Under the Influence: Oct. 16 2018
This week the Debs are to discuss the books & authors that most influenced us. And this is especially difficult, since I love to read, and I am fond of both fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, forms both hybrid and pure journalism.
So many authors, so many books. So little time. But I will try to thank them and tell you why. With regard to my forthcoming debut novel, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, I reside at the intersection of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. It is personal as political, and political as personal. There are flecks of Mary Robison’s Why Did I Ever, and Maggie Nelson’s Bluets in the mix. I love these books, for their language, for their stories, for the surprise and the suspense in the plot lines.
Ode to the First Draft: Oct. 9, 2018
I really want to write a rant to all the devastations of the day: the Kavanaugh vote in the Senate, the FBI’s incomplete investigation, the senator from Maine’s weak speech justifying her vote against women, the Senate’s dismissal and nullification of Dr. Ford’s courage.
But I have to write for the Debs, it’s that time of the week where the Debs must cull their thoughts for the topic at hand. This week: writing first drafts. As a former journalist, I think of the Alan Barth quote: “News is the first rough draft of history.” I wonder twenty years from now if the America we live in today will even exist. I believe, as a result of the 2016 elections, that our nation has been diminished and our institutions and core beliefs have been shaken. So, I am very distracted by the news on TV, by the newspaper articles. But I believe in seeing beauty and I believe in making art. I believe in looking ahead. The only way I can think of to do that is to do the task at hand.
Chronicles of an X-American (part 1): Oct. 2, 2018
The best training is to read and write, no matter what — Grace Paley
I’ve always been a poet, and it’s always some tributary of poetry that I return to when I have my teeth, metaphorically, kicked in. I started writing poems, mostly nature poems, when I turned nine. I was fast with my first drafts and slow to revise. Only my fifth-grade English teacher was remotely encouraging about my work, and it was only because of Mrs. Heath’s belief in me that I kept writing for pleasure. My favorite thing to do in school was to diagram sentences, and create little train tracks or tree branches of words, all connecting with each other in a magical and logical way to make a sentence.
An Abridged Autobiography, in Books & Comics & Such…: Sept. 25, 2018
Don’t remember much before 1970, when I was about four. I watched The Bugaloos, the bug rock-n-roll band who lived in the forest and had to outwit an evil witch. I loved them so much I got the official Bugaloos lunch box and matching thermos, to take to pre-school. I spoke more Bengali than English. I remember going to India for a visit and my grandparents telling me stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and my uncle buying me comic books. My life was complete.
A Circuitous Route: Sept. 18, 2018
The reflection of the world is blues, that’s where that part of the music is at – Jimi Hendrix
I have no way to express how stunned I am, sitting here today, holding my newly hatched ARCs. It is surreal to see this book in galley form, it is surreal to see my family hold my debut novel in their hands.
By all accounts I should not have this book. Although it was mostly completed by 2009 — I lost most of it in 2010. And I had to start over.
The Twice-Born Book: Sept. 11, 2018
I wrote my first book because I wanted to read it – Toni Morrison
I’m a voracious reader. I admit it. I started young – one of my favorite books came in to my possession when I turned nine. A friend of the family gave me Anthony B. Lake’s A Pleasury of Witticisms and Word Play. Inside those pages I learned all about anagrams and palindromes, limericks and sonnets. I was hooked, and a poet was born.
Origin Story: Sept. 4, 2018
I am the sum of so many things and it is at once easy and difficult to place labels on myself. I’ll begin in the most obvious ways: I’m a daughter to an academic; my dad is a mathematician and was immersed in the world of biostatistics and multi-variant statistical analysis for more than a half-century before retiring this year. I saw how much he loves math — and I love language and writing and books in the same way. I’m a sucker for a good story, no matter the form or topic....