Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reading Envy 029: Joni Tevis and the Secret Shape

Jenny sits down with the writer Joni Tevis to discuss her upcoming book of essays, what inspires her to write, and the writers she likes to read. 

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 029: Joni Tevis and the Secret Shape

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Featured books:

The World is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse by Joni Tevis
The Wet Collection: A Field Guide to Iridescence and Memory by Joni Tevis

Other books and authors mentioned:

Michel de Montaigne
David Foster Wallace
The Joseph Cornell Box
Chuck Close
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
"Total Eclipse" by Annie Dillard
Annie Dillard
Annie Proulx
Anne Carson
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
Things That Are by Amy Leach

Upcoming and recent readings by Joni Tevis:

May 2, 4 pm - Fiction Addiction (Greenville, SC)
May 16, 7 pm - Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville, NC)
May 20, 7 pm - Hub City Bookshop (Spartanburg, SC)
June 12, 6:30 pm - Avid Bookstore (Athens, GA)
July 22, 7 pm - Politics and Prose (Washington DC)

Stalk us online:
Jenny at GoodReads
Jenny on Twitter
Joni Tevis personal website
Joni Tevis on Twitter


  1. Great interview, probably my favorite one you've done yet, Jenny. I love people who are passionate about what they do and Joni Tevis certainly fits that description. I'm adding her books to my TBR mountain, and will try to track down bound-paper editions for my collection. They sound like books I'll want to re-read sections of from time to time and don't want them to get lost in my overwhelmingly large digital library. Thank you for bringing her writing to my attention.

    1. Thanks Ty! I'd love to hear what you think once you reach that part of your mountain. She's something special.

    2. I couldn't agree more, she really is something special. I couldn't wait, so I started The World Is On Fire as soon as I received my copy. What a collection! I found myself taking my time, stopping after every essay and letting them sink in before I'd go on to the next one. I love the connections she makes between seemingly disparate things. My mind works the same way and for a long time I thought mine was the only mind that worked that way. I only wish I could express those thoughts even half as well as Joni has here. I've ordered a copy of The Wet Collection and can't wait to dive into that one as well.

    3. Did you have a favorite? Her writing has really opened up an entirely new genre for me.

    4. They are all so good it's hard to pick favorites, but maybe I'd go with "Warp and Weft" and "What The Body Knows". "Warp and Weft" hits me on a lot of different levels. I've listened to that Led Zeppelin song hundreds of times, but never really listened to the lyrics. I've also gone through a plant closing and losing my job two different times. I love how she connected the two and reminded me that the world is constantly in a state of flux. The world of my childhood is not the world I live in today, nor will it be the future world I live in. "What The Body Knows" plays on my love all things Alaska. I've always wanted to go there, whether to visit or stay. I have "Northern Exposure" on DVD to scratch the particular itch and that story reminds me that I haven't watched it in a few years. I need to do that. But really I could say nearly every essay in here was a favorite, even when it was about things or people I knew nothing about (Liberace? Buddy Holly? John the Beloved Disciple?) I just love seeing the connections Joni Tevis made. It's as if life were a giant jigsaw puzzle and she dropped a few more pieces into place for me. It also makes me wonder if we can every complete that imaginary puzzle and truly understand the world. Probably not but I can keep hoping...and looking for help with the pieces along the way. :-)


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