Monkey Ranch by Julie Bruck has been out for a while but I just recently got around to reading it, and now I understand what all the fuss is about. She writes about marriage, parenthood, childhood and daily life with the effortless control of conversation. What an amazing collection. Whether you’re a poetry snob or an apprehensive beginner, you’ll find value here. Monkey Ranch is full of wit, beauty and comfort. Go buy it.


Bruck took some time to answer some questions on her favourite books noting that if she revisited these same questions again in a few days the answers would likely be different.

Reading now: “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and The Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright, and “Talking into the Ear of A Donkey” by Robert Bly.

Next in line: “NW” by Zadie Smith

A book everyone should read: “Last Night at The Lobster” by Stewart O’Nan

Three desert island titles: The Complete Works of Alice Munro, William Shakespeare, and Charles Simic. Note: Volumes I & III don’t yet exist, but I can assemble and glue them if I must.

Guilty pleasure: Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” (it weighs about 8 lbs., and features both aliens & literary mag editors).

Shameless plug: That recent poetry book with the ape on it.

A character you’d like in your life: The entire cast of Brady Udall’s “The Lonely Polygamist.” I loved them all and as you might imagine, there were a lot of them to love.

One that reminds you of home: The words(and music) on both Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s album, “Heartbeats Accelerating,” and those on Fraser and Debolt’s first record.

One that got left behind: Mark Maxwell”s “NixonCarver.” This quirky first novel imagines a friendship between Ray Carver and Richard Nixon. It was published 16 years ago, and the fact that there hasn’t been another book from this guy breaks my heart. I hope it hasn’t broken the author’s.

A book you wish you had written: Lionel Shriver’s “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” though the emotional experience of writing it might have killed me. Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” would also do in a pinch.

Bruck is the author of two other books (which have been added to my wish list), and her work has appeared in various literary journals and mags. She is from Montreal but currently lives in San Franciso. 

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