in a state

July 29th, 2008 | Uncategorized

map detail

I keep referring here to this upcoming anthology that I did an essay for, State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. But I feel like I haven’t explained it properly. If you click that link you’ll go to the review Publisher’s Weekly just did. It describes the project very concisely and coherently. Plus my essay gets a nice little mention.

The image above is a detail of the map that accompanies my piece.

45 Responses to “in a state”

  1. R says:

    Wow I am the first…sounds good will see if i can track down a copy from With ‘gas’ prices at their highest levels ever this is a cheaper option.

  2. Erika says:

    Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

  3. lion's paw says:

    that is so awesome! where and when can we buy it??

  4. Jana C.H. says:

    No need to order from Your locally-owned independent bookstore can order it just as easily, and with a smile.

    Of course if you live in Seattle like me, IS your locally-owned independent bookstore.

    Forget it! I’ll walk down to Epilogue Books or the Secret Garden in Ballard to place my order, and save the UPS guys some gasoline.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Some people drink, some people gamble, some like whips and chains– I buy books.

  5. Suz says:

    What a cool project.

    And how cool that you’re part of it, AB.

  6. Ellen O. says:

    Ah, the moose in context.

  7. Alex K says:

    I think that you are both an “obvious heavy-hitter” and a “wonderful surprise”.

  8. Olivier says:

    Somehow this reminds me of Edmund White’s much earlier States of Desire, only that one was one-man show, not a group project.

  9. Cheryl says:

    I am a university librarian, and I am going to select this for our collection!

  10. Donna says:

    I hope that yours isn’t the only illustrated essay in the book – I imagine reading the essay makes one want to see a photo or illustration of some sort.

  11. Donna says:

    Or, after reading your essay with groovy illustration, I probably would look at the rest of the book – if it didn’t have an accompanying visual element to it – as lacking something. That’s just me though.

  12. Kate L says:

    Aya, it’s a New England mornin’ here in the stormy midwest. I just gave a lecture to my class in natural disasters that concerned tornadoes. You’d think that OZ would have plenty of examples, and we do (including one that lifted up just four blocks from my house last month). But so does New England. I told them about the Worcester, Mass., tornado back in ’53, as well as the one in New Hampsha just last week! Every state in the Union has had at least one tornado.

  13. priorities says:

    I’m going to have to buy the damn thing just to find out who did Minnesota, aren’t I? Or at least sneak off to Bunns and Noodle and thumb through their copy. I refuse to mishandle books in such a manner at any non-Beast merchant, I’ll have you know. Usually the B&N set are already coffeestained and sad. Lessens my personal guilt feelings somewhat.

  14. Louise says:


    Check out the link at Amazon…, Medusa:

    It lists the author for each state.

  15. Suz says:

    Oh, wow, SE Hinton did Oklahoma. And Carrie Brownstein did Washington.

  16. NLC says:

    Let me see if this will let me type in a URL

    Please click

    ..and then look for AB’s name.

  17. priorities says:

    Louise, you are my new goddess.

  18. evil copy and paste says:

    Alabama by George Packer
    Alaska by Paul Greenberg
    Arizona by Lydia Millet
    Arkansas by Kevin Brockmeier
    California by William T. Vollmann
    Colorado by Benjamin Kunkel
    Connecticut by Rick Moody
    Delaware by Craig Taylor
    Florida by Joshua Ferris
    Georgia by Ha Jin
    Hawaii by Tara Bray Smith
    Idaho by Anthony Doerr
    Illinois by Dave Eggers
    Indiana by Susan Choi
    Iowa by Dagoberto Gilb
    Kansas by Jim Lewis
    Kentucky by John Jeremiah Sullivan
    Louisiana by Joshua Clark
    Maine by Heidi Julavits
    Maryland by Myla Goldberg
    Massachusetts by John Hodgman
    Michigan by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
    Minnesota by Philip Connors
    Mississippi by Barry Hannah
    Missouri by Jacki Lyden
    Montana by Sarah Vowell
    Nebraska by Alexander Payne
    Nevada by Charles Bock
    New Hampshire by Will Blythe
    New Jersey by Anthony Bourdain
    New Mexico by Ellery Washington
    New York by Jonathan Franzen
    North Carolina by Randall Kenan
    North Dakota by Louise Erdrich
    Ohio by Susan Orlean
    Oklahoma by S.E. Hinton
    Oregon by Joe Sacco
    Pennsylvania by Andrea Lee
    Rhode Island by Jhumpa Lahiri
    South Carolina by Jack Hitt
    South Dakota by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
    Tennessee by Ann Patchett
    Texas by Cristina Henríquez
    Utah by David Rakoff
    Vermont by Alison Bechdel
    Virginia by Tony Horwitz
    Washington by Carrie Brownstein
    West Virginia by Jayne Anne Phillips
    Wisconsin by Daphne Beal
    Wyoming by Alexandra Fuller

    and an afterword on Washington, D.C.: A Conversation with Edward P. Jones

  19. Stella says:

    I’m interested in reading the Michigan entry by Mohammed Naseehu Ali. The description says that he’ll be talking about the “generous nature” of Michigan, which makes me wonder if he’s up in the UP or what. I would have pegged one of the Detroit suburbs considering their large and established immigrant populations but I could be wrong!

