My summer reading list: Connie Hales

Today is the fifth installment of “My Summer Reading List,” a look at what books the MFA faculty will be reading in the coming months. Today’s recommendations are from Connie Hales:

“Certainly the first book on my summer reading list is my friend Steve Yarbrough’s new novel The End of California. I’m a great fan of Steve’s stories and novels and I’ve been waiting for this book for a couple of years–ever since he started writing it. Any book by Steve promises to be both compelling and profound, and this one sounds like his best yet. I’m waiting for my pre-ordered copy to arrive any day.

“I’ve also been waiting a long time for a new book by poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, and one has finally appeared. Drive: The First Quartet has just been published by Wings Press, and it includes five (previously unpublished?) collections of poems from 1989-2005. I couldn’t be happier–though Kathee Godfrey has beaten me to it, and she’s the person who told me the book was finally available. If you haven’t read Cervantes’ first two books, Emplumada and From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger, start there. She’s a force.

“I have a whole stack of new poetry collections–and another stack of poets I will be re-reading, including Elizabeth Bishop’s collected poems. I’m very interested in the current controversy over Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments. Alice Quinn edited this new volume of writing that Elizabeth Bishop didn’t necessarily want to have published, and everyone is not pleased. Some of the poems have appeared in The New Yorker and other magazines. It’s an ethical dilemma.

“And I want to get to E.L. Doctorow’s new Civil War novel The March, and a few books that have been out for awhile but I just haven’t had time to read: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, for instance, and Russell Banks’ The Darling, about a woman who was a member of the Weather Underground, and many more.

“While I’m reading, I’ll be listening to Bruce Springsteen’s new album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. It’s very cool. So are the Mark Knopfler/Emily Lou Harris duets on All the Roadrunning.”

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