Brian Blickenstaff

Writer | Editor

What I'm Reading, August 2014



  • The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt -- I thought it was excellent. The story took a long time to unfold but was very readable throughout. By page 500 I was unable to put it down. Recommended.
  • The Flamethrowers, by Rachel Kushner -- Like The Goldfinch, the prose were amazing. A bunch of good sentences weren't enough for me though. I gave it more than 200 pages before putting it on my nightstand and forgetting to pick it back up. 

In Process

  • A Book of Migrations, by Rebecca Solnit 
  • The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front, 1915-1919, by Mark Thompson
  • Slouching Toward Bethlehem, by Joan Didion

On Deck

  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North
  • The Conquest of Nature: Water, Landscape, and the Making of Modern Germany, by David Blackbourn
  • A Secret History, by Donna Tartt


I read some great pieces over the last week or so. Here's a short list. I recommend all of them.

  • America is Not for Black People, by Greg Howard on Deadspin -- Greg (full disclosure) has edited a few stories of mine for Deadspin. His talent is on full display in this piece about race in America. It's the best thing I've read in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death.
  • I Come From Erfurt: Art and Darkness in a German Dollhouse, by Tom Christie in The Los Anegles Review of Books -- An essay on contemporary fascism in Germany. Funny, insightful, and frightening. I always like reading the work of other American writers in Germany.
  • Some Days You Just Want to Kill Yourself, by Chris Jones in Esquire -- In the wake of Robbin Williams' suicide, Esquire republished this brave story about the author's struggle with suicidal depression. 
  • Wheels of Fortune: The People’s Republic learns to drive, by Peter Hessler in The New Yorker -- Hessler is one of my favorite writers--maybe my favorite at The New Yorker. He's not flashy like so many contemporary writers try to be. He just has an incredible feel for a good story, and this is one, about driving in China, is one of my favorites.
  • Underworld, by Jeanne Marie Laskas in GQ -- The author spends months in a Ohio coal mine. One of the best pieces of magazine journalism I've ever read. The characters are just so round.
  • Towheads: The Far-flung Adventures of a Tugboating Family, by Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker -- another fantastic piece of mag journalism. Bilger tells the story of an entrepreneurial tugboat family. Like Laskas' story, this one is full of great characters doing weird things.

Have you read any of the above? Have any good recommendations? Let me know. 

© 2014 Brian Blickenstaff

All Images courtesy of Tom Sekula.