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Errant mules, some great books, and an old caboose. What more could you want? 
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Hello, everyone!

I hope your 2017 is off to a brilliant start. In related news, I have had a shockingly easy time of penning "2017," where in previous years, changing the year seemed to be a problem it took months to solve. I think this is due to the pleasant symmetry of the "2" and the "7" and the similar strokes it takes to create them. 

It's been a great month. I went to AWP, an annual writer's conference, and met the wonderful Dinty Moore, who stopped by Tahoma Literary Review's booth twice and said he was a fan of our work. And I got to meet my publisher for the very first time. Both occasions were cause for fangirling. Perhaps more importantly, I got to meet the writers who work we publish in TLR. This, too, is cause for fangirling. 

And the photo above was taken in Death Valley National Park, which is where Jim and I got married six years ago. This might be our favorite place in the whole wide world, insofar as we know, anyway. In this photo, Jim is trying to get his irrationally stubborn mule (oh, I know, I know; they're supposed to be stubborn) to follow everyone else. It was hilarious

Okay! Onward, to this month's newsletter!

What I'm Reading
As always, I feature an independent bookstore in every newsletter. This month's is East City Bookshop, in Washington, DC. Click on the cover to buy each book from the bookstore. 
This book is covered in two of my favorite things: 80s and 90s nostalgia plus likeable characters and useful snarkiness in the form of asides. If this seems like an awful lot, let's just say that it's a swanky piece of scifi, set in the future, and that the protagonist is the guy who should have starred in Titantic, and that I like him and most of the other characters we encounter in this book. It moves right along. 

(Also, full disclosure, I've met the author and think he's a pretty cool cat.) 
Oh, you guys. This book. This book basically ate my heart. I read it nearly all in one sitting, on the drive from Manzanar National Historic Site to Death Valley, and it had my attention all the way through. It's a lean, muscular book (I didn't know what people meant when they said that until I read this book), and it will change what you thought you knew about literature. Read it. You won't be sorry. 
I'm including this work because it's one of those ones that made me change the way I read an author. I'm not sure that's a good thing. I adored Raymond Chandler before this book. Now I'm forced to change the way I look at his work. Meh. 
Where to Find Me This Month

This was a banner month for essays that eat your face while you are writing them. Find me at Bustle.com in various incarnations: A piece for Valentine's Day ("What My Conservative Parents Taught Me About Love in the Time of Trump") and an essay on our trip to a dark, awful place in American history, a Japanese-American internment camp.

I am so pleased to have been able to share my experiences with others. And later this month, I'll get to do so again, at my alma mater, with an appearance in an afternoon's worth of workshops on Women and Careers. 

And in March I get to visit two book clubs that are reading my book. This is probably one of the best parts of the job: in-person visits with readers. It doesn't matter who they are, or even whether or not they liked your book. It's just nice to meet readers in person. 

 
This Month's ArtFail
I had a hole in my sweater elbow, so I made some of these felted elbow patches. I decided to get fancy. My friends assure me these are *totally* airplanes, but I think they could be misshapen birds. Sigh. P.S. I used a cookie cutter, which should have solved everything, but nope. 
The Last Word
On our visit to Death Valley we spent some time exploring Rhyolite, a ghost town. It was shocking to learn about how quickly people come and go. In general I like desolate, out-of-the-way towns and historical features like this, but Rhyolite was founded in 1904 and was entirely shut down by 1916. And around it, there are some pretty depressing structures where people still live now. The whole thing made me want to know more, but was also pretty depressing.
At any rate, by what used to be the train station, there is this old train car, a caboose, I think. It was cool just to see from the outside. 



But then I got curious. And I wanted to know what it looked like from the inside. You guys. You guys. Just look at this color, will you? 



I think the point is this: Jim and I had bucketloads of time that weekend. We built it that way. I think great discoveries are a function of time. So yeah. Take some time. Look inside, whatever that means to you. 

Have a great month, and always feel free to write if you have extra thoughts floating around. Thanks for reading. 
Copyright © 2017 Yi Shun Lai, All rights reserved.


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