Grub Street: We met here in our Novel in Progress class taught by Jessamyn Hope, which already makes this place special. If you get a chance, take a class or workshop (in Boston, or online), or attend Grub's annual conference, Muse and the Marketplace. Not just one of the best writing communities, Grub Street is an extraordinary community of humans, too, as evidenced by their mission statement:
Goodreads.com: Haven't been to the biggest library/book club on the web yet? Come on! Give a book review, and get one, too. Make book friends, and check on what they're reading.
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee I met her at the Pros & Conversation fundraiser for WriteBoston (a nonprofit dear to me). “I know we (Kim) have discussed the changing POV but what I'm finding intriguing about the book is her ability to write from a male perspective. It's something I find myself checking and double checking every time I attempt it and her writing seems effortless in this regard.”
Power Politics by Margaret Atwood. Originally published in 1971, the current edition has a new introduction by Jan Zwicky. Inspired and fluent guided tour of the knotted underworld of a love affair. Atwood makes us realize that our own personal dichotomies are universal.
Somewhere Toward the End, a memoir by Diana Athill. Written in her eighty-ninth year, Athill's memoir is a feisty, clear-eyed, unsentimental look at what it means to grow old.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews is fiction inspired by the real life horror that occurred in an isolated Mennonite colony in Bolivia between 2004 and 2009 when women and girls as young as 3 were anesthetized while sleeping, then brutally raped by nine of the men in this community. The novel skips over the rapes and the apprehension of the rapists and cuts straight to existential questions facing the women in the aftermath.
For research, I’m reading - actually rifling through Margaret Mead books
For pleasure and structure: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
Binging on Amy Hempel - just caught her at Newtonville Books signing and reading from her new book: Sing to It. Also reading her The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel introduction by Rick Moody.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens who paints scenes with such beautiful strokes - genre defies category: part coming of age, crime story. The world is rendered in achingly beautiful description.
Just finished: Age of Light by Whitney Scharer Thoroughly enjoyed this fictional look at the relationship between Lee Miller & Man Ray. The Audible.com narration by Therese Plummer is equally charming. See my review in blog post Whitney Scharer’s Age of Light.
Also read for craft/structure study Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. Read it with a GrubStreet Class taught by Annie Hartnett. My take away - the bit of Magic dangled by Russell mixed with mystic reminded me a bit of Monsters of Templeton in that there is realism but there are somethings that cannot be explained and sometimes that is how things truly are in Life so why not in fiction too? We all felt Swamplandia! ended too soon without much needed processing by protagonist in order to have an image of hope. In a way the ending could be a commentary on how abuse/assault is processed or treated in our world and given this the image may not have been too skewed. I found the name choice - the meanings to be very intriguing and felt they underscored the characters and their roles/destinies.
Currently reading: Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, and I am taken by the story Celeste Ng praises as “a tender..unflinching portrayal of bond between two sisters”. Lee’s rhythm of language and the POV switches are lyrical and enchanting. I am of course reading it as writer and as a reader. Also reading: Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok - Kwok captures the immigrant rawness and the yearn to break free in such heart-wrenching yet poetic beats. And for my foray into pop Millennial reads: Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering (I’m a summer behind but I’m trying to stay hip and somewhat current). Full of current pop references - interestingly the wounding event took 80 pages! to surface for the one protagonist, for the 2nd I’m not
Reading for Craft: reading again Charming Billy by Alice McDermott - one of my favorite books of all time by my favorite author.
Next up: Self-Help: short story collection by Lorrie Moore and St Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens