Roxane Gay’s Summer Reading List

Here’s the thing about Roxane Gay: She is one of our favorite people. Pretty high up on the list, too. Not only does her essay “(How to Write) A Love Story” appear in our new issue, but she floored us at our second annual Blue Light Reading in March, and is generally – yes, I’m going to say it – a literary badass. Like, her story “North Country” is forthcoming in the Best American Short Stories 2012, and she edits essays for The Rumpus. I’d wonder when she has time to sleep, but I know from Twitter that she doesn’t.

…which is the long way to say that when she tells you what you should be reading, you should read it. I for one will be tracking these babies down:

With the Animals by Noelle Revaz: A raw, disturbing book about a brutal man who treats his wife and children like animals and his animals like family and how, ever so slowly, reaches for the more human parts of himself.

How to Get Into the Twin Palms by Karolina Waclawiak: This has been one of the most unexpected reading pleasures of the year. This beautiful novel is a meditation on displacement and loneliness and a woman who tries to find someone to hold onto in Los Angeles, which may be one of the loneliest cities in the world.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Flynn is not afraid of darkness and Gone Girl is a book where every character is irredeemable in some way yet entirely captivating. The book is a thriller written as a character study and with each new layer of complexity, Flynn shows us how unafraid she is to allow her characters to be the terrible, beautiful, fucked up people they really are.

Redshirts by John Scalzi: I don’t read a lot of science fiction but Redshirts is a delightful, quick read, a meta novel if you will. The story parodies bad science fiction television where the characters in the show realize they are actually in the show and return to earth to try and save themselves. There’s a lot to laugh about in this smart, engaging book.

But before you run to the bookstore, I suggest you start with Roxane’s thrilling review of the new movie Magic Mike.

Brittany Cavallaro’s Summer Reading List

I promise I’m not about to have a Julie Andrews moment, but one of my favorite things is reading a good book of poems on a porch during a thunderstorm. Luckily, thunderstorm season has begun here in Indiana, and Brittany Cavallaro has a few reading suggestions for us. Now I just need to buy a chair for my porch.

Brittany’s poem “Points of Issue” appeared in last summer’s issue, and her website is pretty nifty. Here’s what she’s reading this summer:

Little, Big by John Crowley: A contemporary fantasy epic in the same vein as Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, only published twenty years earlier. I’ve always had a soft spot for literary novels that edge and poke at genre conventions, so I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile; I’m about a chapter in, and the prose is limpid and dream-like, with well-drawn characters.

Water Puppets by Quan Barry: I carried around Barry’s first collection, ‘Asylum’, for the last two years of undergrad, and I was incredibly lucky to have her as my advisor in my MFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This new collection, just out from Pitt, might blow it away–these poems are somehow both subtle and ferocious as they undertake subjects as diverse as pornography and international conflict. “Thanksgiving” is an intense, beautiful look at how we as a species absorb and deflect cruelty.

Chinoiserie by Karen Rigby: Lately, I’ve been developing crushes on small presses, one at a time — I figure that if I love two books I’ve ordered from, say, Canarium Books, I’ll love the next two as well. (And I do love Canarium!) Crushing hard on Ahsahta right now, particularly on this gem of a collection by Karen Rigby — lovely, bone-hard diction on an array of ekphrastic subjects, from anime to Marguerite Duras.

Dana Fitz Gale’s Summer Reading List

Here’s the thing about Indiana: In the summer it gets HOT, which is sad because the air conditioner in our office is pretty wonky. Today’s high is 98 degrees. But we like to compare the heat to important people in our lives – Ryan Gosling, for instance, or as we tweeted, our subscribers – which makes it a little more bearable.

You know what also helps? Cool, well-crafted prose. With that in mind, here are three summer reading suggestions from Dana Fitz Gale, whose story “Covenants” appears in our newest issue:

Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon: Suspense, deceit, horseracing: who wouldn’t want to read this book? The fact that it won a National Book Award means I can feel virtuous about it, too.

Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling: I’ve been meaning to read this novel for quite a while. It’s set on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, where I worked for several years, and I’ve heard from many sources that it’s a gorgeous, haunting book.

Stray Decorum by George Singleton: This short fiction collection won’t be released until the end of summer and I can’t wait to read it. Singleton is one of the funniest writers out there, but don’t be fooled –at the same time as his stories make you laugh, they’ll break your heart.

Traci Brimhall’s Summer Reading List

Here in the Indiana Review office, we’re always looking to read new books by fresh authors, but we’ve also got lists of books we ‘should have read by now.’ Then there’s the lists of books we want to read but haven’t had the time to get to. And then there are the books we haven’t heard of, but that other writers are excited about – which tend to be the books we pick up first.

So, because we can’t ever seem to get enough (and because summer is the perfect time to catch up), we asked a handful of our recent contributors for their summer reading lists. Chances are, we’ll read these before we finally get to The Sun Also Rises.

First up, four suggestions from Traci Brimhall, whose poems “Petition” and “Prayer to the Deaf Madonna” appear in Issue 33.2:

An Invincible Memory by João Ubaldo Ribeiro: How does someone write a national epic? If you’re João Ubaldo Ribeiro, you cover 400 years of national history through the perspective of two families – one of aristocrats and one of slaves. This book was recommended to me by a writer in Brazil, and it’s been staring at me from my shelves for months. Ribeiro combines narratives that cross class, gender and racial boundaries in his novel.

Residence on Earth by Pablo Neruda: When Neruda won the Nobel in 1971, many on the prize committee cited Residence on Earth (a trilogy) as his most important work. However, many of his other critics used these poems against him because a young man committed suicide next to the book. In an interview with The Paris Review, Neruda called it “poetry without an exit. I almost had to be reborn in order to get out of it.” I want to read this book because I, too, want to be reborn on the other side of it.

Human Landscapes from My Country by Nazim Hikmet: I’ve been reading verse novels for awhile, but I’ve been avoiding Human Landscapes. Weighing in at 463 pages, Hikmet’s epic about Turkey takes “suffering personally” according to the foreword by Mutlu Konuk. Like Ribeiro, Hikmet’s work is trying to encompass a country and its history while remaining profoundly intimate and human (or so the book jacket promises me).

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa: This will not be my first Portuguese rodeo. I’ve taken a few running starts at this book before but have found it hard to read in short sittings. It’s a book that seems to offer more rewards the longer you can stay in it. Pessoa’s mind is one of the most intriguing I’ve ever experienced through language. “Renunciation is liberation,” he says. “Not wanting is power,” he wants me to believe. “Travel is for those who cannot feel.” Oh, Fernando, how else would I have found you?

The Larkin’s, the Robbins, and Me

The trees are coming into leaf

Like something almost being said

So wrote Philip Larkin, in seemingly his sunniest moment. Here in Bloomington, however, the trees have exploded into electric green like expletives shouted from the courthouse dome. And here at Indiana Review, even more seasonal shake-ups are underway.

Last year is dead, they seem to say

Jennifer Luebbers has assumed the throne of senior editor, as the esteemed Deborah Kim moves on to greener pastures. But never fear, we couldn’t let the woman responsible for IR achievements like this gorgeous website go too far: Ms. Kim remains a consulting editor. (I can hear her applauding my mixed metaphors from here.)

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh

It’s true, Phil, you glorious grump: The 2012-13 IR editorial board might just be the a-freshest lineup to date. But more on/from my colleagues in future posts. Who exactly am I?

Some fun facts and shameless self-promotion:

  • Previously worked as a popular music critic, and now DJs at south central Indiana’s best community radio station (Wednesday mornings at wfhb.org).
  • Traveled independently on six continents (Antarctica, I’m gunning for you).
  • St. Louis Cardinals fan. That is all.

What exactly do I hope to do?

As Indiana Review‘s new Associate Editor, I seek to publish work of the highest quality that moves and risks — be it sentimentality or bad jokes (see above) — and emerges with a new and honest posture. To quote my other spirit guide, Tom Robbins, in Still Life With Woodpecker, I’m looking for:

“Something more than words…Crystals. I want to send my readers armloads of crystals, some of which are the color of orchids and peonies, some of which pick up radio signals from a secret city that is half Paris and half Coney Island.”

I look forward to reading your work and continuing Indiana Review‘s long tradition of excellence.

If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done,

Katie Moulton