Alissa Nutting

Alissa Nutting is author of the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (Starcherone/Dzanc 2010). Her work can be found in journals such as Tin House, BOMB, Fence, and other anthologies, and will appear in the Norton Introduction to Literature (2013). She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at John Carroll University.

what are you reading now

Heart First Into the Forest by Stacy Gnall (OH SO heartbreakingly delicate and moving; each poem is like the skeleton of a pygmy ghost hamster), Habibi by Craig Thompson (incredible graphic novel), The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (nonfiction, scary truths about your neighbors), Lint by Chris Ware (Lynda Barry called it a must-read), and Phil Metres' new chapbook Abu Ghraib Arias from Flying Guillotine Press--incredibly important and spectacularly designed (handmade paper from a war veteran, and gauze).

classic you’ve been meaning to read

War and Peace. I might cheat and watch the Hepburn movie version of it to try and get motivated. I have a small crush on Ms. Hepburn, only because the photos I see of her all usually involve her wearing gloves, and I like to pretend she has hideous werewolf hands and is tortured by this secret.

last book you finished in a single sitting

Lie to Lie by Lara Bricker (True crime is irresistible); This Young Girl Passing by Donald Breckenridge (delicious, passionate, appropriately macabre); Grow the Tree You've Got by Tom Sturges, which is advice on how to raise teenagers. I don't have teenagers, but I'm trying to raise myself and found this book very valuable. The book really has great rules for how to interact with and be close to anyone, of any age; and Nine Ways to Disappear by Lilli Carre, which made me weep for the better and the best.

book you borrowed and never returned

Only heathens would do such a thing. But hypothetically, a great book of poetry that my dear friend (a great poet himself, and editor of the fantastic literary magazine The Offending Adam (theoffendingadam.com) lent me... Facts for Visitors by Srikanth Reddy (poems).

favorite book from childhood

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden. A man in a town fond of littering casts a spell so that the trash thrown into nature comes back and sticks to the litterers' bodies. One person has a discarded toilet seat come back and stick to them. When I was five, that was so funny to me I couldn't even handle it. I think I peed a little every time I read that book. Another top favorite is Brava, Strega Nona!, written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. Think Hurricane Katrina, but with delicious noodles and no fatalities.

strangest dream involving a book, writer, or literary character

The television show Unsolved Mysteries is basically a book, right? When I was really young, after watching a particularly disturbing episode of Unsolved Mysteries, I had a dream that I was attacked by a gigantic (cocker spaniel-sized) beetle while wading in a lake. I didn't die; I picked up the beetle and managed to hurl it away from me. But that dream was an incredible trauma and I still wonder why I had to dream it, but looking back I'm pretty sure it also intersected with my reading of James and the Giant Peach.

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

The exquisite novelist Maile Chapman gave me my favorite coffee-table book ever: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. It's filled with pictures of miniature dollhouse crimescene reproducitons done by Francis Glessner Lee, a wealthy grandmother and founder of Harvard's Department of Legal Medicine. I impress myself with it daily.

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

I'm sorry but I must trifecta this one, both out of true love and the nepotism of me working/having worked on staff: Witness, Fairy Tale Review, and Black Warrior Review. I adore literary journals though; I have a billion favorites and could talk about them all day. If any fellow journal nerds want to email or Facebook message me I'm happy to do so.

best thing you’ve read online recently

An archived New Yorker article about Lesch-Nyan syndrome, "An Error in the Code" by Richard Preston.

most anticipated upcoming release

Threats: A Novel by Amelia Gray (Feb. 28, 2012 from FS&G), The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus (just out! from Knopf), The State of Kansas: Short Fictions by Julianna Spallholz (Genpop Books, Jan. 2012), and A True History of the Captivation, Transport to Strange Lands, & Deliverance of Hannah Guttentag by Josh Russell (Dzanc Books, 2012), Kept Women by Kate Durbin (Inset Press, forthcoming), Manhater by Danielle Pafunda (Dusie Books Press, 2012).

recommended reading list:

Books that Help You Accept Your Freakish Physical Form

- Cruddy by Lynda Barry

- Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

- Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

- Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body by Rosemarie Thompson

- American Genius: A Comedy by Lynne Tillman

- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

- The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

- Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

- Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley