Lydia Copeland

Lydia Copeland’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Night Train, Quick Fiction, Twelve Stories, elimae, Glimmer Train, Dogzplot and others. Her chapbook Haircut Stories is available from the Achilles Chapbook Series, or as part of the chapbook collective Fox Force 5 from Paper Hero Press. She works at the Fashion Institute of Technology library in New York and lives with her husband and son in New Jersey.

what are you reading now

I’m finishing up Deb Olin Unferth’s Vacation and just started What It Is by Lynda Barry, which is a magical book. Also, State of Grace by Joy Williams is on interlibrary loan for me.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Somehow, I’ve never read Steinbeck.

last book to make you laugh out loud

I laughed a few times reading Mary Miller’s Big World and Barry Graham’s The National Virginity Pledge. Mary Robison’s Why Did I Ever always cracks me up.

book you borrowed and never returned

I don’t think I’ve ever done this. I hate borrowing books because it makes me nervous. If I borrow a book from someone, I’ll bring it back early. I’m too worried I’ll lose it or spill something on it that most of the time I don’t even finish the books I borrow.

if you could write yourself into any book or story

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be the girl from Island of the Blue Dolphins, or the girl brushing and combing the blue-haired pet from Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. I have to say, my answers would probably still be the same today.

worst book-to-film adaptation

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

most challenging book you’ve ever read

Joy Williams is always a challenge to read but in a good way. I have to read her sentences slowly, sometimes re-reading whole paragraphs because she packs so much in and nearly every sentence is a marvel.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

I don’t own a coffee table, but if I did this answer would change depending on who I was trying to impress. If I were trying to impress my husband for instance, I’d plant Basic Machines and How They Work or The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. For general houseguests, however, I’d probably go with Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

best american short stories, pen/o. henry prizes, or the pushcart prize anthology

Pushcart, hands down.

collected stories of

Ann Beattie

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal


best thing you’ve read online recently

I loved FRiGG’s microfiction issue.

most anticipated upcoming release

This isn’t necessarily upcoming, but it is fairly recent and I can’t wait to read it: One D.O.A., One on the Way by Mary Robison.

recommended reading list:

Books I Read When I Can’t Write

I go through spells where I can’t write. I’m in one right now, and it’s the scariest thing because I think I’ll never be able to write again, that I’ve lost it, or that I never had it to begin with. When I try to write after weeks of not writing, every sentence sounds like shit, and I write for half an hour or so and give up. There are usually several days in a row like this before I decide to just not write at all. After awhile, sometimes a few months, I’ll break out one or all of these books (I just added What It Is to the list because it’s already helping me and I can tell I’m going to need it in the future) and read for a few days, though sometimes it only takes a few hours, and then my little writer’s voice comes back and I can sit down and type and nice things will happen. The Vintage Poetry book and the Frank Stanford book have been the absolute best books at getting me out of these blocks.

- The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry

- The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford

- Gathering the Tribes by Carolyn Forché

- Any of the Hate annuals by Peter Bagge

- Tell Me by Mary Robison

- Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison

- What It Is by Lynda Barry

- Sudden Fiction: American Short-Short Stories

- Women by Charles Bukowski

- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


  1. I love your list, Lydia. Have you read other Lynda Barry books? If you haven't read Cruddy, you really, really should. It's amazing.

  2. I've just read The Good Times Are Killing Me, which I couldn't put down. I've been wanting to read Cruddy too. Maybe that'll be the next thing I check out from the library.

  3. This is a good list, Lydia. I'm going to come up with my own Books I Read When I Can't Write list.