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Confessions of a Left-Handed Man
An Artist's Memoir
University of Iowa Press / Sightline Books
forthcoming in the Fall of 2011
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A collection of autobiographical essays (including the title essay featured in Best American Essays, 2006) that forms a memoir of eccentric childhood leading to an embrace of art.
"On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, in the central panel of the most famous painting by that other Renaissance lefty, God, floating on a cloud of purple silk, bestows life on the first man, Adam, through the fingertip of his right hand. Adam, however, who has been created in God's image, accepts the gift with his left hand. Michelangelo knew what he was doing. According to the Roman poet Isidorus, a secret blood vessel runs directly from the index finger of the left hand to the human heart- the heart, not the brain. God wished to bypass the intellect and launch his spark straight into the heart of man, who reaches out to lend Him a hand. The left one." from Confessions of a Left-Handed Man
PRAISE FOR Confessions of a Left-Handed Man:
"Peter Selgin is a born writer, capable of taking any subject and exploring it from a new angle, with wit, grace, and erudition. He has a keen eye for the telling detail, and a voice that is deeply personal, appealing, and wholly original. Fans of Selgin's fiction will know they are in for a treat, and those who are new to his work would do well to start with this marvelous memoir in essays, his finest writing yet."
"In this witty collection of autobiographical essays, Selgin (Drowning Lessons) clambers atop the building blocks of an artistic life to survey its attendant struggles and epiphanies. . . . Selgin deftly balances humor and tenderness throughout these life-affirming confessions."
"Tawdry as [his] first love affair with literature may have been, how glad we are that Peter Selgin was tempted into it and fell head over heels. Without such an addictive beginning, that boy may never have grown up to become a writer of such great substance."
"The quirky, intelligent memoir of an artist and fiction writer . . . An engaging, original modern-day picaresque."
from University of Georgia Press
Drowning Lessons, short stories
Winner, 2007 Flannery O'Connor
Award for Short Fiction
Finalist: Iowa Short Fiction Award
Finalist: Jefferson Press Prize
Finalist: Ohio State University Press Prize
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PRAISE FOR Drowning Lessons:
"A wine-dark blood rushes through the pages of Drowning Lessons. Tap a vein and drink deeply and taste the best and the worst kind of love. In these pages you will experience lust, spite, jealousy, fidelity, rose-flavored romance, and doe-eyed affection, sometimes all in the same story. Thank goodness for Peter Selgin, who shares with us the mysteries of the human heart in this electric, revealing collection."
Benjamin Percy, author of Refresh, Refresh
"A stellar collection deserving recognition. Selgin possesses a mature, complex voice and is able to conceptualize, compose, and perfect stories of brilliant diversity and tone. High emotional intelligence, empathy, courage, and intellectual curiosity fuel this collection, giving it a rare narrative fire beyond the obvious and admirable excellence of craft."
Melissa Pritchard, author of Late Bloomer
"Peter Selgin's stories are mordantly funny, at times desperately sad, but always full of hard-earned wisdom and subversive irony. His collection ranges across time and space in a way few other writers have. Drowning Lessons is a book that deserves serious attention from all lovers of American short fiction."
Jess Row, author of The Train to Lo Wu
"Water flows through these stories, giving Peter Selgin's characters moments of grace from their lives and also propelling them forward, as they try to swim through the problems that face them. Drowning Lessons is an extraordinary book; Selgin's writing creates a current that will carry readers farther than they would ever have expected, and leave them on a new shore."
Hannah Tinti, author of Animal Crackers
from Dzanc Books:
Life Goes to the Movies, a novel
2nd Place: AWP Award Series for Novel
Finalist: James Jones First Novel Fellowship
from Life Goes to the Movies:
"Dwaine believed it was every artist's duty to sharpen his senses and keep them sharp. 'You've got to look, look, look, and keep looking,' he said. "You've got to pay attention as deeply as when the eye doctor says, 'Don't blink,' a level of concentration worthy of blindness. Too many cities have been built by men whose chief mode of being could be summed up by the word 'distraction.' Cigars focus the eyes of aggression, but do little for the third eye, which blinks blindly through blue smoke. To get to the center of things, you've got to drill through the third eye; you've got to shoot the sleeping Cyclops through the brain. If thine critical faculty offends thee, pluck it out. That's what I mean, babe, by looking.'"
179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers
Writers Digest Books, April 2010
In addition to discussions of works-in-progress, you'll find brief essays on topics ranging from titles and plot twists to a guided tour, Virgil-style, through Amazon's Customer Reviews. Though grouped under six headings (Matters of Soul, Matters of Substance, Matters of Structure, Matters of Style, Matters of Symbol, Myth & Metaphor, and Other Matters), the meditations are arranged largely to satisfy two gods: the God of Spontaneity and Surprise and the God of Rhythm. Reading them should feel something like sidling up to a Tapas bar and letting the waiter serve you at his whim and pleasure. Of course you're free to traipse through the pages that follow . . . Either way, if it's insights or suggestions you're looking for, you can and will find plenty of them.
Read an excerpt: "On Discipline & Bliss," from Glimmer Train's Website.
Writers and Their Notebooks
(anthology, edited by Diana Raab, foreword by Phillip Lopate).
