Just noticed my last post was at the end of the May and somehow it's already August. I could blame it on summer and the kids' ever changing camp schedules but truth is I've taken a break from regular posting because I'm putting all my writing energy and time into finishing my novel, The Line. I'm so close to finishing I can see it. And thanks to my brilliant husband I've solved my struggle with how to end it. When he suggested it on our long drive home from Asheville, I starting crying. I then tried to rationalize other ways I could do the same thing without hurting one of the characters I've really come to love. My response just confirmed that I had found the best way to wrap this story up. There are losers when neighborhoods gentrify and to not represent that accurately just to make everyone feel good (even me) wouldn't be right.
My postings will be light for the next few months as I complete revisions on my novel but if you're looking for some reading recommendations, here's what I've been enjoying this summer:
- Roxane Gay's Hunger. So, so good. I'm huge fan of Roxane and love everything she writes. I have some many thoughts about this book especially as someone who was raped but I need to read it a few more times to cogently summarize them.
- This has been the summer of Zadie Smith for me. I really loved Swing Time but her recent essays on Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Imaginary Portraits, and Who Owns Black Pain are both brilliant and led me to checking out of my library Changing My Mind, a book of her early essays. I now find myself when struggling with a particularly issue wondering what does Zadie Smith think about this? And please do yourself a favor and listen to Zadie read her short story on Billie Holiday. It's worth the 16 minutes.
- Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad. I'm late to this party but glad I finally made it. My book group is reading it combined with Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Both are hard to read at times and left me bereft without any answers of how, as a white person, I can address the legacy of slavery that I have benefited from.
- The Mothers by Brit Bennett. As I'm finishing up my first novel, I've been reading as many first novels as I can especially those that get some amount of critical acclaim. Some have been disappointing but The Mothers delivers. I particularly related to the story about growing up in a tight religious community and how secrets live and travel through them. I look forward to reading what Brit Bennett writes next.
- Joan Didion's South and West. Reading this after getting back from a trip to the "South" and struck by the similarities to our experiences in Tennessee and North Carolina. The book is more of a journal and written over 40 years ago but her interviews with "average people" remind me of my least favorite NY Times genre - profiles from "Middle America" about "Real Americans" who voted for Trump. Didion demonstrates again her genius - this time in identifying differences that still divide this country and led to the rise of Donald Trump.
- Topic Magazine - This is my best online find of the summer. Great story telling in many mediums. I'm afraid to love it too much for fear that it will disappear like other internet magazines. My favs so far are What Girls Are Made Of, The Magic of Animal Menopause, Taiwan's Tacky Love Motels, and Mouseland.
E reminded me this morning that we're in peak summer and we better get to savoring it. Looking forward to movies outdoors at Clark Park, harvesting our overgrown basil to make pesto for the winter, eating as many BLT with local tomatoes as I can stand and floating in our ridiculously huge watermelon at the the pool. Hope you too are finding ways to savor the last month of summer.