Thursday, April 5, 2018

Jamey Bradbury

Jamey Bradbury's work has appeared in Black Warrior Review (winner of the annual fiction contest), Sou’wester, and Zone 3. She won an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Bradbury's first novel is The Wild Inside.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
My reading habits tend to reflect my current state of mind. Last year, for instance, while I concentrated on a draft of what I hope will be my next novel, I was also hyperfocused on whatever I was reading—and I read a lot. I finished 57 books over the course of 2017, many of them long, hefty novels.

This year, as promotion for The Wild Inside has ramped up and I find my attention divided between several projects, my attention is also divided between several books at once. I keep starting things, then starting other things, then going back to what I’d started before, depending on my mood. There are books all over my house, waiting to be picked up when I sit on the couch, wait for food to warm in the microwave, curl up in bed…procrastinate writing.

So, by location, here’s what I’m reading: First in the bathroom (don’t tell me everyone doesn’t have a bathroom book), there’s Fantastic Women: 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime from Tin House, which includes stories by fabulist female writers I love like Kelly Link and Samantha Hunt, plus lots of stuff by writers new to me, like Julia Elliot and Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. Lately I’ve been very interested in how women writers use fabulist elements to talk about domesticity or “women’s issues” in interesting and subversive ways.

More of the fantastic awaits me in the hallway with Mallory Ortberg’s The Merry Spinster. I’m just dipping a toe into these “tales of everyday horror,” which play with gender in unexpected ways and are very smart about how we use storytelling to subvert some ideas and reinforce others.

Next to the bed is Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, a meditation on grief and friendship and loneliness. This is the kind of book that makes writing look easy, but it’s deceptive: There’s so much complexity going on under that façade. Its quiet, spare language is perfect for calming my mind right before bed.

I recently got hold of an advance copy of Lauren Groff’s new story collection, Florida; I practically shoved a woman out of the way at a book fair to get my hands on it. Now it tempts me from the coffee table. Groff’s ability to compress an entire life into just a few pages, but still deliver the fullness of that life without losing any of its richness is remarkable. She paints characters that are so complex and vivid, and she does it with just a few brushstrokes—it’s masterful.

In the kitchen, in the best-lit room in the house, is I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, the book true crime journalist Michelle McNamara was working on when she died. I know this is going to be a tough read, not just because of the crimes committed by the Golden State Killer, but because of the knowledge that McNamara didn’t get to see the end of the case that so obsessed her.

Finally, on my desk, waiting to be recorded on the list I keep of the books I read, is Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. I haven’t been able to stop talking about this book since I read it. Yes, it’s timely and politically charged—it’s set in a not-too-distant future U.S., where abortion has been completely outlawed—but what I found most enthralling is the portrait it paints of the five women whose lives are in some way touched by these laws. They’re so vivid and complete, and regardless of whether you agree with the decisions they make or not, Zumas allows you to empathize with each one.

Up next? Probably My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. (Currently located on the bookshelf.)
Visit Jamey Bradbury's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Wild Inside.

My Book, The Movie: The Wild Inside.

--Marshal Zeringue