Friday, May 20, 2011

Vanessa Veselka

Vanessa Veselka is a writer and musician living in Portland, Oregon. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex-worker, a union organizer, a student of paleontology, an expatriate, an independent record label owner, a train-hopper, a waitress, and a mother. Her work has appeared in Bust, Bitch, Maxmum Rock ’n’ Roll, Yeti Magazine and Tin House.

Veselka's new novel is Zazen.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
When I read I don’t read for escape or tonal affect, I read for transformation. This means my reading life is filled with disappointment and exhilaration. I’m drawn equally to dark novels, especially those written in the shadow of WWI, and to flighty forms of mysticism, myth, and fringe health books. It is always my intention to make peace with the last 75 years of literature because there are so many great books contained within it, but the lure of profound emotional change always wins, wherever it is.

Heart of a Dog - Bulgakov

How can you knock a novel narrated by a misanthropic dog? I think a lot of modern lit doesn’t work for me because it tentatively approaches a metaphor but never pushes past it. Written in 1925 during the rise of Stalin, Bulgakov has a starving dog, lured by food, turned into a human being through brutal surgery as a social experiment. So, duh, it’s a metaphor for the vanguard mentality behind the dictatorship of the proletariat. But it just starts there. It’s funny as hell and the voice touches the world it lives in at all points. You care more about the dog than what he “means.”

Perfect Health - Chopra

Writers tend to publicize their more elite tastes, so I thought I’d throw in something slightly embarrassing. I’m not a Deepak Chopra fan in general (or at least not a fan of whatever he has spawned) but this book is pretty great. I look at religious and cultural mysticism as languages. His description of Ayurveda in here is a wonderful and solid translation that steers clear of aroma and color therapy and all the spa-noise stuff that makes me crazy. And yet I prefer the original cover with the creepy picture of him on the front to remind me that I’m a flake at heart.
Visit Vanessa Veselka's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Zazen.

The Page 69 Test: Zazen.

--Marshal Zeringue