Welcome back to our reading corner, I’d be lying to you if I said this wasn’t one of my most favorite things to write every month. If you could see me, I would most likely put on a button down sweater and do my best Mr. Rogers impression (while holding a huge glass of wine).
Up this month we have one new book, Idaho by writer Emily Ruskovich, and an old favorite of mine that lit little fires in my soul as I read it: Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. Both of these writers embody a kind of fearlessness in their craft that I greatly admire as an artist and a woman. They tread on uncomfortable and shaky ground with a certain kind of assurance in the prose that holds you close until the end.
IDAHO BY EMILY RUSKOVICH
Published at the start of this year, these fresh pressed pages are rich with emotional texture and complex family dynamics. The book is set in the high mountains of Idaho and based around the happenings of one family and a tragic event that ripples through their lives. The narrative moves around in time from chapter to chapter, but you are never lost within these pages. Ruskovich looks out for you every step of the way, grounding you with both a visceral setting and textured landscape inside each character. It’s a work of patience and attention, beauty and the kind of heart ache that plagues people for a lifetime.
BAD BEHAVIOR BY MARY GAITSKILL
I had a teacher who gave me this collection, it was her own personal copy and the pages were dog-eared and written on and it looked like she slept with it at night. I understood why once I started reading. After returning the copy to her, I went and bought my own and reread the book making all of my own markings and coffee stains and tear splashes. Now my copy looks like hers. I think every woman, and every writer, should read these stories because they take down the walls of what we might think we can write about. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, she takes it out and unpacks it for you. Whatever makes you hurt, she explains it. Whatever turns your gears, she puts on display. The stories are as varied as they are complex and she away from nothing. To get you started there is a wonderful reading of her story The Other Place, read by Jennifer Eagan on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast. Listen here.