Thursday, December 26, 2019

Emma Sloley

Emma Sloley began her career as a features editor at Harper’s BAZAAR Australia, where she worked for six years. In 2004, she and her husband made the move to New York. As a freelance travel writer in NYC, she has appeared in many US and international magazines, including Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, and New York magazine. She has also published fiction, short fiction, and creative nonfiction in literary publications such as Catapult, The Masters Review Anthology, and Yemassee Journal. Sloley's work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she has received a fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, where she wrote her debut novel, Disaster’s Children. Today she divides her time between the United States, Mexico, and various airport lounges.

Recently I asked Sloley about what she was reading. Her reply:
Imagine Me Gone, Adam Haslett

I picked this novel up knowing very little about it and was instantly drawn into the intimate orbit of the family whose lives Haslett trace across several decades. Along with being an affecting story about love, mental illness, and the bonds and tragic legacies of family, I loved how Haslett draws his characters with such sympathy and heart, particularly the eldest son, Michael, whose heartbreaking attempts to shake off his inherited demons feel viscerally real. I really appreciate that authorial generosity, and I feel like all writers should strive for this. For such somber subject matter, it’s also surprisingly funny. I really loved this and looking forward to seeing what Haslett turns his hand to next.

Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin

I’m at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire at the moment, so it seemed fitting I should read a masterwork from one of its most famous residents. Baldwin is such a towering literary figure and has influenced pretty much every brilliant author of the twenty-first century, especially those writing about race and sexuality. The novel, about a man torn between his desire for a woman and another man, was considered shocking at the time it was published (1956), and while the subject matter no longer feels transgressive, there is still something delightfully subversive about Baldwin’s prose, his ability to strip away artifice and opacity in favor of radical honesty.

Marlena, Julie Buntin

I’m only partway through this, but already enjoying the granular examination of a close friendship between two young women—one, a naïve suburban teenager; the other a wild, idiosyncratic outsider—that ends in tragedy. The story is told in two time frames, alternating between the months leading up to the titular character’s mysterious death and the present day, in which the protagonist is unexpectedly visited by a character closely linked to the tragedy. Both stylistically and in subject matter the novel reminds me of Emma Cline’s The Girls, a book I loved, so I’m keen to see where it goes.

Delicate Edible Birds, Lauren Groff

I’ve been a huge fan of Lauren Groff’s since reading Fates and Furies, and every time she publishes a short story it’s a cause for celebration —she’s one of the few contemporary writers who is as deft in the short form as she is in a novel. This was the first time I’d read one of her collections, and I came away dazzled by her rare ability to chart the course of an entire life on such a small canvas. The worlds depicted in many of these stories span years if not decades, an unusual and audacious choice given that most short story writers favor a compacted time frame. Groff is such a master at writing about women’s lives, both interior and public. She creates characters that feel utterly alive in all their flawed, complex glory.
Visit Emma Sloley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue