Chad Simpson is the author of the chapbook Phantoms, available now from Origami Zoo Press. He lives in Monmouth, Illinois, and teaches fiction writing at Knox College. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in several magazines, including McSweeney’s Quarterly, Barrelhouse, Orion, and The Sun.
what are you reading now
Last night I devoured Matt Bell’s Wolf Parts, and it blew me away. I’ve also been working through two short story collections—American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell and Venus Drive by Sam Lipsyte—and Jean Harvey Baker’s Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. This last one is research for a longish project I’ve just begun working on.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Anna Karenina. And The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve been meaning to read these two books pretty much forever.
last book you finished in a single sitting
Besides that little book by Matt Bell that I mentioned above… I’d say it was probably Stephen Elliott’s The Adderall Diaries. I think I’ve read each of the last three or four books by Elliott in a single sitting.
most challenging book you’ve ever read
I don’t know about the “most” challenging, but I’ve read Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String all the way through at least three times—and I’ve taught sections from it a couple times as well—and I still don’t know what all’s going on between those covers. Still, I’ll probably keep picking it up every couple years.
book you borrowed and never returned
John D’Agata’s About a Mountain. I only borrowed it about a month and a half ago, though. I’m pretty sure I’ll return it soon, even though I’d like to keep it next to my bed for the next half year or so.
most scribble-ridden book in your collection
Probably Junot Diaz’s Drown. I keep teaching it in an intro to lit class and seem to always be making marks in it. I also re-read Deb Olin Unferth’s Minor Robberies recently and left behind a lot of scribbles.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I don’t think I’ve done this. Maybe it’s because we never have people over.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
best thing you’ve read online recently
“A Mess of Pork” by Harriette Simpson Arnow. I haven’t actually read the whole thing yet, just the opening, but still, it qualifies.
There was also this: http://firmuhment.tumblr.com/post/397658485. It might be the longest thing I’ve read all the way through online without printing it out. Justin Wolfe’s tumblr, in general, is full of amazing.
most anticipated upcoming release
I’m really excited about Willy Vlautin’s Lean on Pete, which I think was just released in the past few weeks. I wanted to hate his fiction because he’s in a band that plays pretty cool alt-country music, and I mean, isn’t that enough? you have to write, too? In the end, though, Vlautin’s first two novels killed me, and I’ve been anticipating this one ever since.
And another book that just came out: The Book of Right and Wrong by Matt Debenham. I’ve been reading Matt’s killer stories for the past three years, and now there’s a whole book of them out from Ohio State University Press.
Books that you should read while working as a juvenile probation officer during the six or so months before you quit and then go off to grad school for an MFA in fiction.
- Among the Missing by Dan Chaon
- Break it Down by Lydia Davis
- The Esther Stories by Peter Orner
- Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
- everything you can get your hands on by Amy Hempel
- everything you can get your hands on by Stuart Dybek
- Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
- everything you can get your hands on by Joy Willliams
- The Point and Other Stories by Charles D’Ambrosio