Read my flash essay about Vietnam in Watershed Review

The latest issue (Spring 2015) of Watershed Review features my flash essay about Vietnam, “Crossing the Street in Hue on Buddha’s Birthday.”

I visited Vietnam as part of the Chatham MFA program’s 2012 field seminar. One requirement of the “class” (two weeks in Vietnam can hardly be called a class) was to keep a detailed travel journal.

I dedicated myself to that journal, even going so far as to create my own out of cardboard, an old tank top with an elephant print for the cover decoration, and pages from half-used composition notebooks.

But when I came home and the deadline for our twenty pages of fiction or nonfiction crept closer, I froze. I didn’t know what to write. The deadline stressed me out, and my head hurt all the time. I felt I had barely had time to process the experience of visiting a country with which we had so recently been at war, in which a family member fought.

Finally, I knew I had to just write. So I did, one night, in a frenzy. “Crossing the Street in Hue on Buddha’s Birthday” was the last of the three post-Vietnam essays I wrote. My others focused on the war and my experience of being in the country and being a tourist.

I had to get those feelings out, down on paper, before I could embrace the love I felt for the country. Because I did love it. I loved being there. I loved the food, the jungle, the people, the little clusters of incense sticks tucked into any and every available space.

That love came out in the form of this flash essay, a tiny sliver of the joy and excitement I felt. I am glad I get to share it with you.

FictionFeed.net reviews my story, “She’s a Work of Art”

On Saturday I got a big, wonderful, surprise. FictionFeed.net, a website that reviews short stories published online, posted a very kind review of my recently-published short story, “She’s a Work of Art.”

The most gratifying part of the review for me was seeing my prose called magical realism, even though this particular story doesn’t have any fantastic elements:

The magic I’m talking about is purely stylistic: the author imbues this story with raw, natural-world imagery that makes it feel like a violent sexual interaction between a girl and a hyena, but it isn’t a hyena, it’s a guy, but the guy is rendered in terms that make him very hyena-like.

I’m ecstatic that a.) people are reading my work and b.) that they are getting something out of it beyond mere enjoyment.

This review is a great encouragement for me. I would be remiss if I didn’t once again thank Animal’s fiction editor, Sarah Cedeño, and my professors at Chatham for helping me turn this story into an “absolutely fantastic piece.” (Actual direct quote! About my writing! I feel the need to use an emoticon! =D)