Monday, January 04, 2010

What is Laura van den Berg reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Laura van den Berg, author of the Dzanc Prize-winning collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us.

Her entry begins:
I’d been hearing great things about Madras Press — they publish individually bound short stories and novellas and distribute the proceeds to a charitable organization chosen by the author — and so when I stumbled upon one of their mini-books, Bobcat by Rebecca Lee, I decided to check it out. Bobcat is rooted in domestic realism, a mode of writing I sometimes find tedious, but the conflicts in Lee’s story are so precisely rendered and so deliciously layered that it completely transcends its thematic genre. The setting for Bobcat is a dinner party, hosted by the narrator, who is pregnant and has failed to make a proper terrine for the party, and her writer-husband, who is publishing his first novel. The guests — Lizbet, Frances, the husband’s too-close-for-comfort editor, the Donner-Nilsons, and Susan, who has written a book about a near fatal encounter with a Bobcat — inject a wonderful sense of texture and personality into the story, but, most importantly, each of them...[read on]
Among the praise for What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us:
"What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us is a lovely, remarkable book, full of people who strive mightily to believe in things—Bigfoot, the Lochness and Lake Michigan monsters, a tunnel leading to the other side of the world, husbands, wives, lovers, parents—they shouldn't. But Laura van den Berg lets her characters believe, and believes in them, and makes us believe, and care, too. Calm, wry, and compassionate, somehow all at once, this book is impossible to resist, and I'd bet big money that we'll be talking about Laura van den Berg and her fiction for years to come."
—Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

"There is a special kind of magic in the writing of Laura van den Berg, a damp-eyed sorceress who blends the mythological with the everyday, buoyant playfulness with lacerating sadness. Each sentence reads like a beautiful bruise smeared across pages as pale as the bodies that so often strip off their clothes and tangle together in these tender, elegant stories."
—Benjamin Percy, author of Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk
Visit Laura van den Berg's website and blog.

Writers Read: Laura van den Berg.

--Marshal Zeringue