"Writers Read" for Campaign For The American Reader

Here's my blog post for "Writer's Read":

I’m reading Bob Shacochis’s The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, and it’s just remarkably baroque and capacious. And I’m reading Claire Messud’s glorious The Woman Upstairs, which is quivering with powerful emotion. Both books’ titles start with the phrase “The Woman,” I notice, which I could see an overenthusiastic psychotherapist trying to trampoline into a thing. Last year, I was showered in so much student writing for a year or so, that I read nothing else, and I started to feel very creatively emaciated, in a way. Not that my students aren’t all geniuses, of course they are all geniuses. But, yeah, it’s nice to get lost in these two books. Messud’s voice is so deft, so dangerous and smart and alive—the character is seething perfectly. Shacochis is very different. He’s writing a symphony. There’s just no other way to describe it. And he writes about politics better than anyone I can think of—there are layers and layers and every time you think you have a grasp on the thing, like you get the “point,” then something else opens up, and you find that you’re still just getting acquainted with the book.

In the last six months I read Peter Orner’s new collection, and Laura Van Den Berg’s new collection, and I read Jodi Angel’s debut collection, all published last year. Three superb collections of stories in a fairly short spurt. I haven’t been writing short stories, so it’s nice to read these great books without that old anguish of self-laceration, that nagging ego response of Why can’t I do this? I’m going to read Antonya Nelson’s forthcoming collection pretty soon, too, and I’m looking forward to that. Reading some great essays, as well. Been just reading incredibly good fiction and nonfiction recently, such an abundance of incredible work. And Samantha Irby’s blog, Bitches Gotta Eat. I love the living shit out of that blog. I need to read her book Meaty. Mostly, I’m loving being in love with reading again, after getting kind of tangled up and smothered by endless workshop homework.