All posts tagged: Melody Nixon

August Reads: I Believe New Yorkers

By MELODY NIXON

For the month of August we are revisiting some of our favorite content from the past year. Publication of new work will resume on September 1.
skyline from subway

“I believe New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I wont ever dare ask that question.”

– Dylan Thomas

In my first months in New York City I rode in the back of taxicabs through Central Park thinking, “When will this sink in? When will it feel like I know where I am.” I didn’t think I was dreaming – rather, I felt the whole city was dreaming with me inside of it, a poppy-field illusion, a drug trip induced by hidden valves releasing an experimental hallucinogen. The city needed to pinch itself awake, collectively, and climb out of the hollow to find out what was really going on.

“I stopped at Lexington Avenue,” wrote Joan Didion of her arrival in the city, “and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out of the West and reached the mirage.” You arrive, you reach the mirage, and you wait for it to clear.

August Reads: I Believe New Yorkers
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August Reads: On Naming

By MELODY NIXON

For the month of August we are revisiting some of our favorite content from the past year. Publication of new work will resume September 1.

Filthy McNasty's Sign

To exist humanly, is to name the world, to change it. ~Paulo Freire

When I was 19 my full-time job was bartending a pub called Filthy McNasty’s. McNasty’s sat on Rose Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of the roughest streets in the city center at the time. Fights punctuated each hour of the night and later, after I’d moved on up from McNasty’s, a friend was stabbed near there in a skinhead-like attack. Indoors, customers called me “Garth” because of my wild, unkempt hair, like Garth in Wayne’s World. I didn’t wear makeup and favored baggy jeans and t-shirts; I guess this made me infuriatingly gender ambiguous. My fellow bartenders, with their straightened, bleached-blonde hair, penciled-on brows and figure-hugging polyester tolerated Garth to the best of their abilities, aside from one woman, whose actual name I don’t remember, but whose tan outfits—tight pants and jacket—and extremely thick accent conjured the name “Tanner” in my mind. This word, Tanner, also captured the sound of her voice. She clearly despised me/Garth. She would sashay away from us when the bar wasn’t full enough to force us close together. We could barely understand one another’s accents so the physical distance was a welcome relief.

August Reads: On Naming
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Human Paradox: an Interview with Stephen O’Connor

MELODY NIXON interviews STEPHEN O’CONNOR

Stephen O’Connor is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, the author of four books, a professor of creative writing at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, and a husband and father. His short stories “Con” and “Double Life” appear in Issues 07 and 03 respectively of The Common. His new novel, Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, is forthcoming from Viking-Penguin. Melody Nixon talked with O’Connor this month while she was in Norway and he in London. They both endured the rainiest of European springs and the crackling of Skype to talk dreams, the unconscious, and the right/ability of white writers to write across identity lines.

Human Paradox: an Interview with Stephen O’Connor
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Real Life Analogs: An Interview with James Hannaham

MELODY NIXON interviews JAMES HANNAHAM

James Hannaham is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, an MFA teacher, and the author of the novel God Says No, which was a finalist for a Lambda Book Award and a semifinalist for a VCU First Novelist Award. Hannaham’s work interweaves social critique and strong characterization with robust plot, and he was recently praised by The New York Times for the way he makes “the commonplace spring to life with nothing more than astute observation and precise language.” Melody Nixon met with Hannaham in downtown Manhattan the day before his latest novel, Delicious Foods, was released from Little, Brown and Company. They discussed place, politics, and “racism as a curse.”

Real Life Analogs: An Interview with James Hannaham
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Topical Poetry: An Interview with Jonathan Moody

MELODY NIXON interviews JONATHAN MOODY

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody is a poet and professor. His first full-length collection, The Doomy Poems, deals with time and place through persona poems, and is described by Terrance Hayes as having an “innovative funkiness that transcends the ruckus and heartache of our modern world.” Moody’s second poetry collection, Olympic Butter Gold, won the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize and will be published in summer this year. His poem “Dear 2Pac” appears in Issue 08 of The Common, and his “Portrait of Hermes as a B-Boy,” “Kleosphobia,” and “Paranoid,” have all been featured at The Common Online. Melody Nixon caught up with Moody this winter, and between New Zealand and Texas they talked poetry activism, politics, Houston skyscrapers, and the “cosmopolitan radiance” of Downtown Pittsburgh.

Topical Poetry: An Interview with Jonathan Moody
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Friday Reads: January 2015

As we begin 2015, our recommenders are heading into the wilderness. These books range widely through time and space, each embracing its own unique heart of contradiction—exile and home; passion and failure; reason and chaos; doubt and confidence. Heavy with both fictional biography and memoir, we bring you familiar faces from the dark woods of alienation and obsession. Dive into the new year with these five maps by which to recognize yourself and find a path through the forest.

Recommended:

The Same Roads Back by Frank Dullaghan, The Season of Migration by Nellie Hermann, Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines by Janna Levin, Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

Friday Reads: January 2015
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The Deal with Discomfort: Claire Messud on “Likeability,” the Subjective Self, and Choosing an Artist’s Life

MELODY NIXON interviews CLAIRE MESSUD

Claire Messud headshot

Claire Messud is the author of six novels, including The Emperor’s Children, a New York Times bestseller that was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. Her sixth novel, The Woman Upstairs, was released by Knopf in April 2013 to much critical acclaim and a long listing for the Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize. As December temperatures plummeted Melody Nixon caught up with Claire Messud over the phone about fiction, philosophy, and that comment about the “likeability” of literary characters.

The Deal with Discomfort: Claire Messud on “Likeability,” the Subjective Self, and Choosing an Artist’s Life
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On Naming

Filthy McNasty's SignTo exist humanly, is to name the world, to change it. ~Paulo Freire

When I was 19 my full-time job was bartending a pub called Filthy McNasty’s. McNasty’s sat on Rose Street in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of the roughest streets in the city center at the time. Fights punctuated each hour of the night and later, after I’d moved on up from McNasty’s, a friend was stabbed near there in a skinhead-like attack. Indoors, customers called me “Garth” because of my wild, unkempt hair, like Garth in Wayne’s World. I didn’t wear makeup and favored baggy jeans and t-shirts; I guess this made me infuriatingly gender ambiguous. My fellow bartenders, with their straightened, bleached-blonde hair, penciled-on brows and figure-hugging polyester tolerated Garth to the best of their abilities, aside from one woman, whose actual name I don’t remember, but whose tan outfits—tight pants and jacket—and extremely thick accent conjured the name “Tanner” in my mind. This word, Tanner, also captured the sound of her voice. She clearly despised me/Garth. She would sashay away from us when the bar wasn’t full enough to force us close together. We could barely understand one another’s accents so the physical distance was a welcome relief.

On Naming
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The Overachieving Underachiever: An Interview with Benjamin Anastas

MELODY NIXON interviews BENJAMIN ANASTAS

Benjamin Anastas

Benjamin Anastas is the author of Too Good to be True, a memoir described by The New York Times as “smart and honest and searching,” and “so plaintive and raw it will leave most writers… with heart palpitations.” He has written two novels, An Underachiever’s Diary, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance, as well as multiple reviews and essays, one of which, “Boys with a Synth,” is published in Issue 06 of The Common. Melody Nixon talked with Anastas about his skepticism for social media, the role of the writer in society, and memoir as fiction’s “whiny and embarrassing stepchild.” 

The Overachieving Underachiever: An Interview with Benjamin Anastas
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I Believe in New Yorkers

By MELODY NIXON

skyline from subway

“I believe New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I wont ever dare ask that question.”

– Dylan Thomas

In my first months in New York City I rode in the back of taxicabs through Central Park thinking, “When will this sink in? When will it feel like I know where I am.” I didn’t think I was dreaming – rather, I felt the whole city was dreaming with me inside of it, a poppy-field illusion, a drug trip induced by hidden valves releasing an experimental hallucinogen. The city needed to pinch itself awake, collectively, and climb out of the hollow to find out what was really going on.

“I stopped at Lexington Avenue,” wrote Joan Didion of her arrival in the city, “and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out of the West and reached the mirage.” You arrive, you reach the mirage, and you wait for it to clear.

I Believe in New Yorkers
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