It’s Thursday, the end of a long week, and this writer could really use a cocktail. This week’s offering is a serious one by Kelly McMasters, author of just-released Welcome to Shirley, a green-themed memoir
1 part Vodka
1 part Tequila
1 part Rum
1 part Gin
1 part Triple sec
1.5 parts Sour mix
1 splash Coca-Cola
about her blue-collar hometown on the east end of Long Island. The town is a service-town to the Hamptons and is on the south shore, has a lovely natural setting, but is threatened by a nearby nuclear
laboratory that has been leaking into the town’s drinking water
aquifer for 50 years. (In other words, it may be safer to drink a Long Island Tea, than tap water– that’s just my two cents. Here’s what Kelly has to say about her hometown and it’s namesake cocktail.)
“Of course, the drink I have in mind is the Long Island Iced Tea. I
think it reflects the town perfectly–Shirley has an all-or-nothing
vibe in its heart, and hard drinking took up much of our time as
teenagers. The LI Iced Tea’s potency made it a favorite (along with
Zima, which thankfully no longer exists!). And the drink’s undeserved
bad reputation mirrors the story of my town.
I also used to bartend, and whenever someone ordered this drink I
immediately carded them–it is a favorite for the young/new drinker
because it sounds classy, but has more alcohol than almost any other
Here is the classic recipe:
Mix alcoholic ingredients together over ice in a glass.
Pour into shaker and give ONE brisk shake. Pour back into glass and
squirt in splash of soda– make sure there is a touch of fizz at the
top. Garnish with lemon.
“Powerful…debut explores the author’s happy childhood next to a
controversial nuclear laboratory that leaked toxic waste into a Long
Island aquifer. McMasters follows up this moving material with pages
that delve into case-study numbers and scientific quotes … Sincere
and expertly researched.”
The Root has posted video
of Kyle Dargan interviewing his grandmother, Ruth Dargan. Ms. Dargan was a police detective during the infamous Newark Riots in 1968. (That’s her on the right.)
In an essay
that accompanies the interview, Kyle writes:
Periodically, I get a phone call from my grandmother that begins with her saying, “Listen to this,” or simply with her reading aloud a vignette she’d just written about her life in Newark, N.J. Usually, I tell her the brief tales sound good and encourage her to keep writing. “I’m leaving all this stuff for you so you can write my story after I’m gone,” she often tells me, in reply. I ponder her statement and then reply, as warm and loving as only a grandson could, “You ain’t dead yet!”
I am so bummed that I can’t embed the video so you can just watch it here. (You have to follow this link.)They talk about the death of MLK, Barak Obama, and the housing crisis. She read “The Audacity of Hope” in bookclub and wasn’t all that impressed.
On a silly and superficial note, I had to smile at Kyle’s appearance in this video. You can see he got all cleaned up to sit with his grandmother. His hair is cut and his facial hair is all orderly. And the argyle sweater. So sweet. (If you’re in the mood for comparison, here’s a snapshot of Kyle.)
OK. Back to business. This intergenerational sit-down is really interesting, and progressive. She is his grandmother, certainly, but she is not being interviewed as a “granny.” This is no old lady rocking on the porch, hulling peas and rattling off memories. Ms. Ruth Dargan she not just a witness to history, she is also a player in the stories unfolding before our eyes.
The time has come to post the results of the recent ebay auction to benefit the victims of the Dunbar Village Tragedy. As you may remember, I came up with this idea on the spur of the moment. I volunteered to do a manuscript critique and invited any other authors who were interested to jump right in.
I was floored by the number of people who pitched in. I did not solicit these offerings. People stood up and stepped up. So remember the names of these authors, artists, and publishers. Support them. Buy their books when you can, request them from your local library, go to their readings, or just subscribe to their blogs.
I also want to thank the members of this blog community for all your help with this effort. You bid, forwarded the links to your friends, and sent encouraging emails. You posted on your own blogs. Word spread. We managed to get a lot of attention for the auction, but also for the specific victims of Dunbar Village, but also the issue of violence against women and children.
Special thanks is in order for the bloggers. We were mentioned on the big literary blogs like Galleycat, Maude Newton, TEV, and even the LA Times blog. But the smaller blog families also gave love. Some folks even did mini-auctions of thier own to encourage support for our efforts.
