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LLA Reads: Journeys Through Other Lives

At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.

Kim Recommends: TURNING BONES by Lee Martin (University of Nebraska Press, 2003)

Genre: Memoir / Historical Fiction

"I would have read this book even if its author were not scheduled to lead a workshop at the 2015 Writer’s Block Festival. As a nonfiction writer, I am excited by the flexibility of nonfiction narrative. Turning Bones, published by Tobias Wolff’s American Lives Series, is a hybrid of cultural history, memoir and fiction, created by a narrator on a journey of ancestral and personal discovery. Martin traces his ancestors’ migrations from Kentucky to Illinois. Fiction was not Martin’s original intention (though he is also a novelist— THE BRIGHT FOREVER was a Pulitzer Prize nominee in 2006). When an elderly aunt refuses to discuss his great grandfather’s second wife, the author realizes he will have to recreate their stories. 'That had been [my aunt’s] gift to me, the license of artistry.' In TURNING BONES, Martin alternates fictional segments with memoir, remembering his troubled relationship with an abusive father who had lost both hands in a farming accident. In all segments, he writes lyrically, treating all his characters with unsentimental affection. Read an excerpt at Prairie Schooner."

Lynnell recommends: AMERICAN HOMES by Ryan Ridge (University of Michigan press, 2014)

Genre: Poetry / Fiction / Art / Aphorisms

"Holy Hybrid! Louisville author Ryan Ridge's new collection of essays, aphorisms, catalogues, puns, prose poems, anecdotes, ideas and instructions metafiction (and more!) is part George Saunders and part Southern Living. Brief chapters include: "Garageology"; "Awayward Functions"; "Driveway Designs" and "Ideas" (Idea for White House: "If we painted the White House pink and made it a bit smaller, America would be exactly like living in a John Couger Mellencamp song.) His apparently whimsical approach toward that bulwark of the American Dream -- the American Home -- belies a sly politics though. Where are we living and why? What have we lost (or gained) in the homogenization of our private castles? Find this in the poetry section at Carmichael's or from University of Michigan Press; you'll never look at your front porch the same way again."

Amy recommends: A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki (Viking, 2013)

Genre: Fiction

"Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Ruth Ozeki’s third book alternates between the narrative of a woman living on a remote island, Ruth, who finds a girl’s diary washed up on shore after the Japanese tsunami, and the diary’s narrative. The girl who has written in the diary, Nao, lives in Japan and tells a story of bullying, her only solace being a resolve to chronicle the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun. A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING is a rich stew that blends quantum mechanics, Buddhist thought, thoughts on the kanji that compose the Japanese language, the nature of time, and the reader-writer relationship. Ruth’s adventure through the act of reading Nao’s diary is a journey she never would have expected, and you will be surprised at where her journey takes you. "



If you would like us to consider recommending your book, please contact LLA Reads editor Alice, who will let you know how to get your book to our readers.

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