Wednesday, January 09, 2008

reading list for winter quarter

Linda always wonders what I’m reading from her workplace in Muncie, Indiana—she’s an amazing reader, so I’m posting a sketch.

I just read these:

Surviving the Island of Grace: a Memoir of Alaska by Leslie Leyland Fields
Remembering the Bonehouse: An Erotics of Space & Place by Nancy Mairs
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet (this one was “for fun.”)

I also read Orion Magazine, The Image Journal of the Arts and Religion, and Books & Culture. Currently I’m harboring a copy of The Sun, also, which is always full of surprises.

Next I am reading these titles for my graduate work. I need ten titles per ten-week quarter, and I just read two listed above. So here is my plan, which I try to hold loosely…

I Could Tell You Stories by Patricia Hampl
Blue Arabesque by Patricia Hampl
A Private History of Awe by Scott Russell Sanders
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmell
The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (if I can bear it!)
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor
Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick

… and/or perhaps Proust and the Squid by Mary Ann Wolfe, on neurology and artistry. I suppose I would need to read some Proust before starting that book. Hmmm.

I may also reread the women’s anthologies Mothers Who Think, The Bitch in the House and Kiss Today Hello, recalling how powerfully those books affected me. I need to choose a critical paper topic, preferably from within these titles so I don’t need to read even more!

My quarter ends in mid-March, and then I run off to a writing residency on Whidbey Island, for ten glorious days with my favorite classmates, my favorite faculty mentor, and Patricia Hampl and David James Duncan.

That’s the update!


Linda said...

Thank you for posting your reading list! I love knowing what books you're reading and working on for your degree. Of the books on your list, the only one I've read is "A Girl Named Zippy." I'm looking forward to reading some of the others you mentioned--I've already printed out your list!

Carine said...

sounds like a great list!
I just read 3 books that I reviewed for a website-2 mysteries and a ghost story.
Liked them all, but the ghost story was my favorite!
The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

Denise said...

You MUST read Hampl's "I Could Tell You Stories." It's about the role of memory in writing, and the role of writing in how we remember. I will post a few quotes.

Lisa B. said...

Argh..."Zippy." I read that book when it first came out, and for some reason that I do not recall now, it really annoyed me. I wonder if I'd feel differently about it these several years later? May have to re-read it at some point.

Good luck with your new quarter!

Denise said...

Hey, Lisa-- I just read Zippy and am constructing a critique of it.

I think what Himmel has chosen to do is very challenging-- and limiting in ways that are annoying. She's chosen to maintain a consistent child voice throughout the story, with only the barest hint of reflection.

The story is literally close to home for me: my parents' best friends lived in Mooreland, and Kimmel is three years younger than me. We inhabited the same worlds of isolation, near-poverty. My house would look quite sane and stable in comparison to hers, but her parents come across as knowing her more intimately.

What's annoying is how the structure keeps her from ruminating, from using a grown up insight. I want more.

A well-educated friend pretty much forced me to take home her novel, The Solace of Leaving Early, and I'll say that the first page is entrancing, anti-Zippy in every way, gorgeous. I'll keep you posted!