TMR Editors’ Prize
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Current Issue: 36.1 (Spring 2013)
Featuring the winners of the 2012 Editors' Prize as well as work by Cara Blue Adams, Jennifer Anderson, Aaron Belz, Jerry Gabriel, Darren Morris, and Brad Wetherell... along with a conversation with Steve Almond and William Giraldi and a look at the art of Al Hirschfeld.
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Author Archives: Sara Strong
In a seminar I took my senior year of college, I was assigned David Foster Wallace’s essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Surprisingly, my most vivid memory of it has nothing to do with the cruise that resulted in the titular essay, but of the moment in Wallace’s essay on the Iowa State Fair, “Getting Away from Already Being Pretty Much Away from It All,” when Wallace realizes he is not from the Midwest anymore—that he is now “from” the East Coast. That passage is a huge presence in my mind these days. There have been a lot of transitions in my life over the last few years, and I’m getting ready for what feels like the biggest one yet: leaving Columbia, MO and moving to Nashville for an MFA program.
I’m leaving a lot behind in Missouri. It’s not just Columbia I’m saying goodbye to. This is my native state, and my parents have lived in the Missouri Ozarks their whole lives. I’m leaving the Ozarks behind, too—but in many ways, I’ve already left them behind. Columbia feels more like my natural habitat now than my hometown does. And somehow, that realization feels like a betrayal, like I’m not grateful enough to be from where I’m from, to own that identity. I’m not sure I know how to be from the Ozarks anymore. Something has been lost. Something has changed or disappeared, and I don’t know how to get it back. I know it’s mostly out of my control, but I feel like my failure to hold on means I haven’t been loyal enough to that strange, difficult place I love. I haven’t done enough to make it love me back. I could have gone back and studied creative writing there, but I chose to leave. I chose to go farther away than ever before because that’s what I felt like I needed to do.
I’ve decided this sense of displacement, of not being quite settled, of not quite belonging in a place yet having a claim to it, isn’t necessarily a bad one for my writing. In fact, right now, I feel like it’s incredibly important for me to be a bit uncomfortable. I can’t avoid this discomfort; I think I’ll have to explore it to grow beyond it. I don’t know if that’s a symptom of being young or a symptom of being a writer or a symptom of being, possibly, insane; all I know is it keeps me looking for a groove, for some sense of rightness to burrow tightly into and cling to with everything I’ve got.
Roxane Gay posted a blog at HTML Giant yesterday titled “It’s Okay to Hug Your Ten Years Ago Writing Self.” Reading it was an odd experience for me, because I am constantly thinking of my present writing self as my future “Ten Years Ago Writing Self.” Since I spend several hours a week reading submissions and talking to the seasoned writers that populate The Missouri Review’s staff, I think a lot about how much my writing is going to change between now and some indeterminate point in the future which we can call 10 years, or 5, or 30. Mostly I worry that I won’t get any better, that I’ll be an amateur forever, that something will happen and I’ll – whoops! – forget everything I’ve learned about writing and proceed to suck, a lot, and embarrass myself.
Being insecure about my writing comes easy to me these days. I’ve read enough of the things other people have written to know that most of my work is “young” and “slight” and “not quite there yet,” and I’m okay with that for now. I know I’ve got time. Unfortunately, I’ve also got a mental block about sending my work out for consideration. It feels like making my “Ten Years Ago Writing Self” public ten years too soon. One of the commenters touched on this as he talked about what he was writing at age 25, posting:
I’m glad that in 2001 I was not techy enough to be doing any writing online. Because that would mean the Wayback Machine would have it embalmed in digital amber forever, and that would be doing no one any favors.
I wonder if the young folks out there today will ultimately be helped or hurt by having various of their juvenilia out there in in googleable form, 10 years or more down the road?
Speaking for myself, the prospect is terrifying. It’s not just a matter of the things I posted on the internet as a teen, but of knowing that what I am writing at this point in my life could come back to haunt me later. I care too much about a self-image I don’t even have yet to feel comfortable showing off my work. Ridiculous, I know.
