LLA Reads: Writers that Impress
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.
Erin recommends: I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (Dial, 2014)
Genre: Young Adult
"This story of fraternal twins, Jude and Noah, bends the rules of structure, unfolding as a dual narrative told from two different points in time. The sections from Noah’s perspective reveal the twins’ lives at age thirteen, at a time when both siblings—burgeoning artists—are vying for the same spot at an exclusive art school and vying for the position as “favorite” to each of their parents. The sections from Jude’s perspective reveal the twins’ lives at sixteen, at a time when an unnamed event has rent them apart. Over the course of the novel, the reader is taken on a journey into the depths of human heartache and sorrow, a place where only the ones we love most can send us, but also into the heights of love, self-discovery, and the importance of family—the canopy of life’s hopes and joys. Themes like redemption and forgiveness, along with Nelson’s complex portrayal of the adults in this work, give the novel tremendous crossover appeal. What’s more, the language itself is gorgeous. Nelson’s former training as a poet shines through in her lyrical prose and in her deft use of metaphor and symbolism. This is a writer I can’t wait to see more from."
Kim recommends: ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING by Ray Bradbury (Joshua Odell Editions, 1994)
Genre: Essay collection
" 'In order to keep a muse, you should first offer food' (33). This quote is from Ray Bradbury’s lively collection of essays, subtitled Essays of Creativity. The book’s focus is the writing life—his and ours. Each piece is deeply personal and energetic. In the title essay, 'Zen in the Art of Writing,' Bradbury describes a strategy: Work, Relax, Don’t Think (not necessarily in that order). Throughout the collection, Bradbury emphasizes process-as-goal— ' . . . we are working not for work’s sake, producing not for production’s sake . . . What we are trying to do is find a way to release the truth that lies in all of us.' (147) Without understatement he suggests, 'Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper' (149)."
Alice recommends: LONGBOURN by Jo Baker (Knopf, 2013)
"As a bit of a Janeite, I've read a bit of 'fan fiction' set in Austen's worlds, but this one is by far my favorite, told from the servants’ perspective and tapping into the upstairs/downstairs dynamics of Pride & Prejudice. Baker hits the writing style on the nose, with shifting perspectives, and clever turns of phrase. But Baker has gone beyond Austen's usual haunts, including details of the war in Spain at the time. (For all the mention of officers in P&P, it was an overlooked topic. The army is not, after all, full of regimentals, card games, and dances, even at Meryton.) My favorite part of this book was when Baker takes us backwards, into the young footman's tale before he arrives at Longbourn. Again, beautifully written, and it's clear that the author is not only a wonderful ghost of Jane Austen, but also a fabulous writer in her own right. "