Friday, May 27, 2016

Adam Haslett

Adam Haslett is the author of the short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here, which was a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, and the novel Union Atlantic, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. His books have been translated into eighteen languages, and he has received the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, the PEN/Malamud Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations.

Haslett's new novel is Imagine Me Gone.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
As usual I'm in the midst of several books, fiction and non-fiction. I'm about a third of the way through Peter Gay's biography of Freud, which I picked up as a kind of backgrounder to psychoanalytic theory, about which I have only an undergraduate acquaintance. It's a mildly frustrating book because it takes for granted the existence of Freud's various internal entities and diagnoses--the id, hysteria--as though they were fossils he'd discovered on a dig rather than historical and cultural concepts, but it's good on the life itself.

On the fiction side, I recently finished Elizabeth Strout's latest novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, which I thought was quite fine, about a once-poor woman being visited in the hospital by her still poor mother. It's a hard book--not in the formal sense, but in its view of family--in a way a lot of fiction hesitates to be, and I appreciated that.

I'm a few pages from the end of Paul Beatty's coruscating satire, The Sellout, which is just brilliant and ravaging in its send-up of our racial pieties. The black narrator reinstates slavery and segregation in a South Central-like neighborhood of LA to devastating comic effect. I haven't read any of this earlier stuff, but I will now. I highly recommend this one.

And the other novel that's open on my desk right now is Richard Price's The Whites, which I'm enjoying as a New Yorker, seeing my city captured in ways I don't often or ever experience it. I don't read much crime fiction because the formula seems too close to the surface, but in The Whites, the plot seems as much an excuse to spend time with Price's people as an end in itself. I'm glad to have a lot of fiction in the mix right now, which is easier when I'm not in the middle of writing a book myself, and have some plane flights to read at long stretches, so I'm looking forward to more of that in the months ahead.
Visit Adam Haslett's website.

The Page 69 Test: Union Atlantic.

The Page 69 Test: Imagine Me Gone.

--Marshal Zeringue