It's always a pleasant surprise when the reader in me finds a new publication worth subscribing to. In fact, I've just renewed my subscription to CNF. I received the Summer 2011 edition a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pleased to report that there are some pieces well worth any reader's time – particularly if you're a writer. Of course, different articles will attract us differently, but here are three that held me in thrall:
Encounter: an interview with Susan Orlean – I've not yet read any of Orlean's stuff, but after experiencing this interview, I will. CNF's Q&A reveals her to be a well grounded writer, one who speaks bluntly. I love that in a writer. She takes on one of my windmills, the MFA system nationwide, but with a twist. She lays the "industry's" occasional failings squarely at the feet of the faculty, not – as I might – with students who want to write without having read much.
Suffering Self : Minh Phuong Nguyen – This is a rather long essay that won the Norman Mailer College CNF Writing Award. This young man has been blessed with an ability to view his own short life – and that of his Vietnamese refugee family – in historical perspective. He has a way with ideas that will only strengthen as his writing experience grows.
Pushing The Boundaries – Herman Fegelin: Getting Out of Dodge, by Paul West. CNF is a relatively modern genre; as such it begs for experimentation of the sort Paul West gives us here. I don't know much more to say about it, other than the cover blurb: "Paul West enters the mind of Nazi turncoat Herman Fegelin." It's a very short piece, and it bears expanding. I hope West does so.
If these teasers entice, I think you might still find copies of this summer edition on the newsstand – despite the increasingly chilly weather of fall.