All this makes me wonder about how honest I’m being about my motivation to enroll in an MFA program, and soon. It’s not that I don’t want the things that everyone wants from an MFA program, because I do. What I mean is that I wonder… if I do an MFA program now, will it be, in part, a way to excuse my reluctance to send work out? At the end of an MFA program, will I be whatever “ready” means, or will I still be uncertain and all to eager to say “I’m not there yet” and keep my work under wraps? I feel like everybody is uncertain, but I don’t know how much of my thinking is prudence and how much is cowardice and how much is a willful insistence that someday I will be writing better things than I am writing now. What if I’m not?
I think I need to give myself a hug.
This post was written before the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie on July 14th, 2011.
Many of the undergraduates and twenty-somethings I know have been heralding the release of the final Harry Potter movie as the end of our childhood, and with certainty, it’s the end of an era. The Harry Potter experience of this age group, however, is a peculiar and beautiful one. It’s not that our childhood coincided with the books, but that it coincided so precisely. As Jo Rowling’s big-hearted protagonist grew, we did, too. The books kept pace with us, as did the movies. Many of us started reading the books around age 11, and the actors cast in the leading roles are our age.
My initiation into the latinate magic of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world occurred a month or so before my 11th birthday — almost exactly the same age at which Harry became the center of consciousness in his story. I was 9 when the first book, Sorcerer’s Stone, was released in the States, and bit by bit my school was infiltrated by copies of a book with letters like thunderbolts and a bespectacled boy on a broomstick. By 5th grade, the third book had been released to the tender mercies of American audiences, and the books had truly taken over. Friends were reading them. Enemies were reading them. Adults, including my teachers, were reading them.
With the release of the fourth book looming, I too began to read them. I was at a friend’s house, and she and her brothers were listening to the second book, Chamber of Secrets, on tape. I snagged the first book from her shelf, and though I was underwhelmed by the first few pages, I kept reading. An hour later, I was hooked. A day later, on a field trip with my fifth grade class, I paid no attention; who could possibly care about Bridal Cave when there were Harry Potter books to read?!
The second book, I borrowed from the public library. I read it in one evening.
Third, Prisoner of Azkaban: two evenings. By this point, my parents were hooked, too.
The morning the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, was released, my dad took me to Wal-Mart – the closest thing my hometown has to a bookstore – at 6AM. I bought the book. We had a family reunion that day. I was formidably rude. I read. Cousins wandered over now and then, curious. Aunties seemed concerned, at the very least bemused. There were distractions, there was picnic food. I took few breaks. I read.
A day later: finished. Exhausted. Waiting.
The years between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix were incredibly (though perhaps inevitably) formative for me. They were my middle school years, and as complex as they are for everyone. Loving Harry Potter did not make my life any simplier in a religiously conservative town, especially when the father of the friend who had loaned me the first book demanded that his daughter stop reading them. He had heard they were satanic. Our friendship became tense after that. I was told my soul was being prayed for. I was told I was going to hell. I learned firsthand about the ignorance of censorship, about unfounded anger, righteousness, defensiveness, the desire to control. I learned that grown-ups can be even stupider than kids sometimes, that they are just as willful, that they are just as willing to act outrageously without making an effort to be informed.
I discovered the almighty internet in those years, too, and an unprecedented fandom was rising. Potter-speculation, Potter-message boards, Potter-rehashing and remixing and making much of: millions of us, mostly teenagers or thereabouts, logging in day after day to talk about – of all things – literature. To get passionate about it, form opinions, draw conclusions, analyze, make predictions, pick things apart. We chose our loyalties. We wrote fan fiction, created fan art, and played RPGs. We got into fights and made friends all over the world.
People often talk about how fandom brings people together, but it also helped us become autonomous individuals. Internet-based fandom has that effect of simultaneously uniting its participants and forcing each of them to be more intellectually self-reliant, to gain respect through creativity and well-applied intelligence and put serious consideration into their identities. It’s easy to criticize the persona-building that occurs online, but in building those personas, we learn a lot about ourselves — and that’s a great thing for teenagers to do. Strangely, I felt less mixed-up in those years than I do now. Part of that is due to my current state of being in transition between not-grown-up and grown-up, but at least some of it is because I spent so much time writing in my teen years, learning my own mind through my participation in this tremendous and diverse fandom.
