I agree with Anne of Green Gables who said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” We’re putting on layers of clothing and we’ve put down (or hidden) our summer beach reads, settling into material that’s perhaps a little weightier. Which makes sense; our Managing Editor, Lindsey Skillen, informed me that according to Northrop Frye’s Theory of Archetypes, winter is Irony and Satire, spring is Comedy, summer is Romance, and autumn is Tragedy. So bring on the suffering and destruction.
Despite the fact that my must-read list is pages long, and tends to grow much longer come September, I love rereading books, even if it’s only been a few years since I first experienced them. It helps that I have a terrible memory. How Should a Person Be? is a genre-defying novel—a mix of all Frye's archetypes—that I'm currently revisiting each night before bed. The author is Sheila Heti, a writer from Toronto whom I interviewed on the blog a little while back. As the cold weather creeps in, I tend to get (dangerously) introspective, and so I appreciate someone else doing the same; in How Should a Person Be? Heti explores, in her idiosyncratic way, what it means to be an artist, a friend, a lover, a mess, a human being.
I asked the rest of the staff of Washington Square Review for their favorite fall reads and here is what some of our wonderful editors had to say.
— Alisha Kaplan, Web Editor
Assistant Web Editor
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is the perfect book for curling up on a crispy, creepy autumn evening with a glass of Russian vodka and a delightfully macabre outlook on life, love, religion and art.
I keep thinking of Jane Austen (mostly because I read her recently) but also because this weather is how I imagine the UK feels all the time. I like Dubliners during the time for the same reason. Seems like a cozy coffee shop kind of book. And this weather just makes me want to bake so I’ve been into cookbooks (if that counts). [AK: It most certainly does.]
As we turn inward in the season of letting go, Donika Kelly's debut Bestiary, just longlisted for the National Book Award, will pull you in: toward childhood, toward east and west, toward reflection, toward our tender hearts. Chosen by Nikky Finney for the Cave Canem First Book Prize, Kelly's first book explores the trauma and ultimately the song of our human condition. Bestiary is full of introspection, lyric, mythology, and meditation.
Assistant Managing Editor
My favorite autumn read (so far) is Heirlooms by Rachel Hall. This new short story collection spans from France 1939 to the American Midwest in 1989, and follows four generations of the same family. The writing is captivating, and so far I haven't been able to put it down!
Assistant Fiction Editor
I'd like to suggest The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Autumn is the season of Halloween, coffee, cozy blankets, and, this year, a significant election. What better book to snuggle up with that not only feels terrifying, but also eerily prophetic? Even thirty years after being published, The Handmaid's Tale still is a chillingly fresh prediction of our future world. And never before more so than this current election cycle. (Not to mention it's also important to revisit before the TV series airs on Netflix in 2017 on Hulu!)