Anna Burns

Summer Reading Lists - Katherine Forbes Riley

Each summer we like to invite authors to share their summer reading lists with us.

First up this summer is Vermont author Katherine Forbes Riley, a writer and computational linguist whose debut,The Bobcat, was released in June (Arcade/Skyhorse 2019). The Bobcat was recently picked by Ms. Magazine as a Read for the Rest of Us. Alexander Chee calls The Bobcat, “a heartfelt, revelatory, and moving novel about how the way back to our humanity and to the humanity of others leads us sometimes through the animal world. Surprising, precise, and full of love for the immeasurable possibilities of the human heart.”

Thanks for sharing your picks with us, Kate!


With summer in full swing, here are six great reads for the beach or lake. Each paragraph will stun and be savored, after which you’ll likely find yourself staring out at the endlessly repeating patterns of water and thinking about all that it might mean. That’s my idea of a great beach/lake read.

Naamah, by Sarah Blake

This book is built on a fantastic premise, plank by plank, and then let loose on us. What do you think about Noah’s wife? About that boat, those animals, their noise, their stench? You may not think much now but I can promise you’ll be thinking after you read Naamah. You’ll think about each phrase. I’m a fast reader, quick to skim if something doesn’t hold me, but this one forced me to read slowly, to listen like music and absorb every note, and I almost didn’t want to finish—not until I could get my hands on Blake’s next one.

The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This book matched pace with me as fast as my thoughts could go. This author is dangerous, his mind brilliant and multi-faceted. I would love to hear him read or even just speak. These are images from a war we all by now think we know intimately, and so it’s amazing that he makes them new. He makes them bitter, funny, awkward, unexpected; he weds us to them newly.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

The first fifty pages of this novel should be required reading for every citizen of America. They could only have been written by one for whom such horror is truly alive in memory, but they should be read by us all, so those memories come alive for our whole country. So that we can all together almost not bear them.

There, There, by Tommy Orange

This book burns. Simply burns. The multiplicity of characters and voices is insane. How did Orange do it? I think he did what one of his protagonists does: he recorded voices. And then inside his head he muffled his own and let those others come through. And as unique as they are, still they resound with the lost and found in all of us. We must read them and think, these are my countrymen.

Milkman, by Anna Burns

I’ve never read something so internal. So amazing and disturbing and universal. I kept thinking, this sounds just like communism, like life behind the Wall, even though it’s Ireland. It reminds me a lot of Beckett as well. But it’s a woman, and the main character is a young woman, and she thinking about people, a town full of people that she thinks about as if it’s a net that holds her, also a spider’s web.

The Friend, by Sigrid Nunez

If I had to pick one book that’s made the deepest personal impact on me recently, I’d have to say The Friend. It’s such a paradoxical book, one that fabricates even as it acknowledges it, one that as a writer affirms my love of writing even while putting forth some pretty irrefutable reasons for why I shouldn’t be writing at all. It’s also got a dog, a big tough old dog. And it’s written by a very smart tough older woman, and that voice feels really good to me, mingling with all the others.

The Dipper - December 2018

"The Dipper" is our monthly newsletter, where we highlight readings, events, calls for submission, and other literary-related news for the coming month. If you have news or events to share, let us know

 

December News

December is a quiet month in terms of readings and literary events. (If you squint at the month of December on our calendar, it looks a bit like a snowy field dotted with a few bare, beautiful trees.)

This month might be the perfect time to catch up on your TBR pile and your Slow Club Book Club reading. If you’re like Shari, you might want to start searching out titles that you want to add to your wish list for 2019.

In the new year, be on the lookout for our “Year in Reading” posts again, as we follow suit with The Millions.

Remember that books make great gifts! Support your local independent bookstores. Happy Holidays from Literary North!

December’s Shooting Stars

A cool literary find from each of us to help light up your month:

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  • BBC Radio 4 invited Cheryl Strayed, Ocean Vuong, and Sharon Olds to visit Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst and to write in her room. Many interesting reflections on her life and work. —Shari

  • Speaking of snowy fields, do you know about Shelley Jackson’s beautiful, slow Instagram story written in snow? She’s been writing the story, word by word, during the snowy months in New York since 2014. I absolutely love the slow pace of this project, and the way it meanders through the months and years. (Tip: If you’re not good at reading a story backwards, you can read at least the first six sentences in their correct order on Electric Lit.) —Rebecca


December Highlights

Leath Tonino

Leath Tonino

Leath Tonino will be at Flying Pigs Books in Shelburne, Vermont, on Saturday, December 1 at 6:30 pm to read from his essay collection, The Animal One Thousand Miles Long.

On Saturday, December 8, at 6:00 pm, Andre Dubus III will be reading from his latest novel at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont.

