Saturday, July 10, 2010

Susan Hasler

Susan Hasler spent twenty-one years at the CIA, where she held a variety of positions including counterterrorism analyst. In 2004 she resigned from the CIA and now writes full time. Her short stories have appeared in The Beloit Fiction Journal, O. Henry Festival Stories 2005, and more.

Her new novel is Intelligence.

Earlier this month I asked Hasler what she was reading. Her reply:
Of the novels that I’ve read this year, three have lodged in my mind with particular stubbornness.

I loved T. C Boyle’s The Women for the strange warp and rhythm of its backwards chronology. Boyle takes the material of Frank Lloyd Wright’s life and turns it into a long prose poem. As a writer, I have to admire the skill required to pull this off so effectively. If Boyle were a figure skater, this would be a quadruple axel.

Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna is a masterful rendering of the political and social sins of an era. How could I, as a one-time art major, one-time Soviet expert, and frequent visitor to the North Carolina mountains not love this novel? It features Frida Kahlo, Trotsky, and Asheville. Moreover, Kingsolver’s account of McCarthy era excesses has a chilling political relevance in a time of cable news screamers.

Finally, I adored Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. How does this woman make each page so special? Every sentence exudes its own atmosphere and makes you breathe its air. This quiet story of a midwest minister nearing the end of his life sounds in the memory for a long time after you put it down.

These are writers that leave me feeling humbled and anxious to push myself to do more.
Visit Susan Hasler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue