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Animal COVER March 2016

NEW BOOK COVER ART, Will be published October 2016.

My Life as an Animal is a book of linked, comic stories. Think of a novel as a bowl you shatter on the floor. These stories are the shards.

Advance Praise

“Upsetting the balance of the universe is a job description I would have liked,” remarks the narrator in one of Stone’s stories. The same can be said of Stone, with her acute and kinetic prose.  Heartbreak, comedy, exuberance and nuance: they’re all here and they’re pure pleasure. —Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Negroland: a Memoir.

Two sisters remember the times when as young girls old men crept into their beds. The sisters laugh; the men are long dead. A woman who has worked as a caterer in an old synagogue hitches a ride with the driver of a van, and as they ride through a snowy night sharing a corned beef sandwich, they measure the weight of history on each of their lives. A Brit from a working class family finds a way to mourn his dead parents when he is sparked to rage at the sound of a posh accent. These are only a few of the gems in this book. The narrators of Laurie Stone’s stories look for love even in moments of pain, finding strangeness in the very act of close observation. Her stories are terrific, fully imagined, and with an intelligence rare in contemporary American fiction. –Jeffrey Renard Allen, author of Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back

My Life As An Animal stands out as the fierce, frenetic, drop-dead witty, inspired and unsparing cri-de-coeur of a particular species: the New York Writer of a Certain Age. In sentences that give off sparks. Laurie Stone manages to weave together Downtown history and late-life love, delineating the landscape of one woman’s longing and desire with a ferocity and detail equally evocative of Vivian Gornick, Philip Roth, Cookie Mueller and Louis CK. A truly fantastic collection. Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight.

Like the book’s narrator who’s a brilliant scrounger at yard sales, this is fiction in search of what is most precious. And it delivers the goods to us again and again, in these superbly lucid tales of sharp-as-a-tack characters ambushed by what matters. Stone’s readers are in for a very great treat. —Joan Silber, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Award finalist, and author of Ideas of Heaven.

“The delight of floating, a word that appears often in this rich collection of stories, has rarely been so scrupulously and movingly investigated. If a Chagall painting could be translated into prose, it would be this book, which reveals the grace and generosity in one woman’s dense, restless, thoughtful life. My Life as an Animal is at once a lark, a love song, and a eulogy for everything that matters most.”–Stacey D’Erasmo, author of Wonderland.

Deciding she has “nothing to lose”, the narrator of Laurie Stone’s remarkable book transplants herself from the Upper West Side to Arizona when she falls in love at age 60.  A second-wave feminist and former Village Voice critic and journalist, Stone’s narrator uses age as a truth-drug, revisiting scenes from her personal and cultural past with an energized wisdom and clarity.  Recalling “the kind of sex that rises up from excited conversation and the feeling the kind of sex that rises up from excited conversation and the feeling of being in the place where everything you care about is going on” during her activist days, she paradoxically concludes that “the best thing in life is to look back at a time when you had this much feeling.”  Witty, unsparing and brave, My Life As An Animal is a hugely original book.  Stone provides a profound measure of one life’s losses and gains in deft, unsentimental prose. —Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia.

“Laurie Stone is a great sentence maker and those sentences are, in equal measure, wry, tender and always surprising in their syntax and their shape. Those sentences become the stories that make up “My Life as an Animal” — a book as wondrous and strangely familiar as any I have read in a long time.”–Michael Klein, author of Track Conditions and A Life in the Theater.

“This doesn’t feel like a book; it feels like a person. She’s brave and honest and alert and engaged with life–a little neurotic maybe, but not really, just uninhibited, and her mind races. You love hearing from her. The book’s an humane and animal pleasure.”–Richard Hell, author of Go, Now

Laurie Stone is whip-smart and funnier than Woody Allen. She goes deep as well as big. In My Life as an Animal, she is in a relationship with a Brit who chooses to live in the American Southwest. We get to know him, her mother, her friends, and the evil landlord. About her deceased mother she says: “I am glad we will not meet again. I wish she were alive.” This is a true statement. Every statement she makes is true, and that is why we need to read her. And why we love her. Her writing, precise, thoughtful, and compassionate, sparkles like a just-washed car, a vehicle perfectly detailed. She makes every word count.—Kelly Cherry, author of Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories

In My Life As An Animal, Laurie Stone’s stories explore the fierce contradictions between what her characters know to be true and what they desire. In mapping their collisions and triumphs, Stone’s razor sharp wit and deep humanity create an American idiom all her own. —Susan Daitch, author of L.C. and Paper Conspiracies.

SAMPLE THE BOOK!

From “Marco”

For several years, Marco and I crossed paths at conferences and festivals. He was thick, planted, and meaty with the intelligence dogs reflect in their unmasked eyes and anxious brows. It was an absurd attraction. They are all absurd. He was ending a marriage and in love with another woman. I was 58 and believed this kind of thing would not happen to me again. When has anything you thought about the future turned out right?

The thing about arousal is that when you are not feeling it, you forget how you exist in it. Marco was smoking at a table in a bar. His body reminded me of the bodies of other men I had known. I cannot say for sure it was his body, but if I was near him, I became aroused and could not see or hear things clearly. I moved to sit beside him, and we began a conversation, or rather I listened to him talk about Midsummer Night’s Dream. He said, “In Shakespeare, you love the one you’re with. Sex doesn’t mean anything. It’s passion that can ruin you, the way it does Marc Antony.” He said, “Power, not sex, is what matters in Shakespeare.” I was silent, watching his lips circle a cigarette and perch on the rim of his glass. Neither love, respect, nor knowledge has ever stripped me of my inhibitions.

