Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nalini Jones

Nalini Jones graduated from Amherst College, and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in the Ontario Review, Glimmer Train, Dogwood, and Creative Nonfiction's "Living Issue."

Her debut book, What You Call Winter, is a collection of interconnected stories.

Recently, I asked Jones what she was reading. Her reply:
I’ve just come back from a month in Greece, which seemed like a long time when we were planning the trip but now seems to have passed in a clutch of very bright days, buzzing with cicadas. Driving through the Peloponnese brought up all sorts of intriguing questions about land and cultivation, and so when I returned to New England I picked up Jane Brox’s Clearing Land, which is subtitled “Legacies of the American Farm.” The prose is so fine that she brings together colonial history, agricultural lore, and family memories seamlessly. I’m enjoying it as much as I liked her earlier Here and Nowhere Else, one of my favorite memoirs.

I’ve recently finished Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, a strange and haunting novel about two sisters growing up near a lake in which both their mother and their grandfather have been lost. Her sentences have the clarity of lake water, cold and pure and perfect, and I was dazzled by the descriptions. I had barely finished Elisa Albert’s novel, The Book of Dahlia, before pressing it on several friends; the book is bold, funny, ruthless, and heart-breaking. The final lines leave me aching still. And in Greece, I picked up a book I reread every summer, Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love, out of sheer fondness for The Bolter and the surprise, every time, of her final remarks.

When I miss Greece too much, I page through the collected scholarly work in a tome called Corinth: The Centenary 1896-1996. My husband, a geologist by training, is particularly pleased when I linger over “Clays of Corinth” by Ian K. Whitbread.

On my bedside awaits the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of War and Peace, which I’ve been eager to begin long before we went to Greece but did not feel was ideal for packing; it’s a bit like its own bedside table in stature. And right now—for the first time, I should humbly confess—I have picked up Henry James’ The Bostonians. I promised my aunt (who was also my college English professor) that I would slowly work my way through all his novels, and she suggested I begin with this. I didn’t expect to be so charmed in the first pages, but I’m completely enthralled. Perhaps it won’t take me so very long to reach The Golden Bowl after all….
Read an excerpt from What You Call Winter, and learn more about the author and her work at Nalini Jones' website.

--Marshal Zeringue