Jenny Boully Recommends...

“When I was eight, I discovered that swaths of trees had individual leaves, that lawns were composed of blades of grass. Apparently, I had needed eyeglasses for quite some time before I got my first pair. Nonetheless, I maintained a myopic relationship to reading and writing, forever keeping my face within inches of my pencil’s point, my curling words; I read books so closely, I see the textures on the page. The literary life can, at times, feel confining, nearsighted, requiring a forced focus that can quickly become strained and dull. At one time during my undergraduate life, I declared a physics major and a biology minor. I wanted the whole vastness of the universe as well as the single-celled organism. I wanted wonder, the unknown. And so, when I find that my writing life is becoming too myopic, too focused on the here and now and empirical matters, I turn to the stars, to their explosions and nurseries; and to botany, landscapes, and flowering trees. I need my eyes to see these things, however, I also need the mystery embedded in the literary so I’ll read about these subjects. I adore vintage issues of National Geographic, astronomy and astrophysics textbooks, the science section of the New York Times, the pre-Socratic philosophers who engaged with cosmos, such as Thales and Heraclitus. Science engages me with the mysteries of the world; I’ll always think it amazing that we mere mortals put a man on the moon. Such wonder allows me to return again to the very small work I hope to accomplish in my writing.”
—Jenny Boully, author of Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life (Coffee House Press, 2018)