Poet, novelist and short story writer W. Somerset Maugham said there are three rules to writing, but no one knows what they are. Funny, but not true. I’ve published seven books and hundreds of stories and essays, won a few prizes along the way, and I’m here to tell you that there are many stateable rules about good writing, 10 of which, some old, some new, all refined from personal experience, I present to you here. Art will never be a science, and these are my rules of course, but...Forward
4 BOOKS TO READ THIS SPRING
Written by Jennifer Forbess
New reads for spring suggested by COCC writing instructor Jennifer Forbess.
by Poe Ballantine
People can often seem on the surface to be relatively normal, but you just know there is a lot going on underneath, including, most likely, a little bit of crazy! At the beginning of the novel Whirlaway, protagonist Eddie Plum is an inmate of Napa State Psychiatric Hospital. Why? I’m not exactly sure. After he escapes with the help...Forward
“At twenty-seven years old I was not emotionally equipped for living under lock and key behind sixteen-foot cyclone fences and having my ass stabbed every three days with drugs that turned my brains to buttermilk.” -Eddie Plum
To read the excerpt go to The Nervous Breakdown.
Poe Ballantine: The TNB Self-Interview
By TNB Fiction
April 10, 2018
The last time we talked we learned you were born in a log cabin and the illegitimate son of the Queen of England, what good that did anyone is hard to say, but I see you have another book coming out. Quite the coincidence.
I’ll say, and thanks for asking. Yes, it’s a horseracing, record collecting, and insane asylum novel called Whirlaway. It’s also about psychic evanescence, which is existing...Forward
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.
Poe Ballantine’s novel Whirlaway is darkly comic and compelling.
Kirkus wrote of the book:
“Ballantine walks a wry tightrope here, imbuing his debauched characters with the drunken...Forward
Cousin Fuzzy Meets “Whirlaway” by Poe Ballantine
At the Gallup, New Mexico, bus station, just for the heck of it, I asked the clerk behind the counter where the bus did not go. He was amused and I think somewhat intrigued when he realized I was seriously going into a ticket office and asking about places they did not go. He had a slow way of speaking and studied me as if he cared, as if my mother were a Polish émigré and I should not let her down, as if I might not get away...Forward
AFTER 20 YEARS OF RAMBLING I BROKE DOWN AND WROTE A NOVEL
POE BALLANTINE ON THE MANY ROADS TRAVELED TO PUBLICATION
I set out on the road at the age of 18, a hitchhiking trip from the suburbs of my hometown of San Diego that turned into a freight-hopping trip that left me homeless and broke on the streets of New Orleans. An utter disaster, I nevertheless enjoyed the excitement and the challenge. Above all I thought I would write about my experiences some day.
Hooked on the rambling life and...Forward
Eddie Plum, who insists he’s been unjustifiably committed to a California psychiatric hospital, manages to finally escape after fourteen years of incarceration to start his life anew. On the run, he holes up in a sheltered barrio on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean owned by his wealthy but unsympathetic father. Here he meets Sweets, the telepathic dog, laments the loss of Sofia, his madhouse lover, and plays the horses at the Del Mar Racetrack. Eventually he meets up with an old friend, Shelly...Forward
Poe Ballantine reads “The Irving” from his essay collection, 501 Minutes to Christ. This story details Poe’s diabolic plan to punch John Irving in the nose after he opens for him at the inaugural Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon. Why did Poe want to deck the famous author? Watch here to find out.
Philadelphia Geek Awards announces 2015 nominees #PHLGeekAward
Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere: Inspired by the memoir by Poe Ballantine, Philly filmmaker Dave Jannetta explores the mystery, while examining the author’s life, touching on themes such as depression, suicide, the ephemeral nature of reality, and the American Dream.
To see a complete list of finalists, go to Newsworks.
Director Dave Jannetta wins coveted Big Sky award, given to the film that captures the spirit of the American West was presented to Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere based on the memoir by Poe Ballantine!