  20. Raffi says:

    Thanks for the list. The only names I recognize off hand are another great cartoonist, Joe Sacco (Oregon), and S.E. Hinton (!), Oklahoma. S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders, btw.

  21. NLC says:

    Folks are giving shouts out for favorite writers in the list,
    so here’s a few more:

    — Connecticut by Rick Moody
    Know him best for the movies from his books “The Ice Storm” and “Garden State”
    — Illinois by Dave Eggers
    His big hit was “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” but I know him best for his short pieces
    — Indiana by Susan Choi
    Never heard of her, but as a native Hoosier I’m looking forward to finding out more
    — Montana by Sarah Vowell
    The only thing I’ve ever read is “Assassination Vacation”, but I’ve always like her radio pieces (e.g. “This American Life”) I’ll be intereted in her take on Montana
    — Nebraska by Alexander Payne
    Again, another one I know mostly for his movies (e.g. “Sideways”)
    — New York by Jonathan Franzen
    “The Corrections” Hmmmm… (well, it is New York)
    — Utah by David Rakoff
    I like Rakoff’s stuff a lot (If you don’t know him, a quick summary might be a non-obnoxious David Sedaris)

  22. SB says:

    I work at an independent bookstore in Oxford, Mississippi. Barry Hannah is a regular at our store and at our events…very talented guy. I am sure we will be carrying this…can’t wait to read AB’s essay…

  23. j.b.t. says:

    Phillip Connors wrote about Minnesota? Who is he?

    And Louise Erdrich wrote about North Dakota? She lives a few blocks from me right here in Minneapolis.


    I wonder if Amazon will be carrying the book – anyone know? I just special ordered a book from them and will be there in a couple weeks to pick it up. And of course I’ll be going across the street to the lesbian-owned Pumphouse Creamery for organic/local ice cream… Sea salt and caramel with praline pecans….yummy.

  24. NGS says:

    Off the topic, but have y’all seen this? (Check out the hawt wood-chopping action 2 minutes in).

  25. NGS!
    What a delightful video!

  26. Ginjoint says:

    That woodchopper…hmmm…..

    But the downside, for me anyway, is this video reminds me once again how I don’t fit anywhere into the lesbian community. Ah well. Maybe I’m just old.

    Back to the book, I’m going to be buying this. Besides Alison’s contribution, I can’t wait to read David Rakoff’s take on Utah!

  27. liza Cowan says:

    I assume that video was meant as a spoof of butch and femme stereotypes. That’s how I saw it anyway. Very amusing.

  28. Stella says:

    The video was cute but I have never seen such fashionable butches in all my days. They all look like either Japanese television stars or members of Dashboard Confessional, at least the ones that stood out to me.

    Ginjoint, I feel your pain!

  29. ksbel6 says:

    Ginjoint…relax, we all feel like we don’t fit in anywhere. And you can’t possibly be that old 🙂

  30. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Being 21, at least for this dyke, doesn’t help that much when it comes to finding a space in the ‘lesbian community,’ though looking at videos like that does give me the horrible sense that I’m just doin’ it wrong. At least you have age for an excuse.

    But yes, very cute indeed.

  31. Ready2Agitate says:

    That video was so fun. I took it as the new generation sportin’ attitude, bein’ fun -n- crazy, and goofin’ around with their sexuality (and sexiness). I actually thought those gals really meant their shout-outs to all the butch girls on behalf of “the femme-queer nation.” I loved it. Ahhh youth. (Anyone know the Boston-based film called “Scent of a Butch”? Now *that’s* a hawt (and fun) flic!)

  32. priorities says:

    Another one not fittin’ in, on an otherwise beautiful Friday evening. Swishy androgyne, anyone?

  33. Ian says:

    Ah, the sense of (not) belonging to the gay community as well as the straight one.

    I went to my local gay village in Manchester. While it’s very nice, there must have been 2,000 people there in the daytime while I was walking ’round and I didn’t identify with a single one. The joys of the diversity of the gay scene? Nah, all the men were ether clones or twinks. V depressing. So you’re definitely not alone ginjoint!

