Jamie's Favorites: October 2020
Here are the books, movies, podcasts, and articles shaping my thoughts this month:
The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
As I am now taking my second workshop with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and it's about short stories, I dove deep into a lot of short story collections this month. This is the one that really spoke to me. Of course, I love Adichie's writing and have devoured her novels, and I loved seeing traces of those well-developed characters here. Stories like "A Private Experience" and "On Monday of Last Week" were so good that I had to put the book down afterwards, like I had been through something and couldn't just pick up the next story. I love this book--now, to try my own hand at short stories--yikes.
"The Prairie Wife" - Curtis Sittenfeld
Speaking of short stories, I poked through a couple of the Best American Short Stories collections, and this short story, "The Prairie Wife," published in the New Yorker in 2017, was the one that really grabbed my heart. I remember when Sittenfeld read her short story "Creative Differences" on the old version of The Cut podcast, and it was so well-written, she makes it look almost too easy. "The Prairie Wife" was similar. The prose was so clean and easy to read I thought, well, this can't be that hard (oh, but it is).
MFA Vs. NYC Edited by Chad Harbach
This book is for writers who want to make a career writing but aren't sure where their work fits into the culture of American fiction. I loved this book and read it straight through, twice in a row. If you're a writer, I highly recommend.
I've thought about this essay "Les Calanques" (technically an excerpt from her book, Girlhood) by Melissa Febos a lot since I read it. Her use of flashback was so effective, and she ties in the writing life with subtlety and interest.
Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde
I'm not much of a movies or TV person, but I wish every night I could sit down and watch something that would be as charming, lively, thought-provoking, funny, and brilliant as this film. The costumes, hair, and set design created so much dynamism to enjoy, and the dialogue was sparse and funny. I welcome your recommendations for films & shows for me to watch because I am notoriously terrible at sitting through a movie.
University of Wyoming Geological Museum
We finally went to Laramie, Wyoming for the art museum, but the real winner was the geological museum, featuring many impressive specimens, specifically one mammoth skull that I wrote about in my Awake essay last week (you can access the Awake archive here). The experience of learning about these dinosaurs and the passage of time really put this whole human-life thing in perspective for me. The election will soon be over, and time will march on.
"Emily Ratajkowski Wants Her Pictures Back" on The Cut with Avery Trufelman
I want to love the new The Cut podcast so badly because I think Avery Trufelman is brilliant, but the truth is I don't think she's quite found her footing in her new role yet. In the meantime, this is the best episode so far of the rebooted The Cut podcast, and it is utterly astonishing, dealing with everything from issues about ownership and beauty and body image to lofty ideas about who gets to make art, what qualifies, and how we consume art ethically.
Then, go read the essay.
Folklore, Taylor Swift
LOL were you expecting something else?
Each month on this blog, I'm going to round up some of the things that I'm reading, watching, and listening to that are informing my writing. Have questions, comments, or vehemently disagree with my assessments? Leave those in the comments, please.