Archive for what I’m reading

Review: Karin Lin-Greenberg’s Faulty Predictions

My latest book review is up at Heavy Feather Review. Faulty Predictions won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and is definitely worth a read!


What I’m reading: Tumbledown by Robert Boswell


“People encounter life in vastly dissimilar ways. Some insist their days are orderly and unchanging, vessels on a slow-moving assembly belt, each identically filled by invisible hands. For others, the days are relentlessly complicated and unpredictable, as different, one from another, as patients waiting to see a therapist. But for everyone there comes a day when the filling no longer fits the vessel, when the therapist finds himself pouring out his heart to the patient, when air is indistinguishable from water and out is the rough equivalent of in, a day when even the voice of god carries a dubious tremor.”

What I’m reading: “Malaria” by Michael Byers

“When I was in college in Eugene I had a girlfriend named Nora Vardon. We had fallen together sort of accidentally, I talked to her first at a vending machine where we ere both buying coffee, and things progressed in the usual slow ways, we went out one cold night to look at the blurry stars, and that led to some kissing, and from there we started the customary excavation of our families, revealing, not quite competitively, how crazy they both were, she with a raft of depressives and schizophrenics and me with a bunch of drunks, mainly the men on my father’s side. She had an open, genial, feline face, with big cheeks and dark eyes, and a big, soft body that was round in parts and that was covered for three months out of the year, with the big textured bruises left by lacrosse balls. She was very pretty, really, and I counted myself lucky to be around her. I was skinny and out of necessity got cheap haircuts, so I wasn’t much to look at, and I tended to be secretive, I suppose you could put it that way, although I had nothing to be secretive about, being only twenty and unadventurous.”

Reprinted in Best American Short Stories 2013 

What I’m reading: The Other Side, by Lacy M. Johnson


“Twice a week he comes to pick me up from our old apartment to take me on another miserable date. I don’t let him hod my hand. I don’t let him kiss me. I say, Maybe we should do this only once a week. Then, Only twice a month. Meanwhile, with no one to watch over me, I eat less. I start taking diet pills in addition to the other pills and fall in love with the constant and perpetual neural hum of time travel: how the world slows, how the mind speeds through it.”

What I’m reading: The Kept by James Scott

“The room lurched. Elspeth gripped the table more firmly, gave more of her weight to it, afraid she might pass out.

He brought the baby closer. Elspeth could smell it, the sweetness of its skin, and she reached out a quivering finger and ran the back of it along the child’s cheek and a thrill spiraled through her. The rush of that soft skin. Everything inside of her moved faster, her heart larger, her bones stronger, her hearing clearer, her vision brighter. The memories she kept chained inside her broke free, including those she banished beyond all others.”


What I’m reading: After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

“Ten years. Ten years. Rachel missed her father every day. Not consciously, but his absence was a part of her, like a vine that wraps around a structure, sustains it even as it weakens it. She assumed Linda and her mother felt the same way, but they seldom spoke of him. They allowed themselves a handful of nice stories–‘Remember the time at Gino’s?’ ‘Remember the bumper cars?’ ‘Remember the time at the Prime Rib?’–and that was all.


New book review – Becky Adnot-Haynes, The Year of Perfect Happines

I have a new book review up at Heavy Feather Review of Adnot-Haynes’s book The Year of Perfect Happiness.

As I say at the end, by chance this is the second book I’ve reviewed recently from a creative writing graduate of the University of Cincinnati. There is exciting work coming out of that program!

Thanks to Heavy Feather Review for letting me review for them! I’m super pleased to be in such good company.

What I’m reading: A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore


“When I looked back at Sarah I saw her powdered, thinning skin like a crepe, with the same light freckles as a crepe, her gnarly-knuckled hand, arthritic from chopping herbs, going through her spiky russet hair, knocking back her scarf. How did her stand-up hair defy not just gravity but even the additional weight of a scarf? Why did my own hair always lie flat, defeated by atmospheric physics of all sorts, unimproved even by the most widely advertised of sticky gels? Education had not entirely elevated my concerns in life. It had probably not even assisted my analyses of these concerns, though that was the most I could hope for. I was too fresh from childhood. Subconsciously, my deepest brain still a cupboard of fairy tales, I suppose I believed that if a pretty woman was no longer pretty she had done something bad to deserve it. I had a young girl’s belief that this kind of negative aging would never come to me. Death would come to me–I knew this from reading British poetry. But the drying, hunching, blanching, hobbling, fading, fattening, thinning, slowing? I would just not let that happen to moi.”

Reading List 2014

Two things that make me crazy happy are lists and reading. I’ve kept track of every book I’ve read since 1992, and when I tell people that, they sometimes look at me like I’ve been uptight for a very long time, to which I say, damn straight. This virgo be rockin it!

I set the goal every year to read fifty-two books, or a book a week. I was short this past year, but I still say it’s more than I would have if I hadn’t kept track. (Plus, my sister and I are still working through the Stephen King novels which are looooong. Maybe I should keep track of page numbers as well and then come up with a formula for how many pages the average book is and divide by that? Or maybe I should just call it good. My father said to the Flanagan women something to the effect, “you love to put too much pressure on everything,” to which we say, damn straight.)

Reading List 2014:
One Night, David Nicholls
Cell, Stephen King
What is Amazing, Heather Christle
Fear and What Follows, Timothy Parrish
Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight
Undressing the Moon, T. Greenwood
From a Buick 8, Stephen King
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
Crapalachia, Scott McClanahan
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
Domesticated Wild Things, Xhenet Aliu
The Hymn of the Black Terrific, Kiki Petrosino
Mermaid, Eileen Cronin
Last Word, Jonathan Blum
Red Moon, Benjamin Percy
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple
An Untamed State, Roxane Gay
The Promise, Ann Weisgarber
In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
Story Engineering, Larry Brooks
The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, Mayra Calvani & Anne Edwards
The Butterfly Lady, Danny M. Hoey Jr.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
Firestarter, Stephen King
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
Big Brother, Lionel Shriver
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle*
Dirty Love, Andre Dubus III
Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Tampa, Alissa Nutting
Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
By Light We Knew Our Names, Anne Valente
Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
The Eye of the Dragon, Stephen King
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
Leaving the Pink House, Ladette Randolph
The Tommyknockers, Stephen King
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Quiet, Susan Cain
Beyond the Horizon, Ryan Ireland
Revival, Stephen King
Bossypants, Tina Fey
The Year of Perfect Happiness, Becky Adnot-Haynes
Dad is Fat, Jim Gaffigan
The Talisman, Stephen King and Peter Straub

*I also read a shit-ton of Magic Tree House books and Bad Kitty with my six-year-old, but I don’t usually count kid books on the list. I counted The Very Hungry Caterpillar because my sister, Mom, and I are also reading the Amazon Top 100 books together and probably putting too much pressure on ourselves to get it done. My mom actually had this at their house to read to Cora, so when I found it, I called Kelly and read it to her over the phone (audio books count) so she could cross it off as well. Her critical review? “That caterpillar sounds super hungover.”

What I’m reading: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub


“Six days later, Jack had climbed nearly all the way out of despair. By the end of his first days on the road, he seemed to himself to have grown from childhood right through adolescence into adulthood–into competence. It was true that he had not returned to the Territories since he had awakened on the western bank of the river, but he could rationalize that, and the slower travelling it involved, by telling himself that he was saving Speedy’s juice for when he really needed it.”