TOO SHATTERED In The New York Times Book Review

My new novel TOO SHATTERED FOR MENDING was selected as one of four crossover books by the New York Times Sunday Book Review this week (“crossovers” are books that can be enjoyed by both mature teens and adults).

Here’s the full review:

TOO SHATTERED FOR MENDING
By Peter Brown Hoffmeister
373 pp. Knopf. $17.99.

Little is called Little because he’s big — a sophomore in high school and already 6-foot-5. But his nickname in his gorgeous but meth-ravaged Idaho town is more than an easy joke. Hoffmeister is reminding us that this person we come to care about and fear for — who’s been abandoned by his drug-dealer grandfather, who has to hunt illegally if he wants to eat meat, who’s been exposed to every kind of toxic masculinity but still puts everyone else’s needs above his own — is just a boy. Early on, a deputy seeks Little’s help finding his grandfather. That request eventually becomes a threat, adding tension to a portrait of the heart and will that’s so tragic and beautiful it singes.

Little has an older brother, JT, a promising football player who is ruining his prospects with alcohol and violence — and may soon ruin Little’s with faulty advice. JT’s girlfriend, Rowan, on whom Little has a heartbreaking crush, is a ragged free spirit who can’t understand her own worth.

“Too Shattered for Mending” is as spare as a bird in a bare tree, but it’s cathartic, not depressing. Little’s struggle with dyslexia alone — he places a red transparency over schoolbooks to make the page clearer — is enough to launch a thousand of those tweets that say, “I’m not crying, you’re crying.” In the end, you realize that what Little needs, what we all need, is a red transparency to put over the world itself so that life and love aren’t so hard.”

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Simple Writing Advice For October

This will be the shortest post ever. Writing advice for October:

  • Write fewer articles.
  • Write fewer adverbs (or no adverbs at all).
  • Start sentences with verbs to push forward action. Let the reader assume the subjects that correspond to those verbs.
  • Trust your reader. Explain less. Write the action and the dialogue.

When you have friends like this…

After my outlaw (what I call any former in-law) failed to meet up with me last night, he sent me the best email I’ve received this month. His nickname is “C-Murder,” thus his sign-off:

“I missed your call last night, after I failed to check my calendar during the day.

But that was before I got drunk in the back yard and passed out in the shed after dinner.

I hit my head on a stack of snow tires that don’t have any studs left. Except the one that lacerated my forehead. 

I woke up somewhere in Creswell without pants. Bleeding profusely from above my left eye. Your voice mail came through sometime around 9pm. 
I sat on the railroad tracks and cried.
I’m sorry. 
I’m free tonight though. My house? So-and-so made plans to go out. 
C Murder”

Release Readings For Too Shattered

Book release week for my new novel Too Shattered For Mending (Knopf, Random House):

  • Reading at Tsunami Books, Eugene, Oregon, September 13th, 7 PM.
  • Visiting Rogers High School, Spokane, Washington, September 15th, all day.
  • Reading at Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, Washington, September 15th, 7 PM.

Look for copies of the novel at your local independent bookstore, or order online by clicking one of these links:

Best Author’s Bio Ever

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Recently, I’ve been reading as many of the Best American Short Stories anthologies as I can. With 20 stories by 20 different authors in each addition – edited by a different guest editor each year – they’re all excellent. I’m entertained while also learning from the various styles and techniques of these award winning authors.

I’m not reading the collections in any particular order, just reading whatever anthology I find next at my used bookstore or library. That’s how I came across the 1998 edition, guest-edited by Garrison Keiller. It includes incredible stories by Annie Proulx, Carol Anshaw, Akhil Sharma, and others, but it’s the authors’ bio sections that really caught my eye in this edition, because a short story writer named Poe Ballantine wrote the best author bio I’ve ever read.

Since it’s not available online, I’m going to retype his bio for you right here:

“I am forty-two. College dropout. Live in a motel room. I generally move every year, but I am tired of moving and I like this room so I think I will stay another year. I have had lots of odd jobs, mostly cooking. I worked at the radio antenna factory just across the tracks for a while, then sold a couple of stories, so I quit March 5, and if I live on $400 a month and this wisdom tooth coming in doesn’t knock the rest of my teeth sideways, I will be able to write until August.”

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Word Play – Check Out This Rap

Check out “Rainbow In The Dark” – Das Racist – if you like wordplay and odd allusions. It doesn’t start off well (or it’s a really weird start, depending on your point of view), but the song is short, and the group is amazing.

Click here for the Youtube music video (to watch and listen) – trust me, it’s worth it.

Lyrics below:

I’m at the White Castle
(I don’t see you here, dog)
Tiny-ass hamburgers, tiny-ass cheeseburgers
Tiny-ass chicken sandwiches
It’s outlandish, kid
Ma trying to speak to the kid
In Spanish, kid
Like “¿Que tu quieres?”
I’m like “where is the bathroom?
I hella gotta piss, where’s the bathroom?”
Ask whom the bell tolls for
Hey, yo, where you get this place from, the hellhole store?

I’m in the building
Building will Belding
Ask for whom the bell rings (DR)
Something like a neo-rap Zach attack
Finna spark an L and have myself a Big Mac attack
Known to rock the flyest shit and eat the best pizza
Charge that shit to Mastercard, already owe Visa
Catch me drinkin’ lean in Italy like I was Pisa
We could eat the flyest cave-aged cheese for sheez, ma

Yeah, we could eat Gruyere
As if we care
We could eat Roquefort
Or we could just kick it like Rockports
In the periphery of Little Sicily little did she know I’m tickling boo she so giggly
Catch me solving mysteries like Wikipedia Brown
It’s the future get down
We make a sound even if nobody’s around

Like a tree or the tears of a clown
Yo, I’m afraid of clowns, I’m afraid of small towns
Positive energy is something like I’m afraid of all frowns
Catch me at the crib getting light to Jeff Mangum
It’s fun to do bad things like rhyme about handguns
If any problem pop off
I’ll Joe Pesci any fool while drinking that Popov
That’s cause I’m a Goodfella
Stay up out the hood hella much now
But punch clowns if they touch down
While I’m eating lunch now
While I’m eating a burger
Metaphysical spiritual lyrical murder

The ill ’96 manifestible third eye
Abstract vegan backpack skateboard et cetera
Rap hella much in a busted ass Jetta with Coretta Scott King
Rap bridge
On a duet with T-Pain and Stephen Hawking
I’m not joking, stop jocking, stop talking
Shut up, hush up
Please, shut the fuck up
Shut up, dude, shut up
Das Racist is the new Kool G Rap
Peep us at the Grammys
We’d like to thank G-chat
We’d like to thank weed rap
The best rapper’s B Real
Jokes, it’s us, come on, be real
Second Latin rapper to like the Beatles
But on the real they swear I’m blacker than Cheadle
Like Don King playing Donkey Kong Country at his cousin’s house
You don’t even know what it’s about

This is panic attack rap
Eating four flapjacks
Trap raps, let em free, they always come back to me
The Internet told me that that’s called love
I’m on the Internet cause I’m an Internet thug

Himanshu, yes I’m in control man
Pos Vibe Emanator
Yes I got my soul tan
Soul shine, soul glow, so so Po-Mo
Catch me on the South Side
Kicking it with Shlomo

Kicking it with Gary Soto
All the cholos saying “Mira el joto”
Just because I rock the secondhand Versace
Wash me, watch me
The second hand couldn’t even clock me
You couldn’t see me like a Cuban playing hockey
Cracker in the chocolate, that’s human Pocky
Papa look stocky, Mama look chalky
Me I look a little something like a young Shock G
Words come through me like I was a walkie talkie
All I do is open up my mouth and just rock, see
You, you are not me
Me I am possibly everything plus everything that is not me
Jokes, that is not T-R-U-E
Are you understanding everything, do you got me?
Catch me in the trees where it’s shady like Lockheed Martin
Sparking in the shade of the trees in the park, B
Hark the angels stay singing in the dark
Like the rainbow in the Ronnie James Dio joint
Hit it from the back court
Like it was a three point
I don’t give a fuck, I’m a duck to a decoy
No trustem white-face man like Geronimo
Tried to go to Amsterdam they threw us in Guantanamo