Saturday, March 16, 2019

Devin Murphy

Devin Murphy grew up near Buffalo, NY in a family with Dutch roots. He holds a BA/MA from St. Bonaventure University, an MFA from Colorado State University, a PhD from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Bradley University. He has worked various jobs in national parks around the country and once had a three–year stint at sea that led him to over fifty countries on all seven continents. His fiction has appeared in over 60 literary journals and anthologies, including The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, The Chicago Tribune, New Stories from the Midwest, and Confrontation. He lives with his wife and children in Chicago.

Murphy's new novel is Tiny Americans.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
The last few novels I’ve read were all wonderful.

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang, was certainly the most unsettling book I’ve read in a long time. My wife read it first and handed it over when she finished with this sort of concerned expression. The book is broken into three sections that each take a different path into a character’s extreme mental illness. At the start of the story, the focal character can’t get enough sunlight, and is constantly bearing herself to the sky, which was such a strong image that I think of her every time I feel the sun on my own skin now.

Elise Hooper’s Learning to See, about Dorothea Lange, delivers a fascinating look at a rebel who challenges a society set up to suppress women by developing an aesthetic that hews toward the honest beauty and terror found in a single face. Lange becomes the perfect tour guide through the era of the Roaring 20’s, the Great Depression, and The Japanese Internment, asking all relevant questions: What do we do from a place of comfort when we see injustice being done to others? What value does art hold in the face of pain and loss? How do we deal with having cameras in our pockets that both capture a moment and keep us from it? This is a fantastic historical novel that shows off the impressive talent Hooper has for compelling stories.

Lisa Duffy’s This is Home is a phenomenal novel which reveals such unique and endearing characters struggling through upheaval and loss in order to forge the true shape of their family. They face each day with humor, grit, and vulnerability that draws the reader in. Libby, Quinn, Bent, and even the world’s smelliest dog rush to life on these pages and have carved out a place for themselves forever in my imagination. Duffy is a master of writing hope into heartbreak.

I could keep going. I’ve had a lot of great reads lately. There, There, by Tommy Orange, where Native American culture and history are put into gritty contemporary characters who we see interact and interweave in a plot that hammers all through the story, and all through Oakland.

Finally, I was drawn to Where the Crawdads Sing because of Owens' background as a naturalist, and man, does she deliver a stunning look at the natural world of the Carolina coastal region as the backdrop to great love story and murder mystery with a huge twist.
Visit Devin Murphy's website.

My Book, The Movie: Tiny Americans.

--Marshal Zeringue