Top Ten Reads of 2011

he following list represents the highlights of a year of reading.  It includes three novels, two works of creative non-fiction, two books of poetry, one biography, one work of criticism/theory, and one book of photography accompanied by poems. The diversity is unintentional.  Some are recent publications, while others are new discoveries for me… More

After the Meteor

Sam Ramos The balloon drifted into the clouds and then a thousand more joined it. The pilots inside leaned out to her, each becoming ever smaller in the offing. It wasn’t that she was sad, though she was. It was life’s awful brilliance – the eternity of every single thing, small and big. A flood… More

Pulse

Nick Kimbro I listened for the fourth beat and felt how, as it passed, my entire body seemed suspended. 1-12-2011, 8:42 pm—Deceased brought in from snow. After signing transfer form, delivering officer, Deputy Desmond Fogle [#347], makes crass remark about deceased’s ‘knockers’ before surrendering Oklahoma state license with the name ‘Heidi Gordon’ printed beside an… More

Kathryn Harrison

In an intimate discussion, the bestselling author talks about overcoming a psychologically abusive childhood, her dances on the dark side, and writing as liberation. More

Lap Dog

Kathie Giorgio Although she invited him to stay afterward, even mentioning the chilled-for-months wine, he left, mumbling something about having an early morning church service and he’d call her. Delly thought she was a cat person, even though she didn’t own any cats. She collected dozens of feline figurines, but whenever she went to the… More

Andre Dubus III

The author of House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days discusses his writing, his father, and watching “Batman” with Kurt Vonnegut. More

Kleinhardt’s Women

Theodore Wheeler He noticed how she watched him circle the plaza fountain. Her head tilted slightly skyward, as if she wanted him to think that she didn’t notice him at all. But he was aware of her glances. She took a drink when she looked. She peeked past the curve of her soda bottle. He… More

Peter Carey

Ben Evans sits down for a conversation with one of the greatest novelists of our time. More

James Lasdun

The prolific London-born writer sits down with Ben to discuss his process, style, and latest collection, It’s Beginning To Hurt.

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Bonnie Jo Campbell

The award winning author discusses the influence and process behind American Salvage, anachronisms, and her days in the circus.

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Skylights

Jessica Johnson We left a day before my 17th birthday, just when the sun began pumping hazy orange light into a humid Friday morning. Mom was rushing from one room to another, making sure we didn’t forget any small toys or dishcloths, while Dad and I stuffed our sleeping bags into the U-Haul and Keith… More

Mexico City

Perle Besserman “Rosie had in fact approached the bar, placed one purple-veined elephant leg on the brass rail, and was preparing to launch one of her unsolicited performances.” The doctors in Mexico City learned early not to cry. Sergio, a visiting surgery fellow in our Roosevelt Hospital residency training program, would describe the operations he’d… More

A Review of Patti Smith’s "Just Kids"

Deeply personal and insightfully written, Patti Smith’s New York story delivers the emotional narrative that Bob Dylan’s Chronicles left readers wanting. Tracing the relationship between Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids explores the thriving artistic community of New York in the 60’s and 70’s and paints a portrait… More

Me and Henry Miller

John Hemingway I was reading a novel about every three or four days in the beginning and if I had any time between lessons I’d spend it at the Feltrinelli near the Scala. They had a good selection of American and English titles and as I bounced from stories as different as Endo’s The Sea… More

Strangers

Renee Evans At the breakfast table, Grace sits eating instant oatmeal she warmed in the microwave all by herself. The fake peach scent makes her stomach turn a little, but this is the only thing she knows how to fix and her mother—Diane—isn’t around to prepare anything for her, again. Her father, Frank, is in… More

Pop Psychology

Dylan James Brock Part 2 22 June 2002, 3pm Hot sunshine awakens me. On the pop art print across from where I lie, Lichtenstein’s little dots diffuse into solid color, only to sharpen when I focus. I rise from bed, light a cigarette, and play some music. From my bedside coffee pot, I pour leftover,… More

Danielle Evans

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate discusses fiction, race and success. More

Blue Boy

Susan Levi Wallach I was nine years old when I killed the boy, pushing the knife between the soft bones of his chest with both my hands. I pulled it out slowly, not realizing at first the finality of what I’d done. “What’s your name, boy?” I whispered. He had been playing in the woods… More