Spring Reading: Nancy Jo Cullen
We asked MFA alumni publishing books this season what they’re reading, and what they'd recommend. Here's what Nancy Jo Cullen is currently obessing over:
"This year I’m reading a lot of poetry; it’s been an excellent complement to the latter stages of editing a novel. Gwen Beneway’s Holy Wild stands out as a stellar recent read. Right now I’m reading (and loving) Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities. Morgan Parker’s Magical Negro is top of my poetry pile. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce is a great collection so I’m really looking forward to her new book. And, right now, I’m also dipping in and out of books I love; Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (because I’m digging sonnets these days – such a tight form) and I return to Bronwen Wallace, especially Keep That Candle Burning Bright.
In terms of novels, I loved Milkman by Anna Burns; I so enjoyed its rambling narration. Late last winter I read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by the Polish author, Olga Tokarczuk, and it’s really stuck with me. It’s got one of the best first pages I’ve read. So, even though it’s not the “right now” book, it’s brilliant and I want to give it a shout out. I recently read Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji. It’s a great collection of stories with so much casual danger and a near perfect mix of pathos and humour. I tore through the book. Right now I’m in the midst of Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead, and anyone who’s paid any attention at all to canlit this past year won’t be surprised to learn that I think it’s terrific."
Nancy Jo's novel, The Western Alienation Merit Badge, is published by Wolsak & Wynn's Buckrider Books imprint. It will be launching in Toronto on Tuesday, May 21, at 7pm at the Gladstone Hotel and in Hamilton on Thursday, May 23, at 7pm at the Staircase Cafe. Both launches will additonally feature fellow MFA alumna Becky Blake's debut novel Proof I Was Here, also published by Buckrider.