Mathy Fiction: Recommended by Author, Cheryl Snell


Our Holiday Reading Marathon continues:  this time, with recommendations from terrific poet and novelist, Cheryl Snell. 
Cheryl's books include sixteen collections of poetry and two novels. Her work is included in a Sundress Best of the Net Anthology and she is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her most recent publications include Blue Lyra Review, Canopic Jar, and Deep Water Literary Journal. In addition to traditionally published titles, she collaborates with sister Janet on chapbooks for Scattered Light Library. They won the Lopside Press Chapbook Prize for Prisoner’s Dilemma, art and poetry on game theory.

Here's what Cheryl recommends:

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 As a poet and writer who uses math, my interest may have been ignited when I first held Alice in Wonderland in my hands. Or perhaps it was A Wrinkle in Time.   Later, I happily jumped on the bandwagon that was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  My father handed me One Two Three... Infinity to bring me back to earth, but it was too late. I was hooked on fiction and poetry, and there was always a book shot through with science to accompany me through every stage of my life. 
 
Thumbing my old favorites now, I can recommend the following list. These books held my interest and widened my world, molded my aesthetics and put my experience in perspective.



This subtly touches on infinity and the persistence of numbers.







Thomas Pynchon, in Gravity’s Rainbow uses "mathematicians' graffiti" and the Poisson-curve. 

I had to read this with not only the usual dictionary at my side, but a whole stack of texts.  And my husband, who, lucky for me, is a mathematical engineer.



Another complex book, David Foster Wallace modeled InfiniteJest after a fractal. “Its chaos is more on the surface; its bones are its beauty,” he said.







Explores the care and feeding of a genius from his wife’s perspective. Her Strange Attractors drew me in, too.


A fictionalized biography of Ramanujan and Hardy that tells the truth, and makes an educated guess at the unknowable.





While I was collaborating with my sister, artist Janet Snell, on Geometries: Life of the Line, I read lots of poetry on the subject, works such as “Imaginary Number” by Vijay Seshadri, “Geometry” by Rita Dove, andA Mathematical Problem” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
But it was Liz Waldner’s collection A Point is That Which Has No Part that gave me practical ideas as how to order the poems and give the art its own space.

Although it feels like we’re novices each time we collaborate, it’s not the first math collection we’ve done. There’s Prisoner’s Dilemma, and Multiverse, and my novel Rescuing Ranu, which incorporates Hamilton’s Rule and the mathematics of flocking.  

You can find the rest of our volumes, and everyone else’s, on Amazon. Enjoy!




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