April Ayers Lawson is the recipient of the 2011 George Plimpton Award for Fiction, as well as a 2015 writing fellowship from The Corporation of Yaddo. Her fiction has appeared in Granta Norway, Oxford American, Vice, ZYZZYVA, Crazyhorse and Five Chapters, among others. Her first book, Virgin and Other Stories, is published by Granta this month. She shares five things she’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.
In his diary, Salvador Dalí writes, ‘I, Dalí, deep in a constant introspection and a meticulous analysis of my smallest thoughts, have just discovered that, without realizing it, I have painted nothing but rhinoceros horns all my life [ . . . ] I take another look at all my paintings and I am stupefied with the amount of rhinoceros my work contains.’ In one way all of the stories and drawings I’ve made look very different and in another way they all seem to be exactly (and disturbingly) about the same thing.
Before writing this list of Five Things for Granta I scrolled through the others and discovered John Darnielle, acclaimed musician and author of Wolf in White Van, lives about twenty minutes away from where I do. I plan to figure out which grocery store/bar/coffee shop he goes to and ‘casually’ run into him.
In this book by Belgian author Amélie Nothomb a young Western woman tries to adjust to the rigors and rituals of a Japanese corporation and fails in truly spectacular fashion. The vibrancy, precision, beauty and style of Nothomb’s descriptions leave me with a craving for her writing that seems as distinct and physical as the one I have for coffee in the morning.
4. Communication with other species
After watching the movie Arrival, in which a linguist learns to communicate with extraterrestrials, I began to fantasize about having a life-altering communication breakthrough with my dog.
Recently my roommate decided to tell me his girlfriend history (with photos) and I’ve been trying to fish out patterns. Two ex-girlfriends are scientists and two are now lesbians. Three are blonde and two brunette. All are well-educated and successful. We agree about which is prettiest – though all have attractive bone structure – and have just begun to discuss personality traits.
Photograph © Philippe Halsman