I’ve taken on a new project that I hope to complete this summer, consisting of a series of linked short stories, each set in a different New England state. I want to illuminate some of the more forgotten narratives of this oft-written-about part of the world. To do so, I set myself the task of performing quite a bit of research on New England itself. Having lived in New England for most of my life, it’s hardly terra incognita, but I really wanted to get down into the nitty-gritty and the forgotten. To those ends, I’m reading a whole heap of books about New England. It’s impractical to write them all up in full here, so what I’ve decided to do is to create a list that I can update occasionally with the books I’ve read and just a sentence or two description.
This is a highly unscientific survey of New England. I’m reading as many of the great works of fiction as I can, as well as whatever nonfiction happens to catch my fancy. My list skews towards books I already have in my collection, books available at the library, books of local interest in my bookstore, and others that just looked too good to resist online. I hope to complete the majority of the reading by summer and write the stories then. I am engaging in the “read widely on interesting things and somehow magically stories will come out of them” method, which always works for me. Anyway, for those who want to play along, this is what I’ve read so far. I’ll update you periodically. Any suggestions? Leave a comment!
Happy January, everyone. These four books have not much in common except for female authorship, but that’s something so I’ll hang my hat on it. I adored Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey, loved Louise Erdrich’s new novel, Future Home of the Living God. I’ve also got for you my take on The Velveteen Daughter and The Immortalists. I’d love to hear what you think if you’ve read these as well! Continue reading
One of my goals for the coming year is to read more books focused on refugees and immigration. I’ve gotten a head start on it with this group, and I thought you’d enjoy them. They’re a fittingly diverse bunch, and they touch on a number of different issues with modern immigration. Exit West is a political thought-experiment, and Refugee is a YA novel that compares teens seeking shelter from the Nazis, Fidel Castro, and Bashar al-Assad. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is also YA, and while not exclusively about immigration, is heavily influenced by its long, dark shadows. Finally, Tell Me How it Ends is a series of essays drawn from interviews with unaccompanied minors arriving in the US. Any one of these is fabulous, but together they paint a complex portrait, one I’m interested in expanding in the new year. Any suggestions?
I know, no one has time to read right now. If you are magically gifted half an hour, you could do worse than to read some classic Dave Barry in the form of The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog. And if you’re celebrating another holiday, I’d still recommend it. You don’t have to believe in Jesus to find pageant hijinks funny.
Whatever you choose to celebrate this season, I hope you are able to do it with those you love, and that it brings you peace and light.