Monday, March 15, 2010

What is Malena Watrous reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Malena Watrous, author of the newly released If You Follow Me.

Part of her entry:
Another great novel that I read most recently was one that I reviewed for the San Francisco Chronicle: The Gin Closet, by Leslie Jamison. This is a novel about a young woman who discovers that she has an aunt she never knew existed, a sort of prodigal daughter who ran away to the desert of Nevada, where she has been living in squalor in a trailer, after working most of her adult life as a prostitute. The setup is extreme, but the characters are heartbreakingly real. Jamison’s novel alternates between the first person voices of the niece and the aunt, very different but equally strong and compelling. Flannery O’Connor famously wrote that the end of a story should be at once surprising and inevitable, and Jamison somehow manages to achieve this neat effect on the sentence level. While I was definitely drawn in by the bigger story, and wanted to find out what was going to happen to these two troubled women, I savored the novel for its sentences and actually...[read on]
Malena Watrous attended Barnard College, where she majored in English. After teaching English in rural Japan for two years she attended the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop on a Truman Capote Fellowship. In 2002, she was the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, followed by a Jones Lectureship. She now works for Stanford as a head instructor in the Online Writer’s Workshop. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Believer, GlimmerTrain, The Massachussetts Review,, StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. She contributes regular book reviews to the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.

If You Follow Me is at once a coming-of-age, fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. It won a Michener-Copernicus award, and sections have been awarded a Glimmertrain Fiction Open award and runner-up in the Faulkner/Pirate’s Alley Contest.

Read early praise for the novel.

Browse inside If You Follow Me, and learn more about the book and author at the official Malena Watrous website and blog.

Writers Read: Malena Watrous.

--Marshal Zeringue