Tina May Hall

Tina May Hall writes and teaches in upstate New York. Her collection of stories, The Physics of Imaginary Objects, won the 2010 Drue Heinz Prize for literature and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in September.

what are you reading now

How They Were Found by Matt Bell, The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson, Judith Thurman’s biography of Isak Dinesen, instructions on how to cook a turkey without poisoning anyone.

last book you finished in a single sitting

Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women. It really is short. And very lovely.

book you borrowed and never returned

I adhere to Polonius’s advice and never borrow nor lend books. Though I buy a lot of books as gifts. I am a dog-earer, a spine-cracker, a snacker-while-reading, so I don’t dare borrow anything. I also try to be familiar, but by no means vulgar.

most scribble-ridden book in your collection

All of my books are scribbled-in and post-it-noted. The one most bedecked is probably Dracula, simply because I teach it a lot and I find it inspires confidence in the class if a sheaf of multicolored notes protrudes from the book. I used to keep all of my lecture notes and discussion prompts and historical asides written into the back pages of the book and when they got too long for that, written onto notecards that perpetually drifted out of the book and ended up all over campus. Then I remembered I had a computer.

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

I often load my coffee table with self-help books (What Would Keith Richards Do?: Daily Affirmations from a Rock and Roll Survivor), cleaning manuals (The Pixie Solution: Tips on Relationships, Sex, Death, and Keeping the House Clean), and cookbooks (The Bacon Cookbook: More than 150 Recipes from Around the World for Everyone's Favorite Food) just so people think that at least I am making an effort. Actually, I don’t have a coffee table, but if I did, this would be my strategy.

best thing you’ve read online recently

SYNAPSE: The Weblog of Catherine Bloom by Alex Rose. I’ve been sure for a while that hypertext is dead, but this is reviving my youthful fancies.

most anticipated upcoming release

I just ordered My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales, edited by Kate Bernheimer, boasting an amazing line-up of writers. I also can’t wait to read Karen Russell’s first novel Swamplandia! She is doing interesting stuff with absurdity and fable.

recommended reading list:

Books Featuring Sex Scenes between Cyborgs and Humans

- He, She, and It by Marge Piercy—romance meets circuitry and virtual space. Strangely affecting.

- Looking for the Mahdi by N. Lee Wood—a female journalist passes as a man and cozies up to her android companion in the Middle East. What more could you ask for?

- The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson—this is a stretch, but one of the characters does disappear into an organic/electronic tube-womb-tunnel thing that keeps him in state of orgasmic bliss for ten years, so I’m claiming it. Plus, it is one of the most inventive coming-of-age stories out there.

- Neuromancer by William Gibson—of course.


Patrick Somerville

Patrick Somerville’s third book, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, comes out this November. He lives with his wife in Chicago and teaches creative writing at Northwestern University.

what are you reading now

I’m reading Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. One more step in my lifelong goal of reading every funny thing every British writer ever wrote.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

I keep trying to read D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow and for some reason, every time I start I get interrupted with having to read this or that other book or losing the book or something else going wrong. What’s strange is that I love the first 50 pages and always have every intention of finishing it whenever I think about it or see it sitting on my bookshelf. I feel like fate is against me. This has been going on for 6 years.

most treasured book in your collection

I object to the idea of treasuring a particular book, maybe because I so often destroy them as I read or lose them or give them away to people or spill juice on them. Or because whatever is in a book gets into you, and that’s the thing that should be treasured. I don’t really understand book collecting, which seems to emphasize the wrong thing completely? But this is just me being difficult. Okay. If I still had it, I think my copy of Dragons of Spring Dawning, which I got autographed by BOTH Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman when I went to GenCon at age 13, would have been it. But I lost it. See? So I will instead go with my old Penguin edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, which is unfortunately not signed, but which gives me a warm feeling whenever I look at it. There are only a couple books you’ll find that actually change who you are and permanently alter your consciousness. That book did that to me when I was in my early 20s and completely lost. My copy of that book is worth no money and the binding is bent to shit.

if you could write yourself into any short story

I would like to be one of the old-timers hanging out on the pier alongside Farte, Jr. in Barry Hannah’s “Water Liars.”

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

Does my desk in high school count? Because I got The Tropic of Cancer when I was a senior and kept placing it prominently on my desk before the start of every class, hoping it would stir up some kind of censorship controversy with one of my teachers or at the very least get a girl interested. Nobody cared.

collected stories of

Bruce Jay Friedman.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

One Story.

best thing you’ve read online recently

I think Bob McGinn’s recent “Scouting Report on the Vikings” was, as is always the case with McGinn’s Packers coverage, excellent.

most anticipated upcoming release

Hannah Pittard’s The Fates Will Find Their Way, which comes out in January. I know Hannah and think she’s an incredibly talented writer, and there’s something about that book, something about the combination of a terrible event with this unexpectedly bright and fantastical storyline that feels inventive, warm, and unlike anything I’ve really read before. Hannah’s going to be a star.

recommended reading list:

Stories Containing the Most Outrageously Speculative yet Weirdly Exciting Sex Scenes, From Most Outrageous to Least

- Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

- Broken Angels by Richard K. Morgan

- The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan

- Woken Furies by Richard K. Morgan

- The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by A. N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

- The Miller’s Tale by Geoffry Chaucer


Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River, and a story collection, Asunder. He has taught and/or teaches at The New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, William Paterson University.

what are you reading now

How They Were Found, Matt Bell

From Old Notebooks, Evan Lavender-Smith

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes

last book you finished in a single sitting

Not sure I've ever done this, but if I have it would've been Reader's Block by David Markson.

book you borrowed and never returned

Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal


best thing you’ve read online recently

"There Is This Woman Who Gets Me What I Need" by Andrew Richmond in The Collagist.

most anticipated upcoming release

The selected and new Barry Hannah.

recommended reading list:

Books I Might Teach Next Semester

- Kissed By by Alexandra Chasin

- Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler

- Molloy by Samuel Beckett

- Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball

- Bob, or Man on Boat by Peter Markus

- Michael Martone by Michael Martone

- In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William Gass

- Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison