Friday, December 28, 2012

TRAJECTORY Talks with Me About Writing and Such

Over the course of a few weeks author Jan Bowman and I exchanged Q&A messages for an interview with me to appear in Chris Helvey's fine journal Trajectory.



Jan also interviewed me for her website.  That interview can be found here, if you're interested.

I received a copy of the print journal a couple days back, and it's an attractive publication.  It's easy to see the hard work Chris and others put into the journal.

 

And would expect nothing less from Chris and friends.  An excerpt from the interview, and information about how to order a copy to enjoy the full content of the issue, can be found at Trajectory's website.  

Chris remains one of the kindest people I've had the pleasure to meet and get to know, and this aside from the fact he has writing chops of his own that could crack a 2 X 4 without effort.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Upcoming The Same Terrible Storm Review from The Cut-Thru Review

Hillbilly's Note: The following is a review of my collection, The Same Terrible Storm, written by Mary Stepp, fellow professor at BSCTC and editor of The Cut-Thru Review.  Of course, I greatly appreciate the review and the journal, which has been good to me over the years.

Before we get to the review, below is a picture of an ashtray...Enjoy.




A Review of Sheldon Lee Compton’s The Same Terrible Storm  (Foxhead Books, 2012)



In his first short story collection The Same Terrible Storm, writer Sheldon Lee Compton delivers prose pieces that are powerful and steeped in authentic Appalachia, in its poverty, desolation, faith, and hope. The characters in Compton’s 22 stories are often surviving bleak circumstances, and he paints these characters, flaws and all, in a way that is honest and unembellished. There is nothing heavy handed in the story-telling. Therein lies the magic of Compton’s style—his ability to show plainly characters who are standing in the storm of life or personal turmoil and the way they hold tight to something that allows them to keep standing. Somehow there’s an undercurrent of hope even after all hope has been depleted.

In “Purpose,” for example, Brown Bottle teaches his nephew how to fight and tells him of his wartime days: “We were fighting for our lives, and that’s the best thing to ever fight for, ever” (13). This bit of dialogue represents a theme carried throughout the book. Characters—some combating addiction and poverty—cling to religion or family relations, even when those connections are strained. There’s a palpable refrain of fighting-to-survive.

What adds beauty to this collection is Compton’s lyrical style. Consider the concluding lines of the title story, “The Same Terrible Storm”: “When his mother stirs away from the kitchen window, like a shadow moving with a bank of clouds, Man spreads his hand out again on the rail. When the vibration moves from his hand into his elbow he keeps his eyes on the moon, keeps his hand on the rail, keeps it there for as long as he can” (45). In juxtaposition to the violence and tension, there are quiet moments and lovely landscape.

Sheldon Lee Compton’s The Same Terrible Storm is an impressive debut for any writer of any region. These stories—with their fierceness and quiet —solidifies Compton’s place as one of Kentucky’s great contemporary writers.


 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Novel, Teaching, Reviews, Nonfiction, New Hats at Foxhead Books and a Photography/Fiction Project

Since getting knee-deep into my novel, I've spent less and less time writing short fiction.  The spare time I've had when I'm not working on the novel has been devoted to finishing a lengthy essay that came about from a solicitation and a recommendation from Chris Offutt for an anthology due out sometime next year from Ohio University Press that will include essays from Dorothy Allison, Offutt, Ron Rash, and several others.

Set the writing aside, and the rest of my time has been spent, happily spent I'll add, getting my self situated to take on a few new jobs with Foxhead Books, the house that published my collection last year.  I can't say how thrilled I am about these new jobs with the Fox, but the word isn't actually official until after the first of the year, so I'll keep that under my hat until then.  But keep an eye out, because soon as I'm able, I'll certainly share the good news.

All that being said, I'll add that I've had the pleasure of picking up a couple gigs reviewing some fine books for Heavy Feather Review.  My review of Blake Butler's Sky Saw has already been published there and I'm currently working on a review of Robert Kloss' Alligators of Abraham (though I'm behind deadline on this last review and Jason Teal may be ready to give up on my ever getting him the finished review).  Hang in there, Jason.  It's coming, hoss.

The five or six short stories I have finished in the past several months have been for an upcoming book called A Thousand Words.  I think I've mentioned this project here before, but the general idea is that I'm teaming with photographer Heather McCoy for this fiction/photography experimental collection of short stories and photographs.  Each photograph (tentatively numbered at fifty at this point) will be accompanied by a short story of exactly one-thousand words.

In addition, as of Jan. 14, I'll be teaching a full load of English and Writing classes.  This after just getting student grades in for this past Fall semester.  We all know the grading process and how this side-task alone is at times enough to push all other work aside, at least until after finals.

So I'm working, just not publishing a great deal of short fiction as these two projects, in addition with my yet-to-be-announced new roles at Foxhead Books, are taking up the bulk of my work days.

And for that I'm happy.  Despite my drop in the submitting process and output of short stories, there's a lot going on right now.  A lot of good things, and I'm thankful


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Past Few Weeks

A busy couple few weeks.  Had a couple stories accepted at Pithead Chapel and The Cut-Thru Review, wrote a book review of Blake Butler's Sky Saw at Heavy Feather Review and started reading Robert Kloss' Alligators of Abraham for another review there later this week.  Butler was in fine style, and Kloss is blowing my mind.

In the weeks prior to that, my grandfather, Teddy Compton, passed away.  A preacher for more than fifty years, a man he saved during one of the largest revivals in Eastern Kentucky's history preached his funeral and my uncle, the Kentucky author and poet G.C. Compton, his oldest son, gave a eulogy that defied possibilities for what a son can do during such hurt for a father.  It may be the most beautiful and perfect thing I've ever heard read.  And couldn't have been more fitting for the strongest man I've ever known.

Just before my grandfather's passing, I was notified by Tom Williams, Chair of the English Department at Morehead State University, that my collection, The Same Terrible Storm, has been nominated for the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing.  I had just attended the ceremony in October for the presentation of this award to author Donald Ray Pollock.  I'm pleased to be considered, aside from any thoughts of actually winning.

There have been a number of other things take place in the past several weeks, some of which I may need to give more time before sharing here, but soon perhaps.

Oh, and if you haven't watched Crazy Heart, do so.  If you have, watch it again.