Bookmas! with Helen Marshall

Book­mas: when the Shelf Mon­keys gath­er ’round the fire­place and war­ble Good King Bookce­laus while they roast marsh­mal­lows and burn every copy of The Da Vin­ci Code they can find. Because cheap lit­er­a­ture burns best.

Today’s not-so-secret Book­San­ta: Helen Mar­shall!

Helen Mar­shall is an award-win­ning Cana­di­an author, edi­tor, and doc­tor of medieval stud­ies. Her poet­ry and fic­tion have been pub­lished in many pub­li­ca­tion and have been reprint­ed in sev­er­al Year’s Best antholo­gies. Her debut col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, Hair Side, Flesh Side, won the 2013 British Fan­ta­sy Award for Best New­com­er and was short-list­ed for an 2013 Auro­ra Award by the Cana­di­an Soci­ety of Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­ta­sy. Her newest col­lec­tion (and damned fine it is) is Gifts for the One Who Comes After.

What 2014 fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

One of my favorites was Robert Shearman’s They Do The Same Things Dif­fer­ent There. I also loved The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Com­plete­ly Beside Our­selves. I tried read­ing my way through the Man Book­er Prize longlist, and the lat­ter two were my gun-to-the-head favorites.

What 2014 non-fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

Eliz­a­beth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinc­tion.

What one 2014 book do you believe needs more love?

Simon Strantzas’ Burnt Black Suns.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

Michael Ondaatje’s The Col­lect­ed Works of Bil­ly the Kid. (I re-read it every year.)

What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

Jeff VanderMeer’s South­ern Reach Tril­o­gy.

What author would you rec­om­mend?

Kel­ly Link, Nathan Ballingrud, Lor­na Crozi­er, Michael Ondaat­je, Angela Slat­ter, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Peter Bea­gle.

What’s the one book you’ve read in your life­time that you think every­one should read?

Peter Beagle’s The Last Uni­corn.

Let’s go spe­cif­ic: what one book would you rec­om­mend for

If, god for­bid, peo­ple couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you sug­gest they seek out for a sim­i­lar lit­er­ary fix?

Kel­ly Link and Robert Shear­man are both fun­ny, odd, and inter­mit­tent­ly ter­ri­fy­ing writ­ers. I would try them (and I would try them even if you can find my books!).

And final­ly, what would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text?

Soup. If there are books and soup in the world, I’m a hap­py per­son.