You may have no desire to know the intimate backroad histories of old LA, you might not be a film buff, but I'm telling you... you don't have to be much of anything to fall in love with this book. I couldn't stop until I found its author, the inimitable Matthew Specktor, in possession of success or happiness or peace or something that resembles those impossible objects. These aren't just essays about Fitzgerald, Warren Zevon, Thomas McGuane, Renata Adler; this is a book about what it is to be an artist in America. Specktor's story is both erudite and crafty magic.
It's hard to prepare yourself for a book like Seek You. Not quite memoir, not quite essay, and never what you'd expect, Kristen Radtke has somehow captured the essence of loneliness in an era that will surely be defined by it. There are panels of ocean tides and isolated sitcom-watchers that send me deeper into myself every time I see them—I've been those isolated sitcom-watchers; I've felt those ocean tides. Radtke diagnoses our loneliness without pity or preciousness. What else to call this but a masterpiece?
Lewis Hyde imagines a world in which the loss of memory—not published thought, not the Cloud, not ink spilled or the tyranny of documentation—is not only a gift, but a foundation for nations, the self, and creation. Lewis Hyde's goal isn't to comfort, but to create a new mythology of loss, citing Borges, Virgil, Emerson, John Cage, and dozens more, pasting together quotes and anecdotes, aphorism and vignette in what must be Hyde's greatest work, a sublime museum of loss as swift and venerable as the river Lethe.
Make It Scream, Make It Burn eschews preciousness, dives into the weird and desolate, and brings us some of the finest curiosities in nonfiction today. Leslie Jamison's celebrated return to the essay form is marked by everything we want and more: The unheard dirge of loneliest whale in the world! The devout banality of Second Life citizens! Stepmotherhood and motherhood! True to form, Jamison doesn't stop at essay, criticism, or memoir—we, the readers, get this multi-genre, loose, unknown thing, imperfect in design, just as it should be.
Easily combining the modern ways of standup comedy for Indigenous folks with the tragic history of their 'real estate problem' (as the great Charlie Hill puts it), Nesteroff does wonders in 270 odd pages. He flexes his wide knowledge of comedy and show business and is upfront in the Author's Note that he himself is not Indigenous so his goal was to highlight the voices in comedy and show business who are. And, in these short but comprehensive essays/chapters, I think he succeeds.
Tolstoy + Chekhov + Gogol + Turgenev + Saunders = a crash course in good writing! My favorite chapter was on "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol for the pure absurdity of the story and the great clarity Saunders brought to understanding it.
I am a huge fan of this author. Everything they write stops me in my tracks. The essays here will expand your thoughts on feminism and the media we've been consuming since childhood.
Abolitionist and activist Mariame Kaba has curated accessible essays about transformative justice and prison abolition. From R. Kelly to killer cops, Kaba explains the principles behind her work and how difficult it can be to break away from the punishment = justice mindset instilled within us. Every essay pushes for difficult conversations to have with yourself, but Kaba is there to remind you that "hope is a discipline", and that the beauty of abolition is held within the possibilities of a future that does not require the harmful relic of the prison industrial complex.
Perfect for those humor fans or non-pretentious movie buffs that want to weigh in on what other movie characters would be in Regina George's clique or who got it the worst in Kill Bill? Paired with Torres' fantastic illustrations, Serrano writes lovingly and analytically about movies from the 1980s to today with opinions that toggle between silly and serious. Because really which movie villain would make the best hang and how culturally significant was 1997's Selena? This is a great book to escape into with the kind of author that wouldn't leave you bored at a party.
Essential for Palahniuk fans as well as writers wanting to learn from a seasoned pro. He gives you behind-the-scenes insight into his infamous story, Guts, his eventful book tours, and, of course, Fight Club. He also tells you how to write a damn good story, he should know. You don't have to take his word as God but you are guaranteed, regardless, to be entertained.