Everything—including the kitchen sink: a study in the importance and comfort of lists
After a quiet winter and an even quieter early spring, my life exploded into a frenzy of activity these past few weeks. My kitchen sink broke. When trying to prep my car for an upcoming road trip, I mishandled a fuse and thought the car was toast for a full 12 hours. I put the fuse back in its correct place and the car turned over smoothly, like always. We planted a million new garden babies, and then it spiked to nearly 100 degrees in Wisconsin, effectively cooking them all. I am preparing, essentially, for two cross-country road trips. The literary journal needs proofing. There is reading to do for my upcoming MFA residency. Meanwhile, the clean but unfolded laundry pile builds. Oh, and I’m trying to help run a farm. Phew!
All this said, I leave next weekend for an epic trip, and I might even get a little downtime. We’ll see. I’m fortunate to have this opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to one of my next blog posts—the best road trips in fiction.
In stressful times like these, I turn to my greatest comfort—a veritable, organizational security blanket:
Many, many lists: to-pack, to-do, to-see, to-wear, to-move, to-style, to-make, to-paint, to-bake, to-toss. And to-read.
I hope the list below of the books I’ve read in the past six months is edifying. It was satisfying to make. The coolest part is that this list will continue evolving and growing.
Note: it doesn’t include many individual poems or all the articles I accessed and read online. It also includes only a few of the short stories I read online. In particular, this list is missing a bunch of poems by Khadijah Queen, including her absolutely spectacular book, I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On, but her work for sure will make it on the final list. ALSO! So as not to “cheat” my self-imposed system, I have not included any books-in-progress. Every book that made it onto this list had to be read, by me, in its entirety. And, I obviously didn’t include the 465+ flash stories I read as submissions for Lunch Ticket, either. Which, WOW. We received 465+ submissions, lots of them excellent, for only a few open flash prose spots. I was so impressed and humbled to read all of those.
Anyway, I’d love to annotate every single article on writing craft or online short story that I read, but that list would be beyond my ability (and sanity) to curate as of now.
Be well, stay cool, keep reading:
Abildskov, Marilyn. “Wishbone.” Brevity, 15 Sep. 2017, brevitymag.com/nonfiction/wishbone/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Anaya, Rudolfo. Bless Me, Ultima. Grand Central Publishing, 1972.
Berman, Judy. “2014: The Year We Met the Art Monster – and She Was Us.” Flavorwire, 26 December 2014, flavorwire.com/495638/2014-the-year-we-met-the-art-monster-and-she-was-us. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat. New York, Harper & Row, 1989.
Brandeis, Gayle. Self Storage. Ballantine Books, 2007.
Cauterucci, Christina. “The 2018 Golden Globes Was Almost Revolutionary. Too Bad The Main Protest Was A Bust.” Slate, 08 Jan. 2018, slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2018/01/08/why_the_2018_golden_globes_black_out_protest_fell_flat.html. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
Cheever, John. “The Swimmer.” The New Yorker, 18 Jul. 1964, newyorker.com/magazine/1964/07/18/the-swimmer. Accessed 23 Dec. 2017.
Egan, Jennifer. Look at Me: A Novel. New York, N.A. Talese/Doubleday, 2001.
Erdrich, Louise. The Round House. HarperCollins, 2013.
Fitch, Janet. “A Few Thoughts on Dialogue.” Janet Fitch’s Blog, WordPress, 20 Jul. 2010, janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/a-few-thoughts-about-dialogue/. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.
Gross, Melissa, and Don Latham. “The Peritextual Literacy Framework: Using the Functions of Peritext to Support Critical Thinking.” Library and Information Science Research, vol. 39, no. 2, 2017, pp. 116-123., doi: 10.1016/j.lisr.2017.03.006.
Jordan, June. Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan. Copper Canyon Press, 2007.
Khazan, Olga. “The Makeup Tax.” The Atlantic, 05 Aug. 2015, theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/08/the-makeup-tax/400478/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The New Yorker, 26 Jun. 1978, newyorker.com/magazine/1978/06/26/girl. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.
