What Are You Reading? Dylan Jackson

I sell pizza and pizza accessories. I was given a job at Vino’s Brewpub in 1999 because management got sick of me skipping school there. Since then I’ve been a produced playwright and published author of short fiction, poetry, and academic articles. Recent graduate of UA Little Rock’s Creative Writing Department. Our Poetica Press founder. Picture taker.

What book or other media do you keep coming back to again and again?

My first go-to is “Where I’m Calling From” and others from the collected stories of Ray Carver. My second would be the collected stories of Mavis Gallant. If you think about either author as a camera on a photoshoot, Carver would be a medium-format, grainy black and white for pictures of the town you grew up in and the people you know; Gallant would be the compact, color 35mm that you take when you run away to Europe with a wanderingly vague idea of the meaning of “home”— taking pictures of dead birds and strangers mostly.

Kid’s book…The Pokey Little Puppy all day long.

What are you reading at the moment? 

I’m a sucker for contemporary literary fiction. The book I’m finishing is Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School. It’s set between the transference of Middle American mental illness and academia in New York. The jacket addresses the theme of the “ongoing crisis of identity of white men.” Which at first seemed like a very marginalized, if not derisive, idea that hit close to home. It’s not a glorifying depiction of my niche, but it does look to answer how the perception of privilege propels the engines of civil division in American society and the national psyche; how those divisions are impacted by existing cultural disparities.

What role has reading played in your life?

My mom told me that our family was bad at math, so for the next thirty years, words, reading and language became my lifelines. It helped me understand that there was no mathematical means of articulating a mother’s frustration with assisting in elementary arithmetic, removed of all context. How certain math questions, when asked by a child, can take on an almost rhetorical profundity.