10 Eclectic Reading Recommendations From Amelia Gray

Earlier this month, a swarm of authors, editors, booksellers, and miscellaneous book people snuck into Boston for the annual AWP Conference, which boasts one of the biggest book fairs in the country. Our friend Amelia Gray (kick-ass Millennial writer, PEN/Faulkner award nominee, and author of the divine Threats) kept a tally of the books she picked up, loved, and was recommended, so that she could recommend them to you. Here’s what she had to say:

At the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, which Steve Almond called ‘the vast roving capital of American literary anxiety;’ if you’re not running into that ex who is always a dick to you (‘you look like a real bitch in your author photo’), you’re in full-on faux-pas mode with table keepers who stand unwittingly (or worse, wittingly) as symbols of your current or future rejection. Happily, AWP also serves as an easy and fun place to connect with people whose work I love, a time to hang with old friends at the hotel bar, and a great place to pick up a few books. Here’s what I found.


The n+1 and Paper Monument table: heavy with big back issues of n+1, art assignment and etiquette books — surveys from artists and critics — that pull me in for their design. The table woman and I chatted some — about the press, an essay I love by Marco Roth, and her boyfriend, who as it turns out is a sometime editor of mine — before she directed me to her favorite essay in n+1 Reconstruction, a piece called “Afternoon of the Sex Children” by Mark Greif:

The lure of a permanent childhood in America partly comes from the overwhelming feeling that one hasn’t yet achieved one’s true youth, because true youth would be defined by freedom so total that no one can attain it.

From Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of the art assignment, edited by Paper Monument:

The best assignment of which I’ve heard recently was created by an artist whose work I do not particularly admire. It was this: the class pooled their money and purchased a piano. Then they smashed it to bits. Over the course of the six week workshop, the class was then to reassemble the piano. Why was this such a great assignment? It neatly bypasses the ego-based obstacles of individual expression and authorship through a collective project of useless labor. (Justin Lieberman)