Tag Archives: Roxane Gay

2014 Q4 Reading Report

Oh goodness, is this Reading Report overdue. I meant to post this early in January,  but here it is the end of the month and this is my first post of 2015. Ah well, better late than never, right? I read some great books during the last quarter of 2014, as you’ll see below. And I also tweeted about some of my reading as I read, so you’ll get some bonus photos, to make up for being so late.

October

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult – I listened to the audiobook on the long drive from Philadelphia to Atlanta at the tail end of the Residency Road Trip. One of the most surprising things about this book, considering how sad the premise is, was that it was easy to get engrossed in the story behind the sadness. It was interesting on a legal, moral, emotional and very human level. I cared deeply about the characters, even when they were being totally annoying or foolish. It felt like a play that came alive in my car as I drove, which was really helpful considering I was on the road for over twelve hours.

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes – Bought this at a sale at my hometown library. I was aware of it from how well it sold at the bookstore while I was working there, but I didn’t really know what it’s about before I started reading. It’s an incredibly grim subject matter (especially considering the book I read previous to this one), but it’s not a story that’s grimly told. Somehow, the book manages to have the blithe lightness of a romantic comedy, while very intelligently and responsibly addressing a controversial, highly charged subject. I flew through the pages, and got really invested in how things turned out.

Lean Mean 13, Janet Evanovich – I listened to the audio of this one on my way back to Nola from Georgia. I think this is the perfect way to engage with the Stephanie Plum books. I’d started to get impatient with the silliness and formulaic quality of them while reading them, but those very qualities make them such perfect stories to listen to while on the road. Not too distracting, but very entertaining. They keep me great company in the car. The lady who reads the books for the audio is very good as well.

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay – Coming back from the residency, I was such a happy dork picking up all of the books the library was holding for me, especially when it came to this one. I’d been looking forward to reading it for months and it didn’t disappoint. Roxane Gay’s novel An Untamed State is beautiful and brutal and she brings those qualities to bear on these essays, which are also funny and silly and insightful and so, so unerringly smart. She’s one of my new favorite writers.

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith – Was very eager to read this one after reading the first Cormoran Strike novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. I wanted to listen to the audio, like I had for the first, but it was unavailable, so I had to be content with old-fashioned reading, which was nice in its way, of course. I just soaked up this second mystery and the dynamic between Cormoran and his assistant Robin Ellacott. Once more, I was a tiny bit disappointed with the quick and tidy wrap up at the end — both endings have felt a bit easy and unfinished. But the journey to get there was delightful.

Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman – Read the ReReading post here.

House Proud, Valorie Hart – I introduced Valorie, a friend of mine from tango, during her talk at the Louisiana Book Festival last year. As preparation for that, I pored over this beautiful design book featuring Louisiana homes, including Valorie’s own home with her late husband Alberto Paz.

November

Gates of Thread and Stone, Lori M. Lee – If I remember correctly, I learned about this one on Goodreads, in a discussion about The Queen of the Tearling and Kiss of Deception Once more, a fantasy Y/A novel, really engrossing and interesting, the first of a series (why do I keep doing this to myself? At least the sequel to this one comes out relatively soon – in March). It reminded me a bit of the books by the German author Kai Meyer, which is a really good thing.

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons, Barbara Cohen & Bahija Lovejoy – Read the ReReading post here.

Sammy Keyes and the Killer Cruise, Wendelin van Draanen – I love these books, love Sammy Keyes and her friends and their hijinks. She’s really grown up in the last several books, finally discovering the identity of her father and having an adventure with him during the titular cruise of this book. While grabbing the link above, I realized another book in the series is already out – and it’s the last one! I’m looking forward to reading it and a bit sad I won’t be reading any more new adventures, but I have a suspicion that she’ll be in a good place by the time we say goodbye.

Yes Please, Amy Poehler – I knew I was going to love this book just from the table of contents. “Say Whatever You Like,” “Do Whatever You Want” and “Be Whoever You Are” happen to make fantastic mantras. Anyway, this book was, of course, hilarious, but also very insightful and inspiring. After writing about the day she was born, Amy Poehler recommends everyone go ask their parents about the day they were born, which made me realize I don’t think I’ve ever heard the story of the day I was born. Just one of many brainstorms and moments of inspiration.

