Camille A. Collins: Winter Reflections on Gratitude


photo courtesy Camille A. Collins

I’ve known Camille A. Collins for ages in her capacity as a book publicist, but I hadn’t realized she was also a writer until she told me about her debut YA novel, The Exene Chronicles. It’s a story about growing up in the suburbs of San Diego in the 1980s that reveals a lot of the emotional truths about being a teenage punk rock fan in those days (yes, the titular “Exene” is the lead singer of X), wrapped up in a drama about child kidnapping, adolescent frustration, and the currents of racial hatred that have been bubbling on America’s surface for decades. Camille’s sent along “a small grouping of texts perfect for leisurely winter weekend reads,” as she describes them: “While reveling in the amazing writing, each novel, poem, or short story serves as a catalyst for reflection and gratitude, on things (such freedoms, privileges, or simple material comforts) which we sometimes take for granted.”

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20 January 2019 | guest authors |

Life Stories #105: Glen David Gold

Life Stories: Glen David Gold

I first met Glen David Gold when he was on a reading tour for his second novel, Sunnyside, which happened to be the name of the neighborhood where I lived at the time; that wasn’t the only reason we hit it off, but we did, and so I was excited when I found out he was publishing a memoir, I Will Be Complete. I spoke to him in the summer of 2018 about his family history, how he’d tried to deal with it by writing fiction in his twenties, and the path toward eventually finding the right literary structure through which to tell the story. One of the first things I mentioned is how perfectly it illustrated that famous Philip Larkin verse about what your parents do, which eventually brought us to a discussion of how some relationships simply can’t be fixed:

“I notice a lot of memoirs are—and it’s the thing that frustrated me about The Glass Castle, which is a brilliant book, which is really well-written—at the end, she forgives everybody. And, like, ‘Wait a minute! Hold on! Time out! I have a different opinion here…’

Not to castigate anybody, but there’s something… Traditional memoirs end ‘And my family are all monsters and now I’m all healed, because I’m holding this door against them…’ That’s one, and the other is ‘Ahhhh, they’re my family, so I forgive them, and welcome and embrace.’ I think there’s another way to go, which is ‘hold them accountable, and walk off alone.’”

We also talked about how working on I Will Be Complete has made Glen a more confident writer, and the newly honed skills he’s been able to take back to his fiction. Plus the story of how David Leavitt became his literary archnemesis, until he actually went to a David Leavitt reading…

Listen to Life Stories #105: Glen David Gold (MP3 file); or download this file by right-clicking (Mac users, option-click). Or subscribe to Life Stories in iTunes, where you can catch up with earlier episodes and be alerted whenever a new one is released. (If you’re already an iTunes subscriber, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast!)

photo: Sara Shay

19 December 2018 | life stories |

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