- A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, edited by Janet Chui and Jason Erik
- “Glass Box” by Sandra Simonds
- “The Math Is Bad” by Casey Hannan
- On the Edges of Vision by Helen McClory
- “Smooth Body, Smooth Mind” by Paul Rusconi
- “Psychic in Reykjavik” by Fatima Bhutto
- “Anthropogenesis, or: How to Make a Family” by Laura van den Berg
- “A Hierarchy of Friends and Lovers” by Amanda Miska
- “Why I Didn’t Write Back” by Diana Spechler
- “The Agony of Community: an Introverted Writer’s Lament” by Meghan Tifft
- Read the World, a blog that categorizes literature by place and encourages more worldly reading
- Goddessmode, a small anthology of videogame writing by women and non-binary writers
- Corium Magazine, Issue 20
- “The Grifted” by Jac Jemc
- “There Is No Map for Grief: On the Work of Art” by Lidia Yuknavitch
- “Aubade with a Broken Neck” by Traci Brimhall
- “What Do We Have in Our Pockets?” by Etgar Keret
- “Beginnings: New York” by Ocean Vuong
- “Secretaries in Heaven” by Stephanie Lenox
- “In Favor of Defenestrating Children” by Saara Myrene Raappana
- The Blunt Instrument, an advice column for writers by Elisa Gabbert
I’ve decided to retire the Carousels on this blog and turn it into a regular Recommended Reading feature instead. These lists will include anything noteworthy I’ve been reading lately that I want to share with all of you. There’s just so much out there now, and sometimes it’s hard and very time-consuming to find the real gems. If you have anything you’d like to share yourself, you can always send me an email. I’m always looking.
So it begins:
- Quaint Magazine, Issue 4
- “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild,” Part 1 by Cat Valente (and Part 2)
- “Logic” by Richard Siken
- “Teach Me Something” by Amy Silverberg
- “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong” by Ocean Vuong
- “Eating the Bible” by Robert Vivian
- “This Was Ugly” by Lauren Gordon
- “Tonight, in Oakland” by Danez Smith
This week, I spent some time with Melissa, dear friend and fellow writer, and we went to the same Barnes and Noble I was talking about a few weeks ago. Apparently, I’m not going crazy because there have been articles now where the stores are actually stocking less and less books. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but I managed to pick up Other People We Married, a short story collection by Emma Straub that I was somewhat surprised to see (maybe I’ll tweet Emma and tell her how it was right in the front of the store, in the “new fiction” section), and Melissa got me The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Díaz is one of her favorites). We also had a very nice breakfast together and talked about our current writing projects. She has been mostly working on fairly large projects, while I’ve been working on small things. It got me thinking about my own bigger, more involved long-term projects I’ve had in my head for a while.
Here are some of those long-term projects:
- A coming of age novel. Probably the one I have thought about the most over the years, and the one most likely to happen eventually. I have names for the characters I want to write about and short backgrounds on who they are, as well as the title for the novel itself. I have scraps of conversations I want them to have and recurring symbols and images to flesh their world out. What I don’t have: what kind of point of view I want to use (first-person or third? alternating between characters?) and the central conflict or main plot thread that will tie everything and everyone together.
- A children’s book. My family thinks I have the capacity to write one of these (or a series of these) over everything else. I definitely have the gist of a story written down somewhere, but it’s nothing fleshed out yet. Hypothetically, it would read something like a cross between The Phantom Tollbooth and The Little Prince in that it will have an imaginative world with curious characters, and hopefully can be enjoyed by both children and adults alike due to it being a story with both simple language and underlying symbolism. The main issue with this one is the fact that I think it may be too morbid or mature for children. But I know there are plenty of strange books out there like that anyway (see: anything by Roald Dahl, mostly).
- A short story collection. It’s the form I’m used to. I’ve written an online collection before called Letters for Burning. Short fiction is something I’ve always been naturally drawn to and I love writing it.
- An epic, sprawling novel with a light touch of magical realism or mythology. I’m not sure I can handle the “epic” and “sprawling” parts, but I’d like to experiment with this. I’ve written short stories that read like this, so who knows. I don’t have any ideas for it yet though.
- A novel that is more like interconnected stories about a community of characters. I guess this one would be in the vein of something like Winesburg, Ohio or A Visit From the Goon Squad. I like this idea quite a lot because it’s like writing short stories, but with recurring characters, themes, and timelines. No idea for anything yet, but I think maybe it would involve a gated community based on the one in which I live and how the families and their surrounding eccentric neighbors come to relate to each other.
Lately, I think I’ve been getting a better handle on posting things more regularly to this blog, which is a good thing. This week, I thought a lot about names and identity and how that relates to my own writing, as well as my own personal tastes and reading habits. I’ve also got a few writing assignments to work on and a short story done that relates to the things mentioned above (which was actually just a coincidence). Hope you enjoy this week’s stops.
- A place where people try to one-up you on what you’ve been reading? This video clip makes Portland seem less like just a strange place on the other side of the country and more like a completely different planet.
- Surreal short short story: Thieves.
- I read a fantastic essay by Kathleen Alcott on names and why naming is so important to our identity and who we are as writers, especially.
- A hilarious short story about a woman giving birth to a laptop: Angela’s Baby.
- More Angelas appear!: Continuing with my Jean-Luc Godard run, I watched Une Femme est une Femme, suggested by Angela, who shares her name with the main character. It’s quirky and very amusing. You can watch the memorable book scene on Youtube. Although, the subtitles are far from perfect from what I can tell, unfortunately.
- There was this gender breakdown of the biggest literary journals that got a lot of writers and editors talking. And it got me thinking about the continuous cycle of social injustice and my own personal reading habits.
- My dear friend Nikki started a blog chronicling her adventures in professional floristry. It reminded me of my own little garden I had as a kid, and how I aspired to be a botanist once, before I even had the idea of writing a story instead.
- My other friend Tracey now posts her artwork online, and it’s all incredibly lovely. It’s been amazing to see her journey as both an artist and photographer. It also reminds me of how frequently jealous I am of people with such beautifully precise spatial skills – something I have always lacked entirely.