University of South Carolina Press, 2009
My diary keeping addiction didn't spring forth full-grown and in armor like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. Its origins go far back. Though I wouldn't become a full-fledged addict until my twenties, I had my first taste of the wicked drug when I had just turned seven. For my birthday my mother gave me a diary: a four-by-five-inch book bound in synthetic white leather (which has since badly cracked), the words EVERY DAY DIARY stamped on the front cover over a cartoon basket of pink and red flowers. The pages inside were gilt-edged, ruled, and ticked off with the days of the month. At the top of each page the words MY DIARY in vehement all caps reinforced my already ironclad conviction that the little book had been manufactured for me alone.
Available in April 2010:
The Man Who Lived Alone (picture book)
With Daniela Tordi, Illustrator
Falzea Editore (Italy)
from The Man Who Lived Alone:
"There was a man who lived alone. No one knew anything else about him except that he walked everywhere..."
The Book of Worst Meals,
Anthology, Walter Cummins, Thomas E. Kennedy, Editors
Serving House Books, 2010
The Book of Worst Meals contains essays by 25 writers on their worst culinary experiences, tales of wretched dining in Paris, Edinburgh, Philadelphia, and throughout the UK, as well as disastrous holiday meals and the food of failed relationships.
"For her main course she orders the most expensive item on the menu, the Captain's Platter. You settle for scrod. Your date hardly says a word while cracking crab legs and lobster claws, tearing their insides out with her teeth, dipping them in melted butter with pointy fingers. As she lifts them to her mouth the seafood chunks drip butter on her bib. Through the whole meal she doesn't say a word. Meanwhile the pile of cracked shells mounts on her plate, a dada study in moribund grays and pinks." from "The Duchess Flounder."
Best American Essays, 2006
Lauren Slater, Editor
Robert Atwan, Series Editor
Houghton Mifflin (October 2006)
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from Confessions of a Left-Handed Man:
"On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, in the central panel of the most famous painting by that other Renaissance lefty, God, floating on a cloud of purple silk, bestows life on the first man, Adam, through the fingertip of his right hand. Adam, however, who has been created in God's image, accepts the gift with his left hand. Michelangelo knew what he was doing."
Our Roots Are Deep With Passion
Creative Nonfiction Selects New Essays
by Italian-American Writers, Joanna Clapps, Editor
Other Press (October 2006)
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from Dagos in Mayberry:
"It wasn't just that my parents were from Italythat small, boot-shaped country across the ocean. It was something broader, deeper, something with implications greater than the curly hair on my head, the color of my eyes, the food I ate. Somehow, by virtue of who we were, the world's boundaries and horizons were stretched wider. Our house on the hill was a little closer than other houses not only to that other country across the sea, but to the rest of the world."
Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School
Alex Steele, Editor (Bloomsbury, 2003)
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from Real Writers Revise:
"A writer friend who owns a collection of hats literally wears one (a red baseball cap with 'KEROUAC' stitched in gold over the visor) while writing her first drafts, and another (Chinese, tutti-frutti, shaped like a funnel) when revising them. This, I'll admit, is pushing things (I also think it odd that the funnel should be for the editor), but it illustrates a point: that though they share the goal of creating a work of literary art, editing and writing are different disciplines requiring different temperaments, different skills."
S.S. Gigantic Across the Atlantic
Peter Selgin, author/illustrator
(Simon & Schuster, 2003)
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"There's high adventure, indeed, in this hilarious tall tale, which begins, 'Call me Pip-Squeak.' Children won't catch the reference to Moby Dick, but they will immediately recognize the spoof of the unsinkable ocean liner, setting sail again, this time as the S.S. Gigantic. Captain Bragg is at the helm, and Pip-Squeak, our narrator, is in the crow's nest of the incredible ship, which is so huge that it takes a lifetime to walk from bow to stern and it needs one million propellers. Passengers include tycoon Benjamin Bigbehind and Dr. and Mrs. Isadore Myself. On its maiden voyage, while other ships are striking icebergs and sinking, the S.S. Gigantic actually sinks an iceberg, confirming all the more the ship's seaworthiness. But meet its doom it must, and children will delight at the surprise ending. The cornball-style illustrations offer graphic nonsense and funny asides aplenty."
"Landscape w/ English Teacher"
A memoir describing my "inappropriate" friendship with a young, charismatic, and mysterious eighth grade teacherwhen I was thirteen, its ten-year history and long-term manifestations not only for me, but for others in Ken Prudhomme's special Fifth Period English.
"The Water Master," a novel
2011 Winner of the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Prize for Best Novel
Set in a dying New England hat factory town circa 1963, The Water Master tells of an odd friendship between thirteen year-old, astronaut-smitten Leo Napoli and the mysterious "Man in Blue," who walks around town gathering pin insulators and other industrial scraps for a secret monumental sculpture he's been completing in the woods near where he lives in a former caretaker's cottage. Having rescued prying Leo from drowning in the nearby lake, Jack teaches him to swim and play chess. And in exchange for his help finishing the sculpture, Jack agrees to tell Leo his story. Thus Leo learns of the staggering events that brought Jack to his reclusive existence. Their idyll ends with Jack implicated in the death of Gordon Waple, Leo's mentally challenged stepbrother, for whose drowning Leo is in fact to blame: a truth he hides for fifty-two years, the distance in time over which the story looks back from Leo's present life as a "a gas station attendant for the Space Shuttle" living on Cape Canaveral, Florida.