Tuesday, June 05, 2012

What is Stephanie Reents reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephanie Reents, author of The Kissing List.

Her entry begins:
Because it’s the end of the semester, I’ve been reading a lot of promising work by my students at College of the Holy Cross. Some of the highlights include an essay about playing basketball at Ruckers Park in Harlem written by a freshman after a class fieldtrip to New York City. Another piece, a story called “Passing the Ball,” is long meditation on a young man’s memories of his childhood in Brazil and the role soccer played in his life. Luiza Mouzinho, the senior who wrote this story, had never taken a creative writing class before this one, and she completely blew me away. Here’s one of my favorite passages:
Rocinha is a favela, which I guess in English means ghetto, but that word holds no meaning for me. I hear people say that a ghetto is an ugly place, but a favela is a beautiful place. It’s a place you can love and hate without contradicting yourself. When you are at the top of Rocinha you can see the back of the Christ figure, his arms outstretched toward the rich city below Him. Some nights I would stand outside my house, knocking the ball gently between my ankles, and ask Christ to turn around and look at me. I thought that if he could see what was happening in my favela, see the violence and poverty, that maybe he would do something. But they cut off the power in the favelas at night, which plunges everyone into darkness and makes people afraid. So before he had the chance to turn around, I was called inside.
One of the other luxuries of teaching is that I get to revisit some of my favorite stories every year. This spring, I rediscovered my love of Edward Jones’s collection, Lost in the City. Every story is...[read on]
About The Kissing List, from the publisher:
An inventive debut that recalls the imagination of Aimee Bender and the sardonic wit of Lorrie Moore.

The interlocking stories in The Kissing List feature an unforgettable group of young women – Sylvie, Anna, Frances, Maureen – as their lives connect, first during a year abroad at Oxford, then later as they move to New York on the cusp of adulthood. We follow each of them as they navigate the treachery of first dates, temp jobs and roommates, failed relationships and unexpected affairs – all the things that make their lives seem full of possibility, but also rife with potential disappointment.

Shot through with laugh-out-loud lines, yet still wrenchingly emotional and resonant, The Kissing List is a book about women who bravely defy expectations and take outrageous chances in the face of a life that might turn out to be anything less than extraordinary.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephanie Reents's website.

Reents's fiction has been included in the O. Henry Prize Stories, noted in Best American Short Stories, and has appeared in numerous journals. She has been a Bread Loaf Conference Scholar, a Stegner Fellow, and a Rhodes Scholar. Reents is an assistant professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Page 69 Test: The Kissing List.

Writers Read: Stephanie Reents.

--Marshal Zeringue