Dark Places, Gillian Flynn – Whew, boy, this book in INtense, just like Flynn’s other books. Unlikeable women who are utterly human (and sometimes monstrous in such human ways) are Flynn’s specialty. It’s a lot to ingest and I usually need a break between books, but I stand in awe of this women’s storytelling ability. I always feel a little creeped out looking at her author photo – she looks so sweet and normal, to write such breathtakingly dark and weighty books. Of all writers, she’s probably the one I’d both want to have coffee with *and* avoid in dark alleys. Just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover or an author by her photo. 🙂

Worn Stories, Emily Spivak – This was a pretty cool book. Dozens of essays about articles of clothing and what they represent to the writers/wearers of the clothing. With pictures! It was an accidental find and I was curious. I thought I’d flip through, read a handful and then move on, but I ended up reading every last word. Some were twee and light, but most were (surprisingly, to me) interesting and impactful. It started out as a blog, before it was a book, and the blog continues.

December

Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones – I used to be a poet, once upon a time. Sometimes, I still find myself moved by poetry more than almost anything else. These days, while I may read a handful of poems occasionally, I almost never finish an entire book of poetry. I forget, each time, how emotionally weighty poetry tends to be. So I look at a slim volume and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll zip right through this!” But I don’t. I linger and dwell, sometimes for years and never finish a book. So, this is probably the first book of poetry I’ve finished in a long time. I “zipped through,” even though I felt like his poems were eviscerating me with razor wire. But I couldn’t stop. True to form, I obsessed over the lines and words, sometimes getting hung up for a few days before going back and moving on. [You’ll note I tweeted about picking this book up at the end of October, but I didn’t finish it till December.] I had a deadline to finish – this book was requested by multiple people at the library – and I couldn’t bear to return the book without reading it all.

Rooms, Lauren Oliver – Another of my favorite writers, though she’s so fast that I can’t really keep up. This is an adult novel from her, a gothic family story that reminded me of both The Family Fang and Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia, my favorite play. The way Arcadia uses various portions of the house and estate, as well as time, really echoed here, in Rooms.

The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer – Oooh, this book was really important for me to read. I found myself sweating and trembling occasionally as I read it. Why is asking so freaking difficult? Why is owning your right to be and ask for what you want and need so hard? I am so very different from Amanda Palmer – in personality and demeanor and comfort zones, but I admire her so much and it turns out that she has been battling a fight that I’ve struggled with a long time. Need to re-read this every year, or maybe every six months.

Doing the Devil’s Work, Bill Loehfelm – Review forthcoming in 225 Magazine.

Fearless Fourteen, Janet Evanovich – Listened to the audio on my trip to Atlanta to visit my parents for Christmas. It was perfect company, made the trip go smoothly (it’s always rough counting on the radio between Mobile and Montgomery).

My Sunshine Away, MO Walsh – Review forthcoming in 225 Magazine.

So that wraps up 2014. I read some really awesome books in 2014 (A little over a hundred! Roughly, 22 nonfiction books and 74 fiction, plus some other stuff.) In this first month of 2015, I’ve already read a six-book series, a screenplay and two books of essays, all really good stuff, so stay tuned for 2015’s Q1 Reading Report in early April.

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Filed under books, Friends, literature, musing, New Orleans, poetry, Quarterly Reading Report, review, what I'm reading

Everybody Brag Now

This bragging on post might be my most overdue yet! Many folks have had multiple successes since I last bragged, so as always, this is always just a tiny sampling. I can’t keep up with these exciting movers and shakers. Still, I try…

As 2014 started and the Oscar nominations were announced, many films shot in New Orleans were included. Robin Mathews (makeup) and Adruitha Lee (hair) won for their work on Dallas Buyers Club. Not only did Twelve Years a Slave win best picture (!), but the amazing production design/set decoration teams and stellar costume department were recognized with nominations. It was so exciting to see the effect Lupita Nyong’o had even before she won the best supporting actress category. It was a great start to the year.

Lavender Ink and Nancy Dixon published N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature, which includes work by folks like Moira Crone, Andrei Codrescu and John Biguenet, alongside Faulkner, Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.

After a year of amazing interviews for Hothouse, Karin C. Davidson has compiled an Anniversary Album, putting together more questions and answers from her interview subjects, as well as a playlist of music they’ve each picked. Karin’s “Something for Nothing” was a finalist in Bayou Magazine‘s fiction contest, judged by Lucy Bledsoe.

Studio delle Sorelle’s first art opening at Bev Coates’ Guest House featured a painting by Judy Kahn.

Judy Kahn's painting

Suparno Banerjee has published a paper, “Melodrama, mimicry and menace: Revinenting Hollywood in Indian science fiction films” in Volume 12, issue 1 of South Asian Popular Culture.

Near Valentine’s Day, Danielle Gilyot wrote a love letter to her younger self.

Jeff Roedel has directed the music video for England in 1819’s song “Sirens.”

jewel bush, Justin Torres and Mat Johnson all have stories in Dismantle, the VONA Anthology (with an introduction by Junot Diaz).

Contemplative Man by Brock Guthrie was published in March. Here’s a great review.

