Last fall, I took my favorite course of my MFA, a Publishing Institute run by UNO Press. The course requirements included reading through a slush pile of submitted short story collection and novel manuscripts, picking ones that gave me the feels, ones that I felt were publishable, ones that could make it in the world. The class then debated all of our favorites to select the one we would work on editing and publishing. That selection turned out to be Margo Orlando Littell’s Each Vagabond by Name, a novel about a one-eyed bartender whose life is disrupted when a group of wandering gypsies roam into his small Pennsylvania town.
You can check out our process on the Lab’s website!
Littell came to New Orleans to launch the novel at the Tennessee Williams Festival this past March. It was amazing to listen to her give a reading from a book that we as a class closely read and edited. I learned a lot from working with her manuscript. She used short vignettes at the beginning of chapters to build setting and create an air of mystery. She slowly revealed backstory about the damaged characters’ pasts in a way that wasn’t tell-y or overwrought. It was all well-integrated into the story.
And she taught me another very important lesson. She trusted the editing process completely and gracefully.
Today is the Publication day for Each Vagabond by Name. If you’re looking for an engrossing, fast-paced but substantial summer read, I can’t think of a better book! Go buy it!