Tag Archives: This Is Sarah

You Helped Heal My Heart: Thoughts on This Is Sarah

14 Sep

2014 was a truly terrible year.

While I was beginning cancer treatment and my whole universe was tipped on it’s side, there was one small thing to hang on to.

One thing.

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I published a YA novel called This Is Sarah with Bookfish Books, a small press. Sarah was written pretty quickly in a fit of some of the best writing mornings I ever had while I was taking a break from Palimpsest – the science fiction book that tried to kill me.

Sarah was a palate cleanser for a lot of reasons: It was a small universe I understood. It was emotional. It was honest. And I packed a lot of my personal grief into a suitcase and handed it to Colin, my main character. I watched him walk away with it and I felt changed.

The first question people ask me when they read This Is Sarah is if it’s true.

The answer is No. Not really. I don’t know anyone who was kidnapped. I am not Colin or Claire.

But at the same time, I AM Colin and Claire. Because stories are a lie and truth all rolled up into one.

This is Sarah is a mediation on loss and grief. It’s as honest as I have ever been. And for now until the end of the month you can get it for less than a dollar on Amazon.

Here’s the scene where Colin thinks back on the last night he was with Sarah, and the realization she was gone.

The last time I saw her, she stood in her driveway, looking up at me as I leaned out my bedroom window.

“Hey!” I yelled down to her.

“Hey, yourself,” Sarah said with a smile.

“Have fun,” I told her.

“Okay.” She opened her car door. “Get that studying done.”

“It sucks,” I said. “Will you call me later?”

“Of course.” She waved. “Later Gator.”

“Bye.”

Later Gator. She always said stupid, cheesy shit like that. I miss hearing that shit so much.

After that, she got into the car and drove away. I never saw her again. That simple little exchange was the last conversation I would ever have with Sarah Evans.

It’s unbelievable. What a nothing conversation—filled with just the regular sort of stuff  people say to each other all the time, automatic stuff. And it was the last time I saw her smile, the last time I heard her voice.

I didn’t even tell her I loved her. How could I not say I loved her? We said it all the time. We said it in the hall between classes when the bell rang; we said it at the end of every phone call and text. Yet, at that final fucking moment, all I said was bye.

I hate myself for that. My God, if I only knew then…

This is the thing ― her voicemail became a tether, my anchor to this world. The second I heard her voice it felt like time froze for just a moment and then rolled back on itself, like a sunset, and Sarah was just fine. She wanted to hear what I had to say. She waited for me somewhere behind the next door. When I found that door and I opened it, this whole, awful nightmare would end.

But that wasn’t the important part. Colin’s sad little story didn’t matter. What mattered―what mattered to the police―happened next.

“Hi, this is Sarah. You know what to do!”

“Hey, baby, it’s me.” I called her maybe an hour after she left. I got a text about another party, one I actually wanted to go to after the track meet. “Jamie said the party is a definite on Saturday, but if you aren’t going, then screw it. Anyway, call me later.”

I went back to my biology work. As I told the police, no, I never left the house. No, my parents weren’t home that night because it was my uncle and aunt’s wedding anniversary. No, I don’t have anyone else to verify my whereabouts.

That night, my phone rang at nine-thirty. It was Jenna.

“So, I’m totally blaming you, Col,” she said when I picked up.

“Blaming me for what?”

“For screwing up my evening. You know I’m not going to go to this party alone. I’m not that much of a loser. Tell your girlfriend she could have at least let me know she planned on ditching me. And remember, she was my friend before she became your girlfriend. You can’t hog her all time.” Jenna laughed.

“I’m not with Sarah. She left her house at like seven or something.”

There was a beat, and in it, I could hear Jenna’s confusion. Did my heart start ramming in my chest yet? No. Not yet. I was still just curious. Where was Sarah? It was still just a harmless question. Not the scream it would become.

“What are you talking about?” Jenna said.

“Exactly what I said. Did you call her?”

“Yeah, like ten times. No one answered.”

“What do you mean no one answered? Where is Sarah?”

There it was. The fear drying my mouth. Bam. Bam. Bam. My heart hit my ribs so hard I thought it might come right out of me. The panic locked my fingers, and I nearly dropped the phone.

“I called her, Colin. No one answered.”

“Where is Sarah, Jenna?”

Those words. Where was Sarah? That question. God, that night was the first time I started asking that question.

