Monday, December 19, 2022

Christiane M. Andrews

Christiane M. Andrews grew up in rural New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine and still calls northern New England home. Her debut novel, Spindlefish and Stars, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, and Booklist, and was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2020 and a Booklist Editors’ Choice for 2020. A longtime writing and literature instructor, Andrews lives with her husband and son and a small clutch of animals on an old New Hampshire hilltop farm.

Her new novel is Wolfish.

I recently asked Andrews about what she was reading. Her reply:
This question finds me just finishing several wildly different works (which I suppose is fairly typical for me):

I most recently read Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Boris Dralyuk), which offers a stunning portrait of the protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine and the burden of violence its people have had to endure. Written before the 2022 invasion, Grey Bees mourns what was then already lost in Donbas—homes, land, security, everyday simple pleasures—and examines how even fear may turn to apathy in the habitualization of war. Kurkov’s main character, pensioner beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich, struggles to keep his hives safe; what normalcy—including simple human decency—he and others manage to preserve comes to seem heroic. The prose is admirably direct, unflinching and beautiful.

Another I’ve just devoured is Alan Garner’s Treacle Walker—a little marvel of a book and a masterclass in spare, startling prose. “Let words be nice,” says Treacle Walker early in the tale, which Garner, working in the language of myth and legend and folklore and comics and slang, certainly does. The story begins with the young boy Joe trading old pajamas and lamb bone for Treacle Walker’s chipped jar and donkey stone; it develops around the friendship the two form, and around the friendship that comes from a man Joe discovers in the bog, Thin Amren. A strange and wondrous tale.

I’m currently in the midst of Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life, a book I’m reading partly for research for an ongoing project, but mostly for pleasure. Sheldrake offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of fungi, but additionally explores the interconnectedness of the entire living world and questions where “self” truly begins and ends. Relatedly, I’m also re-reading Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests: The Shadow of Civilization—an extraordinary work that examines mankind’s complicated relationship with woodlands throughout history and in our cultural imagination. Though Harrison, like Sheldrake, sees humanity as “a species caught in the delicate and diverse web of a forestlike planetary environment,” he also describes the forest as “the correlate of the poet’s memory” and worries that as its ancient remnants disappear, the poet, too, will “fall into oblivion.”

Waiting next for me on my nightstand I have ArnĂ©e Flores new middle-grade novel The Spirit Queen, Rebecca Solnit’s Orwell’s Roses, and Ben Okri’s The Famished Road. I know Solnit’s and Flores’s writing well (and can enthusiastically recommend Flores’s work to parents and teachers seeking well-crafted fantasies for young readers). Of Okri’s novels, I’ve only read The Freedom Artist, so I’m excited to dive into this earlier text.
Visit Christiane M. Andrews's website.

Q&A with Christiane M. Andrews.

The Page 69 Test: Wolfish.

--Marshal Zeringue