A reenactment of a romanticized past becomes an inescapable descent into the ugliest and most primitive side of humanity. Succinct in its suspense, you won't realize you've been holding your breath until the very last page.
Despite the subject manner, Doughty approaches her work as a mortician with a "death-positive" attitude, which extends itself to here exploration of cultures working outside the western tradition of burials and mourning. As tender as they are technical, her essays range from the beauty of a funeral pyre in a Colorado community to the high-tech world of Japanese cremation facilities, and all are told in an open and optimistic manner you wouldn't expect from someone dedicated to the art of death.
What if the Wind in the Willows was less of a warm-hearted tale about forest friends and more about a sinister plot to gaslight Mr. Toad? What if the Velveteen Rabbit was a cold-blooded sociopath intent on becoming Real, no matter the cost? The reimagined fairy tales in the Merry Spinster answer these questions and ones I didn't even know I had.
It's approaching that time of year where we all like to get cozy under our electric blankets with a hot apple cider in hand. If you're lucky, you might be surrounded by the ones you love the most during the magical season. It's also the perfect time to dream up hypotheticals like 'how much sustenance would mom provide if I had to resort to eating her during a blizzard in 1846?' or 'how does one overcome paradoxical undressing while suffering from hypothermia', which means you should obsoletely get this book.
In this gender-bending retelling of the Oedipus myth, Johnson's words gnash, bite, and bruise, taking on a harsh beauty that mirrors the darkness of the river canal wilderness. With interweaving perspectives and characters on the edge of madness or beyond, this book is one of my most memorable reads of the last few years.
When you venture into the pages of a time-traveling, plague-ridden dystopian nightmare, you come to expect a visceral exploration of what it takes ot survive in an unforgivable world.
What you don't expect is to become deeply invested in the love story that unfolds in flashbacks and written so intimately that it almost feels like intruding.
Infused with intimate stories of her devotion to true crime, McNamara's book rises above the usual shock and awe exploitation of the genre and weaves a narrative both riveting and chilling.
Focused on the intertwined lives of a Mexican-American family and the final birthday of their dying but defiant patriarch, Urrea's story of the Mexican diaspora is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
Race, class, sexual identity and the loss of both innocence and youth are all artfully explored in this story about four friends sorting out their lives in contemporary northwest London. Smith doesn't only give every character their own complex and beautifully unique voice, but she allows them each a different narrative form, reminiscent of Joyce (minus the annotations.) Delicately balanced between tragedy and comedy, this final page will leave you speechless.
In this recent reissue of Ingalls' delightfully bizarre novella, we're introduced to the usual trope of bored housewife stuck in a loveless marriage during 50's suburban ennui. But before your eyes glaze over, in walks Larry - an amphibious frogman who has escaped from cruel captors at a research center, bringing in an element of B-horror creature feature love story that would have made Ed Wood go wild.
An advice-touting beach bum. A spoiled rich brat living in a castle in space. A Buddhist monk, a burgeoning serial killer, a bug. All these stories belong to Milo, the man who has lived 9,996 of of his allotted 10,000 lives while trying to reach Perfection. With the impending sentance of his sould being doomed to Nothingness, Milo tries to make his last four lives count. Death shouldn't be entertaining, but with this book, it becomes an absurd adventure touched by the best and worst of what it means to be human.
For readers who remember what it is like to use the click-wheel on a first generation iPod, or watched Gideon Yago on MTV2, this book is for you. Exploring the rise and fall of the post-9/11 indie music scene that grew from the grimy grates of NYC and beyond, the oral history includes vibrant voices like Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Interpol, and other bands that your cool older sister introduced to you back in middle school.
As part of the Why I Write lecture series, the legendary New York musician and author shares a short but engaging story she wrote while traveling by train. The story itself is book ended by the different authors of the past, as well as the current surroundings that inspire her writing (including a personal visit to the room where Camus wrote.) A minute but moving must for any fan of Smith's writing.
Miles (and decades) away from the unconventional style of A Visit to the Goon Squad, Egan takes a chance on historical fiction and manages to create a beautifully-lush and character-driven story centered around WWII-era New York City. The most compelling voice belongs to a young and ambitious woman new to the once male-dominated workforce, and her story of navigation through a life of newfound independence will cause any reader to root for her survival in a world consistently telling her "no."
"Teach the children...stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms. Attention is the beginning of devotion." Mary Oliver is the only writer that makes me second-guess killing any rogue spider that comes near me, because her reverence for nature is more than mere observation - her writing becomes a spiritual experience in these essays.
This debut novel from a master of short stories manages to bind together a story of ghosts gone wild in a graveyard, the Civil War, a president's grief, real historical accounts, and numerous mentions of poop. Emotionally fraught, hysterically funny, and a beautiful exploration of the unlived life, this book is the 2017 winner of the Man Booker Prize, as well as Most Likely To Make Me Cry While Reading on the Bus.