"I recently finished Anelise Chen's So Many Olympic Exertions, in which a PhD candidate in American studies attempts to complete her thesis while reflecting on the lives and plights of various athletes. One anecdote features Olympic marathoner Shizo Kanakuri, who veered off course during the 1912 Stockholm Olympics to ask for water at a garden party. An hour later, he realizes that he has enjoyed himself for too long, and, on the understanding that he'll never finish in a timely manner, leaves mid-race and returns to Japan. By pairing these tales with the existential crisis of a Chinese American academic, So Many Olympic Exertions made me think about forms of immigrant striving, and our American dream narratives of achievement.
I also recently finished Karl Ove Knausgaard's Spring, which is a good revisit before volume six of My Struggle comes out in the fall. I read the first five volumes concurrently while writing Severance, and it gave me a bit of courage — the realization that you can write about anything, as long as the reader can feel the presence of a person there. I've often thought of My Struggle as attempting to write past the speed of self-consciousness. Spring, which spotlights his wife's depression, might be most interesting to consider with volume two, in which he first meets and falls in love with Linda Boström. It will be bittersweet to read the final volume.
Last but not least, I'm loving Hajara Quinn's poetry collection Coolth. Her work is funny, deep, lettuce-crispy, and temporarily rerouted my brain in thinking about language differently. I could roll around in a hearty, cruciferous field of her poems all day, emerging with the most buoyant high."