Hello, my name is Allison and I am an addiction memoir junkie.

Five Favorite Addiction Memoirs

  1. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. In terms of addiction memoirs, this one was my gateway drug. It’s categorized as fiction now but originally was published as a found journal by an anonymous teenager. Either way it’s a shocking account of a teenager’s descent into a hell of drug use, starting with one sip of a LSD-laced soda.
  2. Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl. Stahl’s down and dirty account of addiction hits bottom for me when he describes leaving his infant daughter in the car during a drug run. The successful television writer (Alf, thirtysomething, Moonlighting) was “good” at doing drugs (prolific anyway) but he’s even better at writing about them, bringing to his harrowing story an addict’s skill for persuasion, embellishment, and drama.
  3.  Lit by Mary Karr. The Liar’s Club is one of my favorite books.  In it Karr blends a poet’s way with words with the memories and storytelling style of a good ol’ girl from southeast Texas as she describes a hard knock childhood in the 60s with an alcoholic father, a crazy mother, and a humorous and heartbreaking cast of characters. Reading her first book I remember thinking how (amazingly) Karr had escaped her childhood’s destiny through her writing. Fourteen years later Lit proved me wrong as Karr describes her alcoholism and her own version of crazy. Though she still does so with Texas charm, AA honesty, and literary finesse.
  4. Dry by Augusten Burroughs. You may know the young Augusten from his bizarre childhood: his mother gave him to her psychiatrist to live with the doctor’s own crazy family (Running with Scissors). Now read how that worked out: Dry is the grown up Augusten’s memoir of dealing with addiction and the equally challenging sobriety. Both books, alternating between heartbreaking and hilarious. 
  5. Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. When I lived in Boston I loved reading Knapp’s wonderful column in the (now defunct) Boston Phoenix, the city’s arts newspaper. Back then Knapp was a highly functioning alcoholic and she went on to write one of the most candid, insightful memoirs about alcohol addition out there. 

In the fall of 1987 I met a
group of women who, little did I know, would become my friends, my cheerleaders,
my rocks, my heroes, my sisters. 28 years later I find myself on the porch of a
Venice, California beach house writing this post and listening to their
laughter through the doorway. Friendships like this cannot be ordered up, defined, or
explained. They should only be celebrated. (And as often as possible!)   My Top Five Favorite Books
About Friendship      The Group  .
Mary McCarthy’s witty satire of upper class New England society brilliantly
follows the ebb and flow of friendship demonstrated by eight Vassar graduates
of 1933.     How Should a Person Be?   by Sheila Heti. A genre-bending, provocative, fresh exploration of
friendship, art, sex, philosophy, and the novel form itself.     Crossing to Safety  . The quiet, poignant, stirring tale of a lifelong,
life-changing friendship by Pulitzer-Prize winning
author Wallace Stegner.     Truth & Beauty: A Friendship .  Acclaimed novelist Ann Patchett (author of   Bel Canto   and owner of Parnassus Books) writes about her 20-year
friendship with Lucy Grealy ( Autobiography of a Face ), a fellow writer who she met in college. Patchett beautifully
captures the passion, the loyalty, lives intertwined through friendship, and the
challenges of loving someone over time, and of losing them. And of course…    Charlotte’s Web   by E.B. White. The beloved children’s book about a pig named Wilbur and his unlikely friendship with a spider named Charlotte.

In the fall of 1987 I met a group of women who, little did I know, would become my friends, my cheerleaders, my rocks, my heroes, my sisters. 28 years later I find myself on the porch of a Venice, California beach house writing this post and listening to their laughter through the doorway. Friendships like this cannot be ordered up, defined, or explained. They should only be celebrated. (And as often as possible!)

My Top Five Favorite Books About Friendship

  1. The Group. Mary McCarthy’s witty satire of upper class New England society brilliantly follows the ebb and flow of friendship demonstrated by eight Vassar graduates of 1933.
  2. How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti. A genre-bending, provocative, fresh exploration of friendship, art, sex, philosophy, and the novel form itself.
  3. Crossing to Safety. The quiet, poignant, stirring tale of a lifelong, life-changing friendship by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Wallace Stegner.
  4. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. Acclaimed novelist Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto and owner of Parnassus Books) writes about her 20-year friendship with Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face), a fellow writer who she met in college. Patchett beautifully captures the passion, the loyalty, lives intertwined through friendship, and the challenges of loving someone over time, and of losing them. And of course…
  5. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The beloved children’s book about a pig named Wilbur and his unlikely friendship with a spider named Charlotte.

