Friday, September 26, 2008

Margot Kahn

Margot Kahn is the author of Horses That Buck: The Story of Champion Bronc Rider Bill Smith.

Her work and book reviews have appeared in various print and online publications including Work Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Ohioana Quarterly, and Publishers Weekly. In 2005 she received the Ohioana Library Association’s Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant for a promising young writer.

Kahn is currently the youth programs manager at Richard Hugo House, a literary arts center in Seattle, and a writer-in-residence with the Seattle Arts & Lectures program Writers in the Schools.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
This summer’s been a strange one. First, it didn’t start acting like summer until the middle of July, right when I had to start teaching creative writing workshops at Richard Hugo House, Seattle’s great literary center. While I wanted to be in a meadow somewhere on the edge of a snowfield, watching the wildflowers open, drifting in and out of the stack of books I’d picked up in May at Elliott Bay, I was instead inside, surrounded by high school hormones, revisiting my old favorite lines. It was bittersweet.

I relished rereading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Collected Stories, and I was ecstatic to see the spastic kid who hadn’t written much in a week sit buried in that book for the rest of the afternoon. I went back to Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club for a lesson on memoir and to John D’Agata’s lovely The Next American Essay collection to show that not all essays are five-paragraph bores. We looked at Junot Diaz’s stories in Drown for, among other things, dialogue. And I went back to The Collected Works of Billy the Kid for its inventive construction, gorgeous lyricism and that Western thing that I love.

Several fantastic Seattle writers came to visit our workshop and I was delighted to discover their work in the process. Among them, Catharine Wing’s collection of poems Enter Invisible and Ryan Boudinot’s hysterical and creepy collection of short stories The Littlest Hitler made me laugh, cry and hide in my house for days.

In my own time, what little of it there was, I read two stories of marriage: Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees and Andrew Sean Greer’s The Story of a Marriage. Both of these books cover decades of time and seas of emotion in tight style. And it’s rare for me to get so caught up in such gorgeous sentences, in a story so perfectly paced, that I look up at a certain discovery and say out loud, “How did he do that?” But this happened to me twice in Greer’s book, making me want to turn back to the first page the very moment I finished the last.

Next on my list: The Boat by Nam Le and The Curtain by Milan Kundera. I’m also looking forward to Cody Walker’s first collection of poems, Shuffle and Breakdown, coming out in November.
Read more about Margot Kahn's Horses That Buck at the publisher's website.

Visit Margot Kahn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue