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Letter from the Director
Dear Students, Faculty and Alumni,
Craig Childs: “Brown” by Richard Rodriguez, “Nine Horses” by Billy Collins, “The Early Settlement of North America” by Gary Haynes and about a thousand pages of scientific journal articles about rock flakes and mammoth bones.
Leslie Jamison: I just finished reading “On Immunity” by Eula Biss, an investigation of the notion of immunization from so many angles: literature, public health, her own experience as a mother. It's a fascinating example of how nonfiction can blur the boundaries between memoir and cultural studies in really provocative ways.
Mark Sundeen: I’m reading “The End of Vandalism” by Tom Drury, which has many amazing lines. “The Greens had the sort of house that would have been better off had there been fewer construction materials available when it was built.”
I just finished “Christine Falls” by Benjamin Black, a sort of Raymond Chandler/Ross Macdonald thriller set in 1950s Dublin, where instead of a private investigator we have a coroner. It devolved into a slightly silly ending, but had so many physical descriptions I wanted to steal that I made a list: “a thatch of hair,” “skirls of snow," “he knocked the top off a beer bottle,” “she shucked off her dress.” And this rendering of lust: “his tongue throbbed at the root.”
Ann Garvin: I'm reading “Sea Creatures” by Susanna Daniel because she is a fantastic writer and we just went to see the musician Gregory Alan Isakov together and she gave it to me. I was embarrassed that I hadn't read it yet.
And “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters because I'm writing a book with a startup in it.
My own answer: “Can’t and Won’t,” an occasionally brutal and consistently lovely short story collection by Lydia Davis. She’s a master of the horrifying narrator. “The Dreadful Mucamas” consists of complaints about two servants who “came with the apartment.” A “Dreadful Mucamas” sampler:
I have told them: Please, do not make the toast until we ask for breakfast. We do not like very crisp toast the way the English do.
I said: Luisa, you cannot refer to my instructions as ‘capricious and illogical.’
Director, Low-Residency MFA in Fiction & Nonfiction
Southern New Hampshire University