what are you reading now
I read about half of Michael Crummey’s novel Galore on an airplane yesterday, and hope to read the second half on the return flight tomorrow. How can you go wrong with a novel of North Atlantic maritime magic realism, full of dead whales, fishing, shipwrecks, and some of my other favorite things? To read about, I mean. I’m not a big fan of dead whales and shipwrecks in real life.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Isabel Colegate’s The Shooting Party, and Heðin Brú The Old Man and His Sons. And maybe Jean Stafford’s The Mountain Lion.
last book you finished in a single sitting
It was either Chris Bachelder’s new novel Abbott Awaits, or Tim Horvath’s novella Circulation. Both were terrific.
book you borrowed and never returned
A copy of The Kalevala, Finland’s national epic. A friend’s wife lent me a copy and they moved back to Finland before I returned it. Which I feel terrible about, because I can’t stand when a book I lend isn’t returned. I guess my only choice is to take a Finnish vacation so I can return it, right?
most treasured book in your collection
Brian Kiteley’s Still Life With Insects is definitely one of them, because it’s a book I picked up on a whim toward the end of high school (1992, maybe?) and it marked my “discovery” of contemporary fiction. Joy Williams’ Breaking and Entering and Nicholson Baker’s Mezzanine, for the same reason. And there are others I treasure because the memory of where and when I read them comes back so vividly whenever I pick them up, like George Mackay Brown’s Beside the Ocean of Time.
if you could write yourself into any novel
Probably George Mackay Brown’s Greenvoe, even though it doesn’t end well for most of the people in it. The Orkney of his stories is just about my favorite fictional world to daydream about or escape to, and I reread his books more than any others for sentimental reasons bordering on astral projection.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I usually have my feet on the coffee table, so there’s not much room for books. But I have put books on my desk at work hoping someone would ask about them. Most recently, my own book, about which I am only the tiniest bit ashamed.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
A couple of years ago, I might have said Isotope, but they’re sadly defunct. So probably Ecotone, or Hawk & Handsaw. I really like journals with a theme or a driving idea, because of the way the whole issue becomes a sustained inquiry and a conversation develops from one issue to the next and the next. On the other hand, there are some themes that grow stale after a single issue, but I won’t name any of those.
best thing you’ve read online recently
I’ve been enjoying New West’s weekend fiction series, particularly Tamara Linse’s story “How To Be A Man.” And it’s heartbreaking, but The Globe & Mail’s recent long article “The Trials of Nunavut: Lament for an Arctic Nation” was an incredible read.
most anticipated upcoming release
Jim Krusoe is one of my favorite writers, so I’m excited for his new novel Toward You, which is already out, I guess, but hasn’t arrived in my mailbox yet. And Laura Ellen Scott’s novel Death Wishing, which I’ve read and can’t wait for other folks to read, too. Same for Robert Kloss’ book coming up from Mud Luscious’ Nephew imprint.
recommended reading list:
I have a habit in my fiction of not letting characters go indoors very often, or at least not into domestic spaces. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure I want to know, either, but here’s my list of novels in which characters don’t go inside much. Alternately, it might be a list of novels in which it turns out characters go inside more often than I remember. One or the other.
- Wild Harbour by Ian Macpherson
- The Hunter by Julia Leigh
- Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams
- Invisible Islands by Angus Peter Campbell
- Bob, or Man on Boat by Peter Markus
- Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile by Verlyn Klinkenborg
- The Year of the Hare by Aarto Paasilina
- With by Donald Harrington
- Godric by Frederick Buechner
- Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
- Quarantine by Jim Crace
- Wild Life by Molly Gloss