My Christmas gift exchange list gets shorter every year, but still I dream of the presents I would like to receive. (I am a bit of a present baby, truth be told.) So below I am making a short list of the books I would like for Christmas–and if I don’t receive them from anyone, I will buy them for myself. Because I am an adult. I can do that.
EVERYONE REMAIN CALMby Megan Stielstra (I know I should already own this one, too, but I don’t yet have a convenient electronic reading device.)
THE LEFTOVERSby Tom Perrotta (I had my name in for a book giveaway, and I was unrealistically hopeful like I am when I buy a lottery ticket; I didn’t win.)
THIS BURNS MY HEART by Samuel Park (Sam teaches at Columbia College Chicago where I teach, and I have heard nothing but great things about this book.)
PORTRAITS OF A FEW PEOPLE I’VE MADE CRY by Christine Sneed (A Chicago writer who has won all sorts of praise with this book; I get to share the stage with her at Story Week Festival of Writers in March 2012.)
DROWNING IN GRUEL by George Singleton (because how could you not want to read a book with this title?)
And I am certain there are many, many more titles I would like to add to my collection, but this will get me through January, at least.
2011 brought a number of good new(ish) books my way as well, some I have released into the world with love (passed on to friends), some I have kept on my bedside table, some I am still savoring. Among these: As If We Were Prey by Michael Delp; Volt by Alan Heathcock; Small as a Mustard Seed by Shelli Johnson; Carry Each His Burden by James Goertel; Birch Hills at World’s End by Geoff Hyatt; The Coward’s Tale by Vanessa Gebbie; Windy City Queer, edited by Kathie Bergquist; many poetry books from Fleda Brown; The Whale Chaser by Tony Ardizzone; What You Don’t Know About Men by Michael Burke; and and and…..
Looking forward to new books in 2012 from Michael Downs (The Greatest Show), and Stacy Bierlein (A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends), and Bill Roorbach (Life Among Giants).
So many books, so little time.
→Happiest of holidays to you all. May you spend them on the couch with a book in hand and a cat on your knee. Thanks for reading! -PMc←
I met Geoff Hyatt some years ago when he was a new MFA candidate in Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago, and I was his teacher. Ever have one of those encounters with someone who you can tell right away is going to go places? This was clear with Geoff. His work, even early on, was startling, funny, moving, risky, thoughtful, and engaging. No small wonder that he has already had a nice little list of publications in a wide variety of genres. Coming soon is his new book, Birch Hills at World’s End, a fine novel that I was lucky enough to see in its earliest stages. Watch for it.
Geoff: This room is full of reality-scrambling devices I use to drop out of my normal headspace. These include comic books, toys and games, tarot cards, record albums, Halloween masks, band flyers, and other assorted junk I’ve acquired since childhood. Not purely escapist, many of these things have deep personal associations. The walls are lined with shelves holding hundreds of books in every genre. Not seen in the shot are a framed 1971 black light poster of Doctor Strange, a half-stack amplifier, two electric guitars, and some other paraphernalia. The large wooden chest is full of horror and sci-fi VHS tapes I can’t bring myself to get rid of. I use it as a table to keep drafts on.
I usually need to disconnect from the mental demands of day-to-day life to write anything. I tend to generate fragments at random times throughout the week, and then assemble and re-work them whenever I can set aside some hours to vanish into this space.
Part of a collection I’m working on in here appeared in Knee-Jerk under the title “Red Eyes.”
Here’s an excerpt:
I put one dollar, a third of my allowance, in a piggy bank every week to save up for a toy (usually a Sectaur) and spent the rest at Pete’s Party Store on Saturdays. After cartoons, I’d ride my BMX down Hughes Road’s sandy shoulder for a mile, taking note of decay’s progress on road-killed possums and raccoons. At the tiny red store near Lake Chemung, a couple bucks got me some combination of pop, Mad magazine, Rom Spaceknight, Garbage Pail Kids cards, and candy. I’d put these in my backpack and ride home, checking out the other side of the road’s carcasses. They made me think of D-Compose, a cartoon monster that made things rot away by touching them with his bony fingers. Mom couldn’t believe the sort of things they were putting in kids’ cartoons.
One cool fall afternoon I came back from the store to find Dad storming down the driveway. He grabbed my arm and nearly pulled me off my bike. He asked where the hell I’d been, so I told him I went to Pete’s to spend my allowance. He asked why I didn’t tell him first. I said I always went on Saturday and figured he knew that. He hugged me for long enough to make me think something bad happened, and then told me to put away my bike.
Jimmy got kidnapped earlier that day. That night, I asked my mom and dad over dinner why strangers took kids.
Thanks, Geoff. Looking forward to reading more! ~ PMc