2018

22 books
  • There There

    Tommy Orange

    Multilinear novels always take a risk of remaining fragmented, never fully weaving the strands together, and There There struggles with this a bit, its cast of characters all moving toward the Big Oakland Powwow where a violent catastrophe awaits. Starting with a lyrical prologue that briefly encapsulates a progression of Native...more

  • Wolf Hall

    Hilary Mantel

    Whenever I read a historical novel, I make some kind of disclaimer about the genre not being something I’m usually interested in; hence why Wolf Hall sat on my to-read list for many years — on the one hand I felt swayed by all the recognition it received and on the other uncertain, because would I really like a book about Henry...more

  • Forty-One False Starts

    Janet Malcolm

    As a collection, Forty-One False Starts falls to the side of indiscriminate, especially the several shorter essays at the end that felt like they were included more because they fit the theme of artists and writers than because they had something truly remarkable to say. Maybe they were victims of placement, but they probably stand...more

  • Songs from a Mountain

    Amanda Nadelberg

    These poems feel haphazard and jumbled to me, and I kept waiting to settle in and catch the flow of them. Instead I finished feeling like something logical and grounded had been cut apart and randomized so that there would be moments of insight followed by unexpected zags into something totally different. The experience is not...more

  • Long Division

    Kiese Laymon

    There are just enough time periods and stories within stories woven into this novel that in some ways I felt like I had to suspend my disbelief and not examine the technicalities too closely or the shifts and nested turns wouldn’t actually line up. But I read most of the book in one day, so it was not difficult to get lost in the...more

  • Fen

    Daisy Johnson

    Fanciful stories situated in eastern England’s marshy flatlands, populated with creatures from folklore and comprised of odd events only partially explained. The local pub is always the Fox and Hounds, and the narrator is always a woman, and usually she is young. There isn’t much differentiation in the characters and...more

  • Bright Dead Things

    Ada Limón

    Ada Limón writes around the emotions and banal details of life, maintaining a personal, even confessional, tone, which usually draws me right in when it’s genuinely introspective. Capturing memories of her childhood, her parents’ early marriage years, her stepmother’s death, and her own relationship bringing her from New York City...more

  • A Memory of the Future

    Elizabeth Spires

    It was the title that interested me about this book, though it appears there may be hundreds of books with this title or slight variants of it so it’s entirely possible it reminded me of some other work I heard about in the past. Most of the poems here didn’t draw me in very far, but the title poem was worth it for me....more

  • Tell Me How It Ends

    Valeria Luiselli

    First published in 2016, Valeria Luiselli wrote this long essay before the Trump administration came into office and further muddled already insufficient immigration policies. Structured around the forty questions she asked undocumented children from Central America during her volunteer work helping connect these children with legal...more

  • Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night

    Morgan Parker

    I am more comfortable
    being mourned than loved.

    The past has not been as rewarding
    as I had hoped.

    Waiting nearly four months to write about a book makes it nearly impossible to write anything substantive. I remember that there weren’t any complete poems...more

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