Edie Meidav: This summer I was happy to read the novel of a friend of mine whom I met back when we were both studying with our late, great mentor Peter Matthiessen—Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility. Amor’s own trajectory as a writer may or may not be surprising as a paradigm, as he laid writing—if not thinking about writing—aside for years and returned to it as a pursuit only once he felt he could keep a roof over his head. One aspect fellow writers might find impressive: the novel does not parade its research ostentatiously, going into Golden Age New York with great empathy for its female characters. Meanwhile, I’m hoping to assign My Struggle by Knausgaard ahead of time to those who might be interested in taking the Creative Nonfiction class I may be teaching in the spring, with David Shields’ Reality Hunger helping light—or provoke—the way. And I’m holding Ben Lerner’s 10:04 as the antipode of my Moral Fiction class this term, as well as Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing, but am also happy to be revisiting White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson, among others. I’m also heading into reading Emily Dickinson’s letters. To end with a question that may just answer itself: why is it that poets’ letters carry such brio into prose?
Jeff Parker: So, while in Lisbon I read The Wrath of God: The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 by Edward Paice about one of the greatest natural disasters in history. It was strangely exhilarating and terrifying. Other than that, it was all Russians all the time in prep for my Russians seminar.
Dara Wier: I read Witold Gombrowicz’s Cosmos, Ray Johnson’s Not Nothing, Edward Koebek’s Nothing Is Lost: Selected Poems, Robert Kaplan’s The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zen, Russell Edson’s The Tunnell: Selected Poems, Kirk Varnedoe Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock, John Cage’s Silence: Lectures and Writings, Johanna Drucker’s Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production, and Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing by Brian Dillon and Marina Warner.