I don’t remember too much about the years in between the fifth book and sixth book, Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince respectively, but the seventh book, Deathly Hallows, came out just after my 18th birthday – and my high school graduation. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. For the first time, I got to go to a midnight release with a friend. We got dressed up and blazed into downtown Springfield, MO, which had been transformed into Diagon Alley for the occasion. The arthouse cinema there, The Moxie, was showing the movies and serving butterbeer. There were festive window displays. And best of all, the independent bookstore Well-Fed Head (beloved, but no longer in business) was hosting a Potter party with a trivia contest (which I won) and a costume contest (which my friend won) leading up to the midnight release of the book. It was perfect – small enough that people were socializing with one another and making friends. Everyone was in love. We might have been glowing. At midnight it was contained hysteria. Our numbers were called, we got our books, we were off into the streets on a desperate and glorious mission.
I read at my friend’s house until 8AM and drove home in a trance.
Though Jo Rowling’s “Pottermore” website will be launched in pieces in the coming months, as of today, there will likely never be another novel in the Harry Potter series, nor even a movie. This movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, is the last desperate and glorious mission of the Harry Potter generation. We will go, maybe at midnight, maybe a week from now, but we will go to the theaters. We will buy popcorn if we want it, maybe a drink or some candy. We will find seats. We will wait, tensed. There will be previews. And then, there will be a movie we have been waiting years to see – for some of us, more than a decade. We will watch it, practically levitating. Credits. Departure. It will be over – the whole thing will be over. But let us recall two things the venerable Albus Dumbledore has said:
I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me.
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
The virtual storm in response to Meghan Cox Gurdon’s Wall Street Journal article on dark content in YA lit has mostly passed, but I’m still more than a little caught up in it. I was, not so very long ago, a voracious reader of books on the YA shelves in my local library (though teenage me tended to favor fantasy over books set in the real world). I read books then that still haunt and astonish me now, books that would stand up to the test of academic criticism, books that were very, very real to me, that have helped me become the (mostly) well adjusted and (I hope) open-minded adult that I am now. Gurdon has little sympathy for the literary culture that has formed around writing intended for young adults, however. Her article, scoldingly titled “Darkness Too Visible,” lampoons YA lit for making “kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings…just part of the run of things,” grousing that “if books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.”
According to Gurdon, the underlying problem is the publishing industry, that menace intent upon wreaking mayhem in the butterfly-delicate minds of 12-18 year olds. “Alas,” wails Gurdon, “literary culture is not sympathetic to adults who object either to the words or storylines in young-adult books.” She quotes from an editor of YA lit, who, frustrated by having to clean up a Chris Lynch novel so it could be made available in schools, wrote to an industry magazine, “I don’t want to compromise on how kids really talk. I don’t want to acknowledge those f—ing gatekeepers.” I’m not sure what the most offensive part of Gurdon’s response to this quote is, so I’ll let you be the judge: “By f—ing gatekeepers (the letter-writing editor spelled it out), she meant those who think it’s appropriate to guide what young people read. In the book trade, this is known as ‘banning.’ In the parenting trade, however, we call this ‘judgment’ or ‘taste.’ It is a dereliction of duty not to make distinctions in every other aspect of a young person’s life between more and less desirable options. Yet let a gatekeeper object to a book and the industry pulls up its petticoats and shrieks ‘censorship!’”
The article ends with an invitation to parents to stand up to the evils of literary culture, trumpeting “No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.” Because, you know, that’s what the publishing industry exists to do.
In the days following the WSJ article, many people, including YA authors and readers themselves, wrote and posted eloquent defences of YA lit and the darkness in it. They’ve said what I would have wanted to say about YA lit and why sometimes the themes that Gurdon railed against can do powerful, salvatory things for teens in crisis. They’ve also said some things that make a lot of practical sense when it comes to choosing and talking about YA books. Here are a few notable moments from the responses I read:
The Guardian collected a number of tweets from YA authors under the hashtag #YAsaves, including these words from Laurie Halse Anderson, author of the controversial Speak:
“Teens read YA books and take away positive, moral guidance. In order to show kids why certain behaviours are dangerous, you actually have to discuss the behaviours. Scary, I know. It’s tough being a parent. But it’s tougher being a kid who has clueless parents….Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics. (Not even the Bible, which features all of these acts.) Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.”
