Monday, November 20, 2017
Books

What's Peter Rock reading?

RECOMMENDED READING


Nightstand

Peter Rock

Writer and professor Rock is most known for his novel My Abandonment, based on a true story concerning a peculiar father-daughter relationship and their quest to stay on the outside of society. In his new YA novel, Klickitat, Rock again has taken on relationships, this time between two sisters, Audra and Vivian, who live a block away from Klickitat Street (recognized by fans of Beverly Cleary). One sister is ready to leave her childhood home, while the other is more settled yet finds herself in the middle of a mystery. Rock's achievements include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and an Alex Award. He currently lives in Portland, Ore., where he is a longtime professor of English at Reed College.

What's on your nightstand?

House of the Sleeping Beauties by Yasunari Kawabata. I return to this novella often. Kawabata is my favorite writer. His Palm of the Hand Stories is my favorite book. He can suggest so much without stating it. He works in shadows, and he's twisted. The way he opens stories and books is also quite devastating.

Counternarratives by John Keene is so smart and dexterous. It take history, literature, paintings, all manner of narratives and bends it into unpredictable tales. My favorite is Rivers, in which a post-Civil War Jim comes upon Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer on the street and they have a strange and at times uncomfortable situation. Keene's ability to move these characters through time and space, to imagine how their histories may have continued and also reflected the history of our country, is ambitious and amazing to me.

The Insomnia Answer by Paul Glovinsky and Arthur Spielman. This actually hasn't helped me much, but I suspect it's not their fault.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's collection from the Library of America. She is the best American writer of sentences ever. And My Father, the Pornographer, by Chris Offutt. This memoir in which an acclaimed literary writer returns home upon his father's death to come to terms with his father's life — one in which, using various pseudonyms, (the father) wrote hundreds of pulp novels, almost all of them pornographic, often violently so. The scenes of Offutt sorting through his father's office in the old Kentucky home are heartbreaking, rife with memories and self-recrimination, always rendered in sharp, insightful prose. This book's title and ostensible subject matter really are one way into a deep meditation on losing a parent, and how to account for a life.

How deep was Beverly Cleary's influence on your new book?

In some senses, very deep. One thing that Cleary does so well is to capture the strange energy between sisters, how older and younger sisters tangle and need each other. So I was very attuned to that, and of course while I was writing my book I was reading all the Beezus and Ramona books to my daughters. In writing Klickitat one hope was that I could write something for them. In some ways I failed, because it's just too scary at this point. Another way that my book is attuned to Cleary's work is that my sisters live in the same neighborhood of Portland as Beezus and Ramona, just one block away, on Siskiyou Street, and so they are aware of them as forebears of a sort. The sisters in my book also attended Beverly Cleary Elementary, which is up in that neighborhood, and there are even statues of Ramona and Henry and Ribsy, up there in the park. Why no Beezus? I don't know, big sisters.

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Comments
Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hoppe...
Published: 11/17/17
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Published: 11/17/17
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Published: 11/17/17
Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward is having a good year.At a glamorous ceremony Wednesday night in New York, Ward was named the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about a Mississippi family's epic road trip. The book is Ward's third novel ...
Published: 11/16/17
Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Recently, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.And now he has a TV show about zombies!Saunders, one of America’s best writers of fiction, won the 2017 Booker for his splendid novel Lincoln in t...
Published: 11/16/17

Events: Tampa historians to sign books at hurricane relief benefit

Book TalkNancy Christie (Rut-Busting Book for Writers) will sign her book at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 at 321 Books, 6901 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.John Cinchett (Vintage Tampa Storefronts and Scenes), Rex Gordon (History of Hillsborough High School), Linda ...
Published: 11/16/17
What’s Elaine M. Hayes reading?

What’s Elaine M. Hayes reading?

NightstandElaine M. HayesHayes, the author of Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, said she was a college student when Vaughan’s voice first captivated her. "My roommate played a lot of her in our daily life. I remember thinking that s...
Published: 11/16/17
Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

Your heart can go on when ‘Titanic’ returns to theaters

It's the holiday season, so why not capitalize on a beloved film by bringing it back to theaters for a limited engagement?That's what Dolby Laboratories, Paramount Pictures and AMC Theaters are doing, announcing that a remastered version of Titanic w...
Published: 11/15/17
Review: ‘The Punisher’ packs a punch tackling grief and revenge

Review: ‘The Punisher’ packs a punch tackling grief and revenge

If Frank Castle sees someone committing an act of evil, he has no problem ending them.Castle (Jon Bernthal) is The Punisher in Netflix's new Marvel series, spun off from another popular superhero series, Daredevil. The Punisher follows the former mar...
Published: 11/14/17