2017

36 books
  • Wildwood Imperium

    Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis

    A jam-packed finale to this trilogy set in a version of Portland where Forest Park is the Impassable Wilderness, a magical land most humans in the city can’t physically enter. After establishing a new set of characters and new thread of narrative in the second book, this one starts with yet another new thread. It makes the story get...more

  • Sing, Unburied, Sing

    Jesmyn Ward

    Lately I’ve been reading a bunch of queer poetry and apparently also fiction involving ghosts as characters. Like Katalin Street, Jesmyn Ward’s third novel involves spirits of those who have passed on but haven’t entirely departed the company of the living. Here they are a...more

  • In Full Velvet

    Jenny Johnson

    The title of this book refers to furry skin on the antlers of young deer, which most shed as the antlers finish calcifying. The titular poem mentions some whitetails that don’t shed their velvet, described by hunters as “raggedy-horn freaks” who live “long solitary lives, unweathered / by the rutting season.”

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  • Things I Don’t Want to Know

    Deborah Levy

    A response to George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write,” much of this book is less obviously about writing than I was expecting. But looking through Orwell’s four motives for writing just now [Sheer egoism; Aesthetic enthusiasm; Historical impulse; Political purpose],...more

  • Don’t Call Us Dead

    Danez Smith

    Apparently I’m having a moment of reading contemporary poems by gay men.* They’ve all been great, but this is probably my fave of the bunch by just a little bit. As a collection, it feels so cohesive with poems about being a black man, a gay man, HIV-positive, and the intersections between them. Favorites...more

  • When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

    Chen Chen

    Most of this collection feels playful and cheeky, yet there is a mournful undercurrent, from the poems with some form of “elegy” in their titles, references to the sickness of Chen Chen’s mother and her unrealized expectations of him, and even his consideration of a friend’s comment, “…All you write about / is being gay or...more

  • Katalin Street

    Magda Szabó

    Fragmented and a bit confusing while meeting all the characters, Katalin Street spans key moments before, during, and after the German occupation of Budapest for three intertwined families in Budapest. Before the war, they have an idyllic life as neighbors in three row houses on Katalin Street, and the novel portrays the effects of...more

  • Madness

    Sam Sax

    Poems on themes of queerness, mental health, and STI stigmas. Structured around an excerpt of the DSMI (from 1952), it fractures and reframes around these concepts throughout the four sections. A couple titles get revisited exactly across the book: Psychotherapy, On...more

  • Life in Code

    Ellen Ullman

    After reading Ellen Ullman’s novel By Blood, I’ve been meaning to get to her memoir Close to the Machine, but before I could get around to that, she published another book centered around her experiences as a programmer, from before and during the early years of the internet. These...more

  • Forest Dark

    Nicole Krauss

    Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love has been a standby favorite I recommend to people often — something I’ve noted while writing about every subsequent book of hers that I’ve read. Realizing now that it’s been nearly ten years since I’ve read it makes me think it’s time for a re-read, especially...more

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