Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What is Mary Cappello reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Mary Cappello, a regular contributor to the world of literary nonfiction and experimental prose, and the author of Night Bloom: An Italian/American Life, the Los Angeles Times bestselling book-length essay on “awkwardness,” Awkward: A Detour, and other works.

Her entry begins:
Currently, I’m reading a book that is, sadly, out of print: James Scully’s Line Break: Poetry as Social Practice, originally published by Bay Press. I’ve been rediscovering it because of classes I’m teaching in poetry this semester, and I still find it to be one of the most lucid, bracing, important and teachable collections to address the lines that too often set poetry apart from the political. I’m also happily re-reading some favorite essayists this week—most notably, the wildly dense, heightened sentences of William Gass’ Tests of Time, in particular his essay on lists, as I ask my students to articulate the differences between list poems and facebook lists. Once back inside of this collection, I found myself returning to Gass’ still unsurpassed essay on Gertrude Stein—“The Geography of the Sentence” in The World within the Word. Then, I pined for an era in which the book review was shot through with readerly prowess, erudition, conversation, for the days, too, when it was a form more writers happily and necessarily inhabited: the book review as art. Discussing this with a colleague this week, he put the two volumes of Virginia Woolf’s Common Reader into my lap, and I found myself re-reading one of the magnificent essays therein—on how to read a book. I read it on the spot while my friend gave another guest a tour of the orchids he cultivates. Orchids or Woolf’s Common Reader? It’s a tough choice, but maybe not if you love the intricate beauty of essays as much as I do.[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Mary Cappello's website.

Writers Read: Mary Cappello.

--Marshal Zeringue