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Suggested Reading (Week of 7.8.18)

Each Sunday, Jimmy handpicks five pieces of writing for your enjoyment. Follow Jimmy’s blog to have content sent to your inbox automatically!


1. Japan’s Vegetable-Eating Men – In this fascinating piece, Amy Westervelt explores one of Japan’s strongest social norms. As recently as the early 2000s, Japanese men who stayed home with their children (referred to as “househusbands”) were looked down upon and seen as completely useless. But the mixture of Japan’s rapidly decreasing birth rates and fastest-aging population in the world caused the nation to start relying on women to join the workforce. That forced more men to stay home, and their stories are discussed here.

2. Conjuring Spirits in Florida – As a Florida native, I’m always interested in what people are writing about the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, we often get negative press. And I get it – Florida is, according to the wisdom of Michael Scott, a “colorful, lawless swamp.” Michael Adno’s piece in the New York Times explores the huge paranormal-obsessed community in Sarasota, a city near and dear to my heart.

3. The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea – Admittedly, this article was published over nine months ago. However, it hasn’t aged at all. That, more than anything, is very telling considering the relationship between North Korea and the United States. Reading Evan Osnos’ account of his time in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang, was mind-blowing. It gave me a renewed appreciation for living in here in America.

4. The Dog Catcher – I write flash fiction, so I know how difficult it can be to pack a punch in so few words (usually less than 1,000 to be exact). That’s what made Aaron Menzel’s piece so entertaining. Menzel takes an age-old children’s rhyme and infuses it with life…er…uh…death. Funny, eerie and takes about three minutes to read.

5. Where Are You? – While we’re on the topic of flash fiction, The New Yorker’s summerlong flash fiction series officially kicked off with a brilliantly sad piece by master of letters herself, Joyce Carol Oates. Again, it will only take you a few moments to read, but, like any good writing, it will stay with you.

 

Have an awesome rest of your week, and happy reading!

-Jimmy

The Sons Of

Our stories revolve around the sons of…

Of harpy and of Jacob

From which fathers are they?

Is their devotion to violence in the alley

Merely a skewed reading of scripture

 

They call themselves the sons of…

Of ones whose hearts are all-consuming fire

And disgust in the bedrooms.

Their loyalty unfaltering, unmoved, and solid

Their causes horrifically misplaced

 

These are the sons of…

Broken men following broken men following broken men

But believing in something real.

Enforcing the laws of the land

They forget the good news that made them

Young Pilgrims

Andy, I’ve gotten fat and happy

I wonder if you’d say hey if we passed on the street

I just remember driving down Clearwater together

Young Pilgrims

We kept saying god he’s got a voice

You can’t help but sing like it pulls you

We agreed

Even now as I write this and I think of where you might be

I hum along – Young Pilgrims – you know

God he’s got a voice

***

If you’re interested, this was inspired by The Shins’ song “Young Pilgrims.” Careful: it’s catchy.

 

A Drive With Isabel

Isabel, I want to remember our drive home tonight

Andrew sang us “Saints, preserve us”

My hand rested on your car seat

A moment, your little hand touched mine

We drove down Mills with the windows open

Andrew sang while your wild blond hair whipped the warm air

You said you saw a star out your window

If that wasn’t nice, I don’t know what is

Fruit

I peer into the bowl
Black wet fruit drip
A sweet acrid smell
Flies
Buzzing ears
Stinging eyes
I poke the rind curious
Choke
The skin gives way
Mush into the core
Sick juice covers my hand
Sounds of moldy muscle
Wretch
Decomposed meat old
Sitting in a bowl of its own
Blood-like sweet liquid
Garbage bottomed
Bowl

Lying Flat and Useless

Bedridden by time, I am

Lying flat and useless

While night’s nothingness

Is drowned out by the sound

Of a rainstorm on my phone,

A gale on my nightstand
My eyelids hang low and heavy

My head pounds quietly to

The rhythm of the rain

While I lie awake with distant thoughts

Running laps from ear to ear

The race won’t end, and my eyes won’t close

Some Writing Advice For Students

don’t think just write spill it out for once just let go it doesn’t matter how many words or how long how do you feel are you being real with me are you being real with yourself just put the words down don’t ask questions just write who cares what I think what do you think how many pages you ask who cares just write for yourself you have to write you can’t keep it inside anymore be honest be genuine be vulnerable like this poem here no punctuation no capitalization no sentence structure just words on this page talking to you and you only do it for yourself don’t do it for anyone else you can make a difference if you put truth into your writing you don’t like this poem I don’t care I’m writing it anyway it’s done