By Janelle Sheetz
While winter seemed like it lasted forever, summer is finally here, and with time lounging in your backyard, by the pool or on vacation at the beach comes plenty of time to delve into a good book. Why not add one of Pittsburgh’s many talented writers to your summer reading list? With a wide variety of genres and subject matter, you’re sure to find something you love from a local writer, so find the book perfect for you, get comfy with an ice-cold drink, and get to reading.
Ben Gwin’s newly released debut novel, “Clean Time,” feels all too timely — as the Pittsburgh area is impacted by the ongoing opioid crisis, Gwin presents a dark satire dealing with addiction, fame and reality TV.
A Trafford resident and professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s branch campus in Greensburg, award-winning Lori Jakiela is the writer of four books: “Miss New York Has Everything,” “The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious,” “Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe,” and “Portrait of the Artist as a Bingo Worker,” as well as poetry book “Spot the Terrorist.” Her work is praised for being as serious as it is funny and has appeared in numerous publications, from the local Post-Gazette to the national New York Times and Washington Post.
Jakiela isn’t the only writer in Trafford — her husband, Dave Newman, is the writer of the novels “Two Small Birds, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children” and “Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight,” as well as numerous poetry books. Over 100 of his gritty yet funny poems have been published around the world, but Pittsburghers will love seeing their city and surrounding Rust Belt areas frequently popping up in his writing.
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It might be beach season, but it’s always fun to see your hometown in print. Another local favorite and one to add to your list if you haven’t read it yet is Salvatore Pane’s “Last Call in the City of Bridges.” Pane has a new novel scheduled for release this winter.
You’ll find plenty of poets in Pittsburgh — originally from Detroit, Scott Silsbe is just one of them. His poems, many of which feature Pittsburgh-area landmarks and notable personalities, have appeared in “Chiron Review,” “Nerve Cowboy,” and more, and he’s also written numerous poetry collections, including last year’s “Muskrat Friday Dinner.”