We know that you are all excitedly awaiting the arrival of the MAPH Core Syllabus. As soon as it becomes available, we will send it to you via the listservs, and you can get going.
BUT. While you’re still working on your tan and watching the new season of Jersey Shore (WHO else is obsessed, stand up), here are some recommended-non-required-absolutely-optional-but-if-you-take-my-word-for-it-you-won’t-be-disappointed books to keep you busy before Core starts.
Now…these skew toward my own interests in the contemporary short story, and especially the smaller scales of domestic/everyday/ordinary life. If you’re interested in expansive historical novels….um…I’m not your guy….at least not on this list. Plus, it’s still summer. Who has the attention span for an entire freaking novel (let alone, you know, a blog post).
And, if you’re interested
Phil is actually (for whatever godforsaken, masochistic, misguided, probably-phd-application-related) reason reading Middlemarch.
Amelia just finished Life is a Miracle–a long essay by Wendel Berry. She will next read something…a little…less serious.
Hilary and Maren are in a book club together and they are currently reading Royal Seduction and Duchess by Night
If your life is on fire, this is the book for you
1) Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned
While Wells Tower spends the next year working on his first novel as a New York Public Library fellow, you can catch up on his monster of a debut. In this collection, Tower focuses on the life and death of desire in exurban America.
I also recommend listening to the audio of Tower reading the title story. Mainly, it’s just hilarious and horrible. It is the tone of his dialogue that makes the works most compelling. To hear Tower’s subtle North Carolina lilt adds another layer of…something.
Tower always jokes in interviews that he is a “relatively happy person,” but the despair and violence at the level of ordinary life in these stories captures the creeping sense of not-rightness that unfortunately seems to characterize of lot of our sentminents about “where America is right now.” Dollar for dollar, I think Tower’s collection provides the most accurate picture of where American short fiction needs to go. Continue reading