I hung up with Jenna and called Sarah. It just rang. I hung up and dialed again. It rang and rang and rang until I thought I was going to tear every last hair from my head.

I hung up. I called again. As it rang, I looked out the window, down to the Evans’ empty driveway and then up to Sarah’s dark room.

Sarah, pick up your phone. Pick up your phone. Pick up your phone. Why aren’t you picking up your phone?

I hung up. I did that fifteen more times. I never got her voicemail.

99 cents from now until the end of the month.

And if it wasn’t clear, thank you thank you thank you for reading.

You helped heal my heart.

 

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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Hey World. I’d like you to meet Sarah

10 Mar

I clam up when I’m upset. It’s a frustrating problem to have because when you have someone sitting across from you willing to listen and you have so much you need to say and you just…..can’t.

I imagine I look an awful lot like  guppy, my mouth just opening and closing.

What I can do though, is write about it. The vast majority of my poetry is as real as I get with strangers. The last one, Better Luck Next Year, probably the most naked I’ve ever gotten.

But sometimes I can do it with fiction.

In 2014 I wrote a book called This Is Sarah.

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It was a simple story about grief, but I packed all my heartbreak, all my denial, all my sadness into a suitcase and I put in the hands of Colin, my main character, and I watched him walk away with it.

The story centers on two characters, Colin and Clare both of whom are trying to navigate the barren landscape that is life without Sarah – Colin’s girlfriend and Clare’s big sister.

When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, how far will he go to bring her back?

And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.

Sarah was for many reasons one of the easiest things I have ever written – and by easy I meant, Colin was right there in my head every time I turned toward him. I don’t know if I believe that some books write themselves but….this one wanted out.

This month, my publisher, Bookfish Books, is offering This Is Sarah for 99 cents on Amazon. I can promise you, you’re going to get a heck of a lot of emotion for less than a dollar if you take them up on it.

Here’s some things readers have said:

I haven’t read a book that has kept me up for a long time, but this book made sure i was not sleeping until the final page. Brilliantly written, the reader is listening to their friends talk to them.

and…

Sitting down to write this review, it dawned on me that in some ways Ally’s book reminds me Jodi Picoult’s work. Take that as high praise because she is one of my absolute favorite authors. Both women are capable of bringing incredibly tough and emotional material to life in the pages of their books. I am a complete sucker for a well-written book that tries to tear my heart to pieces.

and…

The prose in this book—it’s beautiful, bordering on poetic. Not a single word is extraneous. As somber as the tone of the book is, it never feels overwrought or cloying. Every line of dialogue sounds like it would be spoken by an actual person.

So if you’re curious what to expect, this is Colin:

I get up early to run, because it’s easier in the morning. There’s no one up yet at five am, and the streets belong to me. I don’t even bring music anymore. I only want to hear the steady thwack of my sneakers on the pavement, the rustle of leaves in the breeze and the huff of air coming out of my lungs. It sets up a rhythm that allows my brain to shut off for a while so my mind stays empty.

Not thinking feels good. It’s one of the few things that still feels good.

I crest the hill at the top of Cedarhurst and pick up speed going down. My lungs feel clean and clear, and I think about sprinting the last five or six blocks back to my driveway. My energy seems a little low, but I figured I can probably push it.

The sound of my feet hitting the pavement intensifies and I pump my arms hard, small tears forming in my eyes from the wind. I clear my mind. I am no longer Colin. I’m just muscle, tissue and bone; a complex and delicate machine pushing its way against gravity and inertia, covering distance on this rock floating in the darkness of an ever-expanding space.

When Claire pulls her bike alongside me I nearly jump out of my skin. Where the hell did she come from? She pedals hard, riding off the seat, her blonde hair whipping back. She passes me and looks back and smiles. As the distance between us grows, I’m overcome with loss, and a sort of panic, like I need to catch up to her. I’m not sure what it is, but I watch her move away from me, her blonde hair streaming, her legs working the pedals and every muscle in my body screams to catch her.

Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.

The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.

Jesus Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.

She looks back at me once and smiles before pumping the pedals again. In that moment, that small bright moment, her hair and her smile reflecting the early morning sun, she looks just like Sarah. Just like Claire looked that day in the hallway.

Suddenly I feel so hollow and empty, carved out like the husk of some dead cicada. I watch her get away from me and feel more lost than ever before. She rounds the bend and disappears from my line of sight, something inside of me snaps and I stumble forward. My feet now clumsy, my balance thrown off, until I stop, bent, heaving, coughing, spitting foam, my heart wild inside me. In my head, an image forms of Sarah when I made her laugh so hard she nearly choked on her sandwich at the diner.

