| By Catherine DiMercurio |
It is a curious thing, the way our worlds intersect sometimes. I am an editor at Gale, as well as a recent graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. These two worlds overlapped recently when I was reviewing content for an upcoming volume of Contemporary Authors.
Did you know?
- Contemporary Authors is one of Gale’s longest running series.
- The first volume was published in 1962.
- We compile research on writers and create a critical biographical entry on the author and his or her work.
- More than 158,000 authors have been included to date.
I had only recently been handed the helm of Contemporary Authors, when, in my new role as editor, I stumbled across the work of Claire-Louise Bennett, who published Pond in Ireland in 2015, and in the United States in 2016. Pond’s 2017 paperback release has garnered the work a fresh round of attention. The book, alternately regarded as a novel and as a short story collection, caught my eye, due to the simplicity of the title, and the high praise it received for the richness of its prose. Within a few days of reviewing Bennett’s entry, along with about 199 of its siblings in volume 402 of the Contemporary Authors series, I began seeing Pond’s luminous cover appear elsewhere, especially on Instagram where my writer friends were posting about what they were reading over the summer.
Writers, particularly those with freshly minted MFA degrees, often find themselves reading short fiction in literary journals large and small. We read to get inspired, we read to decide where to submit, and we read because we love to read. Writers are first and foremost devourers of words. Bennett herself was published in a newish London literary journal, The White Review, and was awarded the journal’s inaugural short story prize in 2013. Contemporary Authors draws on a variety of sources as we research authors for inclusion in the series. We pay attention to authors, like Bennett, whose works have received literary awards such as The White Review Short Story Prize and whose work is actively being reviewed. Such authors catch our eye, just as they capture the attention of reviewers and writers. In many ways, we are all in this together, this being an act, as simple as supper, involving making and consuming and assessing. Was it good? Did it satisfy? Is there any more?
You don’t have to be a writer to appreciate Pond, though. It’s a delicious indulgence, at once a meditation on the minute details of life, love, and solitude, as well as an exploration of larger and sometimes darker themes. The beauty of stumbling across Pond as an editor, as a writer, and finally, as a reader, is that it tipped me off to what a wonderfully rich resource Contemporary Authors can be, for so many people. It is easily sourceable in both print and eBook form. Contemporary Authors Online also offers a repository of the latest entries on all the authors the series has featured, and is updated continually to provide the most relevant information on awards and new publications. So whatever door you are entering from, as reader, as writer, as teacher, or as a learner, come sit at the table. Contemporary Authors is your menu. Enjoy.