Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shawn Goodman

Shawn Goodman is a writer and school psychologist. His experiences working in several New York State juvenile detention facilities inspired the books Something Like Hope, and Kindness for Weakness. He has been an outspoken advocate for juvenile justice reform, and has written and lectured on issues related to special education, foster care, and literacy. Goodman lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and children.

Last month I asked Goodman about what he was reading.  His reply:
I often read a few books at a time, going back and forth until one catches my full attention. The last three books I've finished are:

The Serialist, by David Gordon. This book found me in the Ithaca Public Library while I wandered the aisles aimlessly, luxuriously. In fact, it nearly jumped off the shelves in that weird way that happens when you're unhurried and open. I started reading over lunch (bowl of Korean food doused with Chili sauce) and finished at about 3 a.m., exhausted, but happy and sated. The next day at work was the equivalent of a book hangover, but it was totally worth it.

The story has to do with Harry Bloch, a lovable bottom feeder of a fiction writer who has worked his way down from sci-fi to porn to vampire stories and, finally, term papers for rich private school girls. One of Harry's teenage clients, Claire, appoints herself as his agent, and pushes him to accept an offer to be the exclusive biographer of the most famous serial killer in modern history (and who is soon to be executed). The rest of the story is a rich and mixed up literary soup of all the things we love and hate most about genre fiction. It's a weirdly compelling read, and I absolutely loved it.

This Dark Earth, by John Hornor Jacobs. I haven't read much zombie fiction, but I did get hooked on The Walking Dead this past season, and the book's cover reminded me of it in addition to movies like Shaun of the Dead (directed by Edgar Wright in 2004), and Zombieland (directed by Ruben Fleischer in 2009), both of which I loved. This Dark Earth adhered to many of the usual end of the world conventions, but it was well written and fun, which is, more or less, exactly what I'd hoped for.

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. I know many people have read this, so I'll simply say that Sharp Objects owned me from beginning to end. The unreliable narrator who is on her way down, all the way down... well, there's not much you can do except read on and follow her to the bitter, twisted end of the story. Amazing writing.
Visit Shawn Goodman's website.

Writers Read: Shawn Goodman (January 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue