Summer Beach Reads from the Journal Team (Part 3)

Summer’s already half over! Where does the time go? Not to worry—The Journal and Catch & Release teams have some more suggestions for the perfect way to waste away the rest.

NYC Skyline (Summer Reads)

Carlie Hoffman

The Scenic Route by Binnie Kirshenbaum

“This is a story about Henry and Sylvia, whose meeting in a café in Italy leads to a road trip through Europe. But it also isn’t a story about them, or a series of sharp images of the charming towns they travel through. The idea is that not all stories need to have a specific point or meaning, but remain necessary regardless.Through Sylvia’s narrations about the people of her past, and of Henry’s, we are invited into a powerful exploration of the ways in which humans love, remember, lose each other, and ‘Like Scheherazade, we all tell stories as a means of staying alive.'”

Ill Nature by Joy Williams

Ill Nature

“The disconnect between humanity and our natural world as a result of consumer culture is startling, and heart-breaking. Subjects ranging from the world of shrimp farming to the vanishing Florida Everglades, this collection of essays offers striking and often times painful insight and reflection on how we treat the world, and why. ‘A clarion call for us to step out of our cars and cubicles and do something to save our natural legacy.'”

Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky

“Stunning and universal. These poems are a gift.”

Read Women: An Anthology, Locked Horn Press

“Inspired in part by the #Readwomen2014 Twitter campaign, Locked Horn Press editors gathered thirty-two distinct women’s voices that celebrate contemporary poetry. The collection pays homage to women writers, but primarily focuses on emerging writers to allow readers to discover new voices. The poems are full of voice and lyricism, exploring the body, politics, domesticity, and the world around us, whether landscape or dream.”

Carlie Hoffman is a second year poetry student at Columbia University and is the Poetry Editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art‘s Issue 53.

Mary Jean Murphy

Bobcat And Other Stories by Rebecca Lee

“My high school poetry teacher has been singing praises all along the walls of Facebook for this collection of short stories, so I added it to my summer reads list.  While reading the first story on my commute to work, I looked up to discover I’d missed my bus stop and was crossing into Queens.  Oops.  Issue 53 of the journal will now feature an interview with Rebecca Lee.”
 Sun Bear by Matthew Zapruder
Sun Bear

“An acquaintance of mine, Dillon Welch, recently had some poems in NightBlock that I really enjoyed.  I asked him for poetry recommendations to see what’s been influencing his style, and he pointed me to Matthew Zapruder.  I’m only just beginning it, but I am a huge fan of how he uses his line breaks to create silence on the page.”

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
“Because I wish I was Junot Diaz.”

Mary Jean Murphy is a second-year nonfiction student at Columbia, and a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Arts Scholar. She is the Managing Editor for Issue 53 of Columbia: A Journal of Literature & Art, and she works at a martial arts school on the Upper East Side. She adds that last fact to intimidate people.

Selin Gökcesu

The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

“This book was the most satisfying result of a search for writers with non-Western sensibilities. Written as a diary by a Japanese court woman of the 10th century, the Pillow Book blends a narrative of daily events with Shonagon’s observations and opinions. The label “diary” doesn’t completely describe the scope of the book since Shonagon is prone to reflecting like a true essayist. She also excels in the making of lists, enumerating things that are dispiriting, things that make you feel nostalgic, or occasions that induce half-heartedness.”

Diyelim (For Instance) and Söz Arasında (Between Words) by Nurullah Ataç

“I was looking for a Turkish essayist to translate into English and I stumbled upon Nurullah Ataç, a Turkish writer and critic active during the mid-20th century, when the Republic of Turkey was a freshly established nation state. Ataç is a grumpy, opinionated man who makes an art of honesty and whose voice comes across within the first few sentences of each essay. You don’t have to agree with his opinions to admire his passionate pursuit of his goals and the logic of his arguments. He is a militant proponent of the movement for purging foreign words from Turkish and replacing them with Turkic equivalents (to get a sense for the scale of this undertaking, imagine an attempt to replace all the French-rooted words in English with their Germanic equivalents). For a native speaker of Turkish, it’s fascinating to see this political movement in action as Ataç creates and introduces new Turkish words in each essay and offers them as alternatives for their Arabic counterparts that are in use. Some of his creations have been forgotten but many are words that still live in modern Turkish.”

How Fiction Works by James Wood
“Usually, books in which writers write about writing are slow reads for me. I found How Fiction Works surprisingly readable and especially interesting for a nonfiction writer. After each section, I find myself thinking about how the topic applies to nonfiction.”

Selin Gökcesu is the current Nonfiction Editor of Catch & Release and a student in Columbia’s MFA Creative Nonfiction program. She has yet to be charged, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Check out Summer Beach Reads Part 1 and Part 2

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