To read more, go to the Missoulian.
Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere documentary by Dave Jannetta based on the memoir by Poe Ballantine is now available for preorder on iTunes! The official release date is February 3rd, but securing 50-100 preorders will help push it into the top 25 docs upon release.
You can get a copy at iTunes.
Last week on the Serial Spoiler Special, we asked listeners to suggest books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts that fans of Serial might enjoy. With Season 1 set to end next week, we figured it was a good time to start looking.
And we got a lot of great suggestions. We discuss a few of them on this week’s episode of the Spoiler Special, which will go up this evening. In the meantime, here are all the things our listeners recommended, plus suggestions from me, my Spoiler Special co-host Katy...Forward
Anomalies both amusing and alarming abound in this wry documentary about the impact of an inexplicable murder or suicide on a small Midwestern town.
Between the various crazies populating Alexander Payne’s black-and-white “Nebraska” and the three women driven mad by the endlessly flat prairie in Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman,” the Cornhusker State is assuming quasi-mythic proportions these days. The trend continues with Dave Jannetta’s “Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of...Forward
One of the unheralded diamonds in the rough on the documentary circuit this year is Dave Jannetta’s documentary on the denizens of Chadron, Nebraska, evocatively titled Love And Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere.
The film is an adaptation of Poe Ballantine’s memoir of the same name and involves Ballantine’s amateur sleuthing of the great crime that occurred in his communit: a math professor went missing in the freezing winter of 2006 only to be found in the spring burned alive, bound to...Forward
Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere (Sunday, Nov. 23, 1:30 p.m.)
Steven Haataja was a math professor at a college in the small town of Chadron, Neb. One day, he disappeared. His body—tied to a tree and burned—was found 95 days later. The film is based on a book by Poe Ballantine that explores both the crime and the author’s past.
To read the entire article, go to the Calgary Herald.
It can be a dangerous thing to give authors too much screen time. Either they demonstrate why they spend most of their days and nights behind their keyboards or they too clearly fall in love with the sound of their own voices. Poe Ballantine (the pen name for Ed Hughes) is a writer who neatly sidesteps both of those concerns.
As our guide to the mystery that lurks beneath the idiosyncratic documentary Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, Ballantine is just about everything you...Forward
Director Dave Jannetta and author Poe Ballantine, aka Chadron’s Ed Hughes, were on hand to introduce the movie for its Halloween debut and set the crowd up for a few laughs. This laughter is essential to the film’s success, and its overall crowd pleasing feeling. As has been reported elsewhere, despite the rather grim story of Chadron State College professor Steven Haataja’s death permeating the film’s narrative, it is hilarious.
Jannetta reiterated his hope that the crowd would see...Forward
Booktopia1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Poe BallantineBorn in Denver, raised in San Diego, schooled in public institutions. Many colleges but no degree.
Booktopia2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Poe BallantineWriter, writer, and writer. It was the only thing I did that got me notice among my peers.
To read the last eight questions, go to Booktopia.
Ballantine is looking forward to both the country and the event but says he doesn’t know what to expect from the wide brown land.
’My knowledge of your country is shamefully scant,’ says Poe. ’I grew up reading the art critic Robert Hughes in Time Magazine and I’ve just finished for the second time The Great Australian Loneliness, one of the best books ever written. I don’t know if Ernestine Hill is still in the conversation; she’s not politically correct and it’s said that she...Forward
I had difficulty choosing between this one and Things I Like about America, which is equally excellent. Both are collections of essays about Ballantine’s experiences as he moves around the country in search of the ideal American town, a place where he can write and stay sober and meet the dark-haired, book-loving girl of his dreams. Not surprisingly, the towns he arbitrarily selects are full of threadbare rooms and people who love nothing more than their television sets. Suitcases fall on his...Forward
Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere plays out a lot like a feature length, video version of This American Life, AKA the best radio show in the land. The center of intrigue is where a well liked professor disappeared one night. Months later his scorched corpse was found bound to a tree on the outskirts of town past a very dense pathway. That mystery is the primary hook. It’s the surrounding elements that make the movie sing.
