November Staff Picks

The staff at Black Rock & Sage has some fantastic recommendations for the month of November. Check them out below!

Jeff Howard, Editor-in-Chief:

My area of study is generally eighteenth-century British novelists, but wh41uwyxicail-_sy344_bo1204203200_en I need a break from Defoe and Richardson (as I sometimes do), I like to read Western writers. Not writers of Westerns, mind you, like Zane Grey or Louis L’Amour or Owen Wister (that’s my dad’s thing, and his dad’s), but rather contemporary authors such as Robert Wrigley and James Galvin who write in and about the American West. I recently read Galvin’s Resurrection Update, Collected Poems 1975-97. I loved his book The Meadow, and his poetry is very similar in its treatment of people carving out a living in the harsh beauty of the rugged West. He plays with themes of death, survival, family, and tempered spirituality. His careful representations of rugged landscapes and his verbal economy make his writing an inviting frontier that any reader interested in poetry about the West can and should explore.

Christopher Swenson, Prose Editor:

The Dictionary of The Khazars by  Milorad Pavic
 This strange little book is a pretend collection of three small dictionaries bel200px-dictionary_of_the_khazarsonging to a now long forgotten country. The dictionaries themselves represent the three religions the nation was looking at for both a sense of direction and purpose. The pretend dictionaries were for the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam respectively. Each dictionary’s entries act as short stories of sorts , and the three books tell often the same story differently. The writing itself is a bizarre magical realism akin to something like Gabriel García Márquez mixed with the textual playfulness of Vladimir Nabokov. The book also came in both male and female editions with differing passages. As the author explains in the epilogue; people should closely compare notes with each other on the differences, and in this way be brought together. it is a truly unique little book that is definitely worth checking out.


Aneli51bfjt0nsdl-_sy344_bo1204203200_se Farris, Poetry Editor:

This month I devoured Leopoldine Core’s When Watched: Stories. I don’t often read short story collections because I have trouble getting through them. I read a story here and there without ever feeling really committed to the collection. That did not happen here. I read story after story in Core’s collection with the same pace in which I work through really good novels. Each story is different–offering new characters, locations, plots–and yet, there is a similar energy: a stark and poignant observation of humanity. While each of the nineteen stories are fantastic, a few of my favorites are “Hog for Sorrow,” “Historic Tree Nurseries,” and “Pleasure Kid.” If you are looking for a read that is both bleak and beautiful, this is it!


Susan Goslee, Faculty Advisor:

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong. It’s terrific!

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