Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Helen Phillips

Helen Phillips's new book, her fifth, is the novel The Need.

Phillips's short story collection Some Possible Solutions (2016) received the 2017 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Her novel The Beautiful Bureaucrat (2015), a New York Times Notable Book of 2015, was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her collection And Yet They Were Happy (2011) was named a notable collection by The Story Prize. Her children’s adventure book Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green (2012) was published internationally as Upside Down in the Jungle.

Recently I asked Phillips about what she was reading. Her reply:
I have read three nonfiction books this summer that I want to recommend to everyone: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob, Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke, and The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang. In all three cases, the authors use their own life experiences as a lens through which to examine the deepest questions about existence and identity.

In Good Talk, a graphic memoir, Mira Jacob explores the complexities of race in the United States by way of her conversations with her biracial son and with the other people in her life.

In Flash Count Diary, Darcey Steinke chronicles the intensity of her own menopause while simultaneously investigating, and often reimagining, the role that aging females play in human (and whale) society.

In The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang evokes, with exquisite force, her experiences with mental illness, shattering many stereotypes about mental disorders and how best to treat them.

These are the courageous, wise, raw books that the world needs.
Visit Helen Phillips's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Beautiful Bureaucrat.

--Marshal Zeringue