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American Roulette: The Story of a Mass Shooting and Its Impact on Eight Lives :: Two Authors Share Their Insights and Experience

American Roulette book cover image

Like a page ripped from the headlines, the Sunbury Press release of American Roulette takes readers inside a mall where a mass shooting has taken place. It’s a grisly and up-close look at a wholly preventable, if common, occurrence.

The novel was written by eight authors, each of whom introduces readers to someone caught in the rampage. Two of the characters, Will Humphreys and Roger Elliot, are young, disgruntled white men who are eager to retaliate for years of familial and schoolhouse bullying, and provide a window into the minds of people driven to the edge and then given access to assault weapons.

Other characters include a minister struggling with medical debt; a young woman battling a depressive disorder; an elderly gun aficionado; a homeless mall security guard who has been living in her car; a local television personality; and a man hired by the mall’s owners to do damage control.

Two of the authors, Rev. Matthew Best and Pat LaMarche, spoke with Eleanor J. Bader in advance of the book’s October release:

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Maria Tess Liem Creative Nonfiction Winner

maria liem2Maria Tess Liem’s “Rice Cracker” was selected from among 179 submissions as the winning entry of the The Malahat Review‘s Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize. Contest judge Jane Silcott called the work “A beautifully considered piece: driven by quiet emotion, delivered through art and craft.” Jack Crouch interviews Liem, discussing her attraction to nonfiction, the difficulties she experiences when writing about ‘the personal’ as well as the benefits, and what her future writing plans include. The Malahat Review awards $1000 for this prize as well as publication. Liem’s piece can be read in the winter 2015 issue (#193).

Upstreet Interviews Robert Olen Butler

Robert Olen Butler is a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction with fourteen novels and six volumes of short fiction. His work has been translated into nineteen languages, and he has traveled all over lecturing about creative writing. In the tenth issue of upstreet, Editor Vivian Dorsel publishes an interview she conducted over the phone in March. Beyond the typical questions about writing process, favorite authors, and inspiration, Dorsel asks some interesting questions such as “Do you think it’s important for the student to like his or her teacher’s writing?”

Here’s his response: “Being a good writer and being a good writing teacher do not necessarily go together. To that extent, the answer is no. Just because you like somebody’s writing, it doesn’t mean he or she is going to be able to teach you anything, or even e able to read you effectively. The questions is really more if a student of writing should feel an aesthetic kinship with the teacher’s writing. As a student, you’re apt to get a better quality of response and criticism from teachers if you know that as readers, as sensibilities, they are in tune with the aesthetics you gravitate toward. But of course students usually go to creative writing programs before they’ve gotten in touch with their own aesthetic, so there’s not an easy answer, and ultimately it depends on the quality of your teacher’s sensibility and his or her ability to respond to your work on its own terms.”

Read the rest of the review in the tenth issue of upstreet.