Katie Rogin is an award-winning writer with a diverse oeuvre. She has written for both television and film, including ABC’s One Life to Live, and a short film In A Blue Mood, which she also produced and directed. Rogin’s essays, fiction and criticism can be seen in publications including Vice’s Tonic, The Rumpus, Sports Illustrated, and The Chattahoochee Review. Now, she has added “novelist” to her résumé.
Rogin’s debut novel, Life During Wartime, is a complex examination of the results of trauma, both mental and physical. The novel takes place in California in 2008. September 11 is still painfully fresh, U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy is teetering on the edge of financial crisis. The book considers wartime and its ramifications both literally and figuratively, and it shows how those involved in waging a literal war can be affected. Rogin’s characters are tough, and they show how surviving after trauma can be an act of courage or even sacrifice.
Ilan Stavans’s book Sor Juana: Or, The Persistence of Pop is a loving meditation on iconic seventeenth century Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, in particular her image and its omnipresence in modern Latinx pop culture. As a pop icon, Stavans says, Sor Juana shows up on everything from t-shirts to tattoos; tribute is paid to her in hip hop lyrics and operas, and her image even graces official government documents like stamps and the $200 peso note. “Along with Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Evita Perón, she is ubiquitous,” Stavans says, and “firmly grounded in the pantheon of Mexican icons.”
Andy Plattner’s collection, Dixie Luck, is a stirring read right out of the gate, full of finely crafted short stories, as well as the novella Terminal, winner of the Faulkner Society’s 2016 Gold Medal for Best Novella. Plattner – a former horse-racing journalist – also teaches English and creative writing at universities throughout the south, including Emory College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Southern Mississippi. Plattner’s work has won multiple awards. His novel Offerings from a Rust Belt Jockey (2014), won the Castleton-Lyons Book Award as well as Dzanc Books’ Mid-Career Novel Award. His first short story collection Winter Money(1996) was awarded the University of Georgia’s Flannery O’Connor Award.
Dixie Luck is full of movement, both literal and figurative. Its characters are nomadic, yearning for and running from change. They search for understanding in the unreliable, for meaning in an oblique glance, and for hope in that next bet they place. Many of these tales are set in the world of horse-racing that the author knows so well. Plattner pulls heavily from both personal and journalistic experience, introducing us to people one might not otherwise meet had they not been part of the racing world themselves. Dixie Luck brims with tales of flawed, sometimes fragile people, the people who live outside the spotlight: gamblers, grooms, and jockeys.
Carley Moore’s debut collection of essays, 16 Pills, is a therapeutic read, and while no book can boast being a panacea for the ills of modern life, this one comes close. Moore writes like her life depends on it. She dissects the stories of her life with intelligence and precision, and invites the reader to share in her examination. Feminist, political, funny, and irreverent, Moore’s essays are masterful, and show a true love of the form; the stories are deeply personal, while still tapping into shared human experience.