Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leslie Daniels

Leslie Daniels' stories have appeared in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Florida Review, Gulf Coast, The Santa Monica Review and New Ohio Review. The Shooting Gallery in New York City produced her one-act play. She has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Associated Writing Programs. From 2005 to 2010, she was the fiction editor for The Green Mountains Review.

Her debut novel is Cleaning Nabokov's House.

Not so long ago I asked Daniels what she was reading. Her reply:
I know this is an opportunity to puff my friends, my brilliant and astonishing writer friends (you know who you are, girls and boys). and it is also an enticement to name drop and show off. I am going to step away from those seductions. I am reading Cara Hoffman’s So Much Pretty. It’s so good, I actually stopped breathing at one point so as not to miss anything. She has confidence and style, but so much substance! I am wildly impressed.

I am also reading something that I have never heard of anyone reading. Sherwood Anderson’s Secret Love Letters edited by Ray Lewis White. It is a collection of letters from Sherwood Anderson, written during the bitter end of his 3rd marriage, addressing a woman he loved but felt hopeless to ever marry. He specified that the letters were to be read only by her and only after his death. He did marry her, and they were not together long before he died. She would only have read them then: a year’s worth of letters to her mostly about his day to day life. It fascinates me to read something by so fine a writer that is only about communicating, and so privately. The letters are beautiful and they are also ordinary. They express his patience with life, and the tenderness with which he regards his fellow human beings, talking to hobos and tramps, drawing out their stories. Also his intensity, his despair, frustration, contempt. So often the preserved intimate writing of famous writers occurs in their productive years and you read about them wrestling their big drive to create, overcoming obstacles to get massive amounts of work done. This is utterly different. Sherwood Anderson’s letters are devoid of that kind of pressing energy. They have an observation of life and a matter of fact-ness about himself. Like here I am, whether you will know me or not, here is the kind of man I am and these are my thoughts for you.

I love it. I love the aimlessness of the writing. It is not self conscious. It has no artful calculation to it, no plot. Yet I am allowed to commune with a great man of letters who was deeply in love and expressing his essential true self. It is as though he wrote them for me, because I too can deeply appreciate him.
Visit Leslie Daniels's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Cleaning Nabokov's House.

--Marshal Zeringue