That was Sarah.

Sarah and me, in a moment we won’t have again. A moment that was once real but now feels like it belonged to another life. Neither of us foresaw it ending this way.

The year before or the week before or the day before. We never saw it coming.

If I knew when she stood on that driveway, staring up at me, with me hanging out of the window looking down at her, if I knew, I would have told her everything.

And this, is Clare:

They found her red Chuck Taylor sneakers five miles from where her car was, deep in the woods.

One was unlaced, as if she had undone it and slipped her foot out of it right there under that canopy of trees.

The other was still tied.

Snow filled them like little red candies covered in sugar.

In the police station, in that evidence bag, they seemed so small, as the snow slowly melted off them, staining the fabric and dripping into the bottom of the bag. I couldn’t imagine them fitting Sarah’s feet. I couldn’t imagine them fitting my own.

Sarah’s empty shoes.

I thought about how they’d never be worn again. How she would never slide her foot inside, how her fingers would never tug those laces and loop them closed.

Her room back home was filled with things that would go unused. They’d just sit there, waiting for Sarah to come home, collecting dust.

All the things Sarah left behind.

When I saw the shoes, sitting in the police station, a noise escaped me. Not quite a sob, but a cry—a shock of disbelief—and my hope retreated as I realized I was now one of those things. Like her clothes, her jewelry, her records or her shoes.

I was just another thing Sarah left behind.

So there it is.

This is Sarah.

99 cents.

This month.

And if you do get, and read it, I would love to know what you think.

 

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

 

 

Everyday Sexism, with a Twist (more spoilers) and some Thank Yous in the New Year

5 Jan

Happy New Year kids!

Before we talk some more about Star Wars, I need to do a little recap and say thank you to some people who were end-of-the-year awesome.

First off, thanks to Mark Lindberg who wrote this really wonderful review of This Is Sarah (which you can buy here for 99 pennies!) including the following:

Colin’s hope and single-mindedness is infectious, it’s hard not to believe him, extremely hard not to root for him, but at the same time, we hear the people around him constantly telling him he has become dangerously obsessed and possibly delusional, which it’s also hard not to believe. A fantastically complex place to put me in as reader!

You can read the whole thing here.

And if 99 pennies is more than you want to spend you can throw your hat in the ring for the 2 copies that we’re giving away on Goodreads here. I’ll sign them for you! Entries are open for the next 13 days.

Secondly I want to thank Susan Tepper for her really wonderful review of my new poetry book How To Be An American:

Every poem in this collection is rock-solid and jarring. If you care about the world at large, you might want to read this intelligent, captivating book by Ally Malinenko who is not afraid to speak out. Most highly recommended.

*Blushes*

You can read her whole review here. And if you want, you can also enter the Goodreads giveaway (also 2 copies) which also ends in 13 days!

Yay books!

Thirdly, many thanks to Peter at Portside for giving this poem about East Germany a home. I have done an absolutely terrible job of sending out poems (or writing them for that matter) so the fact that I have anything to share at all is basically a miracle.

And finally, I started a new novel while the other resides in submission hell causing me to refresh my email like a psychopath and habitually curse out any spam that appears. The new thing is still a gooey mess but a) I don’t hate the first 3K plus words (which is a miracle) and b) I’m excited to work on the next few chapters (also a miracle).  Oh and I’m trying really hard to not say “What Would Rey Do?” every single time my MC opens her mouth….. just every other time.

Okay so STAR WARS…..POSSIBLE SPOILERS YOU’VE BEEN WARNED

I posted some spoilers last week after I saw it and it included my excitement that my niece Neve will have a character like Rey to look up to and because I knew that my sister was having trouble finding a Rey toy, I offered to brave the Disney Store in TIMES SQUARE (that’s how much I love Neve) to see if they had anything. They didn’t. Neither did the comic book shops. Or book stores. Or anywhere toys are sold.

Because apparently Hasbro screwed up big time prompting a #WheresRey hashtag.

So they got this:

Rey

Annie Rose, ladies and gentlemen, taking us to church!

Hasbro responded with this:Rey

Right, sure. Insert massive eye roll here. Because, lest we forget both Mattel and Hasbro neglected to include Black Widow in the sets for Age of Ultron and worse THEY GAVE HER MOTORCYCLE TO CAPTAIN AMERICA AND FREAKING IRON MAN.

