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Author Archive: "Ariel B."

Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing

This was a collection I read because of its inclusion on a creative writing class syllabus. Though all the work we read in that class represented good storytelling, Peelle's collection has stayed with me, and I find it hard to express why. The experience of reading her stories was less an experience of "reading stories" and more like being submerged in lives that weren't mine, but weren't "other." I came up again feeling breathless, and with a vague sense of loss.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Wickedly funny, Disreputable History is Frankie's tale of scandalizing her conservative boarding school by disrupting longstanding paradigms of gender, religion, and linguistics. A clever young adult novel, this book will connect with any reader who has felt "it's just the way things are" is unfair. Social change can be hard, but Frankie shows it can also be full of devilish pranks and pizazz.

Guillotine Card Game

For those that qualify as both history nerds and gaming geeks, Guillotine is a perfect mix of both. I first fell in love with this game in middle school and still play it now as an adult. Easy to learn, this irreverent game brings out my rarely seen competitive side as every player strives to collect the most powerful noble heads during Robespierre's bloody Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Recommended pairings include champagne, cake, and the soundtrack to Les Mis.

This Boy’s Life: A Memoir

Wolff's memoir retells his hardscrabble childhood in a dysfunctional family, but rather than inspire sympathy or pity, he evokes laughter. Wolff's teenage years, spent in Skagit County, Washington, are filled with the desperation of enormous creativity trapped in a midcentury small town, which left me rooting for young Tobias's escape through whatever dubious means necessary. I read this in a memoir-writing class, and for me it exemplifies the fusion of humor and hardship.

The Riots

The Riots is one of the most beautiful collections of personal essays I've found. Stories of confused youth, racial identity, love, abuse, and mental illness are punctuated by evocative vignettes and still lifes. Her prose is crisp and deliberate, and the nonlinear, sometimes experimental, style challenges my inner writer to defy conventions. Deulen, raised here in the Pacific Northwest, bares herself completely, the fierce and the vulnerable. This is a book I recommend to fiction and nonfiction readers alike, but particularly to those with an interest in creative memoir.

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