Staff Reading: February 2006

Christian Bauman (Assistant Editor)
Reading “A Pale View of Hills” by Kazuo Ishigruo. My sister, who is in college at Wesleyan, has a different last name than mine, is very much younger than me, but is one my all-around favorite people in the world, recommended it to me. It’s a wonderful read so far.

Robert Birnbaum (Editor-at-Large)
Record Men – Ric Cohen, about the legendary Chess brothers of Chicago

Sea Change – Robert Parker, Speak with the Devil – Richard Hawke, Sunstroke – Jesse Kellerman (three crime stories)

Literature is Freedom – Susan Sontag, her 2003 acceptance speech of the German Peace prize

President Reagan – Richard Reeves, excellent book on the Gipper’s presidency

Also, American Journey – Richard Reeves, his 1982 book retracing and musings on de Toqueville’s 1832 wanderings around the US

Thom McGuane’s forthcoming short-story collection Gallatin Canyon, pound for pound the best short-story collection I have read in the past few years

Essays in Cynthia Ozick’s forthcoming collection, The Din in the Head

The Big Why – Michael Winter is this talented Canadian novelist’s first published book in the US, about artist Rockwell Kent living in Newfoundland in the early 20th century

Rebels, Turn Out Your Dead – Michael Drinkard, a novel placed in the American Revolutionary War

Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences – Lawrence Weschler, which is the kind of odd book that Weschler is practiced at, joining discussions of disparate things, mostly in the visual arts

Began the new Anthony Briggs translation of War and Peace.

Summer Block (Copy Editor)
Well, I’m mostly doing required reading nowadays – I’m on a prize committee, so I’m reading through dozens of contenders in the nonfiction category. I’m also reading two books for review for Verse, one for the Observer, and one for the SF Chronicle. But in my free time, such as it is, I’m keeping myself busy with Baudrillard’s The Conspiracy of Art, numerous catalogues, and travel guides to Shanghai, where I’ll soon be living. From my Mandarin phrasebook: “How can I explain this to my parents?”

Matt Borondy (Founding Editor)
A couple of books that I’m pretty excited about showed up in the mail today, from authors I hadn’t read but who seem to have potential: Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson and Tin God by Terese Svoboda. The other day I re-read Jack Kerouac’s Pomes All Sizes for the first time since 1998 or so. Also am reading Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty as part of a book trade and continuing to work through Reb Anderson’s Being Upright.

Jane Friedman (Fiction Editor)
On my nightstand or in my messenger bag: The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, The Best American Essays 2005.

Krissy Haltinner (Social Justice Editor)
Starhawk: Fifth Sacred Thing (repeated reading, it is my favorite novel – a must read for anyone interested in seeing the world become different than it is today [and especially those who aren’t])
Davila, Arlene: Latino’s, Inc (Advertisement industry and Latin America)
Dallaire, Romeo and Power, Samantha: Shake Hands with the Devil (General’s story about the genocide in Rwanda)

and a bunch of undergraduate papers and stuff for my classes, but that isn’t nearly as interesting…

Mara Naselli (Assistant Editor)
I’m dabbling in different things: The Natural History of Destruction, W. G. Sebald; The Next American Essay, ed. John D’Agata; The Wave in the Mind, Ursula Le Guin; Annals of the Former World, John McPhee (not sure how far I’ll get on that one); Out of Eden, Alan Burdick; a bunch of social and natural history about the South Side of Chicago; and a bunch of stuff on bird behavior. I’m supposed to be reading The Heart is Lonely Hunter with Kevin Smokler, but he’s way ahead of me.

Jesslyn Roebuck (Social Justice Editor)
I’m reading Lehman’s editorial edition of Prose Poems; Great American Short Stories; George Saunders’ Pastoralia; and Richard Powers’ Galatea 2.2.

Plus, writing my thesis so N. Scott Momaday’s House Made of Dawn, and Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony.

Jessica Rowland (Assistant Editor)
I’m the underachiever of the literary world…. I just started reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This is my only literary undertaking at the current moment, unless you count the Wall Street Journal.

Alex Shapiro (Nonfiction Editor)
Reading “Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson” by Jonathan Coe. I don’t usually go for biographies, and especially not biographies of writers, but it arrived out of the blue in the mail Saturday, so I started reading it a little, just messing around. And now I’m enjoying it a lot.

Ross Simonini (Assistant Music Editor)
The Conversations by Ondaatje
The Lover by Duras
KornWolf by Tristan Egolf
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Dance Dance Dance by Murakami
Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta

Lisa Szkatulski (Visuals Editor)
i’m still working on the same things, Under the Banner of Heaven (phonemonal); Living to Tell the Tale (somewhat of a chore, but also somehow very satisfying); Psalms of David (a gift, a beautiful illustrated version); The Communist Manifesto (to look smart on the train, confuse my co-workers, and actually learn something); Citizen Designer (to stay focused while I take on a non-design job at a design firm).

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