2018

32 books
  • Birds of America

    Lorrie Moore

    A classic collection of short stories, I keenly felt while reading this how many stories I’ve read that have emulated the witty absurdity of Lorrie Moore. But while there may be a layer of quirkiness on top of her writing, not far underneath are more complex, melancholy themes: grief, loneliness, anxiety, illness. The last story “...more

  • Blind Spot

    Teju Cole

    I was especially curious about this book after reading Known and Strange Things as the last essay there is also called “Blind Spot.” That one is about Teju Cole’s sudden loss of vision while he was attending an artists’ residency. This book version doesn’t seem directly related...more

  • Essayism

    Brian Dillon

    Imagine a type of writing so hard to define its very name should be something like: an effort, an attempt, a trial. Surmise or hazard, followed likely by failure. Imagine what it might rescue from disaster and achieve at the levels of form, style, texture and therefore (though some might cavil at “therefore”) at the

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  • Known and Strange Things

    Teju Cole

    This collection of essays is divided into three sections — “Reading Things,” “Seeing Things,” and “Being There” — and for me they progress from the least cohesive to the most cohesive. Many of the literary essays feel more like sketches than fully fleshed out essays, and I slowly worked through these over the summer before lulling out...more

  • Transit

    Cameron Awkward-Rich

    So many amazing poems here around experiences of gender identity and race. Elegant syntax and introspective atmosphere. The series of “Once” poems and “The Child Formerly Known As ____” stand out. And then there’s the sequence of “Theory of Motion” poems, starting with this one: Essay on the Theory of Motionmore

  • 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

  • The Best Kind of People

    Zoe Whittal

    A very engaging story about a stereotypical, seemingly-perfect family in a small Connecticut town suddenly thrown into distress when the father George Woodbury, a science teacher at a private school, is accused of sexual misconduct after a school-related ski trip. Years before he had tackled a gunman in the school, saving students from a...more

  • There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé

    Morgan Parker

    Morgan Parker is a writer I feel excited about, so I requested her second book from the library almost immediately after finishing the first. Centered around experiences of being black and female, she includes a lot of cultural references in her work — as the presence of Beyoncé in the title reveals from the start. She speaks the...more

  • This Is Not Your City

    Caitlin Horrocks

    You could summarize this collection as: stories of isolation from the perspective of female characters. While I think the collection could have varied a bit more in overall feeling, Caitlin Horrocks creates some pretty exceptional moments and her characters are distinct. She has a very intuitive perspective that makes for rich stories that feel...more

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