King, Stephen. On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft. New York, Pocket Books, 2002.
Knecht, Rosalie. “Let’s Talk About the Fantasy of the Writer’s Lifestyle: The Undying Trope of Glamorous Decay is Basically an Anthropologie Catalog.” Literary Hub, 31 Jan. 2018, lithub.com/lets-talk-about-the-fantasy-of-the-writers-life/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2018.
Leonard, Elmore. “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle.” The New York Times, 15 Jul. 2001, nytimes.com/2001/07/16/arts/writers-writing-easy-adverbs-exclamation-points-especially-hooptedoodle.html. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.
Manolis, Argie. “Writing the Community: Service Learning in Creative Writing.” Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom: The Authority Project, edited by Anna Leahy, Multilingual Matters, Ltd, 2005, pp 141-151.
Martin, Lee. “Good Faith.” Brevity, 15 Sep. 2017, brevitymag.com/nonfiction/good-faith/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
McCartney, Alistair. The Disintegrations: a Novel. University of Wisconsin Press, 2017.
Miller, Brenda. “The Shape of Emptiness.” Brevity, 15 Sep. 2017, http://brevitymag.com/nonfiction/the-shape-of-emptiness/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Murdoch, Iris. The Black Prince. Chatto & Windus, 1973.
Phillips, Gary. High Hand. Kensington, 2001.
Pinckney, Darryl, editor. The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick. NYRB Classics; Main edition, 2017.
Prose, Francine. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them. Harper Perennial, 2007.
Roupenian, Kristen. “Cat Person.” The New Yorker, 11 Dec. 2017, newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/11/cat-person. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.
Rumpus, The. “What To Read When You Want To Read Women On Home.” The Rumpus, 26 Jan. 2018, therumpus.net/2018/01/what-to-read-when-you-want-to-read-women-on-home/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
Selgin, Peter. Drowning Lessons: Stories. University of Georgia Press, 2008.
Selgin, Peter. The Inventors: A Memoir. Hawthorne Books, 2016.
Straus, Emily E., and Dawn M. Eckenrode. "Engaging Past and Present: Service Learning in the College History Classroom." History Teacher 47.2 (2014): 253-66. Print.
Tamblyn, Amber. “Amber Tamblyn: Redefining the Red Carpet.” The New York Times, 07 Jan. 2018, nytimes.com/2018/01/07/opinion/sunday/amber-tamblyn-golden-globes-metoo.html. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
Taylor, Sonya Renee. The Body Is Not An Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018.
Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. 1877. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, Penguin Books, 2002.
Turner, Brian, editor. The Kiss: Intimacies from W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2018.
Ulin, David L. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. Sasquatch Books, 2010.
Waldman, Katy. “How Women See How Male Authors See Them.” The New Yorker, 03 Apr. 2018, newyorker.com/books/page-turner/how-women-see-how-male-authors-see-them. Accessed 04 Apr. 2018.
Walls, Jeannette. Half Broke Horses. Scribner, 2010.
Wanshel, Elyse. “Women Are Describing Themselves As A Male Writer Would, And It’s Brilliant.” Huffington Post, 04 Apr. 2018. huffingtonpost.com/entry/women-describing-themselves-the-way-a-male-author-writer-would-twitter_us_5ac524cae4b09ef3b243163f. Accessed 01 May 2018.
Watkins, Claire Vaye. Battleborn: Stories. Riverhead Books, 2013.
Watkins, Claire Vaye. Gold Fame Citrus. Riverhead Books, 2015.
Welty, Eudora. The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews. Random House, 1987.
Wood, James. How Fiction Works. New York, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Woolf, Virginia. To The Lighthouse. 1927. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.
Zwerling, Philip. "Right along the Border: Mexican-American Students Write Themselves into The(ir) World." Community Literacy Journal, vol. 4, no. 2, 01 Jan. 2009, pp. 47-54. Print.