So while we were in Forbidden Planet we saw this, hanging on the wallorphan black

That’s hands down the most bad ass Orphan Black t-shirt, a show I adore, in which Tatiana Maslany plays 4 amazing clones. My husband is also a fan of this show and when he saw the shirt he audibly squealed and then said, “What do they mean, ‘women only’?” because next to it was a little sign saying exactly that.

That shirt is available in women’s sizes only (i.e. cut tight). No sizes for him.

There were other “women only” t-shirts on display at Forbidden Planet. They included Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes (which won the Eisner btw) Ghost World and Orphan Black.

All shows/comics with women in the main role.

And it’s not really Forbidden Planet’s fault. The makers of the shirts didn’t bother to make a male version. Because what red blooded American Male would want to walk around with a WOMAN on their shirt??? How embarrassing. And what boy would want to play with a  GIRL flying the Millennium Falcon?? GASP!

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Hmmm…Chewie, BB8 and Finn. Last time I checked, neither BB8 nor Finn flew that fucking ship. Ever.

Makers of things: Men can’t be allies against sexism if we don’t give them a chance to be proud of strong female characters. That’s pretty obvious, right?

Everyday sexism, kids, with a twist.

It’s 2016. We shouldn’t be having these conversations anymore.

 

Flying Monkeys, Books and the Cold Unfeeling Universe

4 Dec

Where the flying monkeys did this year go?

I mean honestly. I distinctly remember whole days in January 2015 and there is no way way they were 12 months ago.

Anyway I wanted to do a whole book blog about what I read this year but that’s going to wait till next time because we got some other things to talk about. Good? Good.

 

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First and foremost How to Be An American is out in the wild and for sale!

Here’s proof:

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That handsome devil up in the left hand corner is none other than Oscar Varona, the amazing artist who created the cover collage. And that sly fox on the right is Aida.

Aida is a phenomenal artist. Here’s a bit of her work:

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Those are from a series she did on women who influence her. Incredible.

As for my book, someone needs to give a copy for Christmas to their super Team USA relative so they can write a scathing review on amazon calling me communist and telling me to love it or leave it. Seriously. Can we make this happen?

Until then, here’s what Jessica Fenlon had to say:

drawcloseGot @AllyMalinenko‘s “How to Be an American” today – so happy to read these ‘rejected’ poems! The tough kind to write – and to read – thin clear slices of moments, the good part of Bukowski, walking a line leaning to one side and then another but never falling down, never tangling really. So clear when we hit the drop-lines in the poems they sink into you. Sometimes there isn’t a drop, sometimes it’s a slow eddy, a dance with an idea I myself have considered. I like the steps Ms. Malinenko takes . . . 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5 of 5 stars)

So the book is on amazon – but I’ve got a few copies in my hot little hands that I will sell to you for less than the drones at Amazon so by all means hit me up in the comments or via email (ally dot malinenko at gmail dot com) if you’re interested. And if you’ve got something creative you cooked up I’d be happy to do a swap!

In addition, Bookfish Book who published This Is Sarah has lowered the price of the ebook to 99 pennies. I may be biased but I think it might be worth that.

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Also the other morning while I was staring at the wall wondering what the hell I was going to do with my writing mornings now that my sci fi book is done, I spotted a few copies of Sarah just sitting there looking all sad and lonely and wishing that they were in the hands of readers so I decided that because I don’t visit the post office nearly enough, I would do a goodreads giveaway. So that’s in the works in case you want to try and win a copy.

Next up, in the book department is this little number:

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I’ve certainly crowed about how much I love Jersey Devil Press here before but seriously, they’re such a great home for all us little weirdos. I’m over the moon honored to have not one, but TWO (I know, right!) stories in their anthology. The first is Paper Heart and the second is Vital: A Love Story (which was written for Eirik and Monica when they were going through some serious shit)

I’m super excited about this because honestly, I love these two stories so very much. And I’m honored to be included in such a great collection.

So a huge thank you to Laura and Sam and Eirik and Mike.

And while I’m dishing out the thanks, thanks to Richard Vargas and his amazing Mas Tequila Review for including some of my poems in the new issue, which I have been pleasure delaying the end of because I don’t want it to stop.