Random Book from my Book Shelf, or Books are My Memories …   In honor of Poetry Saturday I pulled one of my favorite poetry books off the shelf. I had the honor of taking a writing workshop with Lucie Brock-Broido 26 years ago. I remember that summer like it was yesterday: Boston, a series of dusks, the second floor of an university brownstone, a small clanky window unit air conditioner, a small group of eager young poets, and Lucie–no words really to describe her fully. Doe-like eyes, hair past her waist, extraordinary insight, and poems that begged to be read out loud–delicious morsels in my mouth, worlds beyond my imagination but still grounded in the domestic details of our daily lives. As in this excerpt from her poem, “Domestic Mysticism:”  “In thrice 10,000 seasons, I will come back to this world/In a white cotton dress. Kingdom of After My Own Heart./Kingdom of Fragile. Kingdom of Dwarves. When I come home,/Teacups will quiver in their Dresden saucers, pentatonic chimes/Will move in wind. A covey of alley cats will swarm on the side/Porch & perch there, portents with quickened heartbeats/You will feel against your ankles as you pass through…”

Random Book from my Book Shelf, or Books are My Memories …

In honor of Poetry Saturday I pulled one of my favorite poetry books off the shelf. I had the honor of taking a writing workshop with Lucie Brock-Broido 26 years ago. I remember that summer like it was yesterday: Boston, a series of dusks, the second floor of an university brownstone, a small clanky window unit air conditioner, a small group of eager young poets, and Lucie–no words really to describe her fully. Doe-like eyes, hair past her waist, extraordinary insight, and poems that begged to be read out loud–delicious morsels in my mouth, worlds beyond my imagination but still grounded in the domestic details of our daily lives. As in this excerpt from her poem, “Domestic Mysticism:”

“In thrice 10,000 seasons, I will come back to this world/In a white cotton dress. Kingdom of After My Own Heart./Kingdom of Fragile. Kingdom of Dwarves. When I come home,/Teacups will quiver in their Dresden saucers, pentatonic chimes/Will move in wind. A covey of alley cats will swarm on the side/Porch & perch there, portents with quickened heartbeats/You will feel against your ankles as you pass through…”

Our literary sex life sucks.

In response to my recent Huffington Post essay, Let’s Write About Sex, Baby, readers have sent me their recommendations for steamy literary reads. I share them now with you:

Sex, I mean, Six Sexy Reads 

  1. Endless Love by Scott Spencer. The classic novel that perfectly captures the intensity of first love includes an unforgettable “30-plus page love/sex scene,” according to one reader.
  2. OutlanderFans of Diana Gabaldon are obsessed for good reason. These historical romps feature remarkable characters, fast moving plots, and, as one reader claims, great sex scenes: “Truly fun: sexy, chatty, playful, and explicit.”
  3. The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons. Reminiscent of Dr. Zhivago, these books are sweeping sagas of love and war filled with “sizzling sex scenes.”
  4. Bunker 13 by Aniruddha Bahal. Thrill seekers will rejoice in the dangerous life of a pleasure-seeking investigative journalist living in Kashmir and the surprisingly hot metaphor that compares having sex to driving a car. 
  5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. It’s difficult to believe this extraordinary book and Booker prize-winner was a debut novel. The story of an affluent Indian family living in a charged political time and forbidden love. It’s the latter that delivers some “tender, romantic love making.”
  6. Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff promises to be one of the hot books for fall in more ways than one. The story of a marriage told from both the husband and wife’s point of view, the reviews for this stunning and ambitious novel have been raves and I can see why: the prose is beautiful and the story itself–how two different people experience the same marriage–is a voyeuristic pleasure. And to the point of my above-mentioned essay, Groff delivers a full monty view of marriage.

Disappearing Act

In honor of my six-week disappearing act from my blog, I give you these amazing titles that speak for themselves:

Top 5 Books on How to Disappear

  1. How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, And Vanish Without A Trace
  2. Darknet: A Beginner’s Guide to Staying Anonymous Online
  3. How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found
  4. Cover Your Tracks Without Changing Your Identity: How to Disappear Until You WANT to Be Found
  5. Vanishing Point: How to Disappear in America without a Trace

Gotta love authors who send thank you notes! And chile seeds!!!    In case you missed my raving about   Kitchens of the Great Midwest   for the L.A. News Group: “Silver Lake author J. Ryan Stradal serves up something fresh and 
satisfying with his fantastic debut novel told in well-crafted, 
connected stories with a mother-daughter story at its heart.”    And if you get the chance, come see the author in person at Vroman’s on  August 12th at 6:30pm !

