Jason Mott

Having made his name as one of America's premier new poets, Jason Mott now turns to prose in his first novel, The Returned. In Mott's debut, a worldwide phenomenon has inexplicably brought the deceased come back to life, reborn the same age they were when they died. Focusing on the bewildered families of a rural Southern town -- a pastor haunted by an ex-girlfriend, an aged couple adjusting to the return of their long-gone son -- Mott explores the debate as to whether these returns are miracle or curse, redemption or ruin. The result is a poignant and singular take on mortality's timeless questions. This week, Mott discusses books that for him carry deep resonance, and share his own work's themes of wrestling with the supernatural, and what it means to comprise a family.


October Light
By John Gardner

"A masterwork of American writing. A book that is both expansive and intimate. Gardner achieves a conversation about family and commitment to one’s beliefs, but also builds a fascinating discussion of fiction and its overarching purpose."



The Snow Child
By Eowyn Ivey

"A taut, fascinating tale that mingles folklore and mythology with harsh realism and a period in American history. The Snow Child achieves that ever-elusive yet desperately important task of absconding with the reader; taking them from the conformity and repetition of the world they know and relocating them into the bowels and intimacy of a world they might otherwise never come to know. Few writers possess this gift, which Ivey flaunts so blatantly."


American Gods
By Neil Gaiman

"Few authors possess the imagination of Neil Gaiman, and fewer still possess the talent. This is a book that bridges gaps that most people do not even know exist. This is a book about belief, religion, mythology, and more. In my opinion, of all of Gaiman’s works, this is the one that most trumpets his ethos, not only as a writer but as a contributor to the 'great conversation' that is fiction."


April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.