And thanks to Drunk Monkeys for publishing Telling All My Secrets about that super crappy day I had to spill the beans to my amazing parents about having cancer.

Another of my favorites, Clockwise Cat, also included two of my poems in their new Clockwise Cat Strikes Back Issue. Thanks you timely feline.

And because it’s the end of the year, it’s award time so a million trillion starburst-y thanks to Drunk in Midnight Choir for nominating me for a Pushcart. It’s an incredible honor that out of all the amazing pieces that DMC published this year, they highlighted mine.

And finally, here’s an interview I did with Your One Phone Call

What is your writing process?

I write a sentence. I re-read the sentence. I change the sentence. I polish the sentence. I re-read the sentence. I delete the sentence.

This goes on for years.

And because it bares saying in the wake of the Paris attacks, the multiple mass shootings in the US, the Syrian refugees desperately trying to find safety, the UK deciding to bomb Syria, the GOP turning into the party of hate and whatever retaliation Putin is planning for Turkey………..Please for the love of the Cold Unfeeling Universe, hug your babies tight.

And remember…”We are all passengers pitching downward into the night…so get up and help someone.”

 

Peace, love and Starbursts,

Ally

 

 

 

This Is Sarah Turns One

13 Jul

Hi kids

So here we are….in the middle of July already.

Crazy.

Back on July 4th, THIS IS SARAH turned 1.

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Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.

The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters, and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.

Jesus fucking Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.

It’s weird to me that this book has been around for a year because it feels so much shorter and then oddly enough so much longer. I was reading through my old journal the other day – seeing what I was up to this time last year…as if I forgot.

One month into diagnosis, my cancer still a secret from my parents, my father crazy sick in the hospital and my first (of three) surgeries looming on the horizon – the only thing that was holding me upright (aside from my husband and sisters) was working on Sarah.

I know that writing is never “effortless” but there are those times where a story wants to be told so badly that it really helps you out in the unfolding. That was Sarah. And thank god for it. Because it was the only time during the day, at 5 am squirreled into my little writing closet, that CANCER wasn’t everything. It’s like my brain shut the fuck up for awhile and just let me work. I’m eternally thankful for that.

Art saves.

If you haven’t read it and you’re interested, here’s what people think and here’s where you can get it. Or email me and I can get it to you. Contact is under the About tab.

In other news, I’ve got some poems published here, here and here. So thanks to Eye on Life and Yellow Chair Review for giving them a home.

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Writing on the new book is going surprisingly well. I’m acknowledging that so that when I get to the stage where I’m all “EVERYTHING IS SO AWFUL WHY DO I WRITE I HATE LIFE” I can look back and remember it didn’t always feel that way. I think part of it is that it’s based on semi-true events (During high school I fell off a waterfall, cracked my skull open and simultaneously got my heart broken) and the characters are semi-based on real people. Also I feel like emotionally, a large chunk of me still lives in that time – when I was sixteen and fucked up and everything I couldn’t say but wanted to could be put into a mixtape. Music spoke for me.

Wound up having an interesting conversation when I posted about the art of making a mixtape and how playlists just aren’t the same. As a friend pointed out, you can make a list on spotify but once someone hits shuffle it messes up your continuity. With a mixtape you were THERE, you were IN, from start to finish. There was an art to it. It was a thing that was crafted with love for a specific person. They were the audience. It mattered what song followed which song.

AND it mattered what sort of tape you used. TDK? Maxell? Memorex? A great mix on a good quality tape? That was love. Real love.

First love.

Like, I said, it’s just not the same with a playlist. Something has been lost in the translation.

At the same time I’ve been working on my query letter for Palimpsest with the always incredible Brad Abraham, screenwriter, creator of the comic Mixtape and the soon to be released Magicians Impossible (St. Martin’s Press). You want to know what I’ve learned so far?

It’s much easier to write a 113K word novel combining physics, Nietzsche, chess, time travel and memory over the course of 5 (ahem) years than it is to write a 300 word query explaining it. I should have started this bloody thing when I started the novel. Basically the problem is that a query is full of all the stuff that your writing instinct says “don’t do.” Like asking a question and then answering it. Things like this:

“So WILL Ally ever learn how to write a decent punchy query that agents will actually want to read? Probably when she’s done banging her head against the wall.”

Brad has been unendingly patient as we go through draft after draft after draft after draft after……

And finally, because it’s time, this is going to be my summer.

