I've long been an admirer of Hustvedt's refinement and sophistication. Both cerebral and intimate, her work is always the perfect amalgamation of solace and stimulation.
Mothers, Fathers, and Others brings together a fantastic selection of Hustvedt's more recent essays: from familial legacies to misogyny, the violence borne of groupthink to Jane Austen, each is an absorbing triumph in its own right.
Nestled within the nucleus of motherhood literature comes Linea Nigra, written in aphorism and anecdote that intersect over and over again in beautiful orbits. Barrera writes about childbirth, breastfeeding, and care through her mother’s artwork and her grandmother’s experience as a doula, as well as the author’s own extensive reading notes and frustrations with healthcare. Barrera’s seriousness and intelligence is punctuated by expressions of delight in parenthood.
Is this book about Nina Simone's gum? Of course it is, and the story behind that piece of music history is worth reading alone. But it's also about the multi-instrumentalist and beautiful weirdo Warren Ellis and the magic in his collected talismans over the years as a member of the Bad Seeds and Dirty Three.
Essayist and poet Ni Ghriofa writes a loving autofiction of the sheer physicality of mothering and milk, along with an assay into the life of Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, AKA Eileen O'Connell, a well-born poet in 18th century Ireland who composed a traditional lament after her husband's murder. Ni Ghriofa pursues connection with this Eibhlin Dubh that goes beyond literary scholarship into something like love. Ni Ghriofa's prose is rich and layered, while magically direct and concrete.
Consider the audio version available from Libro.fm to hear the poem in Gaelic.
Elderly women, independent women, and learned women - all of these archetypes were chased down and tormented by society during the European and American witch trials centuries ago, but their mark as a danger to patriarchal rule has carried into contemporary times. Mona Chollet's collection covers everything from historical accounts from academics to her own pop culture musings and how we've come to carry our enduring ideas of Witches for all these years.
In the words of Melissa Lozada-Olivia, "this bitch has me crying to Creed." But that's what King does throughout her essay collection by perfectly balancing the social commentary on pop culture, what's deemed "tacky" and perhaps shameful, with the personal struggles of enjoying what you want to enjoy. Tackling her friendships and relationships and her need to be the sexually available cool girl, she ties it effortlessly to cultural artifacts such as Jersey Shore, warm vanilla sugar, Hot Topic, the Sims, and the American shopping mall. For those who grew up in the 2000s, take this trip down memory lane.
Yes!!! So real and honest on topics like sex, relationships, being black, how a slightly picky list of must-haves in a partner has changed over the years, did I mention sex? Normalizing conversations about pleasure, normalizing not being partnered at a certain age, all from the female perspective, really brought things to the forefront and I enjoyed how fun she could be while still taking it seriously. I know she wouldn't make me dinner but I'd love to be there when she had leftovers.
One of the best books I've read about what it means to be a mother and an artist. I still think about this book and the emotional ride it took me on. I found so man answers in these pages. Simply put, I ADORE this book.
Concept: Write a letter to a stranger. Maybe you caught their name, maybe they will forever be a mystery but essentially a person who passed by your life only fleetingly. Yet they haunt you, you've never forgotten them. What would that letter say?
Product: This book!
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.