Category Archives: What We’re Reading

What to Read in October

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: “Blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.”

A Field Guide to the North American Family by Garth Risk Hallberg: “For years, the Hungates and the Harrisons have coexisted peacefully in the same Long Island neighborhood, enjoying the pleasures and weathering the pitfalls of their suburban habitat. But when the patriarch of one family dies unexpectedly, the survivors face a stark imperative: adapt or face extinction.”

The Future Is History by Masha Gessen: “Putin’s bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.”

Also this month: We’ll review new books from Jeffrey Eugenides and Lindsay Hunter, publish Rick Moody’s foreword to Charlatan by Cris Mazza, and get nerdy about disaster movies with Ashley Wells.

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What to Read in September

Afterglow by Eileen Myles: “Starting from the emptiness following Rosie’s death, Afterglow (a dog memoir) launches a heartfelt and fabulist investigation into the true nature of the bond between pet and pet-owner. Through this lens, we witness Myles’s experiences with intimacy and spirituality, celebrity and politics, alcoholism and recovery, fathers and family history, as well as the fantastical myths we spin to get to the heart of grief.”

An Odyssey by Daniel Mendelsohn: “When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual.”

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison: “America’s foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Samantha Irby and Megan Stielstra, review Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away by Alice Anderson, and hear from author Tara Jepsen about Like a Dog. Oh, and we’ll be rocking out to a new #gods playlist by author Matthew Gallaway.

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What to Read in August

The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes: “This astonishing memoir was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nearly a decade after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel García Márquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, and translated and introduced by acclaimed writer Daniel Alarcón, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.”

The Future Won’t Be Long by Jarrett Kobek: “When Adeline, a wealthy art student, chances upon a young man from the Midwest known only as Baby in a shady East Village squat, the two begin a fiery friendship that propels them through a decade of New York life. Riotously funny and wise, The Future Won’t Be Long is an ecstatic, propulsive novel coursing with a rare vitality, an elegy to New York and to the relationships that have the power to change—and save—our lives.”

After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus: “Rich girl, street punk, lost girl and icon… scholar, stripper, victim, and media-whore: The late Kathy Acker’s legend and writings are wrapped in mythologies, created mostly by Acker herself. Twenty years after her death, Acker’s legend has faded, making her writing more legible.In this first, fully authorized, biography, Chris Kraus approaches Acker both as a writer and as a member of the artistic communities from which she emerged.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Miranda K. Pennington and Philip Boehm, review Since I Laid My Burden Down and Some Bright Morning I’ll Fly Away, and probably talk some shit about Jonathan Dee’s new novel.

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What to Read in July

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting: “Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. Perceptive and compulsively readable, Made for Love is at once an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation marriage, monogamy, and family.”

Draw Your Weapons by Sarah Sentilles: “Through a dazzling combination of memoir, history, reporting, visual culture, literature, and theology, Sarah Sentilles offers an impassioned defense of life lived by peace and principle. It is a literary collage with an urgent hope at its core: that art might offer tools for remaking the world.”

Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen: “The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc. What starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an ‘Occupation’—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Scaachi Koul, review the movie Fish Tank, and hear from Omar Robert Hamilton about The City Always Wins.

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What to Read in June

The Changeling by Victor LaValle: “When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, all he left his son were strange recurring dreams and a box of books stamped with the word IMPROBABILIA. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, are settling into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most.”

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera: “In the court of the King, everyone knows their place. But as the Artist wins hearts and egos with his ballads, uncomfortable truths emerge that shake the Kingdom to its core. Part surreal fable and part crime romance, this prize-winning novel from Yuri Herrera questions the price of keeping your integrity in a world ruled by patronage and power.”

The Parthenon Bomber by Christos Chrissopoulos: “‘Blow up the Acropolis’ was the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens? This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Mary Mann, we’ll hear from Claire Cameron about The Last Neanderthal, and we’ll review Borne by Jeff VanderMeer.

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What to Read in May

D’arc by Robert Repino: “Far removed from this newly emerging civilization, a housecat turned war hero named Mort(e) lives a quiet life with the love he thought he had lost, a dog named Sheba. But before long, the chaos that they escaped comes crashing in around them. In the twilight of all life on Earth, love survives, but at a cost that only the desperate and the reckless are willing to pay.”

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal: “In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. Rakesh Satyal’s No One Can Pronounce My Name is a distinctive, funny, and insightful look into the lives of people who must reconcile the strictures of their culture and traditions with their own dreams and desires.”

The Leavers by Lisa Ko: “One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.”

Also this month: Fiction Advocate will interview Sarah Dickensen Snyder and talk to Jess Arndt about the release of Large Animals.

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