M. Allen Cunningham


M. Allen Cunningham

M. Allen Cunningham is the author of the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow (a #1 Indie Next selection), Lost Son (about Rilke, and a Top 10 Oregonian Pick), and Partisans (a dystopia). His other books are the illustrated story collection Date of Disappearance and the nonfiction volumes The Honorable Obscurity Handbook and The Flickering Page. Cunningham’s short fiction and essays have appeared in many places including Alaska Quarterly Review, Fiction Writers Review, Glimmer Train, The Kenyon Review, Oregon Humanities Magazine, Poets & Writers, and Tin House. He’s the recipient of fellowships from Literary Arts, The Oregon Arts Commission (2007 & 2013), and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, as well as residencies at Yaddo. Since 2010 he has contributed regularly to the Books section of the Oregonian. Cunningham is the editor and publisher of Atelier26 Books. MAllenCunningham.com

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What’s on your nightstand right now?

Milan Kundera’s The Art of the Novel, the latest issue of Dublin’s hippest lit-mag The Stinging Fly, Alice Oswald’s masterful poetic opus Dart, the journals of Henry David Thoreau.

Are you more likely to buy a print book or ebook?

I’ve never bought an ebook, but like so many others of our day and age I’ve done plenty of electronic reading. For years I’ve had complicated thoughts and feelings on the subject, so I wrote a book about it, called The Flickering Page.

Tell us about your favorite bookstore.

It’s always the independent with the friendliest staff and the best selection. Naturally, I adore all the indies in my home city of Portland, Oregon. So I’ll reach a little farther afield and sing the praises of Vintage Books in Vancouver, Washington; Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley; Logos in Santa Cruz; McNally-Jackson in NYC; Lemuria in Jackson, Mississippi; The Brattle Bookshop in Boston.

Tell us about your writing routine. Do you have a favorite time or place to write?

I write in a refurbished tool shed in my back yard. There are bees in the outer walls and bird nests in the eaves. Inside it is cluttered and cozy and peaceful. I sit at my desk and wait patiently for the distractions of daily life to slide off the pitched roof. Some days, waiting is all I do. Some days, once I’ve started writing, I can’t stop. Always, though, you’ve got to make time for the waiting.