Gotta love authors who send thank you notes! And chile seeds!!!

In case you missed my raving about Kitchens of the Great Midwest for the L.A. News Group: “Silver Lake author J. Ryan Stradal serves up something fresh and satisfying with his fantastic debut novel told in well-crafted, connected stories with a mother-daughter story at its heart.”

And if you get the chance, come see the author in person at Vroman’s on August 12th at 6:30pm!

AC/DC's Rudd given home detention

Who knew there was such a thing as home detention? And how do I get one so I can catch up on my reading?!

Top Five Books I’d Like To Finally Read If I Could Get a Home Detention

  1. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty. A literary thriller about a woman who is robbed of her wallet and id while traveling in Morocco and suddenly finds herself with the freedom to be anyone she chooses. Time on my nightstand: 1 month.
  2. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know. The title says it all. Time on my nightstand: 2 years.
  3. The Criminal Justice Club. An insider’s look at the criminal justice system written by a career prosecutor. I’m fascinated by true crime, the legal system, detective stories, etc. so this one is right up my alley but it’s a little dark, violent, and complex to read right before I fall asleep. And at 400 pages it’s a time commitment. So it sits. Time on my nightstand: 1 year.
  4. The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years. A birthday gift from one of my favorite colleagues, even the cover is extraordinary. She says it’s one of her favorites and I can see why from the description: “From elements of myth, history, realistic narrative, and science fiction, Chingiz Aitmatov has woven a rich tapestry that blends cosmic speculation with the age-old legends of the Asiatic steppes.” Whoa. This one is going to be a wild ride so I feel like I have to be in the right mindset. Time on my nightstand: 3 months.
  5. The Drama of the Gifted Child. Since February, five people have recommended this book to me and it’s a perennial bestseller in our psychology section. I have to find out what the deal is. Time on my nightstand: 2 weeks.

Five Favorite Books That Give Me Pause       The Empathy Exams  . A brilliant collection of essays–about our pain and other people’s–that are extraordinarily present, vulnerable, and intelligent.     Unwinding the Clock: Ten Thoughts on Our Relationship to Time .  Part psychology, part philosophy–a quiet, thought provoking meditation on time .      Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart   .  Buddhism meets psychotherapy   in this touchstone of a book .     The Happiness Project  . Don’t let this hokey self help idea–the author commits 12 months to getting happier–fool you, this book balances the personal and the universal in a profound and practical exploration of happiness.     Dream Work   .  Mary Oliver has a way of grounding you in the present and taking you deeper at the same time .  Namaste.

Five Favorite Books That Give Me Pause

  1. The Empathy Exams. A brilliant collection of essays–about our pain and other people’s–that are extraordinarily present, vulnerable, and intelligent.
  2. Unwinding the Clock: Ten Thoughts on Our Relationship to Time. Part psychology, part philosophy–a quiet, thought provoking meditation on time.
  3. Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart. Buddhism meets psychotherapy in this touchstone of a book.
  4. The Happiness Project. Don’t let this hokey self help idea–the author commits 12 months to getting happier–fool you, this book balances the personal and the universal in a profound and practical exploration of happiness.
  5. Dream Work. Mary Oliver has a way of grounding you in the present and taking you deeper at the same time. Namaste.

