Meet the June Reader of the Month: Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones is an Assistant Professor in the Language and Literature Department at the University of Dubuque and serves as an assistant editor for Split Rock Review, an online journal dedicated to publishing literature and art that explore place and environment. His writing has appeared in journals such as Sierra Nevada Review, North American Review, and Hobart, among others. He is the author of two chapbooks and the full length poetry collection, Liner Notes (Kelsay Books, 2020). He has lived in Dubuque with his wife and daughter since 2012.
Q & A:
Q. Can you tell us about your reading interests in general?
A. My reading interests are mostly tethered to the courses I teach at the University of Dubuque and the work I do for Split Rock Review. I teach undergraduate general education courses on music in literature, the campus novel, and sports in literature, so I’m always trying to find new texts to keep the courses fresh and the reading engaging for students. As an assistant editor for Split Rock Review, I read a lot of poetry and creative nonfiction submissions focused on the environment, so I’m always seeking out work from writers who have submitted to the journal or new books that might be good to review for the journal. Finally, I love anthologies of poetry. There are so many great thematic poetry anthologies that I go back to and pull poems from for class. It’s always intriguing to see how the placement of poems by various poets can create new meaning in the context of an anthology.
Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year (or ever)?
A. I recently read the novel Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins. I’d known Wilkins as a poet, so it was exciting to see that poetic voice writing prose about complicated land politics and the effects on generations of a family in modern Montana.
Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?
A. Ideally, I’m reading outdoors. I love being immersed in a book but having open space around me. Most often, you’ll find me reading on my patio with a beverage nearby and maybe some instrumental music in the background.
Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?
A. I’m hoping to have a chance to read Chang-rae Lee’s new novel, My Year Abroad. My last encounter with Lee’s work was Aloft, so it feels like a good time to check out something new. I admired the plot structures and the tones of his early novels but have read that this book shifts those dramatically. Sounds intriguing to me.
Q. What book do you think more people should read, and why do you think they should read it?
A. I think more people should read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. For me, it is the great American novel. Ellison’s prose is complicated and jazz-like, the issues of race, community, education, and ideology are profound and still timely, and the language alludes to many works in the American Literature canon.