Reading with... Eirinie Carson

Eirinie Carson is a Black British writer, born to a Jamaican father and Scottish-ish mother and raised in South East London. Her work is published in the Sonora Review and she is a frequent contributor to Mother magazine. A member of the San Francisco Writers Grotto, Carson writes about motherhood, grief, and relationships. Carson lives in Northern California with her musician husband and their one dog and two daughters. The Dead Are Gods (Melville House, April 11) is her first book, a memoir that explores grief, Blackness, and recovery after the death of a dear friend.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A book that will break you and then put you back together about Black sisterhood, platonic love and grief. Bittersweet and important and unconventional.

On your nightstand now:

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Brown Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. It was a compilation of fairytale folk stories from different cultures and the book we read had intricate, Victorian-era, hand-painted illustrations. It was full of wayward princes being lured away from their virginal brides by water dwelling nymph-witches, equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, Jane Austen, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison

Book you've faked reading:

Does everyone say War and Peace? Because it's War and Peace. And Ulysses.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Friend and writer KC Chiucarello first gave me their copy of this book and I read it until we had to part and then I went promptly to the nearest bookstore, which, at that moment, was Crow Bookshop in Burlington, Vermont, and bought my own. I have, and will, send copies of this book to friends without warning.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Joy of Sex. It was actually from my mother's bookshelf and I stole it for purely scientific reasons.

Book that changed your life:

Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson. I read this in the middle of an early draft of The Dead Are Gods, at a point where I was feeling particularly unsure of where it was going. It is such a beautiful, raw, personal, and unusual tribute to Nelson's aunt, who was murdered in 1969 before Nelson ever met her. A mix of her aunt Jane's diaries, and Nelson's own writing, it was a blueprint for an unconventional book about grief.

Favorite line from a book:

"In spite of everything I love you, and will go on loving you--on my knees, with my shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neck--even then. And afterwards--perhaps most of all afterwards--I shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I... we shall connect the points... and you and I shall form that unique design for which I yearn." -- from Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir  Nabokov

Five books you'll never part with:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. My grandfather had a second edition of this book that he gave me years ago. It needs to be rebound but it's a gem in my burgeoning library.

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. My dear friend William, who I met at a gym in the Castro in San Francisco, gave me a copy of this book after we had a pretty raunchy conversation about 1970s bathhouse culture in the Bay Area. It is a really gorgeous book that captures the era of being out and gay pre-AIDs, and portrays queer love in such a real way. Plus, there's disco.

Another Country by James Baldwin. Larissa gave me a copy of this when I was about 19 and it is one of those I read over and over at least once a year.

The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, which is funny in the way only Russians can be funny.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion--the first book on loss I read after Larissa's death.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.

Book you'd most like to write:

Probably the one I am working on now--a satirical thriller about a post-partum mother who decides to kill her husband. (Non-biographical this time, I swear.) Horror is such a fun genre to write after pouring my heart out for The Dead Are Gods, and there is no better source for horror fodder than the post-partum period.

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