Essay at Gulf Coast

Essays are a relatively new genre from me, so I was thrilled when Gulf Coast Online recently published an essay I wrote last year, on femininity, the Latin woman stereotype, sexual harassment, lipstick… Check it out here.

Long answer to “you’re a writer, aren’t you?”

When a female writer walks a female character into the centre of her literary enquiry (or a forest) and this character starts to project shadow and light all over the place, she will have to find a language that is in part to do with learning how to become a subject rather than a delusion, and in part to do with unknotting the ways in which she has been put together by the societal system in the first place. She will have to be canny how she sets about doing this because she will have many delusions of her own. In fact it would be best fi she was uncanny when she sets about doing this. It’s exhausting to learn how to become a subject, it’s hard enough learning how to become a writer.

the brilliant Deborah Levy, from Things I Don’t Want to Know

Convinced by Best of 2014 Lists…

I can’t stop reading “best of” lists. Book lists are irresistible, “best of” lists even more so. Here are a handful of recurring books on these lists that have definitively made it on my “to read” list. (I looked at best of lists from the NY Times, the LA Review of Books, McNally Jackson Bookstore, the LA Times, Words Without Borders, a couple of Flavorwire lists…probably others). I’m including the presses, because it is becoming increasingly apparent to me how the identity of a press matters and how important small presses are:

The Neapolitan novels (Europa Editions), the trilogy by Elena Ferrante, translated from Italian. These first came to my attention at my favorite Brooklyn bookstore, Spoonbill and Sugartown. Books that generate obsession obsession with these books. I also like how Ferrante has avoided all media and public appearances, such a rebellious stance in these times.

The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink (Dorothy, A Publishing Project). Sounds imaginative, wild, funny. Also, way to hit it out of the park, small press!

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimar McBride (Coffee House Press). Novel, Irish author. Written in its own sort of language. I was intrigued on hearing the title alone.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press). So many poets I know have been declaring that this is the book America needs right now, in the time of protests over racial injustice, the long-bubbling unspoken problems, tensions, violence.

The Unspeakable a by Meghan Daum (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux). Essay collection. I’ve read a couple of interviews with Daum where she says such smart and unusual things so succinctly. I also loved her essay about not having children, which is in here (first appeared in the New Yorker).

And on my “might read” list:

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (Graywolf Press). Essay collection, so much acclaim. An interesting subject.

On Immunity by Eula Biss (Graywolf Press). Non-fiction. I’m not that interested in the subject (the anti-vaccine movement), but I think she makes it about much more than this. I was also blown away by her writing in an essay I read in The Believe.

Stoner by John Williams (New York Review Books Classics). Reissues. I read an essay in praise of it and have seen it around. Slim and quiet, how I often like novels…