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“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares


“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant


“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus


“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction


“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper

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Giants Win the Pennant!

Congratulations to San Francisco for winning the World Series! The Giants have a special place in my heart because, for a long time, I thought I would move to San Francisco (and I still may, if the economy improves). I've been to Pac-Bell Park (or whatever it's called now) to see the Giants play, and am happy that the team shares the same colors, orange and black, as my beloved Baltimore Orioles, although I don't know if their sea lion mascot will ever replace the Oriole Bird.

But moving is hard. I don't know how people do it. The New York Giants did it, in the 1950s, to San Francisco, and they finally have the pennant to prove they are no longer cursed by the move. But the Giants left more than the Polo Grounds behind. You can fall in love with so many things in one place, particularly the people. For instance, the people, writers and nonwriters, in Baltimore are great. It stands to reason that if there are so many great people in Baltimore that there are thousands upon thousands of great people in San Francisco (or anywhere else). But I don't know if it's true.

Does a place affect one's writing? I'm not really sure nowadays, since there's so much homogeneity in the suburban (and urban) landscape. But there are writers out there whose work is infused with a special feeling of place. I just finished Darlin Neal's short story collection, Rattlesnakes and the Moon (Press 53, 2010), and those stories need to be where they're set. The desert, Mississippi, the mountains of West Virginia run through the blood of Neal's characters and colors their outlook, their expectations.

Baltimore doesn't infuse my writing so much as my outlook on life. Sure, I've written a few stories the are influenced by my family here in the rust belt, evolving as the steel jobs have moved overseas, but the real Baltimore in my stories is their interest in humanity, in people. Baltimore wills a certain humility and awe in us, its "hons." And that's what I always try to shine in myself, rather than any east coast elitism or cynicism.

But San Francisco and Northern California is beautiful country. I can only imagine the stories I could write out there.