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Far from NeoChick

Commercial publishing is just like everything else in commercial America: increasingly despotic, tethered to the irreal, unsustainable, hopelessly corporate.

Fortunately I keep close enough to books and stories and literary people to feel good about some things that go on elsewhere in America that remain unfiltered and unblemished by New York City's commercial mills. Here are three writers I know who have been much informed by the process and who have much informed my own thoughts through the past few seasons.

Bucking considerable odds against, Adrienne Wilson turns out serene manuscripts and photographs up the coast in Santa Barbara. She completed a novel last year that is still in the pipeline and which I've read, and I'm not going to say too much about other than it is dreamy and escapist yet deals with deep psychological constructions and that I liked it very much. She also gave two coming novels of mine very careful and even heroic edits. She is a veteran of the McCaw wars of the early part of the last decade. You can follow her enterprise through Nanowrimo here at her site vbonnaire, Valentine Bonnaire being a nom-de-pixel for her perfumed erotica.

I sat down to interview Maria Armoudian shortly after she appeared at the LA Press Club last summer--for one of the greatest turnouts that organization has ever had. In some ways, I'm still reeling from the conversation. Maria's book Kill the Messenger was one of the top reads of my summer; it picked up for me where William Grieder left off, as a worldly, rigorously structured bromide against global media's often too-flippant notion of what may and what may not be genocide. If you're in media, you should get continuing education credit for reading this book; to me it was worth about eight to twelve units. Maria's robustly noisemaking KPFK Sunday at noon show Insighters is but one dimension of this tough yet occasionally wistful writer and musician; she's also involved in local politics, having been appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa to two civic commissions. Kill the Messenger is published by Prometheus Books, which is New York but respectably distanced from Manhattan, in Amherst near Buffalo.

Utahna Faith is an elliptical writing siren, editor, longtime friend, and, sure, muse in New Orleans. A flash fiction practitioner, she published the beloved zine NOLA in the early part of the last decade and also brought me to Paris-based 3 a.m. magazine in 2000. She is a fabulous correspondent, I assure you.

With writing like this from people like this, I don't know who the hell cares about Joan Didion's memoirs, chick lit, Eat Pray Love or Girls in Trucks. Our reading lives, ourselves.