A Memoir of facism, childhood, and then motherhood in early 20th century Italy, written in a unique, pointillist style made famous (relatively speaking) by the stylings of Annie Ernaux or the fiction of Renata Adler. Jarre's speciality is writing the unspoken peculiarities of childhood. Read the first paragraph and tell me you wouldn't read 200 pages of Jarre's work. An immense story of a life.
We all know who Marin Luther King, Malcolm X and James Baldwin were, but little has been written about their mothers. The women who raised them and instilled in each an unwavering passion to raise their voices against injustice. Each woman and their lives were different, but they were all instrumental in their sons lives. This book is a tribute to them and all mothers.
At her absolute lowest, Lulu Miller becomes obsessed with early president of Stanford and famed ichthyologist David Starr Jordan. This part-memoir-part-biography is a touching story about struggling with mental health and how we cope in the face of chaos. It's a scientific history lesson on how fish taxonomy influenced the imagined hierarchy of human genetics. It's also a murder mystery. And if you're wondering if fish exist, I promise your question will be answered (they definitely don't)!
Like author Michelle Zauner, I also lost a parent in 2014. While reading Crying in the H Mart I was vividly transported back to that time through Zauner's careful writing, reliving the same pain and grief, but also feeling the powerful love of family that emerges from such difficult times. This is a beautiful, emotional memoir that captures the heartbreak of losing a parent perfectly.
Danny Goldberg was more than a band manager to Nirvana but a friend and confidant, especially to Kurt Cobain, at the height of their career. He is able to share the good and the bad, without idolizing or demonizing Cobain, in this look behind the music scene of the early nineties punk rock and grunge surge. So sit back, maybe unplug with Unplugged in the background, and enjoy.
When Roiphe isn't unflinchingly examining her own flaws as what our society wants a woman to be, she is picking apart the very essence of femininity. Occasionally I felt skewered by the barbs she hurls heedlessly into the void, but ultimately I felt empowered to be my own flawed self and appreciate my power, be it soft, hard, or something altogether different.
If you’ve ever read the title of Carson McCullers’ seminal work “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” and thought: “I’ve just read the most beautiful poem, written for me”—if you’ve ever done that—maybe you should pick up this book.
Shapland deftly writes about closeted queer desire, her own coming to terms with herself, and McCullers vs. the coded language she has long been shrouded in.
I don’t know where to put this magnificent book—but maybe it belongs with you.
Krazy Kat remains a marvel even more than a century after its debut. Anarchic and wondrous, it stands among the most innovative and influential strips in all of comics history.
But my staff pick isn't Krazy Kat, it's Krazy by Michael Tisserand: a richly detailed and endlessly compelling biography of the strip's visionary creator, George Herriman. From the complex racial politics of New Orleans to the hyper-competitive world of newspaper comics publishing, Tisserand deftly lays out the cultural and historical contexts that informed Herriman's brilliance.
In 2016, Albert Woodfox was released from prison after years of campaigning by activists, judges, politicians, and members of the Angola Three support network. Framed for the murder of a prison guard along with two other Black Panther Party members, he'd been kept in solitary confinement for over 40 years due to a system of falsified accusations and sabotaged appeals involving collusion at high levels of government and judiciary. Radicalized in prison, Woodfox drew immense strength and determination from the principles of the Black Panther Party; in every cell block, he worked to eradicate violence, materially improve conditions, practice liberation, and call for change. In these pages, his goal is not just to tell his incredible story, but to educate us about the many ways mass incarceration and police brutality are used as a weapon against Black communities.
At 42 years old, a 500-page biography naturally seems a bit premature in telling his complete life story, but Tiger's life since birth has truly been extraordinary. Not just for golf fans, this book reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. Absolutely one of the most compelling biographies I've read in a long time.