May 2012

Since publishing my monograph, Beyond the Icon: Virginia Woolf in Contemporary Fiction, I’ve continued to record new Woolf references in fiction, and I continue to find them frequently, often by chance. In the monograph I analyzed 37 Woolf citations, and now I have 29 more, for a total of 66. I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do with them, if anything, but I still find it fascinating and rife with meaning.

The two most recent sightings are linked here, in my latest post on Blogging Woolf.

Sigh. Robert Browning’s sentiment has often been my own. My latest published essay, linked here: “Cornish Pasty” in Phoebe Journal,  records my last trip to England, in 2006, and brings it all back in a rush. It’s also the final piece in a trilogy of essays about my Virginia Woolf pilgrimage. (The first piece is still looking for a home, and the second one, “Elvis Standing By,” was published last year.)

Don’t worry. I’m not one to strew my personal angst or the seedier scenes from my speckled past into my essays or on my blog — unless I can have fun with them. Don’s unplanned-for period of unemployment last year wasn’t all that traumatic for us, but it was terrific grist for the writer’s mill, and I’ve used it in two stories.

My essay about sushi and life, “Love at First Bite,” ends with Don being laid off: “…after the initial shock, we looked at each other and shrugged: ‘Let’s go to RK [sushi] for lunch and make a plan.’ Sushi is a luxury now, but we’re champs at tightening the belt and do it with such panache.” This story was just published in the San Diego City College literary anthology, City Works 2012. It’s a print journal, so I can’t link to it here.

But here’s the piece that evolved from the six months that followed, “He just stands there and breathes…,” which has just been published in the on-line journal, Prime Number. And of course I couldn’t leave out Virginia Woolf.

Everyone’s entitled to the escape reading of their choice, whether it’s who-dunnits or sci-fi or erotica – mine is chick lit, & so I had great fun standing up for it in my latest “Between the Lines” column for the Presidio Sentinel. It was the first of a series about local authors, and Jennifer Coburn, the author of four delightful novels, was my first choice as a feature.

Jen and I go way back – we worked together at Planned Parenthood and have popped up in each others’ paths over the years. Most recently I saw her at the International Women’s Day rally downtown. Which is to say that her feminist credentials can’t be called into question, and her chick lit novels all have a way of showing the strength & savvy of her characters.

I also make the argument that Virginia Woolf would approve!

Going back to school in my 30’s was the turning point in my life–my personal renaissance–and writing about it was a long and arduous process, because it was so important for me to get it right. I sent out my completed essay, “Re-Entry,” earlier this year, and it was published just this week in Jenny, an online journal from Youngstown State University.

Jenny is the nickname for Jennifer that my daughter disowned when she was five, but this Jenny is the Jeannette Blast Furnace in Youngstown Ohio, mentioned by Bruce Springsteen in his 1995 song “Youngstown.”

It will come as no surprise that Virginia Woolf enters into this account as she does most of my stories.