The New School Summer Reading List

Fiction

Jennifer Baker, MFA Creative Writing ’00
Everyday People: The Color of Life – A Short Story Anthology (Simon & Schuster)

Andrew Cotto, MFA Creative Writing ’08
Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure (Black Rose Writing)

Lee Matthew Goldberg, MFA Creative Writing ’06
The Desire Card (Fahrenheit Press)

Gina Marie Guadagnino, MFA Creative Writing ’10
The Parting Glass (Atria Books)

Robert Haller, MFA Creative Writing ’15
Another Life (Blackstone Publishing)

Alcy Leyva, MFA Creative Writing ’16
And Then There Were Crows (Black Spot Books)

Christopher Shade, BA Liberal Arts ’11
The Good Mother of Marseille (Paloma Press)

TGMoM review by Cassidy Adams

The Good Mother of Marseille is a vibrant and dark novel that touches on social issues of neglected crime, domestic abuse, and secrets within a foreign country, all while facing issues that hit more personally, such as disease, heartbreak, and trying to survive. As the story unfolds, the characters come to life. The character array varies: two American students trying to understand their life choices, a homeless girl making decisions on the whim, a man with a disease trying to see the last of things while losing his eyesight, his wife, a lone man stuck in the past and facing cancer, and finally a writer trying to understand the complexity of Marseille. There is not an outrageous story line for the audience to follow, but rather moments in time with characters in the city: “Hard seemed to be the way for everyone she knew in Marseille. Hard was simply the way of Marseille, in every way, big and small. But it was worth it…She had made Marseille her place now.” Shade is able to capture the humanistic quality of each one of his characters by exposing their vulnerabilities to the audience. Through this, the audience grows to care about the characters: “He was glad to know this in advance, to know that a monster of illness was about to pounce on him. Illness was a monster that out of nowhere jumped on you with its claws out.” Each one of these characters have come to Marseille as a way to escape, whether that be the doom of an impending disease or a secret place for them to piece their lives back together though it is really falling apart. The structure works well to highlight the story because it spends moments with each of the five main characters and what they are facing, along with the different people they encounter. While we may not know those names or how these minor details will fit into the story, they always come back, giving the audience this sense of comfort, knowing what is going on. There is an instance in the story where two men are talking about seemingly different situations that sit heavily on their minds—all while the reader observes the heartbreaking moment, knowing that they are talking about the same person without ever realizing it…”

Prism Review, Spring 2019

The Good Mother of Marseille comes to San Francisco!

Join us on June 4, 2019 at 6pm at Book Passage Ferry Building for an author-publisher conversation to celebrate the publication of Christopher X. Shade’s debut novel The Good Mother of Marseille, a story of Americans searching the French port city of Marseille for themselves. The author will be in conversation with Aileen Cassinetto, who is publisher of Paloma Press and Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, discussing the book, the importance of art and experience across borders, and the influences of poetry in our lives and work.

In the novel, it’s the summer of 2013 in Marseille, in the year of its designation as the European Capital of Culture — tourists come to see. Americans wander and sightsee this dangerous, impoverished yet seductive city. Noémie, an anthropology student, wants to stay. She wants to make the gritty graffiti-covered neighborhood of Cours Julien her home, but she’s running out of time, money, and her university sponsor’s patience.

Publisher Aileen Cassinetto is the third Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, the first Asian American appointed to the post. She is the author of Traje de Boda (Meritage Press, 2010) and The Pink House of Purple Yam Preserves & Other Poems (Our Own Voice & Little Dove Books, 2018), as well as three chapbooks through Moria Books’ acclaimed Locofo series.

Author Christopher X. Shade is co-founder and co-editor of Cagibi, at cagibilit.com, a journal of poetry and prose. His stories and book reviews have appeared widely, and he has won story awards including the 2016 Writers at Work fellowship competition. He teaches fiction and poetry writing at The Writers Studio. Raised in the South, he now lives with his wife in New York City.

The Good Mother of Marseille is a beautiful and memorable debut, a melancholy tale of both lost and found, a love letter to the night-lights of France, a movable feast for this 21st century.” —Scott Cheshire, author of High as the Horses’ Bridle

“A remarkable work of imagination, a debut novel that not only introduces us to a gifted writer of fiction, but offers a beguiling glimpse into the zeitgeist of a generation’s appetite for the exotic and the mysterious. In the Hemingway tradition, its many linked stories gel into one compelling story of Americans abroad. Shade’s sensitivity toward his characters is infectious, and, quite frankly, unforgettable.” —Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author most recently of Luxury and The Wherewithal: A Novel in Verse

CHRISTOPHER X. SHADE with Beverly Donofrio

Beverly Donofrio (Rail): Why Marseille?

Christopher Shade: I had no epidermis when I went to Marseille in 2013. I was all nerves. I’d just resigned from a very intense job at a media company, and travel was what I thought I needed to jolt myself into a new phase of life. So I designed for myself an itinerary through Europe in the shape of the letter S. I was to stay with friends of friends where possible. I had a suitcase full of books, empty journals, and photography equipment. The plan was for me to begin at Marseille, travel up through Europe, and then fly home out of Amsterdam. But I got stuck in Marseille. Something mysterious pinned me there. I stayed longer than expected. By the time I got to Amsterdam, I was writing feverishly about Marseille and aching to come home so I could settle deeply into the writing work of this project. Each of those other European places I visited had high points, but I’d been seduced by Marseille. I didn’t need the letter S. All I needed was to go elsewhere, as all the characters do in the book…

Continue reading here.

Newtown Literary’s Q&A with novelist Christopher X. Shade

What inspires you?

I love talking to people, asking them questions, hearing their stories. This is the beating heart of my novel, The Good Mother of Marseille. To have conversations about things that are important to you personally. Opening up, being authentic with the person you’re talking to, and being authentic with yourself. It’s a path to understanding each other better, if at least a little bit more with each conversation, and to coming to terms with our own imperfect selves.

Continue reading.

Short-form interview with Christopher X. Shade

What was your first publication?

This novel, The Good Mother of Marseille, is my first airplane out of the hangar. I consider to be my first publication. If you mean in journals, it was a poem, but so long ago in my twenties that I have no idea what it was. I have always written poetry, even when I was a child. Only recently did I begin to publish poetry again—my poem “Ambulance Rides” in The American Journal of Poetry. I began to write on our mom’s electric typewriter at age seven, or so the story goes, and I was writing poetry. I don’t know where I got the idea at seven to write in verse—perhaps from the Bible.

Continued here.