Lastly, If you want to help out, but didn’t win the any of the auctions, you can make a donation to the victim’s assistance fund. Here’s the information for that:
Individuals who would like to donate money to the victims can go to any Wachovia Bank and donate to the St. Ann’s Victim’s Assistance Fund. Donations will go directly to the mother and her son. Checks can be made payable to the “Dunbar Village Victim Assistance Fund – St. Ann’s”. Donations can be mailed to: St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 310 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
We’ve done something good here. All of us. Whether you won an auction or not. We came together. We gave what we had to give. We cared. We helped somebody.
The total raised from the auction is:
James Ryals– 10-book set from Algonquin Books.
Christine Z– Personal Essay critique by Joy Castro
Lauren Cerand– 6-book set from Dzanc Books
James Ryals– Quartet of Debuts
Lauren Cerand– Photo session by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Nancy Scheetz– Poetry Critique by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
Becca Marrtin– Novel critique by Tayari Jones
James Ryals– Story Critique by Tayari Jones
Christine Z– Story Critique by Laila Lalami
Sibongile Lynch– Writers Guides to Paying Markets by Erika Dreifus
Carla Williams– Trio of Memoirs
Lia Cihlar– Poetry Critique by Dennis Nurkse
Michael Taeckens & Lisa Kinney– Fiction titles by G. Saunders
Jerry Herring– Story Critique by George Saunders
Caroline Wilkinson– Novel critique by Sarah Schulman
Sandra Lambert– Story Critique by Martha Southgate
James Ryals– Autographed First Edition by Natasha Trethewey
TWO THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED FOURTEEN DOLLARS and Sixty-Nine Cents!
I am sorry for not having much orginal content here. There is one tree in NY and apparently, I am allergic to it. I have taken a lot of medicine in an attempt to feel better and as a result I just feel really loopy– and not in a fun way. So, here are some links to keep you busy while I get my constitution together.
Janice writes about a really bad date.
Vic LaValle talks about writing about his highy unusual family.
One my my favorite programs, Girls Write Now!, was profiled in the NYT.
And stay tuned, I will soon list the names of the winners of the auction. Big bucks, folks. We really did it.
I was looking at the blog and realized that a lot of cool posts got eaten up in the auction frenzy! Here is a recap of what I blogged about when I wasn’t obsessing over the auction.
Min Jin Lee put forth such a charming drink recipe and personal essay.
Erykah Badu broke it down.
Publishing is like riding a roller coaster and the conductor is on crack.
Houston Baker says “psyche” to Michael Eric Dyson.
The auction for the six titles from Dzanc Books is closing in about an hour. For those of you not hip, I thought I would tell you a little bit about this innovative publishing company.
Dzanc is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing literary fiction. They also do outreach and education. This means writers in schools programs, but also working with literary journals to increase literacy and also visibility of serious authors.
This is a quick summary because the auction ends in abut 45 minutes and I want to get this up in time for you to BID…. Also, it was so kind of them to offer thier whole catalog. There are some good books in there.
And, ahem, just FYI, if you are an author– check out this tasty paragraph lifted from the Dzanc website:
All Dzanc authors not only receive contracts and monetary compensation commensurate with the best literary houses, but the personal attention shown to each author by Dzanc – including reviews, book tours and intimate involvement in every step of the publishing process – clearly makes Dzanc unique.
Now that should get you feeling bid-dy
Oh, Everybody! Things went so well last night with the ebay auction. We sold more than two thousand dollars worth of literary goods and services. There was last minute drama. (Example: a gentleman going by the handle “swampgoat” had last minute technical difficulties when trying to bid on the Saunders critique. He has to enlist a friend with less than a minute to go!)
Story critique by me.
Signed first edition of Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
Treasury of Contemporary Southern Literature (Algonquin Books)
The Entire Dzanc Books catalog.
There is some good stuff left–
As soon as all auctions are done, paperwork handled, I am going to post the names of the winners. I’ve been in touch with almost all of them and they are really cool people.
Life is good.
We are in the last hour of the ebay auction to benefit the victims of the Dunbar Village tragedy. I am so excited. Can you believe there are (at this posting) 194 bids? I am thrilled to pieces.
(And don’t forget there are a couple of other items that will mature tomorrow, but the main event is in 44 minutes… and counting.)