Based on the memoir by Poe Ballantine, Dave...Forward
Mystery, Myth, and Legend
Easily one of the most unique movies screening at this year’s Hot Docs, Dave Janetta’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere initially presents itself as being about a murder mystery, but gradually transforms into a portrait of the community surrounding a possible murder. The title comes from the book by author Poe Ballantine and indeed the style of the film comes from that book as well. Ballantine moved to the isolated Chadron, Nebraska years ago...Forward
If it weren’t for a middle school teacher who was willing to embrace his book report, Dave Jannetta might’ve never ended up in Chadron, Neb. And anyone who’s encountered that area’s unforgiving landscape may well think Jannetta nuts.
But for a young filmmaker hoping to marry a blunt look at the human condition with some of nature’s starkest reality, Chadron was a perfect spot. And Poe Ballantine was the perfect subject.
This spring, Jannetta delivers Love & Terror on the Howling...Forward
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival April 24 - May 4th is North America’s largest documentary festival.
“From Finance to Filmmaking: Malvern filmmaker’s documentary spotlights Nebraska of all places.”—Main Line Today
“Poe Ballantine’s latest book a gripping read.”—Tim Teeman The Daily Beast
Caleb Powell interview with Poe Ballantine in The Sun Magazine.
Orson Welles once said “I don’t think history can possibly be true.” This is surely the case in the dozens of speculative accounts presented in Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere. In 2006, Steven Haataja, a brilliant mathematics professor in the isolated community of Chadron, Nebraska, disappears without a trace. When his body is discovered three months later, the cause of death sends the community reeling with questions, conspiracy theories and misplaced suspicions. As the...Forward
The mysterious death of a quiet, unassuming math professor, and a personal memoir about his own turbulent marriage, makes Poe Ballantine’s latest book a gripping read.
The police reports that Poe Ballantine quotes at the beginning of the chapters of Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere are meant to show how hokey life in the small northwestern Nebraskan town of Chadron might be: “7.14pm Caller from Regency Trailer Court advised of a dead bird that caller stated died for no apparent...Forward
There’s a little town on the Pine Ridge of western Nebraska called Chadron. Not too many have heard of it. If anyone would care to listen, you might be able to explain to them that this unknown area of America has its own particular landscape. It’s not quite plains, nor is it simply forest or mountains. It’s all of these things and none of them at once. There’s a little state college there, but it’s mostly a cow town.
The essayist and novelist Poe Ballantine ended up there the first...Forward
You can read Caleb Powell’s interview with Poe Ballantine, “High Plains Drifter: Poe Ballantine On Writing, Madness, and His Journey from Vagabond to Family Man,” in the digital February issue of The Sun Magazine.
Caleb Powell’s most recent work is I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel with David Shields published by Knopf in 2014. The book was optioned, purchased, and shot by James Franco’s production company, and the film has a possible earliest release date of January, 2015. To...Forward
Murder and Memoir: The Writing of Poe Ballantine
Author Poe Ballantine’s new offering combines heartfelt memoir and an intriguing murder mystery.
