Kelli Jo Ford is the author of Crooked Hallelujah, a novel-in-stories about four generations of Cherokee women (on sale now!). In a recent interview with Literary Arts’ Amanda Bullock, Ford shared books that she has loved lately, as well as a couple that have influenced her own writing practice. Her picks are below.
LISTEN to their interview in this episode of Long Distance from Literary Arts’ The Archive Project.
by Megan Giddings
From PRH: A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation. — When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.
On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.
The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.
by Louise Erdrich
From HarperCollins: Set on and around a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation, Love Medicine—the first novel by bestselling, National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich—is the epic story about the intertwined fates of two families: the Kashpaws and the Lamartines.
With astonishing virtuosity, each chapter draws on a range of voices to limn its tales. Black humor mingles with magic, injustice bleeds into betrayal, and through it all, bonds of love and family marry the elements into a tightly woven whole that pulses with the drama of life.
Filled with humor, magic, injustice and betrayal, Erdrich blends family love and loyalty in a stunning work of dramatic fiction.
Birds of America
by Lorrie Moore
From PRH: The celebrated collection of twelve stories from one of the finest authors at work today.
“Fluid, cracked, mordant, colloquial…. Stand[s] by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A marvelous collection…. Her stories are tough, lean, funny, and metaphysical…. Birds of America has about it a wild beauty that simply makes one feel more connected to life.” —The Boston Globe
Normal People Don’t Live Like This
by Dylan Landis
From Persea Books: At the center of this startling fiction debut is Leah Levinson, a teen at sea in the anonymous ordeals of a middle-class upbringing on the Upper West Side in the 1970s. In ten installments, written from varying perspectives, we witness her uneasy relationships with faster, looser peers—girls she is drawn to but also alienated by.
No one, though, alienates Leah more than her mother, Helen. Estranged yet intertwined, they struggle within the confines of their personalities, unaware of how similar their paths are. Just when they seem at a lonely impasse, each makes an impulsive change—Leah taking a risky trip abroad, Helen renting a secret room in a welfare hotel. Jolted from their old patterns, the two of them independently glimpse the possibility of a more hopeful life.
“The heavy winds couldn’t blow her off course. She continued. Even when her heart clenched and her skin turned crackling cold it didn’t matter, because the pure and naked part of her went on.”Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine