Amanda was born in California, raised in Georgia, and lived in Vancouver, BC, Portland, OR, and Philadelphia, PA before making their way down to Richmond. Amanda is a writer and loves the craft of writing; literary fiction, short stories, plays, poetry, and good, earnest nonfiction -- if it offers eccentricity and beautiful prose, it will likely catch Amanda's eye.
They are new to Fountain so come on in and say hello if you see them!
My favorite short story collection of 2022, "Thank You Mr. Nixon" starts off with Richard Nixon's visit to China just prior to the Watergate scandal and then unfurls over 50 years of interconnected and multi-generational relationships. Gish Jen is as wise a writer as she is gently humorous, and with a tender hand she guides you through the loose ends and mixed emotions of Chinese-American identity with the growing pains of two global superpowers as the backdrop. The characters are so interconnected in this one, it is a great short story collection even for novel readers.
You love a poetry book that paeans to mullein, pits algebraic equations alongside the human grief of animal extinction, and exists so unfettered in its own time and place that it holds you down unbroken into reality. "Whale Fall" is the poetry book to be paired with your climate nonfiction like a decadent glass of red wine; it is the inescapable emotional depths of crises, so delicately and beautifully felt that you cannot look away.
Like many readers, I first picked up "Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory" as a fan of Raphael Bob-Waksberg's hit TV show, Bojack Horseman. Waksberg somehow manages to hit every nail on its head in this collection, proving his prose writing is just as smart and biting as his scripts. His characters are effortlessly defined by their own vulnerabilities and malefic patterns, and yet love and human connection run tantamount to all their follies. Without a doubt a must-read for any book lover.
A unique way to start your fall season literary extravaganza. "The Deceptions" follows an empty-nester poet as she repeatedly visits the ancient Greek and Egyptian exhibition halls of the MET. Mulling over her relationships, particularly a past affair, her anxieties and musings seem to manifest themselves among her fellow museum-goers and staff. Complete with black and white images of the classical artifacts, Jill Bialosky captures a privileged woman's calls to the old gods as she attempts to make sense at the contradictory mythologies of the past and present.
What could be more important than a nature studies title written by a prolific religious studies scholar? For lovers of the natural world, mythology, and world history. Post-enlightenment material observation clashes with spiritual aesthetic experience as Karen Armstrong unpacks the realities of living within -- and not distinctly separate from -- the elastic micro-realms of biological diversity and ecological mystery. If you are a reader who finds comfort in the unknown, "Sacred Nature" is practically a handbill of it.
They say to heal contraries with contraries. If "Sacred Nature" sounds too feel-good for you, try "Ill Nature", Joy Williams's misanthropic and darkly lacquered portrait of a world dwindling in natural diversity and sickened by the heavy hand of human touch. It will ruin your park strolls, turn the coos of passing babies into sounds of menace, and make you rethink what you think you know about your dog. Read it, then hide it under your bed or in your nightstand and try to forget it if you can. Or, make it a perennial classic as I have!
FROM MY LOVE, PORTLAND, OR. A small town, a cigarette factory, a mammoth hunter. Zachary Schomburg is a Portland poet whose first novel will leave a black hole in your heart just like the unfortunate townspeople of Pie Time. A pre-pandemic novel that somehow predicts the lurching terror and absurdity of a town overcome by plague and the healers and charlatans it attracts. Written with some of the most striking and gorgeous prose I've ever read, I'm including this little pearl on my staff picks for anyone on the lookout for daring and dark boldness in their next novel. It is gorgeously sad, a little dirge to the horrors and splendors of a tightly wound life.