Joseph Boyden‘s The Orenda is the 2014 winner of Canada Reads. The Orenda will be published in the U.S. in May.

Jamie Amos has been busy, with new stories at Cold Mountain Review (“Defensive Wounds”) and at storySouth (“Spit”).

M.O. Walsh‘s book My Sunshine Away (due out next January) was announced as one of five Buzz Books and will be showcased at the BEA Conference in May.

Kaledioscope, a magazine for LSU’s Humanities and Social Sciences Departments, features quite a bit of great news in its Fall 2013 issue, including a feature on service learning courses on page 11, a feature on filmmaker Zack Godshall on page 13, a story about Associate Dean Malcolm Richardson on page 16, and a feature on the Creative Writing Department (plus two books I mention later in this brag) on page 18.

Montana Miller reports “After three marathon days of training in Eloy with the USPA Chief Judges, my brain is leaking out my ears and my eyes falling from their sockets, but my heart is leaping with joy and gratitude: I am a newly-rated National Judge for formation skydiving!”

Tad Bartlett‘s story “Hung Over” was published by Rappahannock Review.

Judge Claire Messud selected Summer Wood‘s story “Boomerang” for the 2013 Indiana Review Fiction Prize. Mary McMyne‘s story “Camille” was also a finalist.

Speaking of Mary McMyne, her story “Reading His Own Obituary” was published by Narrative Northeast in January. Faerie Magazine will publish Mary’s poem “Rapunzel Tucks the Twins into Bed,” in the next issue. Her poem “Irene Joliot-Curie” published in Painted Bride Quarterly No. 86 was nominated for a Rhysling.

Penelope Dane reviewed This Assignment Is So Gay, an anthology edited by Megan Volpert, in the March issue of Bitch Magazine.

Cara Jones has written an essay called “Taking the Woman Out of Women’s Health,” published at Nursing Clio.

First, the cover and title page of the Long Hidden anthology were revealed. Then, there was a wonderful review that specifically mentions Jamey Hatley‘s story:

“…“Collected Likenesses” is thought-provoking, with fascinating magic and heart-rendingly real characters.”

And most recently, Jamey’s interview with Roxane Gay was published at Press Street’s Room 220. Roxane has just announced she’ll be joining the MFA Program at Purdue University in the fall, as an associate professor.

Here’s a great review of James Claffey‘s Blood a Cold Blue. James is also editing the Ireland and the Irish themed issue of Literary Orphans, due out at Easter.

Literary Orphans

Maurice Ruffin has been very busy, as always. “Catch What You Can” will be published in Redivider Journal‘s issue 11.2 in May. “Heathen” will appear in issue 2 of  The Knicknackery. “Motion Picture Making” will appear in issue 2 of Writing Tomorrow in June.  “Heroes and Villains,” will be published in an upcoming issue of 94 Creations. To top it all off, he’s been accepted to Tin House’s Writers Workshop.

Cara Blue Adams interviewed David James Poissant for Tin House.

Melinda Palacio‘s book of poetry How Fire Is a Story, Waiting was a finalist in the 2013 Paterson Poetry Prize. She just traveled to New York for the awards reading.

June Pulliam‘s Encyclopedia of the Zombie will be available in June.

Andrew Lam‘s Birds of Paradise Lost is a finalist for the California Book Awards. The results will be announced in June.

Rachel Hebert performed “Just What I Need” for the Birmingham Sessions.

Helen Krieger has also had a busy couple of months. She was accepted to study at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Least Favorite Love Songs, the webseries she made with her husband and band of Nola cohorts, is nominated for a Webby. To celebrate the nomination, a special episode from the series will premiere this Sunday at 10 p.m. at the new theater Indywood.

The second book in Ronlyn Domingue‘s Keeper of the Tales trilogy, The Chronicle of Secret Riven, will be published next month. Here’s an interview with her.

Charlotte Hemrick is interviewing local female poets at NolaFemmes for Poetry Month. First up was Kelly Harris and most recently is Cassie Pruyn. There will be a new interview posted on Friday.

Also happening on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cafe Istanbul is the second installment of Yeah, You Write, which will feature Cassie and myself. Kelly read at the first installment of Yeah, You Write. This year’s lineup is simply incredible John BarryJoseph Boyden, jewel bush, Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, Benjamin Percy, Cassie and myself, with DJ Sep, images by L. Kasimu Harris and the whole shebang will be MC’d by Nick Fox. All for a $5 cover – you can’t beat that. Here’s the poster for the details:

Yeah, You Write 2014

I hope you enjoyed this attempt of mine to keep up with this phenoms. Moreso, I hope that you check out the links and come by Yeah, You Write on Friday. I can’t promise that I’ll be better at keeping up with these folks, but I can guarantee that they’ll be doing amazing things in the coming months.

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