In  The Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote,

I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

On the first of each month, a guest writer shares how he or she spends the day.


photo credit: Los Angeles Review of Books

November 1, 2014: Andrea Portes

Andrea Portes has published three novels, two of them this year.  Anatomy of a Misfither most recent and her only young adult novel so far, was published in September by Harper Teen. I don’t read much YA, but Andrea and I have the same agent and I was so excited by what I was hearing about Anatomy of a Misfit that I couldn’t wait to read it. I was not disappointed. Sixty-five short chapters. I could not put this book down. I laughed out loud. I got goose bumps. I loved it. That’s true. A book about junior high, I loved it. And talk about voice.

Anatomy of a MisfitYou can’t just decide somewhere between May and August that you are going to change your identity, jump from geek to cool kid, get a jet-black haircut, peg your jet-black jeans, lose twenty pounds, and drive a Vespa. No way. That is totally against the rules and everybody knows it.

The audacity! Becky Vilhauer was not having it. I know, because she was right there next to me when he pulled up to school and you shoulda seen her jaw drop. She was pissed.

If you’re wondering what I was doing standing right there next to Becky, aka the dark side of the force, it’s because I am number three in the pecking order around here. I have no hope for rising above my station and I will explain why later. But number three is where I will always be and, as I am constantly reminded, I am lucky to be here.

That is the voice of Anika Dragomir, the voice that drives this novel.

Anika on Tiffany:

[H]er skin is like a dark mahogany with a lightbulb somewhere behind it.

Anika on Tiffany’s mother:

If her mom’s consistency at ride-giving has any correlation to her meal-giving, she’s in big trouble.

Anika on reading:

I can stay in this book and then this book gets to be real and everything else gets to be fake and who cares anyway.

Anika on Jared Kline, “who does the best thing ever because I guess Jared Kline always does the best thing ever, which is…”

he smiles and tips his trucker cap, like I was the greatest show on earth.

Bury ThisAndrea’s second novel, Bury This, was published in January by Soft Skull Press. I was trying to get to it before this post, but it’s in my pile of To Be Read Books. Listen to this from The New York Times:

Portes tells this tale of violence in spiraling prose. Her empathy shies away from nothing in the tangled lives of this small Michigan town, with a young girl tied up tight in the center. Bury This begins with the snowplow driver who finds Krause’s body, and the writing is so exquisite it is impossible to believe that Portes could sustain its impressionistic method, at once omnipresent and precise, for the remainder of the novel: “Just one doll is what’s there in the snow, in the clutter, in the shutter of light, stab stab stab through the trees.” But she does, with hardly a slip in tone as we move from character to character.

HickAndrea’s debut novel, Hick, was published in 2007 by Unbridled Books, and then made into a movie with Chloë Grace Moretz, Juliette Lewis, Alec Baldwin, Blake Lively, and Ray McKinnon (Rectify).

Come back on NOVEMBER 1st to read how ANDREA PORTES spends her days.