Anyone who says they don’t like poetry probably hasn’t read Forrest Gander, whose pristine verse always unlocks some old trunk inside me I thought I’d lost the key to. His starting point here is the lichen, which he explains, but what’s impossible to explain is how far and wide he'll move your spirit from that lovely little natural launchpad.
Few authors can make a true tale cook quite like PRK, and with a story like the Sackler Family’s, things are all the more enthralling. Peel back the museum dedications and artistic philanthropy, and you’ll find a family tree rotting from the inside out by dint of a truly American mixture of avarice and cunning.
What Seth said!
Often, the idea of a posthumous novel by a literary luminary makes me queasy, but just a few pages into this unreleased marvel, my stomach stopped rumbling. Then—of course—Wright turned it into a knot, as only he can. His is an essential American voice, and I am grateful to hear it once again.
Look, if Hanio Yamada is cool with his failed suicide attempt, we should be too right? As funny and slapstick and swinging as it may be, this book's grin flashes to a scowl often enough to make sure you don't miss its deadly serious point.
This right here is the most enjoyable, portable, and fulfilling college course you’re likely to find at its cover price. Saunders' short fiction chops are unassailable, and letting him guide you along the museum of Russian masters of the form provides spectacular insight to life, art, meaning, and above all, how to read well.
THE BRAND IS STRONG. I'll be honest I was a little skeptical that Desus and the Kid could make the transition to the written word, but it turns out that I had nothing at all to worry about. I was laughing out loud from page one, and can't recommend this highly enough for fans of the world's most dangerous podcast and the number one show in late night.
Kahtryn Davis constantly pushes ideas about plot and place outward into a book’s aura, where they float and shift around an eternal humanity at the heart of her fiction. If I could explain exactly why Duplex works so well, it would likely spoil its ineffable magic.
I discovered Stephen Wright as a younger man via his sprawling and surreal novel Going Native, and it is very good to have him back in the game after a long stretch on the literary bench. Processed Cheese is like a Vonnegut novel in the way A Game of Thrones is like The Fellowship of the Ring. Maybe not quite as good, but surely just as fun—and featuring more sex, violence, and swearing than the more staid side of the comparison.
The front cover of THE SILENCE says that it's a novel, but really it's not. It's a short story dressed up like a novel, but who really cares? It's brilliant. And prescient. And of-the-now too. It's a story of connection and disconnection, and how close the two have become. It's another 100 pages or so inside the DeLillo-verse, and we likely don't have many of those left, so please, cherish them like I do.
Can you describe a book set during the Thirty Years' War as a delight? Well hell, I'm gonna, because this book's tone and tenor somehow make enjoyable a series of dark vignettes that twist politics, religion, fear, and epistemology around the origin story of one of the world's legendary tricksters. Bloody fun, this one.
I'm a huge sucker for a band of anti-heroic criminals, and boy do the Cragg Vale Coiners ever fit the bill. There's a bit of Robin Hood, and The Godfather, and some Paul Kingsnorth in here too, all wrapped up in haunting depictions of the north of England that put you right there next to King David Hartley the whole way through.
Like any satire worth its salt, this book confronts, offends, and horrifies its reader with twisted visions of what are actually cold hard facts. America's racist past, present, and future collide in this cinematic trip through a Boschian hellscape crafted from our own sickening iconography.
From title to design to subject matter to style, everything about this collection echoes and undulates and folds back in on itself in a spectacular way. For Tolentino, personal insight springs from larger issues just as often as a private matter explodes into a deft deconstruction of the bigger point.
A devastating novel about guys who get beat up in the ring, and how life beats all of us up outside of it. Throw some Steinbeck and The Fight and Jesus' Son in a blender and drink it all down. You might not feel good after, but it'll feed your soul all the same.
The man who is the "Michael' in "Carmichael's" told me this one was good and man is he right! Nothing about this story is easy on the soul, but Keefe's masterful account of "The Troubles" is worth every minute spent between the first and last pages of this essential book, which is the best one I've read so far in 2019.
If you're a Tribe fan this one is easy: stop reading this right now and buy the damn book. For the rest of you, know that Abdurraqib's writing here is personal and poignant, as he weaves a sublime exegesis of one of the most important rap groups of all time.
The supremely creative Mr. Kingsnorth (see: The Wake) offers an ontological exploration of what writing really is, and what it very much isn't. His personal prism helps us ponder both the freedom and stricture that come when we attempt to turn human language into the written word.
In this brain-bending novel, a world dismantled by uncertainty gives way to one built on indisputable truth. Notions of control, diversion, and resistance get squeezed through the Winters cheescloth of humor and humanity, leaving behind a story so crazy, it has to be true.
Goldsberry is one of the smartest guys talking NBA hoops, and this book ties together all of what makes his writing great: the data, the stats, the trademark graphics—and just the right amount of acid wit. He explains how the NBA arrived at the three-chucking, five-out, wide-open state that it's in right now, and will make you a smarter fan, page after vivid page.
A fantastic collection of short stories written the way they oughta be: brief, powerful, and engaging. That, and what I assume is a very Norwegian sense of humor. Fans of Lydia Davis and Joy Williams, this book is for you!
A loose retelling of the tale of Theseus, OREO is an overlooked classic now back in print after 40 years. It is a wickedly funny look at race, culture, and betweenness—even if it's sometimes hard to tell what truly lay on either side.
Imbued with the wild spirit of his short but powerful classic JESUS' SON, but polished with the literary gold of his epic masterpiece TREE OF SMOKE, Denis Johnson's poetry is every bit as good as his prose. I love to loan this collection out, never get it back, and buy it all over again.