Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Kayla Rae Whitaker

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip Magazine, BODY, Bodega, Joyland, The Switchback, Five Quarterly, American Microreviews and Interviews, and others. She has a BA from the University of Kentucky and an MFA from New York University. After many years of living in Brooklyn, she returned to Kentucky, her home state, in 2016 with her husband and their geriatric tomcat, Breece D’J Pancake.

Whitaker new book, her debut novel, is The Animators.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
One night, while eating dinner in a restaurant with my husband, I saw a guy come in with a copy of my favorite novel from the past year, The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, which explores class and race in Kentucky horse country. I wanted to stop and ask the guy how he was liking it, but I chickened out. Which I regret. I would have loved to have heard what he thought. It’s nice to connect with strangers over books.

I just finished Someone Please Have Sex with Me by Gina Wynbrandt and loved it. I was scratching around for a new graphic novel and one of the book’s blurbs was provided by one of the producers of Bojack Horseman, a show I adore, and that drew me in to this collection of comics. The writing is fantastic, the visuals are incredible – so many weird renderings of Justin Bieber’s face. There, too, was pathos with which I felt a connection: the very specific tie, for women, between sex and self-worth. It had been a long time since I had simply been delighted with a book, as I was with this one.

I read The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky in about two nights – it follows Leah, who is leading a life of discontent in New York when she receives the news that her former boss and friend, Judy, has died and left Leah her treasured red sports car. Leah travels to San Francisco to collect the car, the voice of the departed Judy traveling with her the whole way. It’s smart and funny and the car may or may not bear traces of Christine, which I really like.

I also just finished The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. I had read and liked her writing in The New Yorker, particularly her piece on the Van Dykes, a group of lesbian activists in the 1970s who traveled around in vans (and all adopted the surname Van Dyke). My editor very kindly sent me an advance copy of this memoir, which details the author’s miscarriage and the dissolution of her marriage, and I devoured it. It is beautiful and honest and wrenching.

Awaiting its turn on the nightstand: Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. I’m from the American south, the region most think of first when the term “white trash” surfaces, but class permeates all regions, and almost every facet of American life and identity – so I’m particularly excited to read this one.
Visit Kayla Rae Whitaker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue