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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What’s on your summer reading list, BPT? (part two)

A few weeks ago, we asked BPTers to share the titles on their night stands with us. Here's part two of the official BPT summer reading list...

Masha Obolensky
I am looking forward to reading Laura Harrington's new book Alice Bliss (, and then I will hopefully finally get around to read Patti Smith's Just Kids. And if I am really ambitious (which is unlikely considering the overwhelming desire I now have to sleep all the time) I will read: Middlemarch (Eliot), Freedom (Franzen), Cleopatra (Schiffer), and Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story.

One of my jobs involves doing research on hope and optimism for an author -- so I will be reading books by Martin Seligman and the like (including Learned Optimism).

Marc Olivere
Summertime and some parts of the winter are the only periods when I can get caught up on my reading list. This summer my list includes An Object of Beauty, by Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin, the comedian. It’s his second novel, I believe. A tale involving the art collectors and auction houses in NYC, and a fast, somewhat loose, but no less aggressive woman’s rise to the top of that industry. It started out slow, but quickly picked up steam and became quite compelling. He’s really a fine author.

After that, I’m now into Richard Russo’s book The Risk Pool, a coming of age story set in mid nineteenth century, somewhat autobiographical in nature. He wrote it back in the eighties. It’s part of my quest to read everything he’s written.

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to Phillip Roth’s Nemesis, a must-read-everything-the-author-has-written thing. The same applies for TC Boyle, When the Killing’s Done. And there are two new writers for me to check out: David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, in honor of his passing. And Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke. Don’t know anything about her except she’s the Rikki in Steely Dan’s “Rikki don’t lose that Number,” but it sounds like an interesting book.

Hopefully, I’ll get it all in before mid-August when I start up work again.

Richard Schotter
This summer, I find myself reading a strange combination of books. Philip Roth's Nemesis, a sad, moving character study that evokes the paranoia surrounding the polio epidemic in Newark in the nineteen fifties. Even well into his seventies, Roth still has his comic and moral chops intact. For my dose of political and moral outrage, I'm reading Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class which tells you everything you already know about American decline and the outrages of corporate greed,  but says it with passion and more detail than is sometimes bearable. I've also just begun reading a delightful, utterly original book of poems by my Queens College colleague, Roger Sedarat. He's an audacious, Iranian-American poet who's written a wildly funny collection of poems called Ghazal Games, all of which are based upon the ghazal, a classic Iranian poetic form. Irreverent, charming, brainy and lots of fun.

Phil Schroeder
I've been spending time going back to some mid-century classics like The Glass Menagerie, Death of a Salesman, and A Raisin in the Sun. I just finished a contemporary drama lit course with Ilana Brownstein this spring, and it's interesting to see the ways that these 20th century works are still so relevant. 

I also am into new stuff by playwright Sheila Callaghan and by short-story writer Lorrie Moore (Self Help is wonderful!). I'm thinking I'll finish the August Wilson cycle before September, but I've made big plans before...

I'm listening a lot to the music from The Book of Mormon, and loving it. 

John Shea
I tell myself every year that I am going to read something written during my lifetime but, I just finished another Edith Wharton and am already eyeing some short stories by Thomas Hardy. I try to pull myself up to date, but have a hard time finishing modern fiction. Luckily, I did read two by Jonathan Cole this past winter, and both written this century...The Rotter's Club, and its sequel, The Closed Circle. I loved them but am now reverting to the classics, old habits and even older stories.  (Zola is my personal favorite and I highly recommend L'Assomoir and Nana.) 

K. Alexa Mavromatis
As much as I love seeing, reading, and writing plays, by season’s end I’m always ready for a serious gear change. Earlier this summer, I discovered Drinking at the Movies, a collection of autobiographical comics by Julia Wertz. I’m always awed by this medium, which has the ability to be so insightful and communicate complicated emotions in such a spare format. 

So I ordered Wertz’s previous collections, The Fart Party volumes 1 & 2 (not about farts or parties, I swear), and am enjoying those as well. A friend of mine is convinced that I’ve connected to Wertz’s work so strongly because she is a hoodie-and-Converse-wearing, bourbon-swilling pottymouth. What the #*@% is that supposed to mean? So I have a soul mate in Brooklyn. Who knew?

Readers: What have we missed? Feel free to add a comment, if you like. We're interested in your summer reads, too!

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