Saturday, August 6, 2016

Nicole Dennis-Benn, On Reading

There’s nothing like finding a book that makes me read for hours at a time; one that I look forward to going back to after being away from it for too long, or re-read without hesitation. I have a tendency to linger in bookstores and libraries, browsing titles. While many people fall in love with covers, synopsis, and maybe authors they’re use to reading, I tend to fall in love with first sentences and paragraphs. I like to feel I’m in conversation with the author and the people they write about. More than that, reading fuels my writing, my craft. It’s the only thing that pacifies my anxieties about writing. After completing a project, I like to just relax with reading a well written book with fleshed out characters, reasonable prose, and a good plot. 

{Nicole Dennis-Benn is the author of the highly acclaimed debut novel,HERE COMES THE SUN (Norton/Liveright, July 2016), which has received a starred Kirkus Review and is deemed one of the best books to read this summer and beyond by New York Times, NPR, BBC, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, Bookish, Miami Herald, Elle, O Magazine, Marie Claire, Entertainment Weekly, Flavorwire, After Ellen, BookPage, Cosmopolitan, Brooklyn Magazine, among others. New York Times Book reviewer, Jennifer Senior describes HERE COMES THE SUN as a “lithe, artfully-plotted debut”; Pulitzer Prize finalist, Laila Lalami, as well as Booklist have deemed it a "fantastic debut"; and Man Booker Prize winner, Marlon James says “[Here Comes the Sun] is a story waiting to be told”. Dennis-Benn has also been recently nominated for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesELLE MagazineElectric LiteratureLenny LetterCatapult, Red Rock ReviewKweli Literary JournalMosaicEbony, and the Feminist Wire. Nicole Dennis-Benn has an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Lambda, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Hurston/Wright, and Sewanee Writers' Conference. Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.}

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rien Fertel, On Reading

I am an obsessive completist reader. Which is to say I read much like a collector amasses coins or comic books or rust-covered cast iron pans. I’ll read a book, and if I more than mildly enjoy it, there’s a good chance I’ll move on to another work by the same writer. Often, I’ll even follow an author’s oeuvre in chronological order, watching her/his skills grow then fade over time. I’ll then read a biography, followed by letters and unpublished diaries (I also do this with directors/movies). Last summer I did this with Flannery O’Connor. This summer I’m afraid I’ll do the same with Carson McCullers. Sometimes I convince myself that this is a productive, healthy way to read, and maybe it is. Taking in all that remains of a writer, in a way, allows you to live the life of that writer. But often it feels like a compulsion.

I know where this drive comes from, or at least I think I do. My grandmother read not only constantly but with a similar consistency. During family visits I’d stare up at her tall bookshelves and see all of Agatha Christie, every Dick Francis, each title by James Clavell (she enjoyed breezy, British-y beach reads obviously)—all neatly arranged, like  in a real library, throughout numerous rooms of her house. One summer, after telling her how much I enjoyed reading Pudd’nhead Wilson, she bought me the complete works of Mark Twain, in these matching hardcover volumes that shined so beautiful on my childhood bookshelves. I read all of Twain that summer, from The Innocents Abroad to all the lesser Tom Sawyers. But when the first volume of Twain’s Autobiography was published in 2010 I could not bring myself to complete my collection. Obsessions fade away, often with an intensity matching the way they once burned so bright. Perhaps I’ll return to Twain someday—I might even plow through some Dick Francis!—and that old compulsion could be renewed. But I’m hoping there’s a chance that I can reread Pudd’nhead Wilson and leave it at that. 

{Rien Fertel is the author of Imagining the Creole City and, most recently, The One True Barbecue. He lives in New Orleans.}

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rob Roberge's Liar, A Memoir

Recommended Rob Roberge's memoir, Liar and wrote a review of his latest book over at The Lit Pub.

More information about Rob Roberge can be found here.

Liar is available online, including at Powell's.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Recent Reviews for The Sea Singer

Recent reviews for The Sea Singer can be found in:


The Sea Singer is now available in print in electronic editions through AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Accent Press

Please See Also:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Cormac McCarthy -- The Orchard Keeper

The sun was high now, all the green of the morning shot with sunlight, plankton awash in a sea of gold."