Friday, May 29, 2020

In these strange and difficult times, the University of Iowa Press, with the Writing University, is reaching out to its authors to gain perspective, advice, humor and connection. We want to know how they are doing, first and foremost: we are primarily checking in. But we also want to know how they are living (or surviving, or managing) with the pandemic that surrounds all of us. We are a family here -- the press, the authors, the university -- and this is what families do: we check in.

Today's author conversationis with Dominic Bucca. Bucca lives in Williston, Vermont. He is the author of Faculty Brat, published by the University of Iowa Press.

Dominic wrote UI Press marketing director Allison Means with a reading recommendations, a playlist and more!


1) What book(s) do you recommend for this time of isolation?

Once I’ve maxed out on my phone’s newsfeed, I find myself vacillating between a need for escapist comfort and practical resources in my reading material. So cookbooks and gardening encyclopedias are currently jostling for space with young adult fantastic fiction on my bedside table. Here’s a sample:

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl

The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Northeast by Marie Iannotti

Five Midnights by Ann Davila Cardinal (@anncardinal)

I’ve also been reading, very thoroughly, about how to raise chickens. Not sure I’ll ever take the plunge, but knowledge is power.


2) What are 3 good things that happened today?

Today I discovered a wonderfully thoughtful review of Faculty Brat in @hippocampusmag by @ArielGoldenthal. Not much else to report today, but earlier in the week I learned that @awakeningsart will soon publish (Thursday, April 16) a brief essay of mine voicing concern for those who find themselves sequestered with a potentially abusive partner or family member during the pandemic. On a lighter note (and perhaps most important), a neighbor very generously (and carefully) delivered a bottle of homemade wine to my wife and me. We intended to save it, and I guess we did, for about an hour.


3) What is your isolation playlist? (Could be a list, screenshot of your spotify playlist or link, etc.)

My playlist begins with Vermont Public Radio in the morning. Once I’ve had enough of that, I seek out more escapist comfort, generally while cooking, which offers its own sort of escapist comfort and seems to have become my resting state these days. Musically, my escapism manifests in the form of 80s and 90s new wave, punk, ska (I know, I know), and the occasional cheesy, hopeful, head-nodding anthem (again, I KNOW). For example, while tackling that crazily complex cassoulet recipe, you might try an equally complex blend of three parts Joy Division, two parts Courtney Love, one part INXS, a dash of The Selecter, and ALWAYS finish with The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” (that one’s non-negotiable). And if you still need more, maybe a sprinkle of unabashedly loud Alanis. Deep down, your (Gen X) neighbors will love it. (Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?)


4)  Could you share an image of your new “coworker(s)” (pets, kids, etc.) or your new "office" (my desk is literally in a closet)?

I have two cats, Barney and Snack, with whom I’ve worked closely for several years. Barney has mixed feelings about my music selection:




But Snack seems to get it:




5) Do you have a writing prompts you could share to inspire us?

One of the great teachers of my life, Sue William Silverman (@suesilverman), offered a prompt during a lecture she gave a few years ago that deeply affected me, and later provided the framework for the final section of Faculty Brat. That prompt seems particularly profound during our current circumstances:

I am home again, but…

…and see where that might take you. And while I’m thinking of Sue, her most recent book, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, is a beautifully rendered, poignant, and often hilarious collection of essays that also seems to have abruptly taken on new relevance.




Thank you Dominic!


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