This week was the gathering
of the Los Angeles chapter of the Edan Lepucki fan club. Or so it seemed. Edan read
to an adoring full house at the legendary Book Soup, where she began her career
as a bookseller, for the paperback release of her bestselling novel,  California . I think of this novel as the story of
one ordinary couple’s relationship, albeit under the extraordinary circumstances of an apocalypse of sorts (a vision that may prove to be prescient due to California’s drought.) As
interested as I am in relationship books as an adult, as a child I was obsessed with books about the apocalypse. A cold war kid with a vivid imagination fueled by
school duck and cover drills and fire and brimstone Baptist preachers. I even shared
my concerns with both President Carter and President Reagan in handwritten
letters to the White House. (Carter wrote back, Reagan didn’t.)    My Top Five Favorite Apocalyptic
Novels      California  . A
strange and wonderful post-apocalyptic relationship story that treads lightly
in the world of science fiction while digging deep into the complexities of
marriage.    Alas, Babylon  .
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of reading this book. This 1959
classic about the aftermath of a nuclear attack scared the hell out of me, particularly since the impetus was an accident–a concept even a child can understand.     Age of Miracles  . Those of you working on your own novel will be inspired by the author’s story
of waking up at dawn every morning for four years to write before her day job began. Her efforts paid off with a charming coming-of-age story about a young
girl who happens to be living during an apocalyptic event: the rotation of the
earth is thrown off resulting in the days and nights growing longer and longer.
You can imagine the remarkable repercussions related to sleep, crops, tides,
etc. but it’s the beautiful prose and loss of innocence at the heart of the
novel that are most striking.    Cat’s Cradle  .
I love Kurt Vonnegut and this is my favorite of his novels. You could say that
all of Vonnegut’s novels are apocalyptic, in their vision at least, blackly
fatalistic as he is. But as usual Vonnegut is also profound and funny and weird
and wonderful.     The Brief History of the Dead  . On a family outing I drove the cart and read this book
while everyone else played golf. A golf course proved to be a surreal setting in which to read this
haunting book that I couldn’t put down. Author Kevin Brockmeier imagines the
afterlife: a city where those who have died on earth now reside, as long as
they are still remembered by someone on Earth. (Let that sink in for a moment.
So beautiful. So sad.) He calls it “the City.” And the City is shrinking, a
fact that implies an apocalyptic event has occurred on Earth.

This week was the gathering of the Los Angeles chapter of the Edan Lepucki fan club. Or so it seemed. Edan read to an adoring full house at the legendary Book Soup, where she began her career as a bookseller, for the paperback release of her bestselling novel, California. I think of this novel as the story of one ordinary couple’s relationship, albeit under the extraordinary circumstances of an apocalypse of sorts (a vision that may prove to be prescient due to California’s drought.) As interested as I am in relationship books as an adult, as a child I was obsessed with books about the apocalypse. A cold war kid with a vivid imagination fueled by school duck and cover drills and fire and brimstone Baptist preachers. I even shared my concerns with both President Carter and President Reagan in handwritten letters to the White House. (Carter wrote back, Reagan didn’t.)

My Top Five Favorite Apocalyptic Novels

  1. California. A strange and wonderful post-apocalyptic relationship story that treads lightly in the world of science fiction while digging deep into the complexities of marriage.
  2. Alas, Babylon. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of reading this book. This 1959 classic about the aftermath of a nuclear attack scared the hell out of me, particularly since the impetus was an accident–a concept even a child can understand.
  3. Age of Miracles. Those of you working on your own novel will be inspired by the author’s story of waking up at dawn every morning for four years to write before her day job began. Her efforts paid off with a charming coming-of-age story about a young girl who happens to be living during an apocalyptic event: the rotation of the earth is thrown off resulting in the days and nights growing longer and longer. You can imagine the remarkable repercussions related to sleep, crops, tides, etc. but it’s the beautiful prose and loss of innocence at the heart of the novel that are most striking.
  4. Cat’s Cradle. I love Kurt Vonnegut and this is my favorite of his novels. You could say that all of Vonnegut’s novels are apocalyptic, in their vision at least, blackly fatalistic as he is. But as usual Vonnegut is also profound and funny and weird and wonderful.
  5. The Brief History of the Dead. On a family outing I drove the cart and read this book while everyone else played golf. A golf course proved to be a surreal setting in which to read this haunting book that I couldn’t put down. Author Kevin Brockmeier imagines the afterlife: a city where those who have died on earth now reside, as long as they are still remembered by someone on Earth. (Let that sink in for a moment. So beautiful. So sad.) He calls it “the City.” And the City is shrinking, a fact that implies an apocalyptic event has occurred on Earth.

Iceland!

