Michelle Bailat-Jones

Writer, Translator, Reader

January and February took me by surprise – I have been reading a ton, but nearly all of my reading for the past two months has been for the prize that my novel won last year, The Christopher Doheny Award. This is an award that honors writing about physical illness and these books (both memoir and fiction) have been fascinating, difficult, sad, beautiful—they have given me much to think about.

That reading period is now over and I’m excited about the book that was selected for the prize this year. I will write more about it when I’m able to.

In the midst of all that reading, I’ve been reading/re-reading short books and essays and turning to a lot of comfort reading. I’ve now finished Lispector’s Near to the Wild Heart, am about halfway through her The Passion According to G.H. I spent one evening comparing two translations of Agua Viva (1989’s The Stream of Life, tr. Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz, and 2012’s Agua Viva, tr. Stefan Tobler). The differences between these two versions are both very slight and really interesting – and worth a post all on their own. The 1989 version is definitely worth picking up for Hélène Cixous’s marvelous introduction. I’ve also now re-read The Hour of the Star and can’t stop thinking about it. February has been a month of Lispector.

Comfort reading also means Anne Carson, so I’ve been reading and re-reading “The Glass Essay” and Nay Rather as well as selections from Men in the Off Hours. I could just get lost in her work. I have started flipping through red doc > but didn’t have the concentration for it on the afternoon I settled in. So that’s on my list this week.

One work stands out from all this “small” reading as well—Alice Oswald’s Tithonus, 46 minutes in the life of the dawn. I have Anthony to thank for this one. What an absolutely stunning text. I keep reading and re-reading. I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite passage, but this one may just be it (I had to put a hyphen in to preserve the line-breaks, why WordPress can’t do this, I’ll never know):

     she never quite completes her

sentence but is always almost

and this is what draws me to the

window this huge fragment broken off

with the mind-spire winding through

it also unfinished

she never quite completes her

sentence but is always almost

and this is what draws me to the

window too late I notice my head still

balanced on my neck but severed by

light from myself not knowing but


One Response to “January and February reading”

  1. Stefanie

    You’ve been busy! I am trying really hard to clear away through my reading so I can get in some Lispector myself. I was hoping it was going to be this month but things have come up so once again it gets pushed ahead. Sigh

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