Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What is Rebecca Makkai reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Rebecca Makkai, a writer whose fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2008, edited by Salman Rushdie, and has been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009.

Makkai's work has also been featured in magazines such as New England Review, The Threepenny Review, Shenandoah, and The Iowa Review.

One book from her entry is State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America (eds. Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey):
By far my favorite entry [from the book] – and the one I’ve gone back to reread at least ten times – is Alison Bechdel’s graphic essay on Vermont [detail at right]. This was a surprise for me. I’d never felt drawn to graphic novels or comics, mentally filing them under the vague rubric of “manga,” something very not me, some sort of pornography for the Dungeons and Dragons set. I stand corrected.

I loved Bechdel’s entry so much that I ran out and bought Fun Home, her graphic memoir. Bechdel’s closeted father died in what may or may not have been a suicide only a few days after Bechdel herself came out of the closet, and Fun Home is the story of their relationship and its aftermath. It’s funny and extremely intelligent, and – as a graphic novel – it does things that writing alone simply cannot do. In one early set of panels, the pictures show a preadolescent Bechdel running out of the house after one of her father’s rages, while the captions tell the story of Daedalus and Icarus. In fiction, this could only have been a heavy-handed simile or a labored metaphor. In a graphic novel, it’s delicate and effortless.[read on]
Read Makkai's story "The Worst You Ever Feel," from The Best American Short Stories 2008, and "The Briefcase," her story from the forthcoming The Best American Short Stories 2009.

Learn more about the author and her work at Rebecca Makkai's website.

Writers Read: Rebecca Makkai.

--Marshal Zeringue