YA author Maureen Johnson’s piece for the Guardian:
“If subjects like these are in YA books, it’s to show that they are real, they have happened to others, and they can be survived. For teenagers, there is sometimes no message more critical than: you are not alone. This has happened before. The feeling that you are feeling, the thing you are going through – it is a known thing. Articles like this one grossly underestimate the teenage reader’s capabilities. Kids know how to process a story. Moreover, this article completely ignores the broad scope of YA (which merely indicates a book with a suggested readership of 12-18, a wide range). The term covers all genres. Cox Gurdon might as well be saying: ‘All food is Italian food, and I don’t like Italian food, so it should not exist. The fact that it does exist means the food industry is forcing it on my children!’”
“Where are the booksellers, the librarians in [Gurdon's] argument? Experts exist for a reason. If parents, or teens for that matter (who actually do a pretty damn good job of self-selecting what they’re comfortable reading), are feeling besieged by what they think are the only books out there, then talk to a bookseller about what you feel is appropriate for your child to be reading.”
“As a mother of two voracious readers, one of whom is just shy of the traditional teen lit range, I can certainly vouch that the YA section of your local bookstore can be a pretty damn grim place…and no, not all of it is great literature. Remind me again when there was a time when there was nothing but great literature from which to choose?”
“There’s something almost comical about raising [children] with tales of big bad wolves and poisoned apples, and then deciding at a certain point that literature is too ‘dark’ for them to handle. Kids are smarter than that. And a kid who is lucky enough to give a damn about the value of reading knows the transformative power of books.”
“As teen blogger Emma eloquently explains, ‘Good literature rips open all the private parts of us — the parts people like you have deemed too dark, inappropriate, grotesque or abnormal for teens to be feeling — and then they stitch it all back together again before we even realize they’re not talking about us.’ That’s why it matters; why, in the name of protecting teens, we can’t shut them off from the outlet of experiencing difficult events and feelings in the relative safety and profound comfort of literature. Darkness isn’t the enemy. But ignorance always is.”
Yes, yes, and yes.
A while back, Michael pointed out that we don’t talk about the gender of our submitters when we’re evaluating a piece for publication. I realized, reading all this, that we also don’t talk about YA lit. It’s a different kind of “not talking,” though, born out of our concept of audience more than our concept of what we should or should not be publishing. The de facto audience of literary magazines is, let’s face it, often neither mainstream nor in the 12-18 age range. The stories, essays, and poetry we publish are selected accordingly; that is, they are selected with the expectation that they will be read by a fairly particular adult audience. When I asked around, very few of our editors had more than a passing familiarity with literature targeted at young adults, and I imagine that is true for many of us who work at small literary presses and journals. In fact, it’s probably true for the majority of adults, including those who are raising children.
Knowing this, I decided to take one for the team and visit our local Barnes & Noble. The new YA section the B&N powers-that-be are helpfully (or hurtfully) calling “Teen Paranormal Romance” occupied a place of prominence, of course — though I overheard two teenage girls talking about how tired they were of vampire stuff, so that prominence could be on its way out. Actually, beyond the glossy dark covers in “Teen Paranormal Romance,” I found that B&N was doing a pretty good job of showcasing lauded, award-winning YA books. Their display of “Must-Read Books” for teens included some of the books Gurdon jumped on as too visibly dark, like Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a few books that have been around for a while, like Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, and some, like David Leviathan & John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, that are more recent. Almost all of them had a flashy sticker announcing their nomination or reception of a major literary award. These were books that meant business, the kind of books that I would have been reading after school (maybe even during it, on the sly) if I were still a teen. I want to read them now, too — and I hope other adults might want to read them, especially adults who are involved in making and breaking literary respectability, and adults who are raising children.
