About Me

James McGirk was born in London and grew up in Madrid and New Delhi. He’s fascinated with technology, fine art, and globalization. A former geopolitical analyst and computer game writer, these days you’ll find McGirk filing stories about Oklahoma and teaching writing at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. He has an MFA and a BA in Writing from Columbia University. His writing has appeared or will appear soon in TIME, WIRED, Amazon Kindle Singles, The Chronicle of Higher Education,  Oxford American (online), The Paris Review (online), This Land Press, Oklahoma Today, Art Focus Oklahoma, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast and other publications. See ‘publications‘ for details. Amazon Author Page. His artwork has been recognized by The Oklahoman as 2017’s “Art of the Year” and as an Art 365 artist; it has appeared in museums and galleries all over the Midwest.

 

9 Comments »

  1. Harry al-Q says:

    Was helpful reading your MFA statement. You also do Final Cut Pro and video work now?

  2. samson says:

    you are too driven to be a great author

  3. Jon-Mark Patterson says:

    I liked your Daily Beast essay, although some of your fans seem to think that the only books on most Republicans’ shelves are Atlas Shrugged and Mein Kampf bracketing Sean Hannity’s latest. I’d vote for Walker Percy, Willa Cather, John Updike, Mark Helprin, and the underappreciated Paul Lake (at least two on that list are alive). Maybe the problem is that all of our current self-conscious literary fiction has too narrow a focus and is too captive to graduate school fashions. Mark Goldblatt had some thoughts on this matter.
    http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/253529/where-are-conservative-novelists-mark-goldblatt?

    Thanks for your insights.

    Jon-Mark Patterson
    Loveland, CO

    • Apologies if you receive this twice (wasn’t sure if it sent you one yesterday since I didn’t respond to your comment)

      Dear Jon-Mark,

      Thank you so much for reading my essay and for your suggestions, which I’ll be sure to read. And you’re absolutely right about graduate school, although I prefer to think of it as a supply-side issue: too many of us wannabe novelists flooding the markets, forcing publishers to look at us as a way to fill particular niche rather than judging us on literary merit… As for the fans, please forgive them. The elections have stirred them up.

      James McGirk
      Ridgewood, NY
      Reply

  4. Angad says:

    Hi James, really like your articles. Read your recent scenario on Wikistrat as well and its very thought provoking.

    Wondering if you could help me find some resources for research, I’m interested in getting better in non fiction writing. Economics background working in IT, so need to work on a more clear and concise writing style.

    Thanks

    Angad
    Iqaluit, Nunavut

    • Angad,

      Thank you for reading my articles! I’ll be sure to look out for your Wikistrat contributions. You must have a unique perspective on this issue, given that you live in Nunavut.

      I would be happy to help. The most basic advice is to write as much as possible and to read as many different types of writing as you can. Even things you don’t like. Especially things you don’t like.

      Other than that, I try to make my sentences as short possible. That’s good way to clean up your writing. Read things out loud. Cut out everything in a sentence that doesn’t need to be there. Try playing around with the rhythm of your sentences. See what happens if you use a mixture of long and short sentences.

      Stephen King’s “On Writing” is a good resource: http://www.stephenking.com/library/nonfiction/on_writing:_a_memoir_of_the_craft.html

      So is George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

      Feel free to ask me specific questions if you like,

      James
      Reply

  5. Chris Fischbach says:

    Thanks for writing about Ben Lerner. As the publisher of LEAVING THE ATOCHA station, I think you would have wanted to contact me about this story. I would have been happy to talk to you about the book, and about how it came to me. For one, “big publishers” did not “miss it.” They were not offered the book. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to follow up.

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Why We Trash Hotel Rooms

A situationist analysis of trashing hotel rooms. An attempt at writing prose poetry.

“The New Flesh” essay in Angel City Review

PDF link to the magazine.

Awarded Art 365 Grant

Amy and I were selected as 2017 Art 365 artists by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition.

Art 365 is an exhibition from the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition which offers five Oklahoma artists a year and $12,000 to create innovative artwork in collaboration with a nationally recognized curator. The artists work with a guest curator for one year to create a body of original artwork for the exhibition.

The Horror of the Ouachita Mountains

The closest Paul Bowman ever came to killing Bigfoot was in 2011: “I was kicking around camp around two, three in the afternoon when there was a rock impact from the west, a large one—he couldn’t have been far—so I get suited up and grab my camo and rifle and go out. Bob Strain stood guard.

Coast to Coast Cat Smuggling

The rendezvous was arranged for a motel parking lot just off the I-44 freeway in Oklahoma. (“Please beware of this one,” warned a Google review of the motel. “Your life is not safe here.”) A helicopter cruised overhead. Outside, the temperature was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A man and a woman in a black Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled under an awning.

South China Morning Post Reviews “A Grand Theory…”

Grand Theory of Everything
by James McGirk
Amazon Digital Services (e-book)

Perhaps “strange chemicals”, and large quantities of alcohol, have affected the way James McGirk thinks. For A Grand Theory of Everything is odd – deep but also shallow, and meaningless, unless you too have careened through life trying to make sense of stuff. That will include many, although few will have had his upbringing, living as a “princeling”. As an Anglo-American teenager growing up in New Delhi with journalist parents, his was a third-culture existence, heightened by hard drugs, which he took to expand his mind and become a psychedelic astronaut. Then, everything was like an onion, wrapped around a core of nothingness. His theory of everything shifts when he encounters Colonel John Boyd, developer of the OODA loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. The premise is that by acting faster than an opponent you will appear unpredictable to them and have the upper hand. Readers will wonder whether this Kindle Single was the result of a bad trip.

The Horror in the Ouachita Mountains

Giving a talk to the Oklahoma Skeptics Society about my search for the Ouachita Mountain bigfoot and the group of amateur researchers who want to kill him. November 9th at Picasso’s Cafe in Oklahoma City: 7pm-9pm. (More details forthcoming)

The Stranger

A new piece in Oklahoma Humanities Magazine’s Internationalism themed issue about assembling a version of the United States from abroad.

A Grand Theory of Everything

What do you do if you’re a teenager, stranded by your parents in New Delhi, without any sort of adult supervision, with easy access to all sorts of strange drugs? If you’re James McGirk, you use your bad trip to develop a philosophy that explains the whole world and all of its complexities. In A Grand Theory of Everything, McGirk takes us from the winding backstreets of New Delhi to his cramped apartment in New York City, and then on to his eventual relocation with his wife to the empty plains of Oklahoma. And, most importantly, he takes us inside his own head, where his weird theories take shape to help him understand his alienation from his family, his struggles to find a career, his wife’s failing health, and all of life’s hardships. 

 

 

 

Amazon Author Page

Here’s a link to my new Amazon author page