Bookseller at Seward Park
Devon reads everything constantly all the time, and is usually mildly stressed out about not reading more. Particular favorite subcategories include depressing, dark, and surrealistic modern fiction, radically left-leaning socio/anthro/history, dystopic sci-fi, and the occasional YA novel or poetry collection. Also anything gimmicky or weird, e.g. hypertext fiction.
Akwaeke Emezi's harrowing, challenging debut novel depicts its central character's struggle with mental illness through the lens of Nigerian folklore. The Ogbanje are a traditionally recognized cadre of "evil" spirits who invade Nigerian families in order to destroy them. In Freshwater, a collection of these spirits attach themselves to Ada, a young Nigerian immigrant, seducing her into a cycle of divine self-destruction.
After a traumatic incident in early childhood involving a poisonous snake, Ada finds she can communicate (not always voluntarily) with a host of spirits who have infiltrated her mind and self. Traveling to the U.S. to attend college, Ada is assaulted by a boyfriend. In response, a single entity named Asughara differentiates itself from the mass of others, and begins a kind of domineering, possessive romance with Ada. Like an abusive lover, Asughara coaxes and berates Ada into radical coping behaviors, demands sacrifices, and imposes strictures on Ada's human relationships. At the same time, Ada and Asughara become intimate friends, affirmations of one another -- two godlike creatures alone in the world of humans, caged and frustrated by their shared inability to exist in the full flower of their being.
It's only March, but I can already tell this is one of the best novels I'll read in 2018.I can't wait to see what this author does next.
Catalina made me homesick for Southern California in a bittersweet, kind of absurd way. Not because of its opulent locations or its obsession with pharmaceuticals and day-drinking. Rather, strangely, the book made me feel nostalgic for SoCal's creeping foundational rot, and the weird culture of glamorous possibility that allows everyone to willfully ignore it.
Los Angeles and its satellites are the perfect backdrop for the novel's dissection of hetero-feminine sexuality, so often presented as a fetish object or sleek vehicle of personal liberation, but here turned violently and subtly inward, devouring its unwilling hosts.
A dreamlike exploration of abuse that reads like a fairy tale and feels like a vintage European horror film. Difficult to read in places, but there's some great material here about the struggle to verbalize trauma, and the process via which failure to do so can lead to acts of violence.
cw: abuse, bullying, sexual assault
When the Monroe family discovers an abandoned baby rabbit in a movie theater during a screening of "Dracula," their paranoiac, literature-obsessed cat, Chester, is convinced that the seemingly harmless new addition is actually a malefic bloodsucker. Told from the perspective of Harold, the exasperated family dog, Bunnicula is the inaugural title in a series of hilarious, genuinely creepy horror-comedies for young readers that spoofs adult mystery, suspense, and supernatural horror conventions.