    Off-topic: I just made rocket (arugula) pesto from the organic plants I’ve grown this summer. It tastes fantastic but it’s bright Kermit green!

  34. C. says:

    John Hodgman on Massachusetts– Author of “The Areas of My Expertise”, but known best as The Daily Show’s “Resident Expert” (He also acts in commercials.)

  35. yeah! John Hodgman is the “PC” in the Mac vs. PC ads. I’m going to be doing a reading with him and some other folks at the Harvard Bookstore in September.

    Joe Sacco also did a graphic submission for State By State. I’m really interested to see it. I admire his work a lot and felt rather daunted to be the only other cartoonist in the book.

  36. Ready2Agitate says:

    Ooh that’s Sept. 29th at Harvard Square’s Brattle Theatre. LondonBoy, will you be here for that? (Yikes, just checked – also Erev Rosh Hashanah…) (Hmmm, fandom or faith, that’s a tough one :-).

  37. Stella says:

    I didn’t even see Joe Sacco on that list. I loved “Palestine” so this will secure my purchase for sure!

  38. Sonya says:

    Hmm, I’m butch enough that most of my wardrobe comes from the men’s department (including my underwear–boxers) but femme enough to occassionally wear pink and purple and even skirts sometimes. Burly enough to have pretty decent biceps from my physical labor job, but girly enough to need (yes, need) sandlewood scented body wash. Tender-hearted enough to be a staunch vegetarian and to cry like a baby if I see a dead cat on the side of the road, but unsqueamish enough to have an illicit collection of found dead songbirds in the freezer and a jar of rat fetuses in formeldahyde on the knick-knack shelf (it was a gift from a taxidermist friend). Urban enough to need easy access to good ethnic restaurants and big libraries but rural enough to need easy access to wilderness and green space. College educated but working retail. Low class enough to regularly subsist on mac and cheese or ramen, but snobby enough to insist that it’s organic mac and cheese or ramen from the co-op (and snobby enough to enjoy an nice beet and goat cheese salad sometimes, too).

    Never mind the gay community, I don’t fit in *anywhere*. Ah, but it makes life more interesting that way. Unfortunately, it also makes life more lonely a lot of the time, too.

  39. ksbel6 says:

    Remember all the guff I received because I’m a teacher and a coach a few months back? I don’t fit in with the coaches because not only will I schedule my practices around band camp, sportsmanship comes first…winning is way down on my list. The AD at my school couldn’t believe it when during my first season as head coach, he received letters from umpires telling him what a polite team and crowd we had!

    I’m a math teacher that constantly has students’ projects displayed…building icosahedrons with construction paper to make them colorful, creating tesselations to brighten the halls during the late winter months, etc. There was a group visiting our school 2 years ago and when they walked into my room they could not figure out what subject I teach because of all the artwork on the walls and the variety of books on the shelves which cover subjects from astronomy to Spanish.

  40. Dr. Empirical says:

    ksbel6, I don’t think any of that guff was directed at you personally. I think you triggered a mass vent at coaches in general, but I thought there was an implied “but thank goodness for coaches like ksel6” working. I’m sorry that wasn’t more clear.

    I’m a neuroscientist with tattoos and a nipple pierce. I like art museums and biker bars, comic books and National guitars; I’m a straight male, yet somehow I seem to fit in at a lesbian cartoonist’s message board.

  41. ksbel6 says:

    Dr. E…I seem to remember you and Ginjoint coming to my defense several times, but it was awhile back, and it obviously didn’t stop me from reading the blog 🙂

  42. Ginjoint says:

    Finally! I can get back on this site again. My computer’s been having hiccups, and not loading some sites for me – it’s like it gets constipated and then just shoots up an error message. Infuriating. Anyway, one reason I like this blog is that we can disagree and then get over it quickly.
    Ksbel6, you’re too good for Missouri. (A large chunk of my family lives there. We…don’t get along, to put it politely.)

    Also – even though I’m a lesbian, I find John Hodgman sexy. Intelligence, earnestness, and some geekiness always sucker me in. (A neuroscientist? Ooo la la!)

  43. Holly says:

    Hey Ian,
    Arugula pesto?? That sounnds amazing! Care to share your recipe?

  44. Ian says:

    Well, I hate to wander off topic but happy to oblige Holly – it’s not mine, it’s an Italian chef’s and is on the BBC website:

    The only translation is we call arugula “rocket” (because it grows so fast).

  45. Jorge Julio says:

    jbt says: Philip Connors: who he?

    Check out n+1 No. 4, and Paris Review No. 185. Good stuff both.