When Brian Bartels wasn’t writing or managing Fedora, the Greenwich Village bar and eatery that he co-owns with Gabriel Stulman, he spent 2012 trying to avoid the narcotic glow of his cell phone so he could spend more time reading. Here are the books that caught his attention last year.
I’ll be totally honest: I really did not expect to like Frankie Thomas’s “The Showrunner” at all. It starts off at a casting session for a fictional Disney-esque tween series, and not only am I biased against stories that saturate themselves in current pop culture—I tend to like a little patina on my cultural references—I expected the story to be as flimsy as the TV show at its center. I was completely wrong. Within half a page, I was unable to put the piece down. (No joke: I was late to pick up my son from daycare, I was that […]
Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” (1908) is one of those stories—paralleled by certain films—that I always return to with an odd yearning. Each time, despite myself, I hope that the story (or film) will somehow end differently. That Connie won’t leave with Arnold Friend. That Christopher Reeve won’t discover that penny from 1979. Or, in the case of London’s story, that “the man” won’t break through the ice—and that the fire won’t go out. Perhaps part of the story’s great appeal is how very different it is from my own lived experience and writerly tendencies. My version of the […]
Hello again, FWR friends. Welcome to the third installment of our new blog series, “First Looks,” which highlights soon-to-be released books that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. We publish “First Looks” here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments and your recommendations of forthcoming titles. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com, and thanks in advance. Susan Woodring and I are graduates of the same low-residency MFA program. Although we overlapped for a couple of semesters, we were never assigned to the same workshop. Still, I’ve […]
As a fiction writer, I have a litmus test for knowing if a book is one I love love love versus one that is merely admirable. A book that is truly fantastic for me is one that also makes me want to write. It’s not that I go into the reading experience looking to be bitten by contagious writing. But I’ve found that when I read certain writers—Jennifer Egan, Jo Ann Beard, Susan Minot, to name a few—the reverie of their prose is so intense, so real, that I find myself wanting to continue the conversation on my side of […]
Hello again, FWR friends. Welcome to the second installment of our new blog series, “First Looks,” which highlights soon-to-be released books that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. We publish “First Looks” here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments and your recommendations of forthcoming titles. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com, and thanks in advance. Here are just two of the many intriguing books scheduled to be released before we meet again one month from now: A few weeks ago, I received an email from […]
I’m thankful for many things this Thansksgiving–friends, family, bits of good fortune large and small that have come my way over the past year. But in terms of stories, there’s one I’m eternally grateful for: Julie Orringer‘s “Pilgrims.” I first encountered “Pilgrims” in The Best New American Voices 2001, where it was the lead-off story. It begins simply enough: a family–father, mother, sister, brother–are headed to Thanksgiving dinner. But within paragraphs, you feel less and less at ease. The mother is gravely ill, as are many of the parents at the group dinner. Brother and sister must contend with a […]