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The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins

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Before reading Curtis Dawkins’ short story collection The Graybar Hotel, you should decide how you’re going to come to terms with Dawkins’ crime of murder that put him in prison for life without parole. Decide if you are comfortable with the book’s profits going to an “education fund” for Dawkins’ children.

In the early morning of Oct. 31, 2004, Dawkins shot Thomas Bowman to death during a drug-fueled crime spree in a neighborhood of Kalamazoo, Michigan. In his book, the only explicit reference to the murder is “The night I killed a man was a horrible ordeal, especially for his family, my family” in the book’s acknowledgments. This detached and somewhat unapologetic sentiment is followed by “you learn within twenty-four hours of hearing a prison door slam shut, either you will die regretting the past or you’ll learn to live in the present.” He is correct. Pages of melodramatic regret would not change anything. Continue reading

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What to Read in December

The Vanishing Princess by Jenny Diski: “The stories in The Vanishing Princess showcase a rarely seen side of this beloved writer, channeling both the piercing social examination of her nonfiction and the vivid, dreamlike landscapes of her novels.”

Ultraluminous by Katherine Faw: “A high-end, girlfriend-experience prostitute has just returned to her native New York City after more than a decade abroad―in Dubai, with a man she recalls only as the Sheikh―but it’s unclear why exactly she’s come back. The daring new novel from Katherine Faw, the brilliant author of Young God, is a scintillating story of money, sex, and power told in Faw’s viciously sharp prose.”

The Years, Months, Days by Yan Lianke: “Yan Lianke―“China’s most feted and most banned author” (Financial Times)―is a master of imaginative satire, and his prize-winning works have been published around the world to the highest honors. Now, his two most acclaimed novellas are collected here in a single volume―masterfully crafted stories that explore the sacrifices made for family, the driving will to survive, and the longing to leave behind a personal legacy.”

Also this month: We’ll interview Michelle Kuo, review The Graybar Hotel, and reveal the 10 Best Books of 2017…

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