Monday, April 12, 2010

Shannan Rouss

Shannan Rouss is a third generation Angeleno who moved to New York, but never really left L.A. She is a former staff writer at Self, and has contributed to Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Nylon. She is currently the editor of Vital Juice New York, a daily email newsletter and website. She lives in Brooklyn.

Her new book is Easy for You.
I'm usually reading two or three books at a time.

There's the book I read to get better, a book I want to study, to help me figure something out in my own writing. Right now that book is We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live--the collected nonfiction of Joan Didion. Her language is both sparse and full. Like this line from "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream": "January 11, 1965, was a bright warm day in Southern California, the kind of day when Catalina floats on the Pacific horizon and the air smells of orange blossom and it is a long way from the bleak and and difficult East, a long way from the cold, a long way from the past."

I love everything about this sentence. I want to be inside of it. I think Didion is a master at that, using words to evoke an atmosphere. And not overdoing it. It's so controlled, and yet still very much alive.

The next book I'm reading is the before-bed book. It's a book that feels like an escape, gives my mind a break from my writing, or as much of a break as possible. Right now it's Jennifer Egan's The Keep. It's a story within a story, at least that's what I think so far. Very mysterious. It's a pleasure to move between these two tales, one set in an Eastern European castle, the other in prison.

The last book I'm reading is the book I'm always reading, Amy Hempel's Collected Stories. It's something that I can just pick up, open to any page, and read for a bit when I'm stuck. The stories are like poems to me. They somehow settle and focus my mind. There's a rhythm to her language that is almost soothing.
Read an excerpt from Easy for You and visit Shannan Rouss' website.

--Marshal Zeringue