A Telling Story: Lacy M. Johnson’s The Other Side, Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award

January 27, 2015, by

The Other Side Cover Galley Mech.inddLast week Houston’s literary community was buzzing. Houston writer Lacy Johnson was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for her book The Other Side: A Memoir. We are thrilled for Lacy who is an alum of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program and a former recipient of an Inprint Fondren Foundation Fellowship. Lacy now serves as University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts’ Director of Academic Initiatives. We asked Houston writer and University of Houston Creative Writing Program PhD candidate Austin Tremblay to share his thoughts about Lacy and her memoir with us.

“I have something important to tell you” is a familiar lead-in, especially for writers. We might say this to fellow storytellers, friends, family, or the stranger two barstools down, and we might mean that we have good news, a severe warning, or an epiphany. What we will always mean, though, in spite of these variables, is that we have a story to tell. And we think you, storyteller, friend, family, stranger, should listen.

I have something important to tell you: Lacy M. Johnson’s memoir, The Other Side, has been named a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. It is incredibly exciting that this work has received such a nod. It’s a harrowing book, often difficult to read due to the nature of its subject matter. And yet, it’s a heralded book, and difficult to put down. As Johnson’s website describes, The Other Side is “the haunting account of a first passionate and then abusive relationship, the events leading to Johnson’s kidnapping and imprisonment, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover.” Continue reading

From the desk of Giuseppe Taurino: Notable books published by the UH Creative Writing Program community in 2014

December 16, 2014, by

Houston’s literary community is brimming with activity. One of the key players making Houston such a vibrant literary city is the UH Creative Writing Program, nationally ranked as one of the best creative writing programs in the nation. Inprint is proud to continue providing fellowship, prizes, and other support for emerging writers in the Program, surpassing a total of $2.8 million to date. Giuseppe Taurino, Assistant Director of the Program, will now blog on An Open Book to share exciting news from UH. His inaugural post  extols the virtues of 15 notable books written by faculty, alums, and students from the Program, many of whom have received Inprint fellowships and prizes.

I grew up in a working class immigrant family. My parents, along with most of my mother’s family, came to New York City from Italy in the early 1970s. None of them finished grade school. The moment I made it to October of my first semester at NYU, I’d gone further in school than anyone on either side of my family had ever gone. And when I actually earned my bachelor’s degree, I became proof that everything my parents endured over the course of their journey had been worth it. Even my father’s father, who was rarely impressed by anything, believed I’d taken the family to new heights. He was convinced my BA in Psychology made me a doctor—the first in the family—and went so far as to ask me to review and assess the medical reports detailing his heart and blood pressure conditions.

Rightfully or not, I’d earned a reputation for being an academic within my family, and book-smart amongst my friends. My being nervous about the ability to perform in a school setting was probably the last thing any of them would ever expect, but that’s precisely how I felt when I decided to leave Queens to pursue an MFA degree at UH. Coming from a background that didn’t value literature, having only taken a handful of lit courses as an undergrad and continuing ed student, and having exactly one completed short story to my name, I was convinced I’d be exposed at UH. From the day I was notified of my acceptance, to the day my then-girlfriend and I packed up my crappy car and started driving west, I kept thinking whoever decided to let me in had probably made a mistake. Continue reading