Monday, March 28, 2011

Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman has won a New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her work on violence and adolescents and has worked as an investigative reporter covering New York State's rural and Rust Belt communities, where she reported on environmental politics and crime.

So Much Pretty, her debut novel, is now out from Simon & Schuster.

A few weeks ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m reading In the Shadow of the American Dream: The Diaries of David Wojnarowicz. The first entries date from when he was seventeen years old and the last from about a year before he died of AIDS.

Wojnarowicz is far and away one of my favorite writers. Probably because he was not simply a writer but an activist and an artist. And because his way of thinking, his modes of expression had no use for the tropes of power and authority. And because he was concerned with beauty—the kind of beauty people in what he would describe as “the one tribe nation” don’t see.

For the last year or so I’ve been immersed in Wojnarowicz’s work more than the work of any other writer; re-reading Close to the Knives and The Waterfront Journals. I think there are so few people who capture American culture the way he did, who X-rayed it the way he did.

He got it about power and struggle and autonomy and the essence of expression, the attempts by the state to criminalize our very beings.

And this may sound strange but I love the way he uses the word “drift.” It appears over and over in his work in different contexts and it’s almost like an incantation that elevates his language, that turns it into a dream landscape.

I quote David Wojnarowicz in So Much Pretty, and I feel tied to his work. I love his work. If you haven’t read him, really you should.
Visit Cara Hoffman's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue