George Saunders' A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is his attempt to condense a semester worth of his teachings on the Russian short story into one book. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain contains wonderful short stories, Saunders' musings on said short stories along with some autobiographical content, classroom level breakdowns of the form, and insight that could make any aspiring short story writer weep. A must read!
"Any text that is not a holy text is an apostasy"
Then it is a holy text."
Reads the opening inscription of Kaveh Akbar's refreshing poetry collection, Pilgrim Bell. When I first read this collection I was blown away. As someone who likes to write poetry every now and then, but doesn't read enough of it, Pilgrim Bell opened my eyes to the limitless medium that is poetry. Akbar accomplishes to much in so few pages, reflecting on addiction, fatherhood, American imperialism, spirituality, and language. At times damning, and at others tender, Akbar's playfulness with sound and consistently surprising yet fitting word choices make for an eclectic and delightful read.