Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s debut novel Harmless Like You is not a comfort read. At least, for me, a woman who has yet to be married or have a child, its themes revolve around a marriage at the point of potential break and a child abandoned by his mother. Reading the novel, I couldn’t help but fear “what if I do it all wrong, too? What if motherhood and marriage are jobs some people just aren’t meant for?” Luckily, I got to right to the source of the novel’s intense themes and ask Hisayo Buchanan about these questions and more:
Kati Heng: Harmless Like You touches on the hard questions many of us without kids are most scared to ask: What if I’m not meant to be a parent? What if I’m bad at it? The novel explores this idea; but, taken from your side and not the characters: Do you believe parenthood is a choice you make, or a role that naturally suits some and not others? Does it fall somewhere in the middle? Continue reading
There’s a sort of guilty pleasure that comes with reading a book illustrated on every page. Even more delicious is an illustrated book filled with exposed affairs, connected relationships, and literal-drawn-out lines of influence exposing our favorite artists from the decades gone by. When these elements come together in The Art of the Affair: An Illustrated History of Love, Sex, and Artistic Influence, the result is the most electric read with which to start the new year.
I had the chance to ask writer Catherine Lacey and illustrator (and Weird Sister contributor!) Forsyth Harmon more about their new book, their favorite tidbits of gossip, and more:
Kati Heng: I know you had to cut down and leave out sooo much to include so many of these relationships in your book. If you were to write and illustrate a single book about the intermingling affairs of one couple or group (since it seems like every didn’t just settle for one partner!), who would you focus on and why?
Catherine Lacey: Anaïs Nin was a big inspiration for the early research and looking back, she was also one of the most prolific characters in the book as far as friendships, affairs and alliances go. Her diaries and letters reveal a sort of fervency she had about the people in her life and she left troves of writing about her relationships.
I read my first piece by David Foster Wallace, a (relatively) short first-person essay about attending a tennis match, when I was a sophomore in college and began buying each and every one of his books at a rapid speed almost immediately. He quickly became my favorite author for the rest of my college years, and still shares the title of favorite author in my mind (the sharing is new, and I think, a good sign of an adult openness to trying new things).
Between his works, I can’t pick a favorite piece of writing. The dark mastery of The Pale King can’t be pitted against the bizzaro-rawness of his short story collection Girl with the Curious Hair. You can’t set aside the fact his (perhaps) magnum opus Infinite Jest annual gets readers to commit to an Infinite Summer, in which they read the 1,079 page masterpiece over the course of three months.
So no, I don’t have a favorite work by Wallace. But, The Broom of the System has become the one of the books most treasured on my shelves.