Drawing comparisons to the writing of Mark Twain and Truman Capote, Poe Ballantine’s newest work, Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere (Hawthorne Books, 2013) is part memoir and part murder mystery. Set mostly in Ballantine’s adopted home of Chadron, Nebraska, this new novel traces the nomadic and despondent lifestyle that led...Forward
“Poe Ballantine is easily one of my favorite writers so to have him on the show is a huge thrill. He joins me to talk about his twenty something years as a drifter, the deterioration of culture and how obscurity may be the best route to fame. Poe’s unique take on the world is thought provoking and challenging. This is one of my favorite conversations.”—Matt Dwyer
Matt Dwyer is a comedian, actor and writer who has been a staple in the alternative comedy scenes in Chicago, New York and LA....Forward
Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is a memoir written so beautifully that for a while I had to put it down out of creative jealousy…It is a credit to Ballantine’s writing that the stories of himself, his family, his friends—hell, even his son getting a haircut—are just as dynamic as those where bodies are found and half-drunk gangs storm out of a pub to search behind mysterious locked basement doors.—Fiona Kills
To read the entire review, go to Reading Kills.
“Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Planes of Nowhere could get a nod purely for its title, but it’s also a funny memoir mixed with a crime investigation.”
To read the entire article, go to Shelf Awareness.
In his fascinating memoir-mystery, Poe Ballantine, along with his Mexican wife and autistic son, scratches out a living in Chadron, Nebraska. Town life is interesting enough, but when a local professor disappears, Ballantine is drawn into a mystery that divides the locals and attracts national media attention. Funny, wise and beautifully written. – Robbie Egan
To read the entire list go to Readings: Australia’s Own Since 1969.
Tom Robbins is spot on when he proclaims, “Ballantine is the most soulful, insightful, funny and altogether luminous ‘under-known’ writer in America.” Until reading this book, this reviewer was unfamiliar with Ballantine (Things I Like About America), but quickly rectified that situation by ordering all of his books.
Humor and insight are constant companions throughout the narrative, and aspiring writers would do well to study Ballantine’s brilliant prose. Superb for readers who enjoy...Forward
“We’d rather have satisfaction and the maximum titillation than real information,” writes Poe Ballantine, “and so history isn’t a cold sequential list of facts, it’s a prize anthology of the best fiction.” I think of Joan Didion’s famous adage, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Stories shape our worlds. They are, for better or for worse, compasses by which we navigate our lives. Each time we tell a story, we are creating maps of our values and beliefs. We may...Forward
Visiting writer Poe Ballantine stopped by Denton in early November this year, where he read at the University of North Texas and we rustled up breakfast at the Old West Cafe. I had the Cowboy and a plateful of homemade biscuits and gravy, and Poe had the Train Robber with cheese. While our bloated stomachs squeezed blood back into our brains, I quizzed Ballantine on the finer points of self-expression, parenthood, Amazon one-star reviews, Jack Kerouac, marriage and fame. We talked mostly in...Forward
Let me tell you somethin’ true, people: Poe Ballantine is the best American writer alive that you’ve definitely never heard of. His new memoir-true crime book (& totally awesomely-titled) Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere absolutely blew me out of my shorts.
I very rarely read memoirs or biographies - I think the books by Keith Richards and Patti Smith are about it for the last five years - and I wouldn’t even categorize Poe’s book as such, except for the fact that he was such a...Forward
The author avoids obvious pitfalls like taking potshots at the small-town folk or writing with a snide tone. He tries to genuinely portray the people of Chadron as they are. Without this effort to achieve empathy in his characterizations the writing would have no charm. But that’s exactly what Ballantine pulls off. He paints Chadron as an interesting, beautiful, rugged place populated with truly unique characters. And you can tell that he likes where he lives.
To read the entire article go...Forward
I genuinely believe that much like in life, success is writing depends on which details you choose to emphasize. It’s a hard-won illumination, and one that speaks of nothing less than how to explore self-knowledge through memoir, a topic that the truly-marvelous Poe Valentine takes on here for you in his blog post. The great Tom Robbins refers to Poe Ballantine as “the most soulful, insightful, funny and altogether luminous ‘under-known’ writer in America.” I agree. I consider it an...Forward
The Rumpus Book Club chats with Poe Ballantine about Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere, his nonfiction book about the unsolved murder of his neighbor that is as much a memoir about his family and their small town as it is a true-crime story.
