• 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

  • 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

  • Writings

    Agnes Martin

    There is in reality no need for self-sacrifice and no call for it. Do not settle for the experience of others. If you follow others you are in reality at a standstill, because their experience is in the past. That is circling. Even following your own past experience, is circling. Know your own response to your own work

    ...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

  • Our daily lives have to be a satisfaction in themselves

    Emily Larned (publisher)

    You may remember how it was in the early ’70s. Feminists were really angry. We thought that we’d suddenly discovered something that we’d explain to men and everything would change. —Selma Miriam

    This beautiful book is handmade by Emily Larned, put...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

  • Eye Level

    Jenny Xie

    Zazen
    Sour tobacco, tofu bowl, bright.
    Planks of hollyhock in Anhui,
    the way I don’t know could open
    months later like a hive.
    Hard tide of shame that I thought
    had dried out years ago.
    Love’s barks grow watery, faint.

    more
  • Ongoingness

    Sarah Manguso

    Sometimes I think there is an order you need to read books by certain authors; maybe the chronological sequence gives you a context of their development that helps you progress with them, but other times a truly excellent later work will make you more interested to read less mature works than if you had started with those. And after reading ...more

  • H Is for Hawk

    Helen Macdonald

    This is one of those books that defies quick categorization. You could call it a grief memoir or non-fiction nature writing, but it’s some of both and more than those too. At the root level, H Is for Hawk does center around the sudden death of Helen Macdonald’s father, and she expresses the devastation that...more

  • Go, Went, Gone

    Jenny Erpenbeck

    I read Go, Went, Gone several months ago, and if I hadn’t collected some notes back then I probably wouldn’t have been able to post anything about it. Happily I wrote down enough to resurface some memories, as this is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It has a clear political message, so it will appeal...more

  • Garments Against Women

    Anne Boyer

    Anne Boyer holds the distinction of being the only/first so far poet who I’ve initially read via a tumblr post. I guess that needs the clarification of poetry that has truly resonated with me. Her work tends to feel more prose-like...more

  • Silence: In the Age of Noise

    Erling Kagge

    I thought this book would be a slam dunk for me, written around the questions: What is silence? Where is it? How do we create it? Erling Kagge is a Norwegian explorer who in 1990 became one of the first people to travel to the North Pole unsupported. For that expedition he had a partner, but three years later he spent fifty...more

  • Love Poems

    Nikki Giovanni

    A collection of love poems from across Nikki Giovanni’s career that encompass contexts of love beyond the romantic variety — the book is dedicated to Tupac Shakur and the poem “All Eyez On U” mourns “a beautiful boy to lose,” connecting his influence and loss to Emmett Till and Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no lack of more...more

  • Manhattan Beach

    Jennifer Egan

    Compared to A Visit From the Goon Squad and other pieces of short fiction Jennifer Egan has published in the years since, her newest novel Manhattan Beach is unexpectedly straightforward. Moving from those experimental, future-reaching works, she has turned to historical...more

  • Meaty

    Samantha Irby

    At times bawdy and at others incisively poignant, Samantha Irby dishes on topics like sex & celibacy, reality TV, body image, and Crohn’s disease. Then she will switch tracks and talk about becoming the primary caretaker of her mother, who was disabled from a combination of...more

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