Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Try saying that three times fast!

Things are about to get serious around here in the writing department. Starting Tuesday, (following a day trip for some obscure family business to Ozark, Alabama tomorrow), Buck is going to hunker down in his writing spot set up on the second floor near the pool table (helps a man think), while I will be retreating to my dark cave with its desk, good reading light, music and a comfy chair.

We have been talking the talk. Now we’re going to try walking the walk. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I spent a lot of time in my cool, dark cave (also known as “the study”) this weekend, reading, filing away New Yorker and Harper’s fiction stories, and gathering the fragments of writing projects I have energetically begun and abandoned.

On the book shelves and stacked up on the floor by the comfy chair, I found an intriguing assortment of literary magazines, books on writing, and memoirs. Unfortunately, we don’t live close enough to one another to have a real writer’s group, but I think our blog sharing, communication through mutual comments, and occasional e-mails is lively and interesting. Our interaction and sharing encourages and inspires me to keep on writing, reading, learning and synthesizing. In short, it has improved the quality of my life and added to my happiness.

And so, in the spirit of opening our porthole of communication just a bit wider, I invite you to participate in a little experiment called The Longleaf Lending Library & Literary Exchange!

From time to time, I’ll post the name of a literary magazine or book that I’ve finished and am willing to part with. If you would like to read it, send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I will mail it to you. The only fine print is that if more than one person would like to read the same book or journal, I’ll send it to the first person requesting, and then ask that you send it along to the next person. (Any sharing of addresses will be done via private e-mail and not on the blog). The literary magazines can continue to travel. Occasionaly, I’ll ask that a book eventually make it’s way back to me.

If you haven’t read lit mags before, you may have a wrong impression about them. They each have their own unique personality. They have stories, poems, photographs, art, reviews, and fascinating interviews with authors. Some specialize in creative or literary nonfiction; others in memoir. Some of the writers stir me deeply, while others go so far with their experimentation of the form that they lose my mossy head from the get-go. But even those may ring your bell and light a spark. In any case, at my age, stage, and general orneriness, I will never get an M.F.A. in creative writing. I believe these books and journals — among many others — are a crucial piece of my own education as a person who intends to still be writing as a centenarian.

Let’s make a start and give it a whirl. Any of the journals or books listed are immediately available.


– on writing

The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again*  by Sven Birkerts

Old Friend from Far Away * by Natalie Goldberg

Mystery and Manners  by Flannery O’Connor

The Memoir and the Memorist  by Thomas Larson

Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life  by Philip Gerard

If  You Want To Write  by Brenda Ueland

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard*

One Year to a Writing Life  by Susan M. Tiberghien

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick*

– memoir

The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday

The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr

The Glass Castle  by Jeanette Walls

– poems

Riffs & Reciprocities prose pairs  by Stephen Dunn  (I would want this one back, but somehow wound up with an extra.)

*Books marked with an asterisk are the ones I hope will eventually find their way back home.


Note: Most of these are quarterly or semi-annual, so I have several issues available to send.

VQR (This is one I’ll send out as long as you pledge blood, your first-born child or Labrador retriever, or something else of high value that you’ll send it back. When you see it, you’ll know why I am a vehement fan.)

The Paris Review

The Sewanee Review

The Chattahoochee Review

The Bellingham Review

The Missouri Review

Mississippi Review

The Southeast Review

Shenandoah (The Washington and Lee University Review)


Creative Nonfiction

American Short Fiction

Tin House

Glimmer Train


32 Poems

Sonora Review


Note: My current favorite is a journal called Memoir(and).  I only have one issue so far, but I’m still re-reading it. It’s the one with Richard Gilbert’s fine piece, “Remembering Paul.” By the way, I highly recommend that you add Richard’s blog, Narrative, to your “must read” list.

Finally, I just now subscribed to Copper Nickel. They publish twice a year. I think I’ll get my first issue in October. I’ll write about it then.


If you would like for me to send you a book or journal, just send me an email with the one you want, along with your name and address. Send your note to “ejwestmark at gmail.com. ”  Out of the U.S. addresses are fine, too.

0 thoughts on “The Longleaf Lending Library & Literary Exchange

  1. Shaddy says:

    This is so generous of you. I’m off to send you my request. Best wishes to you and Buck on your writing projects. It’s cool that you both are into writing. My husband doesn’t even like to read. That’s OK though. He’s very tolerant of my reading and writing ventures.


  2. Gullible says:

    Wow,Beth. You’ve bitten off a project. Let me get my head out from under this current writer’s conference, and I’ll see what’s up. Summer’s a bad time for me to read anything serious. I signed up for an open mic reading!!! Me, shy li’l ol’ Gullible. I’ll e-mail you the piece I’m going to read. Gulp.


  3. Beth says:

    Got your e-mail, Shaddy. A couple of issues of Creative Nonfiction will be in the mail to you this Tuesday. Thanks for being the first to jump in. I’ll look forward to your feedback.


  4. Beth says:

    Hey, Gully — I’ve only done one open mic reading. Wouldn’t have gone through with it except the 12 year old kid who went before me would have made fun of me. Please do email your piece. I’d love to read it.
    Re summer reading, living in magnificent Alaska as you do, I can imagine winter is your reading season. Not to worry. When you get ready for some books and/or lit mags, let me know what you’re working on then, and I’ll tailor-make a package for you.
    I’ll look forward to reading all about your writer’s conference.
    Did you say “shy?”


  5. tim says:

    Sounds like fun. I’d be interested in the discussion on some of the lit magazines. Reading widely is really the only way to evaluate the best places to submit your work.
    If you want to submit work for critiques and critique on others work, I’d recommend the IWW, which I have found helpful for my essays and memoir work. Read about it here:


  6. Beth says:

    Thanks for the link, Tim. That’s a new one for me and I’ll look forward to exploring it.
    I hope, too, that we can develop some discussion on that segment of the writing world.
    I would be especialy interested in your own experiences as a writer and reader.


  7. What a lovely idea!
    I’m intrigued about your writing and so glad that you’re making a space and time for it. As you practice the habit, your brain will make furrows that hard-wire your writing time in place. Will look forward to hearing what you’re thinking about and working on, when you’re ready to share.
    I’ve learned to talk things out with Denny when I hit a rough patch. It’s almost too hard by myself to see holes in my own work. But an exchange with a great reader helps. His insight (and encouragement) have helped me push ahead when I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it.
    Thanks for your comment on my Harley post. I appreciate your thoughts.


  8. David Bailey says:

    I’m halfway through Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, based on your recommendation. I highly recommend it, whether or not you’re interested in the South or Fla. or the Longleaf area. I’ll send you a few books that I think you might enjoy and you can share them with others.


  9. Beth, in the midst of moving and in total disarray, this still tempts me. What a great idea. I do have a writing book to recommend: Write Away by Elizabeth George. It is just great. Pitched toward fiction but useful as heck for nonfiction. A nice balance of art and craft insights.


  10. Beth says:

    Kathleen — I love the graphic image in your words of a brain making “furrows that hardwire your writing time in place.” That one will stay with me.


  11. Beth says:

    You can thank my dentist (who also sold us all of the Longleaf seedlings planted here), Mickey Parker. He turned me on to that book. I would love to read and share any you might send.
    I am currently reading one of your and Richard Gilbert’s recommendations to me: Illumination in the Flatwoods by Joe Hutto. What an incredible book. Buck is already saying, “Are you finished yet?” Mickey Parker (the pine-tree selling dentist) will fall on the ground and foam at the mouth when we loan him this one.
    I will appreciate, read and share anything you might send, and will email you our mailing address. Thank you, David.


  12. Beth says:

    Oh, I don’t envy you that move, Richard. We have sworn our last move is “the last,” and I hope it turns out to be true.
    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll find it. It’s timely for me, as I’m turning toward fiction, where the names are changed to protect the guilty! Heh.
    One of my all time favorite writing books is Stephen King’s On Writing. My copy is currently loaned out to a friend.
    Once you get settled in, let me know and I’ll send you a care package. I’d like to send you Harry Crews’ A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, if you don’t already have it.


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