Toronto-Book-Fair-Ulysses

As the kids say,

StiflerPeace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Moar Pie for Everyone, or Why Simon Pegg was right

20 May

Hi.

So I made it (barely) through my first week of post-trip hangover. It wasn’t easy. More than one cookie were consumed. I had no choice, I tell you!

But some cool things did come up, like my getting to talk to Vanessa Barger about This Is Sarah and writing and Antarctica. Thanks Vanessa! And speaking of Sarah, Apryl at Apryl Showers was kind enough to share her thoughts on This Is Sarah.

Set in a small town, where no one would believe such horrors would occur, the abduction of Sarah  Evans ricochets through everyone from school friends to neighbours. There is an incredibly realistic feel to the novel. The pace is even, with a slow tempo allowing you to really engage with the emotions of each character. In fact the reader could almost be one of the neighbours or a school pupil – someone who knows of the missing girl but has no real personal connection.

Many thanks to Apryl for her kind words. And in the thanks department, thanks to Mad Swirl for publishing Premonitions of a Sash, and to Cultured Vultures for Radiation Day 22 and to Blue Hour who published Radiation Day 24, Radiation Day 26 and Radiation Day 30.

During treatment I got a lot of mileage about my own fear and experience and out of my husband’s but it wasn’t until I was in radiation every single day, sitting next to the same people that I really started to understand what my friend Don was talking about when he said:

Funny thing, one thing nobody ever said to me – in this time when you will be so inward looking, so concerned with self, make sure you look about you as you go for regular treatments.

The staff, the fellow patients – there is so much there to take in, so much about who we are as humans, how we handle things. How we share, especially casually, in greeting, even silently, in the nod of a head or a smile. 

I didn’t say much during radiation. I came in, changed, kept my headphones in, forced myself to return their smiles, muttered a good morning and hoped my wait wouldn’t be too long. The waiting room was in fact the hardest part of radiation treatment. Just me, at 37, with a bunch of much older people. I tried to block it out. But you can’t block something all the time for 38 days in a row. You just can’t. So little by little, Anna, and Maria, Betty, the guy I called The Angel cause he was dressed in white from head to toe and the Russian guy who didn’t talk to anyone and the old black woman who was getting full brain radiation – all of them just sort of crept into my life. I found out from The Angel that she lost her sense of taste. I remember him sitting there, shaking his head asking, “Can you imagine anything worse? Not being able to taste anything at all?”
It was comments like that which helped shake me out myself. That made me look around the room, and as Don said, really see this moment in my life.
I hope I did all of them a bit of justice on the page. They were good people who like me, were stuck somewhere terrible. They made the best of it. I hope they’re doing okay now.

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In other news, (and getting to the point of this post) I just finished reading On Interpretations and Other Essays, the classic Susan Sontag book. I’ve only read her interviews prior to this so I really enjoyed it, though there were some high and low points as with all books. My favorite essays were On Interpretations with its stellar conversation about form and content, and On Culture and the New Sensibility – which though written in 1965 is very relevant today with the constant high vs low art debates. Because SURPRISE, SURPRISE, the internet is MAD again.

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The new sensibility is definitely pluralistic; it is dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and to fun and wit and nostalgia. It is also extremely history-conscious; and the voracity of its enthusiasms (and of the supercession of these enthusiasms) is very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is equally accessible.

So this time Simon Pegg is in the hot seat for his comments about comic book movies. He has, as required in this age of super-sensitive interneting, issued an apology. But before we all pat him on the back I think we need to take a look at what he’s ACTUALLY saying:

“Now we’re essentially all-consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.”

This morning on my way to work I listened to Claude Debussy’s Prelude A l’Apres Midi D’un Faune (Afternoon of the Faun). I don’t listen to Claude much on my walk (or really much classical because of the trucks on 5th avenue). It opens with a harp. Upon the first note, I immediately thought of this:

That’s a scene from one of my favorite episodes of The Monkees where Peter sells his soul to the devil to learn how to play the harp.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Debussy = sounds lovely = Happy Ally

The Monkees =  goofy laughs = Happy Ally.

That’s the point of art. And variety makes for good “art-ing.” I think the #IReadYA thing is great but if you ONLY read YA, well…..you’re missing out. I’m sorry but you just are. It’s just as bad if you only read the New York Times Bestseller List or if you only read “literary” fiction written by white guys in Manhattan. White guys in Manhattan don’t know everything there is about this world. You’re limiting your own experiences if that’s all you’re reading.

