Meet the Editor: Kyle Adam Wagner, Assistant Editor

October 25th, 2017

Kyle Adam Wagner, Assistant Editor
Subjects: Religious studies
Series: Buddhism and Modernity; Religion and Postmodernism; Class 200: New Studies in Religion

Tell us about a book you discovered at a formative age that helped develop your sensibility.

It’s likely to register as a cliché, but the world opened up for me at 18 when I read Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Coming from a small town located between Seattle and the Canadian border, and living a decidedly small town 1980s life, that book was a revelation. I haven’t revisited it since then, largely because I want to preserve the perfection of the reading experience as it exists in my memory. I’m sure I would be much more critical now than I was back then, and no one needs that.    

Tell us about a book you find yourself rereading, reconsidering, or otherwise haunted by.

I’m still haunted by Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, which I read as part of a Hesse binge years ago. It’s both an inspiring bildungsroman and a cautionary tale of sorts, and it still informs the way I think about the tension between the life of the mind and broader engagement with the world. 

Tell us about a book you admire that we wouldn’t expect to find in your library.

The entire series of Harry Potter books. I’m a sucker for a well-conceived and executed alternate universe, even if that universe is primarily intended for children.    

What book from your list is a well-kept secret that deserves a larger readership?  

It’s not from my list, but a UofC Press book that deserves a larger readership is Robin Wagner-Pacifici’s What Is an Event? It’s chewy and complex, but well worth the mental effort it demands. It’s one of those rare books that pulls the curtain back on something we take for granted, and does so in such a way that you can’t help but see the world differently when you’re done reading it.   

What was the last book you discovered at the Seminary Co-op or 57th Street Books?

I bought the children’s book Olivia from 57th Street Books for my two-year-old daughter. It’s beautifully minimal and she loves it (as do I).   

What author, living or dead, would you like to dress up as for Halloween?

Either Sylvia Plath or Ralph Waldo Emerson. The former in the vain hope that dressing up as her would allow me to get further inside the world of The Bell Jar, the latter because my son is named after him and it seems like it would bring things full-circle.

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