Earlier this week I had the chance to visit the University of Connecticut Co-op to take part in the English Department’s annual Creative Sustenance reading.  The event was organized by my old friend Ellen Litman, Associate Director of Creative Writing at UConn, and it also featured Jane Roper, whose novel Eden Lake is out now.  There was a great turnout for the event – I was thankful that so many students took time out of their studies for some creative sustenance!

Poets & Writers Magazine has a great feature on their website called “Writers Recommend” in which writers such as Aimee Bender, Joshua Ferris, Jonathan Lethem and over a hundred others talk about their sources of inspiration.  I was recently invited to contribute, and I chose to write about tUnE-yArDs’s first album, BiRd-BrAiNs – please click here to read my recommendation.

In a recent review on Fiction Advocate, Brian Hurley calls How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive a “deceptively avant-garde novel” and a “swift ride through a landscape of nearly stupefying emotions.” Please click here to read the review.

No library has played as important a role in my life as the Longmeadow Storrs Library.  Growing up in Longmeadow, I have countless memories of going to the library as a kid, wandering the shelves, and taking a stack of books home with me.  My connection to Storrs extends beyond my love of literature, though – my mother, Diane, also works there as a librarian.  For all of these reasons, I was looking forward to going back to the library last night to give a talk and read from my novel.

Even so, I couldn’t have expected such a warm reception.  The room was filled with old friends – parents of high school friends, friends of my family, members of the community who I’d known over the years.  Even my third grade teacher, Eleanor Santos – in whose class I wrote my first short story! – was kind enough to attend.

Not only was it heartwarming to see so many familiar faces, but it reminded me how lucky I was to grow up in such a supportive and nurturing community.  Thanks so much to everyone who attended, and to Barbara Fitzgerald and the staff at Storrs Library for orchestrating an event I’ll always remember.

I was thrilled to see my novel featured in an article on The New York Times website yesterday.  In a post on the “Wheels” blog, Phil Patton aligns my novel with other surreal automotive narratives such as Stephen King’s Christine and the television show “My Mother the Car,” and also cites my book as belonging to a tradition of “existential repair manuals” which includes Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and John Muir’s book itself.

Please click here to read the article.

I was excited to update my iTunes podcasts this morning and see my own name featured in one of the file descriptions. Authors On Tour Live, a podcast series recorded at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, is currently featuring a recording of my reading at the bookstore in August. This event was one of the highlights of the roadtrip, and I’m so glad to have a record of it.

Please click here to hear the reading.

While many of the bookstores which I’ve visited on this tour have been new to me, The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley is a store I know very well.  As I told the audience at last night’s reading, I worked at the Mount Holyoke College Summer Theatre for several summers in the mid-1990s, and I used to run across the street to the Odyssey during my lunch or dinner breaks to read in one of their comfortable chairs.  It was my fondness for the South Hadley area, furthermore, which inspired me to include several local landmarks – Summit Mountain, the Thirsty Mind Café and Route 47 – in my book.

For these reasons, it was a real treat to be invited back to the Odyssey to read from my novel.  Thanks so much to Events Coordinator Sydney Towne for organizing this event, and giving me the opportunity to read at one of my all-time favorite bookstores.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from David Gutowski at Largehearted Boy to write a music playlist for a Book Notes feature on me and my work.   I was happy to do so; writing this playlist gave me the chance to revisit songs that were central to my fiction and the roadtrip, and to try and pinpoint why music from these bands – The Bad Plus, the Punch Brothers, Bon Iver and others – is so important to me.

The article has just been posted – please click here to read it.

In the summer of 1996 I returned home from a semester abroad and took a job at the famous Mimmo’s pizza – formerly Nini’s – on Pleasant Street in Northampton.  The pizza shop stands right behind the station headquarters for WHMP, which I’d often listen to while delivering pizza in an old Chevy S-10 pickup.  If I wasn’t listening to WHMP I was listening to WRSI, which remains my favorite radio station for music.  Both stations are now located in that building on Hampton Avenue.

Having worked so close to the station, it was fun to be invited into the studio yesterday as a guest on The Bill Newman Show.  Bill and his co-host Monty couldn’t have been nicer, and I really appreciated the opportunity to talk about the book in the city where it’s set.  The first story, which I read an excerpt from on the air, even makes reference to Nini’s!

If you missed yesterday’s broadcast, you can hear a podcast of the show on WHMP’s website (9.26).  Or, click here to download the podcast.

As I mention in my bio, I worked at the Daily Hampshire Gazette for two great years (one as a part-time correspondent, the other as the Arts Writer) in the late 1990s before moving to Syracuse.  I look back on my time with the Gazette fondly – I learned a lot, made some good friends, and wrote about compelling topics (especially in my last year, when I reviewed concerts by Bob Dylan and Bela Fleck, and interviewed such artists as Steven Wright, Philip Glass and Brian Wilson).

While I’d hoped that the Gazette might run a listing for my event in South Hadley next Thursday, I was surprised and delighted to learn that they’d chosen to devote a Hampshire Life cover story to the publication of my book and the roadtrip.  I’m very thankful to Ben Storrow for taking the time to speak with me, and to Margot Cleary, Carol Lollis and Larry Parnass for devoting so much space to my story.

Hampshire Life appears in today’s edition of the newspaper – please pick up a copy if you live in western Massachusetts.  Also, please tune in to WHMP (AM1400/1240/FM96.9 in Northampton) at 9:15 on Monday morning for my live, in-studio interview with Bill Newman!