I packed two suitcases for this summer: one for clothes, one for books. And while I might be accused of an over-ambitious reading list, I was worried about finding myself without the right book for thesis writing, class prep, and general edification.
I won’t list them all here, but here’s a quick run-down, in no particular order, of some of the books from my stacks that will be brand-new reads for me:
A presentation at one of the conferences I attended this past semester completely blew my mind with this book, so I wanted to check it out. I’ve gotten interested in structure within fiction, and this is a comprehensive study from the 1920s about the elements and forms of fairy tales, and I think this could be a fun system to explore.
Threats: A Novel by Amelia Gray
This book was recommended to me by illustrious Puerto del Sol prose editor and NMSU faculty Lily Hoang, and is told in a series of flash fictions, or at least very short chapters. I’ve only glanced through it so far, but it’s a murder mystery! With secret notes! I’m looking forward to seeing how Gray works with the short form in a long narrative arc like this and how it compares to the Blake Butler’s use of the very short section/chapter in There is No Year.
Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell
I’ve read a chapter or two here, and I already like this book’s practical approach as a tool for teaching the writing of fiction. It does a great job modeling the ideas it’s trying to get across, which can often be hard to find in craft books (or in writing instruction in general), so I’m looking forward to seeing more of this text. Particularly here, I’m looking for strategies to use in teaching my fiction class this fall.
So, truth time: I’ve already read this book (at the start of summer break), and I like the approach here too. Of course some of the essays didn’t do much for me, but overall I got new ideas for thinking about and approaching the very short form, and that’s what I was after in the first place. As a teacher, the easy-excerpt aspect of the book is nice, though reading it straight through, I got a little weary of they way most of the essays have to re-introduce you to the concept of flash fiction. I’m sure this stems from the term’s often slippery definition. But, one essay at a time, I’m planning to refer back to this book as the summer goes on, particularly “That ‘V’ Word” by Nathan Leslie and “Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry, and Men Jumping out of Windows: Searching for Plot and Finding Definitions” by Kim Chinquee, among others. I’ll probably do a more thorough response to this book as a post later in the summer.
Maybe I’m not supposed to admit that I haven’t read this collection before, but here it is – I haven’t. I read “The Dead” at some point in my undergraduate career and didn’t get it, but I keep seeing this collection referenced, and I found a copy for 99 cents, so there you have it. Perhaps one day I will be truly educated.
So there you have it, a portion of my reading list for the summer. What’s on yours? Anything I should add?