Friday, May 20, 2011

What is Vanessa Veselka reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Vanessa Veselka, author of Zazen.

Her entry begins:
When I read I don’t read for escape or tonal affect, I read for transformation. This means my reading life is filled with disappointment and exhilaration. I’m drawn equally to dark novels, especially those written in the shadow of WWI, and to flighty forms of mysticism, myth, and fringe health books. It is always my intention to make peace with the last 75 years of literature because there are so many great books contained within it, but the lure of profound emotional change always wins, wherever it is.

Heart of a Dog - Bulgakov

How can you knock a novel narrated by a misanthropic dog? I think a lot of modern lit doesn’t work for me because it tentatively approaches a metaphor but never pushes past it. Written in 1925 during the rise of Stalin, Bulgakov has a starving dog, lured by food, turned into a human being through brutal surgery as a social experiment. So, duh, it’s a metaphor for...[read on]
Among the early praise for Zazen:
"Vanessa Veselka is something like a literary comet: bright-burning, far-reaching, rarely seen, and a little dangerous."
—Tom Bissell

"At turns hilarious, unsettling, and improbably sweet, Veselka's debut is, above all, a highly engaging, and totally unique experience, which will have you re-reading passages and dog-earing pages. But best of all, in the end, Zazen is that rare novel which dares to be hopeful in the face of despair, and succeeds."
—Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu and West of Here

"[A] taut...Veselka's prose is chiseled and laced with arsenic observations...Veselka makes a case for hope and meaning amid sheer madness."
Publishers Weekly
Learn more about the book and author at Vanessa Veselka's blog.

My Book, The Movie: Zazen.

The Page 69 Test: Zazen.

Writers Read: Vanessa Veselka.

--Marshal Zeringue