I just returned from a 10-day, phone turned off, bucket list, adventure vacation in Iceland. My sweetheart husband stockpiled our credit card points and a lovely Icelandic woman named Birnir rented us her air b&b apartment, both making the whole thing possible. I’ve wanted to visit Iceland for close to a decade. I admire their progressive politics–the first democratically elected female president in the world; gay friendly; universal healthcare; and a university education for everyone. I am awed by their breathtakingly beautiful and other worldly landscape of volcanoes, snow capped mountains, glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls, and green farms. I’ve been intrigued by their mythology of “hidden people,” the midnight sun, rumors of mystical power places. And I feel a kinship to a culture that centers around books: In a country of only 300,000 people, Iceland has more writers, more books published, and more books read per capita than any other country. Public benches have barcodes to scan to listen to stories while you sit. The weeks preceding Christmas are known as the “jolabokaflod,” or “Christmas Book Flood,” when most books are published and everyone receives a book as a gift. They even have a Nobel Prize-winning author in literature to their credit. As for me, I don’t think I can write about the trip yet. It amazed me, moved me, and ultimately changed me. The trip of a lifetime. For now I will try to share it with you–as we always do–with a recommended reading list.

My Five Favorite Icelandic Reads

1) Lonely Planet: Iceland. This will seem pedestrian, I know. Especially considering everything mentioned above. But this was the guide we used in our travels and we found it to be very helpful but also very interesting and informative in regards to history and culture, and I loved the obviously deep appreciation the writers had for this place.

2) Independent People by Halldór Kiljan Laxness. This novel clinched the Nobel prize in literature for Laxness. This story of Bjartur, an Icelandic sheepherder, is the masterful telling of one man’s life–sardonic, clever, strange, and what many consider a masterpiece.

3) The Tricking of Freya: A Novel by Christina Sunley. A contemporary Icelandic coming-of-age debut novel about a young woman whose story begins with the summer she first meets her mom’s family in the Icelandic-Canadian village of Gimli. Sunley beautifully pays homage to Iceland’s rich language and cultural lore. 

4) The Sagas of Icelanders. These crazy medieval stories describing the Norse men and women who first settled Iceland are classic Icelandic literature reminiscent of Homer and Sophocles in terms of their epic scope and historical significance.

5) The Blue Fox by Sjon. I don’t usually look to Bjork for book recommendations but when in Rome… Sjon is a celebrated Icelandic poet and novelist who also happens to write lyrics for Bjork. His work is quirky, lyrical, often comical, and ultimately extraordinary–everything I found his homeland to be.

Happy Summer!

My stepdaughter just received her required summer reading list: Siddhartha and Persepolis. What?!  A novel about a young man’s personal quest and spiritual journey?! A young girl’s powerful graphic novel memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution?! I had to read The Old Man and the Sea when I was her age. She doesn’t know how lucky she is. 

We’re lucky that our required reading days are far behind us. Here’s my hot list of recommended reading to rock your summer.

My Five Favorite Literary “Mothers”   1) Anonymous,   Loverboy  . The anonymous narrator of this haunting debut novel LOVES her son so intently that she raises questions for the reader about the line between devotion and obsession, and whether we can love someone too much. Intense. Claustrophobic. Unforgettable.  2) Lila Wingo,   The Prince of Tides  . Talk about haunting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how can a book with such exquisite writing center around such a horrific event? Status-driven Lila is the enforcer of the Wingo’s terrible family secret even when it’s literally killing her children.    3) Daisy Buchanan,   The Great Gatsby .  You forgot Daisy was a mother, didn’t you? My point exactly. I just read  a  piece  on Slate  defending Daisy and while I love  The Great Gatsby  and all of its characters I respectfully disagree.  Daisy  is arguably selfish and superficial but she’s unarguably dishonest, unfaithful, disloyal–and unlikely to win mother of the year.  4) Miss Havisham,   Great Expectations  . One of the greatest characters in literature in my humble opinion. Left at the altar Miss Havisham remains in her wedding dress with the clocks frozen at the moment of her betrayal. She remains isolated in her decaying mansion until she adopts a daughter, a young orphan who she ends up using to enact revenge on men.  5) Charlie Marie Moore Karr,   The Liar’s Club  . One of my all time favorite books. It’s cheating a little to name Charlie since this is a memoir and she’s a real person, but this is beautifully crafted storytelling and Charlie is definitely a character… a nervous and unstable alcoholic who raised one helluva writer.

My Five Favorite Literary “Mothers”

1) Anonymous, Loverboy. The anonymous narrator of this haunting debut novel LOVES her son so intently that she raises questions for the reader about the line between devotion and obsession, and whether we can love someone too much. Intense. Claustrophobic. Unforgettable.

2) Lila Wingo, The Prince of Tides. Talk about haunting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how can a book with such exquisite writing center around such a horrific event? Status-driven Lila is the enforcer of the Wingo’s terrible family secret even when it’s literally killing her children.

3) Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby. You forgot Daisy was a mother, didn’t you? My point exactly. I just read a piece on Slate defending Daisy and while I love The Great Gatsby and all of its characters I respectfully disagree. Daisy is arguably selfish and superficial but she’s unarguably dishonest, unfaithful, disloyal–and unlikely to win mother of the year.

4) Miss Havisham, Great Expectations. One of the greatest characters in literature in my humble opinion. Left at the altar Miss Havisham remains in her wedding dress with the clocks frozen at the moment of her betrayal. She remains isolated in her decaying mansion until she adopts a daughter, a young orphan who she ends up using to enact revenge on men.

5) Charlie Marie Moore Karr, The Liar’s Club. One of my all time favorite books. It’s cheating a little to name Charlie since this is a memoir and she’s a real person, but this is beautifully crafted storytelling and Charlie is definitely a character… a nervous and unstable alcoholic who raised one helluva writer.

A Life Unfinished

I didn’t know Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, husband, and father. And I don’t know his wife, Facebook exec and Lean In author, wife ,and mother, Sheryl Sandberg for that matter. But I have been thinking about them a lot over the last few days, usually as I fall asleep at night. Goldberg died suddenly and unexpectedly in a tragic accident according to news reports. He was 47 years old. I just turned 46. (You can see where this is going.) So as I lie awake in bed now I think, “What if I don’t wake up?” My sweet husband beside me. My step daughter in the next room. The pile of books on my nightstand unread–a galley of Boss Life by NYT.com columnist Paul Downe; History of Beauty, a gift from my husband; Ghettoside: A True History of of Murder in America; and the wonderful debut novel that I’m not quite finished reading, Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Not quite finished with a lot of things actually. And I imagine Goldberg wasn’t either. So my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family right now. And admittedly some of my thoughts and prayers are with me, too: What do I want to finish? How will I spend the days I am given?

TOP 5 RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON GRIEVING

I heart  Roxane Gay . I follow
her online where her  tweets  are pithy and profound, lol funny, and utterly
entertaining. I love her brave, beautiful, brilliant collection of essays on
gender, race, sexuality, and pop culture,   Bad
Feminist  . My colleague and I even have an unofficial two-person Roxane Gay
fan club. (Meetings consist of us running into each other in the hallway and
saying how great Roxane is.) And yesterday I got to meet her!!! A few days ago
Roxane found herself in California and tweeted that she was looking for a store
to do a reading at for  California Bookstore Day ;  Vroman’s  answered the call and
I found myself hanging out with her before her reading, totally geeking out. In
person she was gracious and whip smart, funny and charming, in an unassuming,
quiet way. Her debut novel,   An Untamed
State ,  about a ravaged Haiti and one family’s nightmare in the wake of a
kidnapping there, is just out and receiving rave reviews from   Publisher’s Weekly  ,   Kirkus  , and  Tom Perotta , to name a few. Roxane also contributed a
small, limited edition chapbook for California Bookstore day, called  Urgent, Unheard Stories —only available
at independent bookstores.    For me what makes Roxane one of the greats is that she engages in one of the ultimate political acts: she speaks the truth. And that’s the only way the world can ever change. In the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, she makes the wait enjoyable. I thank her for doing both.

I heart Roxane Gay. I follow her online where her tweets are pithy and profound, lol funny, and utterly entertaining. I love her brave, beautiful, brilliant collection of essays on gender, race, sexuality, and pop culture, Bad Feminist. My colleague and I even have an unofficial two-person Roxane Gay fan club. (Meetings consist of us running into each other in the hallway and saying how great Roxane is.) And yesterday I got to meet her!!! A few days ago Roxane found herself in California and tweeted that she was looking for a store to do a reading at for California Bookstore Day; Vroman’s answered the call and I found myself hanging out with her before her reading, totally geeking out. In person she was gracious and whip smart, funny and charming, in an unassuming, quiet way. Her debut novel, An Untamed State, about a ravaged Haiti and one family’s nightmare in the wake of a kidnapping there, is just out and receiving rave reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Tom Perotta, to name a few. Roxane also contributed a small, limited edition chapbook for California Bookstore day, called Urgent, Unheard Stories—only available at independent bookstores.

For me what makes Roxane one of the greats is that she engages in one of the ultimate political acts: she speaks the truth. And that’s the only way the world can ever change. In the meantime, while we wait for the world to change, she makes the wait enjoyable. I thank her for doing both.