This is an edited transcript of the book club discussion. Every month The Rumpus Book Club hosts a discussion online with the book club members and the author, and we post an edited version online as an interview. To learn how you can become...Forward
Poe Ballantine’s Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere a Powell’s Books Bookseller!
Welcome to Powell’s Bestseller Room. If you’re looking for a dependable recommendation, you’re in the right place. Each week we stock our shelves with our customers’ current favorites. And since Powell’s prides itself on our cut-above-the-rest clientele, why not follow their lead?
To see the entire list go to Powell’s Books.
Booklist review of Best American Essays 2013 editors Cheryl Strayed and and Robert Atwan
“Strayed, whose best-selling memoir, Wild (2012) was the inaugural title for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, and whose popular “Dear Sugar” advice columns have been collected in Tiny Beautiful Things (2012), takes the helm of this vibrant annual. In her introduction, she attests to the power source of this flexible literary form: “Behind every good essay there’s an author with a savage desire to know more...Forward
“Where Worldly Ambition Goes to Die: On Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror,” by Alina Simone
Despite the ballast the Haataja murder lent the narrative, I have to admit, it was the case of Ballantine’s marriage that I really longed to see solved. Christina has her Catholicism, but for Ballantine, writing is God. And in laying bare his daily struggle to stay in love, the door to the confessional remains open even as the most damning sins are aired. It is hard to navigate such terrain without...Forward
Official dire prophecy USED to be issued exclusively under the authority of the cleric/sorcerer, but now the public trust for such tales has shifted to the province of the professional scientist. It makes sense. The scientist has models and stuff and has studied subjects deeply. Writers have minor credibility in this area but often discredit themselves by putting specific dates on apocalyptic predictions (see Mayan calendar).
I’d love to join the fray, too, but I’m always wrong. I actually...Forward
One day back in 1959 in San Clemente, California, Surf Dawg Rickey and Mysterious Felipe were strolling along the beach, boards under arms, when they ran into a slump-shouldered, hairy-backed man with a ski-jump nose and bags under his eyes who said his name was Dick. Dawg and Felipe felt sorry for this gloomy loner, so they let him sit with them at their beach fire and shared some of their malt liquor and ice cream bars. When Dick went in to surf, Rickey and Felipe were amazed at his moves and...Forward
Because I’ve lived a risky and unconventional life, I don’t often struggle for subjects to write about. Spending time homeless on the streets of New Orleans, the sociopath with whom I lost my virginity, feeding the child of the junkies upstairs, getting kicked off the trains in San Antonio — that’s all natural, electric material. However, when my neighbor, Steven, disappeared and was found three months later burned and bound to a tree a half a mile south of the college campus where he taught,...Forward
Lidia Yuknavitch and Poe Ballantine are in good company included on Marion Winik’s readling list along with others such as:
Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld
Blue Plate Special, Kate Christensen
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich
Old School, Tobias Wolff
To read the entire reading list go to Marion Winik’s website.
By Jodi Peterson.
After the summer’s whirl of activity, after the mountains have been hiked and the rivers have been run and the garden has been weeded for what we hope to God is the final round, it’s a good time to kick back with a book. Fall invites a slower pace, gives us lazy afternoons by the woodstove to lose ourselves in words. This autumn’s crop of great new reads includes offerings from much-loved authors, like T.C. Boyle Stories II, a wicked-funny story collection from the California...Forward
My good friend Abner Violette, a retired NASA electrical engineer (literally a rocket scientist) and owner of five radio stations throughout Nebraska and Colorado, is the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He can talk with facility on just about any subject, from physics to falafel to the Foo Fighters. He is a Christian (though you’d never know it), an admirer of Robert Goddard and Wernher von Braun, and a firm believer in ghosts.
