Al Young title

Archive for June, 2010

A FIELD GUIDE FOR HEARTBREAKERS | a novel by Kristen Tracy

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010


Field Guide Heartbreakers_3 clickable
Cover photo: Jamie Grill/Getty Images | Book design: Joann Hill
© Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group

When 17-year-old Veronica and Dessy go to Prague to attend a summer writer’s program for college students, they experience romance, conflicts, and, ultimately, the strengthening of their friendship.

Best friends Dessy and Veronica arrive in Europe with wildly different plans. Dessy hopes to heal her newly broken heart by diving into the creative writing workshop that brought the girls to Prague. Veronica’s plan, meanwhile, is to conquer as many hot-dudes as possible in one month — and help Dessy recycle her heart in the process.


“For Al Young and Stuart Dybek —
my Prague mentors”



Filled with outrageous, hilarious situations, sprightly and quirky characters, and a new setting, Field Guide for Heartbreakers is a cute, lively read. Two invigorating and vastly different main characters help add to the hilarity and endearment of this book. Stylistic writing and talented mindset help tie everything together.

Dessy is practiced and logical, not one to immediately throw caution to the wind. Still hung up on her ex and fault focused, she is a mix of damaged and naïve. She is a well designed character, her quirks, attributes and flaws coming across strongly. She complements Veronica and though she finds herself in some awkward and obnoxious situations on account of her friend, she is, in the end, a great friend. She starts out strongly developed but grows further and the way Tracy plays this out adds spark into the book. Both through her interactions with Veronica and her classmates in Prague as well as her analysis of both her own writing and others in her class help brings things together.

Veronica is rambunctious, boy crazy, blunt and apt to do stupid things. She is overdramatic and exaggerates yet through Dessy’s eyes, the reader can understand the affection and appreciation. As with Dessy, Veronica starts out with much of her personality exposed but she grows and changes as the book progresses. Despite this, she still holds many of the same quirks including her penchant for using euphemisms and sayings wrong. The banter between her and Dessy is engaging and amusing, cropping up at unexpected moments.

The “hot-dudes” the girls meet and go after make up a large part of the characters, coming in a variety of personalities. Some are in their same program- college guys- while others are locals or visiting the area. The way they handle the situations is vastly different and even when things heat up and turn dramatic, the way they care for each other remains the same.

The plot is a tangle of love and betrayal and the addition of Corky, their roommate bent on tormenting and maybe killing them, adds another level. As things heat up, the reader is forced to choose which friend their feelings most relate to. Tracy handles this area beautifully, not forcing the reader to side with Dessy simply because it’s in her perspective. Dessy’s emotions come through the pages to the reader but so do Veronica’s. Their interactions with males is comical but the desire for love and attention is palpable. Much of their driving forces are understandable, lurking even in the simplest of places.

Rapt with Prague culture and scenery, the setting alone is a fantastic element of the story. The descriptions are beautiful and the reader can get a sense of being there with each place the girls visit. In character narrative, spunk and manner of speaking help bring this book to life as well, from the “hot dudes” to the many other adjunct words and phrases thrown in. Tracy ‘s writing style is a bold one, exceeding the usual boundaries and spurring the life into her characters.

A fantastic take on a love based premise, a unique setting and colorful characters meld together to make Field Guide for Heartbreakers a fantastic, fun read. The plot is paced steadily with plenty of comedy to break up the emotion and keep the reader from growing bored. The writing class adds another element as its writing within a book, rather than art or photography that seems to crop up often in novels. Tracy tests her limits and handles it beautifully in execution.

— Flamingo at A Good Addiction: Book Reviews, June 13, 2010
(Amazon customer review)

Visit Kristen Tracy online at




Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

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Qt_Dan_Kiacz_Lone_Wolf Dan Kiacz: “Lone Wolf”  |  Screenprint

quartz mountain

June 12-27, 2010

For two weeks, Monday through Monday, poet-novelist-essayist Al Young will be working with Oklahoma’s aspiring high school writers. A close look will reveal what this singular state arts program is promoting, attracting, sustaining, funding and achieving. Theater, music, dance, film, painting, sculpture, creative writing — Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute covers the spectrum.

home_featuredalumAl Smileshome_newsevtshdr Click each panel for details
Photo of Al Young © Richard Ressman

summer faculty

tentative schedule of summer events 2010





Sunday, June 6th, 2010



Photo: Courtesy Political Spin

British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward

BP buys Google, Yahoo search words to keep people away from real news on Gulf oil spill disaster

In their most tenacious effort to control the ‘spin’ on the worst oil spill disaster in the history, BP has purchased top internet search engine words so they can re-direct people away from real news on the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

>>> Read Maryann Tobin’s article in its entirety >>>