If you’re only getting one small slice of the art pie, you’re not getting enough pie. MOAR PIE!

Now what I think Pegg here is talking about is that there are A LOT of comic book movies. Since 2010 there have been about 30 superhero movies made. THIRTY! And the reason there are so many is cause they make money. For me, his criticism is about the fact that we are paying the industry to keep feeding us the SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  Honestly when I think about the money spent on these movies, I feel dizzy. But as long as we keep forking over our paychecks the industry will keep churning it out. That’s how business works. What are we getting out of watching the Hulk smash things? Do we really need another Spiderman reboot?

There has always been and will always be good science fiction and fantasy out there. Moon and Europa Report were two really well done movies that I walked away THINKING about. Come on, an alien that helps humans BE more human by trying to understand them? That’s why it’s classic. That has staying power.

Look, I love sci-fi. I love fantasy. I also love Godard. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. One of the best comments I ever got in my life was when someone looked at my goodreads list and said “wow….you’re all over the place.”

Yes, I am. Proudly.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that Sontag’s comment, made in 1965 can be the last one necessary to end this whole high vs low art thing. Time to put the tired conversation to rest. Let’s all stop hating on Simon Pegg, now okay?

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Speaking of “the solution to a mathematical problem….” I got back to work on Palimpsest this morning along with the help of some really great beta reader notes (I love you, guys). I also happened across this great video explaining the Fibonacci Sequence, a mathematical premise that is featured in my book.

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The Golden Mean

The sequence, for those of you who don’t know, is the following:

0,1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8,13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144

and on and on and so forth.

It is derived by adding the first number to the next number. So:

0+1 = 1

1+ 1 = 2

1+2 = 3

2+3= 5

3+5= 8

5+8 = 13

8+13 = 21

13+21 = 34

21+ 34 = 55

34 +55 = 89

55 + 89 = 144

and so on and so forth. But the real cool thing is that the Fibonacci sequence is EVERYWHERE. In the spiral of a seashell, in the arms of the galaxy. Even in your own bones!

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flower

index

Aspects show up in art and architecture and in our DNA.

And this is why math and science are amazing.

Check out the video. It’s not long and it’s got cool music.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

Mid-Month Round Up

13 Mar

How is it already the middle of March? What just happened? Where am I?

Okay so mid-month round-up, here we go:

1. Many thanks to Camel Saloon for publishing Humiliation Heap as a part of the International Women’s Day issue. There are tons and tons of good writers in here so please, take a minute to have your mind blown. Unlike some other poems this one is VERBATIM from a conversation I had during radiation. #FuckCancer

2. And many many many thanks to Clockwise Cat for putting together this MASSIVE incredible FemmeWise. Femmewise is the feminist rag to end all feminist rags. The fine kittens at Clockwise not only took a few How To Be An American poems, but they also accepted a little ranty thing I wrote about why Beat Women are largely cut out of modern day interpretations. I thought we were past the lobotomizing, kids (I’m looking at you, Hollywood).

I never get non-fiction published so I’m especially psyched about that.

3. Finally many, many, many, many thanks to Red Fez for accepting Purple Socks and Sonogram. You guys rock.

In other news, my sad little book, This Is Sarah got a shout-out from The Honest Book Club:

That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout

Coffee - hipster coffee shop

Natalie: Not sure if this is indie, but more people should read it, and that’s ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves‘ by Robin Talley. I recommend that you try this book, it’s wonderfully written and has such a gripping story and heartbreaking moments that really happened in history.

Lexie: So, this isn’t strictly speaking an indie author, because the book was published through a traditional (albeit quite indie) publisher – BookFish Books – but it is nevertheless one that hasn’t gotten enough attention and deserves a shout-out. It is This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko.

Thanks so much guys! Working with BookFish has been incredible, but man, with so many great books out there it’s hard to get a reader’s attention sometimes. Especially with Sarah being a quiet sad book and not a part of a trilogy or a massive sci-fi space opera/dystopic fantasy series. You know, the stuff they make all the movies out of.

Whenever I talk about it I try to be all casual like oh I’ve got this book and….

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But it FEELS like I’m all:

giphy

So when people give shout-outs like that, well it just melts me wee little writer heart.

That’s about it.

Other than the novel revision that hasn’t finished yet.

I wonder how many times I’ve written that sentence.

Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Peace, Love, and Starbursts,

Ally

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