After all this hullabaloo, I’m feeling a little worried. I’m feeling worried that YA lit is not being taken nearly seriously enough, and that the YA audience is not being taken nearly seriously enough. With the exception of people whose careers deal explicitly with YA lit — and I’m including librarians here — it just doesn’t get much attention from the literati. I’m convinced, though, that the best YA lit could stand up to the same kind of rigorous examinations we put non-YA lit through in universities, and I want to see it happen. I’m convinced that kids ARE smart, and though they might miss elements in a text that an adult reader would appreciate, they should be given more faith as an audience. If there’s one thing I have learned about kids from my short time observing them instead of being one, it’s that every now and then, kids will sneak-attack adults with their perception. We are prone to forget that their struggles, small or big, seem enormous from their perspective, and we are even more prone to forget that they understand, to some level, things we might not expect them to understand.
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to TMR’s new online textBOX anthology, but I think what excites me the most is that we’re pulling these stories, essays, and poems from the archives with the dual intention of saving them from a dusty demise in our storage room and getting them into classrooms. We aren’t thinking of them as YA lit, but we’re thinking of them as though teenagers, not just adults, are going to read them. We’re trusting that young adults can make sense of and maybe even connect with what we publish, though we don’t set out with a YA audience in mind when we’re putting together a new issue. We look for great content; that is our criteria, and that will never change. It’s just got me wondering: what makes a piece of literature YA? Is it the author’s intention? The publisher’s? The perspective from which a story is written? I don’t know. I don’t have any answers here. I guess that means it’s time to get back to my reading, with a little something-something from the YA shelves thrown in.
Sara Strong is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri. She is an editorial assistant at The Missouri Review.
Last Thursday, The Awl posted a brief article musing on the lack of contemporary authors in ads these days, then linked to eight ads from days of yore that featured authors directly or, through the invocation of their work or their personas by others, indirectly endorsing products from credit cards to laundry detergent. Just to give you an idea of the ever-rich offerings of YouTube, a quick search will lead you to a George Plimpton ad for Intellivision, a Stephen King ad for ESPN, and an F. Scott Fitzgerald ad for a Calvin Klein fragrance. There was one pair of ads which I fully expected to but (shockingly) did not see on The Awl’s list: the Levi’s “Go Forth!” campaign, which uses Walt Whitman (you know, the guy whose 198th birthday would have been yesterday) to stunning effect.
The second ad features lines from “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” read by someone who is not Walt Whitman (actually, I don’t know who the voice belongs to) but is an extraordinary reader:
When these ads first aired in 2009, they got under my skin in mostly a good way. Not only are they masterful ads, but they straddle the border between advertising and art – a border I have become more and more interested in over the last few years. It’s too easy to say that, because something is an ad, it’s dishonest and manipulative and can’t possibly be art because it’s made to sell something. Yes, ads are manipulative, but if the ads embedded above didn’t have that Levi’s stamp at the end, I don’t think there would be a question of whether or not they’re art. And isn’t art manipulative, too? The same rhetorical tools are at work; like ads, art has an argument, a purpose, products – values – it endorses or censures. Great art is always more than an aesthetic event; it wants to change us, to convince us to agree with it, to “buy” what it is implicitly or explicitly arguing. I’m not trying to say that all ads are art or vice versa, but in the “Go Forth!” ads, they operate in similar ways.
Levi’s is selling America, but so was Whitman. Using his poetry for this campaign was marketing brilliance. Whitman’s America, the America he wanted for his time and ours, still holds sway in our nation’s dream of itself. The Bard of Democracy took all that was lofty in the Enlightenment and infused it with passion and earnestness; his vision became our self-definition, and it persists, either as a thing we think we are or wish we were or could be if only we would [fill in the blank here]. The admakers have skillfully picked up on and made use of the ideals informing Whitman’s American romance, like love, youth, freedom, indomitability, courage, equality, and durability. Even as the Great American Jeans are being sold, the Great American Poet is being interpreted and praised – almost worshipped. Our instinct as consumers is to resist the “buy this” message of an ad, but what about the other messages? What if the message is “Love Walt Whitman” or “You are part of something beautiful”?
