Friday, January 30, 2009

Author of SIMA'S UNDERGARMENTS FOR WOMEN featured in Shelf Awareness

As the excitement mounts over next month's publication of Sima's Undergarments for Women , Shelf Awareness featured a Q&A with the author, Ilana Stanger-Ross, in today's Book Brahmin piece:

Ilana Stanger-Ross grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. She holds an undergraduate degree from Barnard College and an M.F.A. from Temple University and is currently a student midwife at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. She has received several prizes for her fiction, including a Timothy Findley Fellowship, and her work has been published in Bellevue Literary Review, Lilith magazine, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus magazine, among others. Her new novel, Sima's Undergarments for Women, is a February Overlook Press publication.

On your nightstand now:
I covet a nightstand. But on the floor between my bed and my bedroom door is a more or less upright stack of books, including John Updike's Pigeon Feathers, Tony Horowitz's A Voyage Long and Strange, Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams and Maureen Freeley's Enlightenment. I read a few of the Updike stories while watching my daughters in the bath the other night, and they're incredibly rich and almost unbearably sad. The others are all still in the good-intention stage.

Favorite book when you were a child:
If I'm Lost, How Come I Found You? by Walter Olesky. It's hard to pick one favorite, but that was the first chapter book I read on my own. It was a Christmas gift from my second grade teacher--we all were given one book to read over the holidays, and I chose that one out of the grab-bag. I loved it. I no longer remember the plot other than it involved a lost child and some heartwarming adventures, but I do remember the enormous sense of pride in reading a chapter book entirely on my own.

Book you've faked reading:
Oh, I don't fake. But I have perhaps let on that I liked certain experimental books more than I did. Barthes comes to mind. Also Moby Dick--I skipped the whaling detail parts.

Book you're an evangelist for:
Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen. If you haven't read it--go read it right now. Now. It's a slim novella--you can be through it in an hour, easy, though you'll want to sit and savor it if you can. There's an Alice Walker blurb on my paperback edition. She writes, "Every time I read Tell Me a Riddle it breaks my heart." I can't say it better.

Book you've bought for the cover:
Vox by Nicholas Baker. I was in seventh grade and found myself drawn to the hot-pink cover. Or maybe that's just the excuse I gave myself after devouring the first few pages in the chain bookstore near my junior high. Pretty shocking material for a seventh grader--the hot pink meant something on that one.

Book that changed your life:
Our Bodies, Our Selves by the Boston Women's Health Collective. As a 13-year-old at summer camp, I pored over it along with all the other pre-teen campers. It was my first introduction to women-centered care, healthy sexuality, queer-positive thinking, etc. I'm currently studying to be a midwife, and I can trace my interest in women's health at least in part back to those bunk bed study sessions.

Favorite line from a book:
In To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Ramsay is trying to remember a poem. And the line she remembers, which apparently comes from a poem written by a not particularly well-regarded poet Woolf knew, is "And all the lives we ever lived, and all the lives to be, are full of trees and changing leaves." Isn't that lovely and true? I first read To The Lighthouse in high school, and that little rhyme has stayed with me. (Though, like Mrs. Ramsay herself, I am forever doomed to not remember the rest of the poem.)

Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. I read it over a few days while sitting in a rocking chair in our Toronto apartment, my then-infant daughter Eva asleep across my lap. I loved the novel and couldn't put it down, but more than just the wonder of that story I want to revisit the moments during which I read it: winter outside, warm inside, my first baby (now four) asleep against me, and nothing to do but rock and read the most wonderful adventure.

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