How much more palatable is any dish when “imbued with the stories of home”? We’re exploring that this month in our recommendations, which variously braid entertainment and education in their reading experiences. Grow as a writer, a poet, a consumer, a human being—and do it while laughing, remembering home, or teetering on the edge of your seat.
The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury, The Door by Magda Szabó,Ennui Prophet by Christopher Kennedy, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi
This month’s recommendations from The Common’s contributors and staff deal with the intersection of old and new, ancient and modern, on every level—personal, religious, political, even supernatural. Perhaps in the spirit of the season, we seem preoccupied by stories of intergenerational strife, love, and ambition. In their urgent focus on belief and truth-seeking, these books represent a literature of searching, a catalogue of quests across time and around the world.
To the End of June by Cris Beam, The Harafish by Naguib Mahfouz, We Others by Steven Millhauser, Hum by Jamaal May, High as the Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire.
Sarah Smarsh has reported on social justice, the environment, culture, and class for Harper’s, The Huffington Post,Guernica, The Pitch, Aeon,and others. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas, and has taught at Washburn University, Columbia, and elsewhere. A fellow of the Center for Kansas Studies, earlier in her career she wrote about her home state for everything from airline magazines to pop-history paperback series. Her essay “Death of the Farm Family” appears in Issue 08 of The Common. Marni Berger and Smarsh discussed the privilege of rootedness in America and what it means to be “often from” a place.
Often from Kansas: A Conversation with Sarah Smarsh on the Privilege of Rootedness in Midwestern America
It was unlikely that Betty and Jeannie would end up in the country. They’d always moved within cities—Wichita, Chicago, Denver, Dallas—and neighboring small towns. And it was unlikely they’d stay for long. They first hit the road when Betty was a teenager and Jeannie a baby, and by the time Jeannie was in high school they’d changed addresses forty-eight times. In the late 1970s, though, they landed for a good while on a Kansas farm.