From “I Like Talking to You”

Richard and I stopped at a Starbucks. Most of the seats were occupied by wedding planners and chubby, sad-eyed brides-to-be. We found a table and I said, “I once sat next to Shari Lewis on a plane.” I could see myself in the window seat and Shari to my left, her hair a nimbus of curls. She did not look much older than when, as a child, I had watched her on TV with her sock puppet, Lamb Chop. Even then I had found it disturbing to name an animal after a cut of its own meat. Richard said, “Suzanne sat next to Shari Lewis on a plane. They had a long conversation.” Suzanne and Richard were married when Richard and I met. I said, “Do you think I stole her memory?” I could see Shari’s foundation makeup caking in little creases around her eyes. I said, “Is it possible we both sat next to Shari Lewis on a plane?” He said, “No.”

Later, at a bistro, he said, “I’m a moody person.” He was reading a book about Byron, and he thought he shared something of the club-footed poet’s malcontent. I said, “Okay,” meaning, Yes, you are! He was in mourning, but you would not know it to look at him. It was British mourning, no tears and lamentation. He said, “I can’t sit around waiting for grief to come, if it ever will. Maybe I should read a book about bereavement, Death for Dummies, or I could check out Barnes & Noble to see if there’s a kit that could help me miss my parents, like there are kits that teach you to juggle, or learn rock guitar, or throw a horoscope.” I said, “You throw pots, not horoscopes.” He ordered a glass of wine, saying, “I need to lift my spirits.” I did not say the thing I was thinking about using wine to lift your spirits, and while I was sitting there I thought about the benefits of silence. There is something about language that hurts the thing it describes. After a while though of swallowing my feelings, I worried I was turning English, which felt vaguely anti-Semitic and made me miss my own dead parents.

 

If you can possibly pre-order, it would mean a lot to small press publishing, Northwestern University Press, and this book!

You can ask your local indie bookstore to order it!!

You can order it on Amazon.com or B&N.com and Amazon prime people will not pay postage.

You can order it at: 800-621-2736

http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu/content/my-life-animal

WRITING WORKSHOPS JULY 2016! Contact Laurie at: 916-696-4059.

MAY 18 2016 the World Premier of “You, the Weather, a Wolf,” collaboration with composer Gordon Beeferman, texts by Laurie Stone

Commissioned Beeferman/Stone Premiere

Sharon Harms, soprano
Hai-Ting Chinn, mezzo
Michael Slattery, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, baritone
Gordon Beeferman, piano
Lenore Davis, piano

Brahms Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes
Beeferman Premiere | Work for SATB and piano 4-hands, set to texts by Laurie Stone

May 18, 2016
In their new collaboration, Gordon Beeferman and Laurie Stone play with the notion of romance that fueled Brahms’ Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes.

Brahms composed within the framework of high romantic idealism. But Beeferman and Stone are creatures of their moment’s mongrel intensities and comic ambiguities. Beeferman riffs on Stone’s story fragments and themes of sudden reversal, wonder, lust, friendship, and the mysteries of unlikely desire. Together they create a work that is abstract and lyrical, arousing and tender.

Areas of interest for interviews concerning “My Life as an Animal, Stories”

Memoir vs fiction: Do the distinctions matter in forms of dramatic narrative? What do we mean by “true” stories? What are differences between memoir, autobiographical fiction, and hybrid forms that combine fiction, memoir, and cultural criticism?

The art of comic narrative: writing outside the categories of hero and victim, and writing trauma funny.

Writing for the Village Voice during the 70s, 80s, and 90s and chronicling the swirl of social, political, and aesthetic change.

Feminism, gay rights, and AIDS activism.

Avant-garde theater, performance art, and comic performance during the last forty years.

Starting a new phase of life at any age.

Female friendship and creative work as the pillars of a life.

Jewish heritage and Jewish comedy.

Forming a Jewish identity around the reality of antiSemitism.

Learning to be a better writer by teaching creative writing.

Welcome to the website of Laurie Stone, writer and performer.

Offering Flash Fiction workshops in New York City. If you would like to participate in a workshop, please contact me at: Lstonehere@aol.com. The workshops meet one weekday evening.  Each session lasts 2 hours and costs $25. Each is limited to 6 writers. The core of the workshop is writing together to a prompt for about 30 minutes. I write as well, and then each person reads the work aloud, and there is time for comments. The prompt writing session is not a free write in the conventional sense. We are always considering the craft and form elements of creative writing: how to write a scene, strategies for dialogue, humor, setting, and the play of the senses in a moment. We work with layering prose, poetry, and experimental forms, moving from action to memory to emotional response. We practice ways to make description do the work of psychological revelation. We model “writes” on pieces of charged text, reaching for, to quote Donald Barthelme, “glimpses into the special oddities and new terrors of contemporary life.” We pay close attention to the sentence as a miniature story and to how each word earns its place in a text. These are joyful collaborations. We are always learning from each other and borrowing ideas. Most of the work posted on this site originated in a prompt exercise. Beginners wanting a clear and detailed practice are welcome as well as writers at all stages of their careers.

Laurie Stone next book, My Life as an Animal, Stories will be published in October 2016 by TriQuarterly Books, Northwestern University Press. She is currently at work on a hybrid book of fiction and memoir called, The Love of Strangers. She has a piece in the category “other” in Fence, # 31 Winter 2016. 

Thanks for looking!