Harry Potter films + Christmas
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
If you want more intricate, literary fantasy, try these next…
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake for an elaborate and bizarre gothic epic
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly for a dark fairy tale
The Magicians by Lev Grossman for a melancholy urban fantasy
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor for superb YA world building
Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
On the 60th Anniversary of Nabokov’s controversial, sublime masterpiece, find more complicated protagonists and beautiful language in these…
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann for a writer’s escalating obsession with a young boy
She Came to Stay by Simone de Beauvoir for an existential story of hedonism and desire
Tampa by Alissa Nutting for a modern reversal of Lolita, with a female narrator seducing a young teenage boy
The Round House by Louise Erdich for coming of age against a dark backdrop of family secrets and violence
Good times on a Saturday night.
My creative writing professor told me to stop
writing about love. I asked him why and he said,
“Because you have turned it over and over in your hands,
felt every angle, every fault, every inch,
every bruise. You have ruined it for yourself.”
I spent the next 3 weeks writing about science
and space. Stars exploding.
Getting sucked into a black hole.
How much I wished I could sleep inside of that nothingness
without being annihilated. What an exploding star
would taste like. If it would make our stomachs glow
like fireflies, or tingle and shake like pop rocks
under our tongue.
My creative writing professor told me that those poems
weren’t what he was looking for.
He tells me to stop writing about outer space.
Stop writing about science.
Again, I ask him why. Again, he says,
“You have ruined it for yourself.”
I spend the next three weeks writing about my mother,
how we are told we can’t make homes inside
of other human beings, but the foreclosure sign
on my mother’s empty womb tells me that women
who give birth know a different,
more painful truth.
My creative writing professor tells me I am both talented
and hopeless, that everything I write is both visceral and empty,
a walking circus with no animals inside
but a beautiful trapeze artist with a broken hip
selling popcorn in the entrance-way.
He tells me to stop writing about my mother. I don’t ask why.
I pick up my books and my notepad
and I leave his office with my war stories
tucked under my tongue like an exploding star,
like the taste of the last person I ever loved,
like my mother’s baby thermometer, and I do not look back.
We are all writing about our mothers, our lovers,
the empty space that we will never be able to breathe in.
We are all carrying stones in our pockets
and tossing them back and forth in our hands,
trying to explain the heaviness
and we will never stop writing about love,
about black holes, about how quiet it must have been
inside the chaos of my mother’s belly,
inside the chaos of his arms,
inside the chaos of the spaces in every poem
I have ever written.
None of this is ruined.
Do not listen to them when they tell you that it is.