Louise Penny, author of the Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series, will be at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, on Sunday, December 9, at 1:00 pm. Ticket are $38 and include a signed copy of the latest book in the series, Kingdom of the Blind.

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith

US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith will be at The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Wednesday, December 12, at 7:00 pm to accept the 2018 Hall-Kenyon Prize in American Poetry. Tickets are $5-10.

Mitchell S. Jackson will be at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, on Wednesday, December 12, at 8:00 pm. Jackson’s new book, Survival Math, is due out on March 5, 2019, and we’ve heard excellent things about it!

On Friday, December 14, at 7:00 pm, George Howe Colt, will be at The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont, to read from his new book, The Game.

Madeleine Kunin will be reading from and discussing her memoir, Coming of Age, at The Norwich Congregational Church in Norwich, Vermont, on Wednesday, December 19, at 7:00 pm.

Visit our calendar for detailed information about these events and more!

 

Worth a Drive

  • Idra Novey will be reading at Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, December 5 at 8:00 pm.

  • Also in South Hadley, Massachusetts, poet Eileen Myles will be reading at the Art Building at Mount Holyoke College on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 pm.

  • On Saturday, December 8, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts, will hold an open house to celebrate the poet’s 188th birthday. During this free program, visitors can tour the Homestead and The Evergreens at their leisure; enjoy holiday decorations and traditional music; decorate an ornament with a special birthday message; and, of course, enjoy coconut cake made from the poet’s own recipe.



Worth a Listen

Shari has been enjoying the Keeping a Notebook podcast by Nina LaCour. The episodes on writing are short, inspiring and thoughtful.

 

We're Looking Forward to These December Releases

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Calls For Submission and Upcoming Deadlines

The Hotel Vermont has asked the Burlington Writers Workshop to assemble a small collection of Vermont writing for young people to be available to guests in their rooms at the hotel. The hotel already features BWW writing for adults in all its guest rooms and would like to add work specifically aimed at children and teens. If you have work you are interested in submitting for consideration, please contact the Burlington Writers Workshop.

The Burlington Writers Workshop is seeking a writer/editor to write for their Opportunites & Announcements blog once a month. If you’re interested, please contact the Burlington Writers Workshop

Marble House Project is a multi-disciplinary artist residency program in Dorset, Vermont, that fosters collaboration and the exchange of ideas by providing an environment for artists across disciplines to live and work side by side. The three-week Artist Residency is open to artists in all creative fields, including but not limited to visual arts, writing, choreography, music composition and performance. Applications for 2019 residencies are open through December 16. The application fee is $32. For more information, please visit the Residency Applications page.

Bloodroot Literary Magazine is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction for their 2019 Digital Edition through December 31. For submission guidelines, please visit the Bloodroot website.

The Frost Place is accepting submissions for their annual Chapbook Competition. The competition is open to any poet writing in English. The submission fee is $28. Submissions will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Chapbook Competition page.

Applications are now open for the Dartmouth Poet in Residence program at The Frost Place. This is a six-to-eight-week residency in poet Robert Frost’s former farmhouse in Franconia, New Hampshire. The residency begins July 1 and ends August 15, and includes an award of $1,000 from The Frost Place and an award of $1,000 from Dartmouth College. The recipient will have an opportunity to give a series of public readings across the region, including at Dartmouth College and The Frost Place. Applications will be accepted through January 5, 2019. For more information, please visit the Residency page.  

Every summer, the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, awards residency Fellowships to artists in seven disciplines, including literature. A Fellowship consists of exclusive use of a private studio, accommodations and three prepared meals a day for two weeks to two months. The deadline for the 2019 Summer MacDowell Literature Fellowship is January 15, 2019. The application fee is $30. For more information, please visit the Residency Application page.

The Juniper Summer Writing Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts (June 16-22) is now accepting applications. The institute includes manuscript consultations, craft sessions, workshops, readings, and other events, led by a wide range of instructors, including CAConrad, Gabriel Bump, Ross Gay, Khadijah Queen, Bianca Stone, Ocean Vuong, Dara Weir, and Joy Williams. The non-refundable application fee is $40. For more information and to apply, please visit the Juniper Institute website.


Upcoming Workshops and Classes

The Burlington Writers Workshop annual meeting will be held on December 2, from 2:30 to 5:00 pm at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont. All members are invited to attend. To RSVP, please visit the BWW website.

The League of Vermont Writers’ annual business meeting and winter writing craft workshop will take place at Trader Duke’s in South Burlington, Vermont, on January 19, 2019. For more details and registration information as it becomes available, visit the League’s Facebook page.

The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is hosting a Travel Writing workshop, led by author Dan Szczesny on the campus of SNHU in Manchester, New Hampshire, from 10:00 am to noon on January 19, 2019. Registration is $50 for NHWP members; $70 for non-members. For more information and to register, please visit the NHWP Workshops page.