December Staff Picks

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

Jeff Howard, Editor-in-Chief:

Okay, I’m going out on a limb here, but it hit me recently that people who read the51jbnwmfvvl-_sx324_bo1204203200_se recommendations might also be writers, some of whom like to write creative nonfiction. Assuming I am right (as I usually do), I wanted to recommend Dinty Moore’s book Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide to Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction. It’s the kind of book that reads easily, despite being a how-to book. I mean, let’s face it, Moore is an accomplished writer, and his voice permeates the entire book in a way that is inviting and encouraging, while also being instructive. Moore provides an abbreviated history of personal essay writing, going clear back to Montaigne and incorporating Hazlitt and Woolf, while also mixing in advice from more contemporary writers in the genre. He also explains the different types of nonfiction, such as travel writing, spiritual writing, contemplative writing, etc., and gives a ton of writing prompts to help writers get started. I think English instructors who teach personal narrative in writing courses would do well to read, if not assign, this book, but for writers in the field of creative nonfiction, whether they just got here or are old-timers, Moore’s book has a lot of ideas that can infuse their writing with energy through fresh perspectives and approaches.



Christopher Swenson, Prose Editor:

The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake is a short story collection that was first introduced to me in school, and it immediately impressed. Pancake manages to capture the stark styling of Hemingway but without any of the masculine posturing. In its place is a voice of incredible sensitivity facing down the economic desolation of West Virginia in the fifties and sixties.



Anelise Farris, Poetry Editor:

I received an advance reader’s copy of The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak. When I first read (and immediately loved) Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and then his seco30753698nd novel Armada, I realized that I am a huge fan of what I am terming video game literature. And what’s even better than a novel about a video game? One that also feeds our fascination with the 1980s (as Ready Player One did, and now The Impossible Fortress). Rekulak’s novel is Stranger Things meets The Breakfast Club, and it’s (no surprise here) awesome! In this novel, Billy Marvin, a fourteen-year-old computer geek, is pulled into a plan to snatch a copy of a Playboy magazine from a local mart; however, what Billy does not expect to find at the store is the manager’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky: a seriously skilled programmer. This is a story about video game design, geek culture, and adolescence, and it’s so good. You can even visit the author’s website and play a faux-8-bit adaptation of the computer game Mary and Billy design. The Impossible Fortress comes out February 7, 2017, so mark your calendars!


Susan Goslee, Faculty Advisor:

Alamo Theory by Josh Bell. Tremendous!


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