The best collections of short stories are a little bit like great albums
-- you feel compelled to read certain stories over and over again, and
each one fits, on repeat for a particular mood or occasion. Rebecca
Lee's mix of vulnerable daily humanity and slantwise humor is so perfect
I think I read the title story four times in a week (read it for her
descriptions of the food alone!). With stories that orbit around
dissolving marriages and other betrayals, Bobcat is this decade's answer to Lorrie Moore's Like Life.
I absolutely loved this completely wacked out novel in which Julia, the star student at a school for psychics alienates her mentor by exceeding her own clairvoyant abilities, who then subjects Julia to a psychic attack. The plot twists wind thickly in this astral-projection thriller, which is part Vertigo, part insanity narrative (a la The Bell Jar), and part surrealist conspiracy romp. Julia's voice is so bitingly hilarious and absurd you want to crack it like the top of a creme brulee.
Modeled after MFK Fisher's classic book on wartime cooking, How to Cook a Wolf, Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal shows us how to cook with "economy and grace" in our own times. With chapter headings like "How to Boil Water" and "How to Snatch Victory from the Jaws of Defeat", it strides boldly between being about how to cook and how to live, reinforcing the notion that the culinary forms of sustenance are necessarily linked to those other heady or spiritual ones. Adler writes of each bit of food, or element of a meal with such compassion, tenderness, and light humor, that she makes it seem essential that we make the most of what's around. I recommend it for those baffled by what to do with a bunch of kale and for more seasoned cooks, looking for new ways of thinking about food. An Everlasting Meal is a low-impact philosophy for a better food-related lifestyle.
brilliant memoir The Chronology of Water completely explodes
the genre of the grief/addiction/abuse memoir, eradicates all the
cliches, and is a stunning floating experimental piece that takes the
metaphor of swimming (Yuknavitch was a competitive, nearly Olympic
swimmer) to invent a new language and form for this genre, or really for
prose writing in general.
It's ecstatic and devastating and visceral and just read it -- it
may be impossible for a blurb like this to do it justice.
Chicago writer Eula Biss is the Joan Didion of this new century. The essays in Notes from No Man's Land are a brilliantly weird mix of memoir, history, and social commentary about race in the US written with the sensibility of a poet. She writes about public schooling, her Yoruba mother, an abandoned factory town in Iowa, and her desperate early years in New York all in one breath. The result is lyrical and extremely compelling.
In this incredible and diverse collection of short stories, Claire Vaye Watkins re-tells the story of the American West. She takes her home state of Nevada out of the hands of cowboys and gamblers and disperses it -- in character and in form -- to grieving young women, to a gay brothel owner, to curious teenagers, and others. This is short fiction at its finest. A must read for fans of Amy Hempel, Lorrie Moore, Flannery O'Connor, etc.
When Miranda July was working on her second movie, THE FUTURE, she was hit with a paralyzing case of writers' block. To pull herself out of her slump she begins calling and interviewing people who sell miscellaneous items through The Penny Saver, a weekly circular. The result is a funny & poignant piece about what makes a life feel meaningful, be it making a movie or collecting baby jaguars in your Los Angeles kitchen.
This fantastic successor to Stead’s Newbery Medal-winning When You Reach Me
is a subtle mystery with a quirky and vulnerable protagonist and loving
but fallible adults. Stead is a master of weaving big thematic
questions with ingenious everyday details. She tells this story about
lies, games, rules, and friendship through facts about maps of the
tongue, seasonal candy, and invented spelling. I absolutely adore this
Libba Bray writes, hands down, some of the very smartest books in YA lit. The Diviners
is a fantastic and riotous romp through the speakeasies of 1920s New
York, narrated by one unforgettably spunky Evie O'Neill: aspiring
flapper, amateur detective, and holder of a psychic power that'll keep
getting her in trouble if she doesn't watch out. It's brilliantly
written and a ton of fun!