Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kristina Riggle

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. In addition to her debut novel, Real Life & Liars (coming June 2009), she has published short stories in the Cimarron Review, Literary Mama, Espresso Fiction, and elsewhere. She is also a freelance journalist writing primarily for The Grand Rapids Press, and co-editor for fiction at Literary Mama.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
"What are you reading?" is an interesting question because I'm often juggling a few books at once, especially now, because I'm involved in a group blog of fellow debut authors this year called The Debutante Ball. I've been deep into reading their books lately, delighted to find out I'm in such grand company.

Already debuted in our group is Tiffany Baker's The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, a gorgeous literary novel about Truly Plaice, a woman who can't stop growing, orphaned as a girl and raised separately – though still in the same small town -- from her beautiful sister, Serena Jane. It's about love, dark secrets, small towns, and a little bit of magic, too.

Meredith Cole wrote a fun, fascinating mystery set in Brooklyn called Posed for Murder, about an art photographer who recreates the scenes of unsolved murders as a way to give voice to the forgotten victims, only now someone is murdering her models by copying the photographs, and that someone may be after her, too. I couldn't guess the end and had a blast rooting for her heroine, Lydia.

Katie Alender's young adult thriller, Bad Girls Don't Die, had me ripping through the pages at the end and kept me up way too late. Her heroine, Alexis, is a pink-haired rebel whose ordinary problems turn sinister when her doll-crazy sister's quirks get scary and the house itself starts to turn on them, and she doesn't even know if that green-eyed girl is really her sister anymore.

And now I'm onto First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria, a hilarious memoir by Eve Brown-Waite. The subtitle says: "How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life." It's a love story, it's an adventure, it's funny, and it's poignant, and for me, it's only beginning.

I noticed one of the recent contributors here already mentioned Anna Karenina, which has been on my bedside table for months now. I read this book (willingly! Not as homework!) in high school and remember nothing about it except for the famous tragic ending. I picked it up to read again because I gave the first line of this epic – "All happy families are alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" – to my novel as its epigraph. I felt since I invoked Tolstoy in this small way (and one of my characters quotes this line) I should refresh my memory on it. It's holding up well for me. The book is enormous but it has mercifully short chapters and excellent writing so it doesn't feel long while you're reading it.

I just finished my Dad's Christmas present from me to him (don't worry, I let him read it first), When You Are Engulfed in Flames, which is my favorite David Sedaris work yet. He's in fine form, especially in his long piece about going to Japan to quit smoking. For Christmas from my husband I got the latest Billy Collins poetry collection, Ballistics, which I love beyond reason, especially the closing poem, "Envoy," which captures exactly how it feels to launch a piece of your creative self into the world!

Next up I'm looking forward to Restitution, by UK author (and my good friend) Eliza Graham. It's a novel of love across the lines, set in the waning days of World War II as the Russians sweep across Germany, in which a young German aristocrat must give up everything to flee into the wild and save herself.

Historical fiction, poetry, epic, essays, mystery, memoir, young adult…I love my eclectic reading. Just about the only thing I'm missing in this list is romance, but wait, there was recently this historical romance called Delicious, by Sherry Thomas, which was exactly that.

If you don't sample all kinds of books, I truly believe you're missing out! Read something today you never thought you'd pick. I hope you discover a new treat, as I have, many times.
Visit Kristina Riggle's website.

--Marshal Zeringue