The Island of Ex-Boyfriends ~ Stacy Bierlein’s View From the Keyboard

If you are reading this View From the Keyboard today, Thursday, April 12, 2012, then you are in luck. Especially if you are anywhere close to Chicago. You see, Stacy Bierlein, my friend and fellow Elephant Rock Books author, will be reading tonight in Chicago at the very wonderful Book Cellar on Lincoln Avenue. 7 PM. You should go. Really. You should hear this smart, funny, sexy, and talented woman read from her brand new collection of short stories A VACATION ON THE ISLAND OF EX-BOYFRIENDS. And just in case you can’t do that tonight for some silly reason like you need to spend time with your family or go to class or do your taxes (shame on you, you should have done those already!) and perhaps you live in or near Saint Louis, well then you can come to Left Bank Books on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 4 PM and hear Stacy read. And me, too. We will be reading together then, and it should be a blast. There is even a resident cat at Left Bank; his name is Spike. How fun is that?

In any case, Stacy Bierlein is a writer to pay attention to. We were in classes together about (mumble mumble) years ago, and even then I was aware that this woman was going to have a literary career. And she does. Editor, Contributor, Writer, Teacher, Presenter. She definitely lives a literary life. And she lives it in California, lucky girl. But she can tell you about it some herself.

Here, then, is Stacy’s View From the Keyboard:

STACY: It is more difficult than I imagined to get a good photograph of my writing space. Throughout the day sunlight bursts in at odd angles–

those who know me may have noticed that I often keep a pair of sunglasses ready on top of my head. The year-round sunlight is disorienting at first to former mid-westerners. I met a man once who had moved back to Illinois saying, All that sunshine, all that optimism; I couldn’t take it anymore. My desk faces my husband’s–a decision that seemed quaint when we moved into our new home and became somewhat problematic later. I’m just saying, the key to a good marriage may very well be separate offices. My bookshelves are to the left of my desk. The day I took my books out of boxes and put them on these shelves was the day this house became home. To the right of my desk an exterior door leads to our small garden. When I’m in the office alone I leave that door open to let in the canyon noises and breezes and to allow my dog to come and go as she pleases. I somewhat obsessively painted the office walls the deepest cinnamon red to match the clay rooftops of the other houses in the canyon, as well as the small blossoms on the four plum trees in the garden. The poem attached to my computer monitor is my current favorite, “The Straightforward Mermaid,” by Matthea Harvey. It begins, “The straightforward mermaid starts every sentence with ‘Look …’ This comes from being raised in a sea full of hooks.”

Excerpt from “Why We Broke Up” by Stacy Bierlein

There was a dead rat above the engagement present closet. You kept insisting the odor came from potpourri my aunt included with a crystal bowl. It is not the smell of perfumed flowers, I kept telling you; it is the smell of death and decay. We pulled every single box, every glass, carafe, and bowl, from that closet. Nothing. I called an exterminator. He held his nose the moment he walked in and said, You have a rat all right. As far as he could tell it got in by crawling under a loose tile on the roof. It must have been trapped in the rafters between the roof and the ceiling. We could tear a hole and look for the carcass or we could just let nature take care of it, understanding the smell would get worse before it got better—our gorgeous gifts destined to sit in the stench.

You claimed not to know what a Twitpic was, yet you knew how to save them and kept an interesting collection. My friend Dara offered her Spyware but I was tired. I had limits.

Most mornings the California sky is cornflower blue. The world’s first tweet was sent on a foggy March morning at 9:50 a.m. In ancient animal legends a rat would arrive first to a party. Originally it was prophesy, not curse, that forced a beauty to a hundred year sleep. Male ostriches kill themselves fighting for harems; their heads slamming too hard into one another. It is so very disruptive to fall in love.

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Stacy’s Links

I am surprised by how much I like Twitter! Follow me @StacyBierlein. I recently interviewed one of my favorite authors, Josip Novakovich, for The Rumpus, http://therumpus.net/. I’m getting acquainted with Red Room and hope to post notes there soon, http://redroom.com/member/stacy-bierlein.

→Thanks, Stacy! See you tonight! -PMc←


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