Sunday, April 17, 2016

Peter Rock

Peter Rock is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. His adult novel My Abandonment won the Alex Award.

Rock's new YA novel is Klickitat.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
I’m always reading. Because I teach, there’s a constant flow of texts I’m about to discuss with my students—this week ranging from David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster and Kent Russell’s American Juggalo to Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild—and there’s a teetering tower on my bedside table, books I’m reading and, in spells, reading from:

Travels of Marco, by Mark Levine

His astounding fourth book of poems, full of unexpected rhythms and intense yet gentle focus. The way he can use syntax to rotate consciousness (for lack of a better description) is astounding and something I’d like to learn. Here’s a passage from the end of “Cave”:

That was when I had a boy.
I’m quite sure I did.
I wanted one, back then, when I had something to offer,
When I wasn't in this place where light passes through me,
When I wasn’t like this,
Which is what,
When I wanted one,
As he, poor boy, wanted me.

Pointe, by Brandy Colbert

This is a YA novel about Theo, a high school ballet dancer with so much going on it’s kind of impossible, almost improbable, and part of the real pleasure of reading about all this drama is how wonderful the characterization, how ably Theo’s narrative voice conveys complication and makes it all seem inevitable. Man, child abduction, eating disorders, more drugs than I ever expected in the Young Adult world (though I guess when I was a young adult, that’s how it was…). I’m going to LA this weekend to be on a panel Brandy is moderating, and wanted to be prepared; I’m really glad I read the book in any case, because it’s a consistent and remarkable achievement.

The Community, Writings About Art In and Around Portland 1997-2016, by Jon Raymond

The fiction writer Jon Raymond is a friend of mine and man, he is everyone’s best friend in Portland for a reason: he pays such close attention to other people and what they’re doing. This volume is so wonderfully important, such a vital history of time and place through the people who were making things in them. He writes about more and less famous artists, with references to music and also to literature, so finely attuned to geography and emotion. One of my favorite things about this book is Raymond’s ability to move from very astute and sophisticated writing about art into sudden excited expostulation. Highlights include essays on Michael Brophy, ten years apart, an interview with the founder of VISA, and travels with Miranda July.

Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

Herzog kills me. Grizzly Man is my favorite film. Herzog’s so uneven, so wryly and ridiculously iconoclastic. But his words so often provide a sweet kick in the pants for someone who is trying to make things. “Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief. Learn to live with your mistakes.” “Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world were coming to an end the same day. There is a wondrous serenity to his response. ‘I would plant an apple tree,’ he said. Me, I would make a film.”
Visit Peter Rock's website.

The Page 69 Test: My Abandonment.

The Page 69 Test: The Shelter Cycle.

--Marshal Zeringue