop critiques for her stories, and then critiqued my own critiques. Check it out here. If you’re a Lindsay Hunter fan, you should also check out The Drunken Odyssey’s podcast interview with her, which was recorded directly before the Functionally Literate event.

Review in Scene Sarasota: Sarasota’s arts & culture magazine, Scene Sarasota, just ran a great review of 15 Views of Orlando in their September issue. They wondered if there would ever be a “15 Views of Sarasota,” to which I can only tell the online world: if there’s a demand for it, we’ll do it. But you’ve gotta let us know. And you’ve gotta get Stephen King on board.

Interview at Knightnews: I spent about an hour talking with the folks from Knightnews.com, the online news hub for University of Central Florida students. It’s an attractive site, very multimedia heavy, and I got the chance to talk about American Fraternity Man, the culture of the National Fraternity, the hazing and alcohol culture at campuses across the country, and my own thoughts on both student and administrative successes and failures. It’s a video, so watch on the device of your choice.

American Fraternity Man reviewed: the first reviews of AFM are in, and while I’m always nervous/anxious for each one, I’ve been really happy with what folks are saying about my book. Here are some quick quotes and links:

“This book is hard to put down…It is a reminder of the complexities of this system, but most importantly a reminder that, at the core, relationships and influence are the most important and most effective tools we have when developing students. American Fraternity Man is everything you love and hate about fraternity life. It is a great story for anyone who knows what it is like to be miserable, challenged, and still love their job.”- Association of Fraternity/ Sorority Advisors, “Essentials” Newsletter
“American Fraternity Man is many things at once–funny and tragic, pro-Greek and anti-frat, bildungsroman and travel narrative, indictment of whiney millenials and the adults who made them that way. For GDIs (I’ll let you read the book for a translation of that abbreviation), the novel is a window into a world that is often misunderstood, even hated, but whose inhabitants are no less human, whose stories are no less worthy of telling.” – Dianne Turgeon Richardson, Sundog Lit
“I feel that all college students should take the chance to read this book…This book was an eye-opener to me…” – Books With Bite
Okay, so that’s the link round-up for this week!
It’s awesome to get great reviews, but I’ve gotta tell you: it’s just awesome that people are reading the book. So if you’ve been to any of my readings lately, or if you’ve picked up the book, or if you’ve finished plowing through it: thank you so much. I don’t take any of this for granted, and I appreciate any support you’ve given me.
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When We Say We’re Bored

I’ve got a new column up at the Huffington Post (it was originally part of UCF Today‘s “Forum” series, and it’s also been re-printed at Context Florida).

Follow this link to get to Huff Po, and give me a like/share/comment if you dig the column. Here’s the opening:

“When We Say We’re Bored, What Are We Really Saying About Ourselves?”

In late August, three teenagers in Oklahoma targeted and killed a random jogger for no other reason than because they were bored. The story is heartbreaking, maddening, and chilling, and it’s made even more so by their explanation: boredom.

 

Were these kids really saying that their own entertainment was the most important thing in the world, more important than other lives?

The more I thought about the story, the more I moved beyond my repulsion at just these three teens and considered the word “boredom” itself, how quickly we all employ it, but how little we deserve to use it.

Read more

The Drunken Odyssey

Just prior to my book release party this past Saturday, I sat down with John King, host of the literary/writing life podcast “The Drunken Odyssey.”

It’s a fun conversation. We talk about my book American Fraternity Man, and fraternity life in the state of Florida, and hazing, and alcoholism, and road trips, and mixed-media literature, and–best of all–I sing the praises of the clever Rebecca Martinson (the now-famous “deranged sorority girl” whose email has since been read by Michael Shannon, Gilbert Godfried, Morgan Freeman, and countless others, perhaps making it the single most talked-about piece of “fraternity/sorority literature” since Animal House). Don’t you want to hear me say the word “cunt punt” just once? I mean, seriously. If I said that while Heather was around, I’d get punched…but with a glass of wine, and sitting in John King’s studio: let the curse words fly!

Here’s the link. You can download the single show, or–better yet–you can subscribe to John’s excellent podcast through iTunes.

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When you visit his site, do him a favor. Click on the “Audible” link and get a free audiobook download. It’s also the easiest way to support the show financially (and costs you nothing!).

Oh, the Horror

Two quick links for you, this Sunday afternoon in early November.

First, my epic essay “The Horror Aisle” is up at Burrow Press Review. It’s an exploration of my lifelong obsession with horror movies, and a walk down memory lane for those of you who remember what it was like to spend thirty or forty minutes wandering the video store, searching for the perfect movie for your Friday night. It’s also a love letter to the golden age of bloody B-movies, the late ’80s and early ’90s.  Admit it: you’ve always wanted a serious essay to discuss such gems as C.H.U.D. and The Stuff.

And over at the fantastic online journal decomP, you’ll find my short story “Submission Guidelines.” More accurately, it probably should have been titled “Submission Guidelines in the Age of the Zombie Apocalypse,” but I used up my allotment of super-long titles this year. The story follows a lit mag editor who is forced to craft guidelines for his magazine  after (you guessed it) zombies have destroyed America, and have eaten all the other lit mag editors. If you’ve ever submitted a story to a literary journal, you should enjoy this one.

Yes, these are both horror-themed writings, and Halloween was last week, so it feels like this posting is a little late. But hopefully you’ve still got a little Halloween spirit in you…maybe your pumpkin is still sitting on your front porch, going from orange to black/brown, and maybe your candy dish inside is still full of the worst left-over candies imaginable, and there are bits and pieces of costumes strewn about your living room that you don’t want to throw away (but which you know you’ll never wear again), and you’re thinking: It can’t be over! I’ve got to wait a full year until next Halloween? No. No, you don’t. Read my essay. Read my story. And for a few brief moments, it’s Halloween all over again.

How to Write Orlando

The second part of my interview/ conversation with author Lavinia Ludlow is now up at Curbside Splendor Publishing.

Amongst other things, we discuss how the Florida humidity affects characterization, and how the tourism industry impacts Orlandoans on a daily basis. What’s it like to grow up in the shadow of the mouse, and to have the entire world in your backyard?  From the interview: “In Orlando, though, you’ve got the whole world coming here…you’ve got the whole world at Epcot, for crying out loud…but at the same time, it’s a warped vision of the world and the way it operates. To know Florida is to know that warped vision, and to write Floridian requires that you understand how strangely your characters view the world.”

Here’s the link.

Hope you check it out, and hope you check out Lavinia’s first novel alt.punk, or her upcoming book Single Stroke Seven. Also, Curbside Splendor’s got a great catalogue they’re building; I read Victor David Giron’s Sophomoric Philosophy (which I’d compare to Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned, except with a Mexican-American flair, if you can imagine that?), and I’ve read a few of the stories from Michael C.’s Chicago Stories when they were published elsewhere, but I’m eager to give the full collection a whirl.

Check out the interview. Support the small-press, also. They’re starting to take Chicago by storm.

Reading Books While Burping My Baby

I know that it seems that the majority of my postings lately have been about my baby, or about fatherhood, but you know what? When you have kids, you start to view the world through the lens of parenthood. Impossible to get away from that. I can guarantee I’ll never be one of those people who drives past Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights billboards and writes editorials in the Orlando Sentinel about how the billboards should be taken down because they’re too scary. I also won’t ever complain about prime-time TV, and will never say “How am I supposed to tell my kids about this?” when I see a politician having an affair or a pro baseball player on steroids or a Janet Jackson nipple. Rather than seeing the world as something to shield my child from, I promise that I’ll attempt to see the world as a series of learning opportunities: “You see that, Jackson? That’s what we call a ‘poor decision.'”

So I won’t stop talking about fatherhood, but I can guarantee that I won’t be annoying about it. Hopefully that’s a good deal, right?

All of this as a lead-in, so that I can say: I’ve got a new blog over at the Burrow Press Review called Reading Books While Burping My Baby.”

You might have noticed that I don’t write many book reviews on my own site these days (though I do still update my “Reading List” page). Well, I’ve been searching for a way to reach a wider audience with my reviews, and to find a way to talk about how I read, rather than just the quality of what I read.

This month, I talk about Three Ways of the Saw by Matt Mullins, and a bunch of stories from One Story, including a great one from David James Poissant. My first few installments touched on Best American Non-Required Reading, Roxane Gay’s Ayiti, Ryan W. Bradley’s Prize Winners, Ben Tanzer’s Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine, and Artifice Magazine. Check it out at the link above. Hopefully it’ll give you your book review fix, along with your baby fix.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Florida

Hey, speaking of “Florida” and “Orlando” as viable settings for literary fiction…

I’ve got an interview/conversation with punk-rock  writer Lavinia Ludlow (author of alt.punk) up at Curbside Splendor. We talk about the differences between “Florida” and “California” fiction, and both of us expound upon the importance of writing about mid-major cities…in Lavinia’s case, that means the cities of Sacramento and San Jose, and in my case, that means the cities of Orlando and the Central Florida metro area.

Here’s the link.

Special thanks to Victor David Giron for hosting our conversation. It’s a two-parter, so you can check out the first part right now, and the second part will be posted on Thursday, April 19.