Houston, We Have Nonfiction Lift-Off!

January 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Winter 2011 issue of Brevity offers eighteen concise essays — rich examples of the experimentation, illumination, and surprise that can come with the very brief form.

Included is one our briefest essays yet, from the esteemed Steven Barthelme, and some of our favorite authors returning for an encore, including Richard Terrill, Lance Larsen, and Tim Elhajj. Meanwhile, Linsey Maughan graces us with her first creative nonfiction publication ever, and more than a few graduate student authors display their growing talents and strengths.

Junk: A Literary Fix

November 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

From Brevity contributor Tim Elhajj (along with Holly Huckeba), a new online nonfiction magazine, Junk

Here’s their description:  We’re a nonfiction literary magazine that focuses on addiction, but you don’t have to be an addict to submit to us. Do you have a story, photograph or artistic expression that lends some insight into what it means to be filled with need, to have some insatiable craving or infatuation? Or perhaps you’d like to weigh in upon what’s it’s like to know someone who behaves like this. Or maybe you’re one of the people who doesn’t believe in addiction. Maybe you think Tiger is making excuses. All that’s fine. We’d love to see it.

Too often stories about addicts appear in the same tired circumstances, saying the same worn out things. We want something new, something different. All we ask is that its good. Interesting. That it makes us want even more. And it has to be true.

Submit to Junk.

Jennifer Percy’s Modern Love

December 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

nytOn Sunday mornings, everyone on the Brevity staff gets two-hours off from reading submissions, so we brew coffee and rip into the New York Times.  It has become rather commonplace (but always pleasing) to find a past Brevity contributor featured in the Times‘ outstanding Modern Love column. In the past, Modern Love has featured valued Brevitians such as Ann Bauer, Lori Jakiela, Gary Presley, & Tim Elhajj, to name just a few.

Anyway, this past Sunday we open our Times and are halfway through the Modern Love column when it hits us — “She’s in the next issue!”

So while you are waiting for Jennifer Percy’s wonderful essay “Closing Time ” to arrive in the January 2010 issue of Brevity, check out her intriguing  essay in Modern Love:

“I was so in love with you there,” he said one evening when I mentioned the place in the Midwest where we had met. He said that phrase often, and it always vaguely distressed me, as if he was suggesting that love was a label he could pass along freely from day to day, attaching it here and there in his memory.

I asked a friend about this and the friend said he thought it was better that way, about love, and how my boyfriend moved it around like an object. He told me he thought my boyfriend was honest, and that no one can ever love someone constantly, equally, at all times. It has to rise and fall and wax and wane to maintain its permanence. That is its permanence.

The full Modern Love essay is here.

On Writing “Jimi Don’t Play Here No More”

January 25, 2009 § 3 Comments

From Tim Elhajj, on Writing “Jimi Don’t Play Here No More” in Brevity 29:

This story, Jesus.

villageThe end of this story takes place in 1988 when my oldest son was
three-years-old. I’ve been telling this story for ages now, but only
to other addicts and alcoholics, usually at some type of 12-step
meeting. I only recently started telling it to civilians, which is
difficult because people never know what to say when I get to the end.

For the longest time my family never knew this story. They just knew that I had gone to NYC and then a few years later I surfaced again on
long weekend trips into Pennsylvania. There were bridges that needed
building, and we all kept busy saying the things that needed to be
said, but everyone was careful about discussing the past.

This story just never came up.

First I told my oldest son, not long after he graduated high school.
He had never been to NYC, so I took him (and my new wife and kids) on a summer trip. One evening I took my oldest boy down to Saint Mark’s Place in the East Village. It was summertime and he was craning his head to see all the girls and I had him by the elbow and was dashing up and down the block, but the Electric Circus was long gone by then, so I just told him straight out. “For a little while,” I said, “I lived in a homeless shelter that used to stand just over there.” In those years, he had a teenage sensibility where he allowed nothing to faze him, but still this news raised his brows and he said something
like, You were in a homeless shelter?, before dropping back into that
hard teenage posture. I have always felt terrible that we lived in
different towns his entire life, and I wanted most of all for him to
understand the stakes. He took it like a trouper. I told him more of
my stories and he told me some of his. We really bonded on that trip
to NYC.

About two years ago, I told this story to my youngest brother who is
now a police officer with a grizzled heart and a few good stories of
his own. We were on his patio in the middle of the night, just the two
of us. He has heard it all before, but when I got to the end he just
said, “Jesus.”

Sometimes a story can seem one way to one person, but another person
can take it the wrong way. Not long ago I posted an excerpt from my
childhood memoir on my blog. It was a story about a small rebellion I
waged against my mother when I was about twelve. Later when she and I
spoke on the phone, she let me know she read the excerpt by saying,
“Jesus, Timmy. Can’t you write about anything nice?”

I think I may have annoyed her.

“Why don’t you write about that time you were up there in that
homeless shelter in NYC,” she said. “If you want to write about stuff,
write about that.”

I didn’t even know Mom knew the story about me being in the shelter,
but apparently she had heard. These kinds of stories have a way of
traveling. I think about that and I wonder if I want everyone at my
work to know this story. I have a house, a career, and two elementary
school kids. I live on the other side of the country. I have a whole
new life now.

I think like that and I remember a time right after the kids were
born, when I stopped going to meetings. When the kids turned about
five, I started back again. Most 12-step meetings place a premium on
complete abstinence and continuous sobriety. I hadn’t used, but I felt
guilty. I approached a guy who has been around for some time, but who
I didn’t know all that well. I felt like I needed to explain my
absence. He listened politely, sipped his coffee and nodded his head.
I wanted to make sure he understood that I hadn’t even felt an urge.
Eventually he held up his hand to interrupt me.

He said, “It’s not all about you, Tim.”

I laughed. He had a good point. Our stories are probably the most
powerful things we own. The challenge is finding the courage to tell
them honestly.

So I guess if there is a moral, it’s probably this: Always listen to
your mamma. She won’t steer you wrong.

BREV29: A Warm Winter Stew

January 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

BREVITY, the journal of concise nonfiction, launches the 29th issue today, bringing you the Big Bad Wolf, a glass eyeball, Parisian lingerie, a pair of stolen sneakers, an orphaned doe, and, possibly, a visitor from another planet. Maybe it’s just the snow playing tricks on our eyes, but each of these pieces seems to ask the same thing: “Did I see what I think I saw?” Bundle up and get warm by the intense fire of such talents as Lance Larsen, David Bradley, Tim Elhajj, John Bresland, Diane Seuss, Joe Bonomo, Kyle Minor, Laura Sewell Matter, Elizabeth Westmark, and Bryan Fry. Also, new Craft Essays from Brenda Miller and Lisa Knopp, and Book Reviews from Mary Richert, Richard Gilbert, and Stephanie Susnjara.

Read Brevity 29

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