Books You Have Waited For Late At Night When You Had Nothing To Read

  • Miles From Nowhere, Nami Mun, Riverhead – Nami Mun’s novel in stories, Miles From Here,  the life of a Korean American runaway in the Bronx , is the book I hoped existed after I finished reading Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son in 1994. So, that’s a long time, but, it’s here.
  • The Torturer’s Wife, Thomas Glave, City Lights BooksThomas Glave‘s Whose Song? was the debut of a wholly original voice in American letters, and his long-awaited novel, The Torturer’s Wife, appears in December. Finding this out sort of makes me want to have a parade for him. Literally, every year I would check to see if he had a new book of stories or a novel.
  • Lark and Termite, Jayne Anne Phillips, Knopf – Jayne Anne Phillips’ first collection, Black Tickets, is someting my friend Scott Heim and I both claim as one of our most important influences as a young writer. Jayne Anne is so copied as a writer you might miss how original she is, reading Black Tickets—everyone wanted to be her. She’s doing okay. Meanwhile, this book has just come out and it’s an electric narrative that winds together the Korean War and West Virginia in the lives of an American soldier in the Korean War and his family back home. The outstanding Michiko Kakutani review is here.
  • Personal Days, Ed Park, Random House -I met Ed Park over a month ago, and bought the beautiful paperback of his novel, Personal Days. I began it on the plane home for Thanksgiving. It’s like satire done as an experiment in nervous laughter. Just go get it.


  1. I loved “Personal Days” — and I think about the last part every time I get on an elevator. (I don’t even go downstairs to get the mail without my cell phone, just in case.)

    Will look into Nami Mun. Thanks!

  2. You’ve turned me around on the Jayne Anne Phillips book. The other night, I heard on NPR a positive review of it, that was so treacly, it made me *not* want to read the book. (Perverse?)

    Your endorsement is compelling. I’ll add it to my short list.

  3. RJ: Ha. I think about it when I see those books about business.

    Jane: I’m glad.

    And I don’t think it’s perverse. I’m intensely negatively suggestible when it comes to all purchases. I often have to feel like no one wants me to buy it.

  4. Jesus’ Son has been a tremendous influence on a story/maybe novel I’ve been working on for awhile, so I’ll check Nami Mun out. I think I almost squealed with glee on seeing Thomas Glave has a new fiction book out!

  5. I went to the Jayne Anne Phillips reading in DC at Politics and Prose last night. The reading sucked me in, like a great tunnel vision that her words just made you zero in on her, and she graciously signed my copy of Black Tickets. Looking forward to starting Lark and Termite.

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