Three reading recommendations, for the plane, train, or automobile.
Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room — this is the book to tuck into your carry-on bag. You’ll speed through it so you can get to the ending, but once you get there, you’ll want to read the whole book all over again. You won’t even notice that your flight is delayed, or your luggage still hasn’t arrived on the carousel. I’m not going to tell you what the book is about (you can cheat and read the reviews if you want). When you get to the end, and find yourself meditating on questions of fate and agency, not sure if you’re looking into darkness or light, remember to thank me for this recommendation.
Lucie Brock-Broido, A Hunter, The Master Letters, Trouble in Mind, Stay Illusion — I am re-reading Brock-Broido’s oeuvre this summer. Brock-Broido passed away this past March. She was only 61. Her language followed the diction and syntax of another time–but what was that time? Was it the deep past, or some future yet to come? Brock-Broido’s poetry was always beautiful, in a way that flirted with the decorative. Her best work veered away from mere beauty, aching towards something like the sublime.
Kelly Jones, South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s — Jones tells a “hidden history of blackness” in 20th-century California. African Americans, as well as members of the Latinx and Asian Pacific Islander communities, have traditionally been excluded from the story of modernism in California. Jones tells the story of the African American art community “south of Pico” in Los Angeles, embedding well-known artists such as Bettye Saar and Noah Purifoy within the complicated historical contexts of Los Angeles–and California, more broadly speaking–in the second half of the 20th century. This book changed how I think of modern and contemporary American art. It will change how you think, too.