From the first time I encountered Hull’s poetry, I was mesmerized by the energy of her lines and lushness of her imagery. I continue to be attracted by her poems’ ability to give voice to the “longing to want utterly/to vanish from one life and arrive transformed/in another.””
Jean Rhys – Wide Sargasso Sea
With its themes of displacement and oppression, Wide Sargasso Sea was for me an early awakening to the consciousness of these forces in my own life. In its re-imagining of a character from Jane Eyre, it also embodied that 1960s hope that oppressive systems could be undermined and re-made.
Rainer Maria Rilke – The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
While classified as a novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is much closer to what today we would call a hybrid work – part narrative, part meditation, part poetry in prose. The longing of Brigges for something beyond the ordinary is palpable and comes through sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph – each part somehow nearly as powerful as the whole.
Marguerite Duras – The Lover
Like so many of the books I return to again and again, The Lover combines lyricism with great passion. When I think about a book in which the author has the bravery to write with complete vulnerability and immediacy, I think of this beautiful short novel.
Alice Hoffman – White Horses
I was working as a part-time librarian when I encountered White Horses; I read the first paragraph and stopped shelving books, which did not make the main librarian happy. The elements of magical realism in this novel sowed an early seed in my psyche of the different routes a writer can take to get at difficult emotional truths.
Sue William Silverman is the author of seven books of poetry and creative nonfiction including “Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction,” “The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew,” and “How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences,” a memoir-in-essays forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press in March, 2020. Sue teaches in the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.