Tara Ison’s memoir, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies, is out this week from Soft Skull Press to glowing reviews. Tara is also the author of the novels The List; A Child Out of Alcatraz, a Finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Rockaway, selected as a 2013 Best Books of Summer by O Magazine. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Tin House, The Kenyon Review, Nerve.com, Publishers Weekly, and numerous anthologies. She is co-author of the cult film Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Learn more about Tara on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Right now, the books by my bed are: A Muse and a Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic, by Peter Turchi. Full disclosure: Pete Turchi is a former colleague and dear friend of mine, but no one writes as beautifully, joyfully, and cleverly about the process of writing as he does. I’ll quote: “Turchi draws out the similarities between writing and puzzle making, reading and puzzle solving. He distinguishes puzzles (which can be solved) from mysteries (which can’t) and teases out how a combination of the two can lead to something like magic—the creation of credible illusion.” And the book itself is gorgeous, full of illustrations and maps and diagrams—you know how some books just feel rich? I can’t wait.
Bring Up The Bodies, by Hilary Mantel. Last time I wrote one of these guest posts, I was struggling to get through Wolf Hall—as I said, I’m a Tudor porn junkie, and I should have loved this psychologically insightful, exquisitely-written, historically-accurate drama…yet I found it a slog. For some reason, I now feel obligated to work my way through this sequel. (I suspect it might simply be because I’m excited about the forthcoming mini-series…sigh…)
Coventry and The Lost Garden, by Helen Humphreys. She’s a Canadian novelist and poet I think doesn’t get enough attention. I adored two other novels of hers: Wild Dogs and After Image. She writes slim, poetic novels that take your breath away. Once I was at a restaurant with one of her books for company and I stumbled onto a sentence that made me gasp with pleasure—I called the waitress over to read it to her, because I had to share it. I don’t even know what these two are about, and I don’t care. Read her.
And I also need to catch up with books by some of my Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press siblings: Gangsterland, by Tod Goldberg, Refund, by Karen Bender, and The Object Parade, by Dinah Lenney. Wonderful writers, all of them!
What’s on your writing reference shelf? What’s your favorite book inscription?