I know, I know; the medium is the message, and if the medium’s purpose is to get us to spend money however it can, then it’s vital to be wary of the effect something has on us. When Levi’s produces these ads, beautiful and moving though they are, they’re saying, “Our jeans mean this, which means America, which means that you should want to be this and can become it by buying our jeans.” It begins and ends with the selling of jeans, but I’m not so sure that we should dismiss everything about these ads just because they’re ads. Art manipulates, and that doesn’t make art bad, so why does it make advertising bad? Is the answer really as obvious as it seems?
Sara Strong is a recent graduate of the University of Missouri and an editorial assistant at The Missouri Review.
I am a person who writes poetry, or tries to, and now that I’m looking to have a bit more free time, I hope to be a person who tries to write a lot of poetry – and reads a lot of it, too. Poetry, and fiction, and nonfiction, and drama, and everything that I put off because what I’ve been doing was being too busy to be doing what really, as an aspiring writer, I should have been doing all along – that is to say, reading beyond what was assigned in my classes and beyond what was necessary for research projects. Reading, especially, more literature that has been written and published and praised/censured/talked about in the last 10 or 20 years.
Wanting to read more contemporary literature is all well and good, but the sheer, largely unfiltered quantity of books out there becomes more overwhelming the longer I rest my weary eyes upon it. As someone who craves structure, my approach to planning my contemporary reading list has—thus far—been fairly logical. It being the very beginning of my first post-undergraduate summer, I’ve only just begun to investigate the resources that are available to me. The list that follows represents most of what I’ve already started consulting, and a few of the reading materials I’ve added to my list along the way:
Lists of major prizewinners and finalists. I figure that if someone’s work has won or almost won a Pulitzer or a National Book Award, there’s probably a reason. On my way home from the TMR office the other day, I stopped in at the indie bookshop located a few blocks away and came back out with, among other things, a copy of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I’m excited to read it, not just because it received this year’s Pulitzer for fiction, but because people I know have read it, liked it, and recommended it.
Word of mouth. This is more likely to make me read new work than anything else, and I’ve found that both listening to people talk and inviting lit-happy friends to suggest books and authors for me to read have been extremely helpful. I have a roommate who is absolutely responsible for the Zach Schomburg and Heather Christie reading in my future. A friend or two—and my thesis adviser—have been pretty insistent that I read US! by Chris Bachelder. It seems like every fiction writer I know has read Benjamin Percy’s Refresh, Refresh!, and if I let one more poet talk about Tomaz Salamun in front of me before I’ve read some of his actual books instead of just the poems dispersed across the internet, I’ll have no one to blame but myself.
“Best” lists and anthologies. There are some no-brainers here, like the Best American series, year-end lists from the NY Times, the New Yorker’s “20 under 40,” etc., etc., etc. The number of lists out there is almost as overwhelming as the number of books, but—ever systematic—I plan to do a certain amount of cross-referencing, both between lists and with titles and authors I’ve been hearing a lot about, like Nicole Krauss, whose novels The History of Love and Great House are both firmly on my reading list.
Other literary journals. One thing that I am ashamed of, and rightly so, is the lack of time I spend reading other literary journals. That’s not to say that I never do, or even that it’s not a regular habit, but given the number of quality litmags out there, I need to start more fully taking advantage of my access to them. Unfortunately for those who crave structure, there doesn’t seem to be a particularly logical way to go about choosing which magazines to read. My strategy on this front: Pick up the nearest literary journal I’ve been meaning to read and read it. Repeat with the next-nearest journal. Today, that journal was AGNI. Tomorrow, based on the tantalizing array of journals spread out on a table in TMR’s library, my guess is I’ll be thumbing through The Southern Review. How haven’t I been reading these already? It’s baffling.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I have other plans to track down the good stuff: read more reviews, pay more attention to the books that are mentioned on blogs, read more blogs, visit (virtually or physically) more independent bookstores more often, keep track of the books that are being published by small presses, etc., etc., etc. There’s a lot of reading material out there, and I need to stop letting myself be so intimidated by it all. I’ll never keep up completely – I know I won’t – but it’s high time I started trying.
What about you? How do you go about deciding what to read, and what will you be reading this summer?
Sara Strong is a graduate of the University of Missouri and an editorial assistant at the Missouri Review.