It’s the story of the century, the most baffling, bizarre, and beastly crime in anyone’s memory. A beautiful, elegant, gentle, brilliant man, a theoretical mathematician, goes missing and is discovered three months later way back in the sticks in a horrifying pose. The town immediately goes into a panic. The local police travel in widening circles, scratching their heads and issuing cryptic statements. Many are convinced a serial killer is on the loose. Jim Hahn swears he saw FBI vans in town....Forward
It’s as if Hunter Thompson, rather than Truman Capote, wrote In Cold Blood—and not as a visiting writer, but as a buddy having a beer at the end of the bar… A funny memoir and “true crime” mashup by one of the best of the country’s vagabond raconteurs, in the tradition of Walt Whitman and Bob Dylan.—Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.
To read the entire review, go to Shelf Awareness.
From John Williams’ Arts Beat: The Culture at Large:
John WilliamsReviewers have compared you to Kerouac and Bukowski. Do you agree — or do you consider your influences and the tradition you’re working in to be something else entirely?
Poe BallantineI’m compared to Kerouac, I suppose, because he traveled and rejected middle-class values, but the similarities end there. I share more with Bukowski, who spent most of his life among the poor, started and blossomed late, loved the horses,...Forward
What are they saying at Goodreads about Poe Ballantine’s memoir, Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere? Go see for yourself!
Thank you, Changing Hands for including Poe Ballantine’s Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere on your New Releases list! You can read all about it as well as shop at Changing Hands for this title and others on their website.
The Rumpus publisher Stephen Elliott writes: “The Rumpus book club this month is reading Poe Ballantine’s Love And Terror On The Howling Plains Of Nowhere, and everyone is going apeshit. I mean, stark raving mad. People love the hell out of this book. The book was blurbed by our very own Cheryl Strayed, it’s like 12 Monkeys inside the book club right now. Absolute chaos.”
Join The Rumpus Book Club!
From Brian Spear at The Rumpus:
There’s still plenty of time to join in on the conversation on our August book club selections, Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere and Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire. You can sign up here.
Here’s what you get when you join the book club(s): you get books before anyone else does, because we only select books that haven’t been released yet; you get to chat with a pretty smart group of folks who read a...Forward
Pierre-Marc Diennet reviews Poe Ballantine’s Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere on
Poe Ballantine’s “Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel” originally published in The Sun Magazine included in Best American Essays 2013, Cheryl Strayed, Editor, and Robert Atwan, Series Editor. (October, 2013.)
Selected and introduced by Cheryl Strayed, the New York Times best-selling author of Wild and the writer of the celebrated column “Dear Sugar,” this collection is a treasure trove of fine writing and thought-provoking essays.
“Mark Twain would have admired his wit,” said Tom Robbins. Fans of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and John Berendt’s In the Garden of Good and Evil will embrace Poe Ballantine’s Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere. Poe Ballantine and his young bride move from Mexico to Chadron, Nebraska, and become parents to a son who may be autistic. Poe’s neighbor, a math professor at Chadron State College, disappears and three months later is found burned to death and tied to a tree in the woods....Forward
Hawthorne Books is thrilled to announce that The Rumpus chooses Poe Ballantine’s Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere with an introduction by Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, for its August Book Club.
What this means for the legions of Poe Ballantine fans is that YOU and ONLY YOU get to read his book one month before everyone else, but only if you’re a member of The Rumpus Book Club. If you are not, please sign up here and now!
ForewordMemoir can be a tricky genre in terms of quality. Talk about why you believe in it and also about your selection criteria/method.
RhondaI often find myself at parties defending memoir. At a Christmas Eve party, I gave one of my friends Jay Ponteri’s upcoming book, Wedlocked, which is about a married man with a young son who falls in love with his local barista. I published this book firstly because it is well written and because it poses questions regarding monogamy and marriage and...Forward
Poe Ballantine will be at BEA in New York May 31 through June 2nd signing copies of his memoir, Love & Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere. Exact time to be announced. Hawthorne Books will be at Booth #1333A with PGW. Please stop by!
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