What better way to celebrate summer than to talk about some of the lovely words we’ll be reading? Check out what the Sundog masthead is reading or planning to read right now:
The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing, edited by Kevin Young
I lost my ah-gong, my grandpa, this week. When I found out, I immediately reached for poetry as a balm and as company to my grief. I am sifting through slowly, reading poems out loud, hoping that by the time I reach the end of this hefty anthology, my grief will have been transformed, will be different.
– Jennifer Huang, Co-Assistant Poetry Editor
How We Fight for Our Lives, Saeed Jones
I’ve been trying to read more Black nonfiction writers while also getting to know the different lifestyle point of views in general. Saeed Jones is a gay Black writer from Texas and he discusses his childhood to adult experiences. Jones gives such a beautiful insight into the intersectionality of a gay Black man and how he’s fought (still fighting) for his life, but also into those individual lives in separate deep dives. There’s such a great vibrance and color in this book. His emotions are clear as day as he takes you through these journeys. I also enjoy the writing where he openly talks about his life and mentality in those moments. There’s moments throughout the book where he makes his point, then writes devastating prose to follow which always leaves me feeling full after each chapter. It’s the kind of book you have to put down so you don’t swallow it whole in one day.
– Amber D. Dodd, Assistant Nonfiction Editor
In The Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado
I’ve had this on my shelf for a while and have been aching to read it. I’ve taught selections from Her Body and Other Parties as well as some of her online work, so I fully expected to be enamored with this book. So far I am not disappointed.
– Hayli Cox, Assistant Nonfiction Editor
Last of Her Name, Mimi Lok
I interned for a brief time with Kaya Press, which is the publisher of this book, so as a general follower of their work, I’ve been hearing a lot about this book! So far, Lok is delivering with some really poignant stories about legacy and the female experience.
– Frankie Martinez, Blog Editor
Obit, Victoria Chang
I had to make careful backpack selections this summer before coming to my partner’s family’s farm where we await news of what will be our Fall classrooms in Paris, but I’m so glad I brought Victoria Chang’s Obit with me. In the Corbières where I’m currently waking and walking, my mind heaves and sighs, over a summer flower or in watching the searching vultures, with all of the minutiae and grandeur of lives doing and undoing. I think I’m spending some time breathing and hovering like this because of Chang’s poems and how they expand and compress articulation, how they confound personhood and the deterioration of a self. Though couched in obvious contexts of mourning and certainly love-fueled, Chang’s collection is a box of unexpected wonder, surprising humor, and I appreciate so much, at this moment in the life of the world and in the prism of own days, being able to travel the lines she’s so keenly etched along the mirrors of life and death.
– Carrie Chappell, Poetry Editor
Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn
I taught [Dennis-Benn’s] first novel, Here Comes the Sun, this Spring and I really got swept up in the women she created and the Jamaica she brought to light. Dennis-Benn has a real talent for creating places and emotions that feel so real and I’ve heard her second novel develops this skill even further. I happened to need to escape my home for a few minutes and my local bookstore had this book out on their table. I’m so excited to delve into this narrative and continue to support this amazing writer!
– Leela Chantrelle, Co-Assistant Poetry Editor
Swing Time, Zadie Smith
This sat unread on my shelf for way too long. The jacket description promised an exploration of friendship, inequality, and time, but there’s also the complicated concept of family, and the struggle of living in someone else’s shadow. I love how it keeps returning to the idea of time and how our perception of it can be different depending on our circumstances. To be honest, I finished it last week but haven’t started anything else because I’m still processing it all, wishing there was more.
– Cynthia Brandon-Slocum, Managing Editor
Talking to Ourselves, Andrés Neuman
I picked this novel up after reading Neuman’s other book Traveler of the Century, a novel that seemed to talk about everything a novel can talk about and which was praised by one of my literary idols, Roberto Bolaño. Talking to Ourselves is much slimmer than Traveler but takes on the huge themes of death, sickness/health, and love with a poignant and fresh approach through three different voices of a family, which is really Neuman’s forte: writing such believable, interesting characters of all sorts outside of his identity as an author.
– Ferris McDaniel, Co-Assistant Fiction Editor
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
After a string of quiet, contemporary fiction, I finally got around to Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and I haven’t reacted so viscerally to all aspects of a novel in a long time. All of its power is founded in craft work that I’m still trying to wrap my head around: the upending of the picaresque formula, the subtle use of the slightly fantastical “railroad,” the character work, and of course, the history. This is a book I sometimes have to put down, after which I can’t wait to pick it back up.
– Eric Rasmussen, Fiction Editor
Writers & Lovers, Lily King
I bought this a while ago after falling hard for King’s Euphoria, which reimagines a real-life love triangle involving Margaret Mead in her 1933 journey to Papua New Guinea. Writers & Lovers at first felt a lot lighter, but as I keep reading I’m realizing the stakes may be just as high as they were for Mead; they’re just more familiar and accessible. Casey, the protagonist, is in her early thirties and still trying to make her way in this world–as a writer and a waitress in Cambridge, Massachusetts–after her mother has died. Crippled with student debt, confused about love, she’s one of the most relatable narrators I’ve met in a long while. There’s also a fair amount of humor here, and I feel like I’m in the company of a friend, one who’s writing her novel and fighting the good artistic fight, completely unsure of whether she’ll win it. However daunting her problems, there’s also no pandemic here, none of the stuff that makes me squint when I look at the headlines these days. A solid summer read.
– Melissa Wiley, Nonfiction Editor