Manning, an only child, decided to move back home to Akron, Ohio, from Manhattan to help care for his mother, who was dying from cancer. He advocated for her health care, he put to memory all the nooks and crannies of the Cleveland Clinic, and he eventually decided to share the heart-wrenching story by writing The Things That Need Doing, which was published Tuesday. Manning, 31, holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School as well as a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Tampa.
What's on your nightstand?
I'm rereading a couple books. One is The Dog Fighter by Marc Bojanowski. I must disclose that he is a friend from New School, but it's a really exciting book. It is set in the 1940s in Mexico. The whole thing takes place around dog fighting, but it talks about bigger themes of globalization, encroachment of the First World countries onto the Third and Fourth Worlds. Another part of it is that this book, although it involves dog fighting, is a love story, and there's a great tenderness.
I'm also rereading Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. I think it should be in the running, along with The Great Gatsby, for the Great American Novel distinction. The central reason is because of the protagonist's gender. Holly Golightly and Jay Gatsby's stories are essentially the same, but for me, at least, her being a woman gives Tiffany's additional complexity.
What made you decide to read it?
There's a great library, the New York Society Library, on the Upper East Side. It's private, the oldest library in the city, and it's in a five-story townhouse. For $175 a year, you can join and have access to an immense fiction collection. I was just browsing the stacks and it caught my eye. I love the idea of a novella, the self-containedness of it.
Piper Castillo, Times staff writer