Six of UNCW’s MFA candidates in creative writing get the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in our Publishing Laboratory during their three years in the program. They assist with all kinds of design projects–from spread design for Ecotone to posters and broadsides for readings and events. In addition to their writing, that work makes for a busy schedule. So we wanted to find out what they are reading, when they have the time to read. Here’s what three Pub Lab TAs have on their nightstands.
A friend of mine told me that the book he was reading had Colonel Sanders, Johnnie Walker, and a talking Siamese cat in it, so I asked him to mail it to me when he’s done. I finished Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore two days after opening it up. The book is cinematic, containing multiple themes that speak to you at once. It’s sad and visceral and stocked with human will. It will make you want to start speaking to inanimate objects and teach you how to forgive them when they don’t talk back. Plus there’s blood, all kinds of blood.
—Jane Molinary, Pub Lab TA, and MFA candidate
I am reading a collection of short stories called Mother Tongue, written by Karen Lee Boren. It is impossible to put down as character after character is assaulted by the complexity of life and how to exist in it. I find myself thinking of the characters as I drive, wash dishes, fold laundry, cook dinner, or any other activity that allows my mind to wander. It examines the beautiful violence that every day holds. Each story is uniquely engaging and surprising. The overall effect is the feeling that Boren took a magnifying glass to the female experience and laid the image bare on the page with the mastery of a poet.
—Renée Labonté, Pub Lab TA, and MFA candidate
Over winter break, I read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, All The Light We Cannot See, while I traveled through Germany and Eastern Europe, where much of the story is set in the years surrounding World War II. The pages are full of music, and because one of the protagonists is blind, the descriptions are especially rich with sensory details. Doerr’s prose painted a sad yet human portrait of the cities I toured, illuminating the humanity in their dark history of Naziism, destruction, and intolerance. Despite its well-crafted plot and stunning language, the book, to me, had the nostalgic quality of those charming stories I read and become forever attached to in childhood, perhaps because the main characters are curious children.
—Morgan Davis, Pub Lab TA, and MFA candidate