I'm a bookseller and I facilitate the Read the Resistance book group. I tend to read all over the place -- contemporary fiction, hard-boiled mystery, picture books -- but my favorites are always the ones that make me laugh.
Patrick DeWitt is a comic master, and this "tragedy of manners" has him at his dark and hilarious best. The novel follows a once rich but recently insolvent widow and her distressingly dependent adult son who liquidate their fortune and move to Paris where, despite the delightful cast of characters surrounding them, things do not improve. There is only one direction for the pair, and it is downhill. The novel is, in this way, like being in a runaway shopping cart: yes, disaster is inevitable, but in the meantime you're having more fun than you've had in ages, and you can't stop laughing.
This complex, compulsive novel takes us to the Midwest of the 90s for a story that is many things at once: a young poet’s coming of age in a culture of toxic masculinity; an auto-fictional account of family psychology; an exploration of the ways language has led us to our present political moment. Most impressive is that Lerner manages to bring these various threads together into a wonderfully addictive, completely original book. I blasted through it in a couple of nights, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. A necessary read.
“It’s worse, much worse, than you think.” So begins this incredible, lucid, positively terrifying report on the future of our planet. By some magic, Wallace-Wells brings together vast amounts of grim research into an absolute page-turner, one whose heart still beats with hope. If you count yourself among the many billions that call Earth home, read this book. While you still can.
Is there anything Jia Tolentino can’t write a killer essay about? No. No there isn’t. These nine essays about our present moment crackle with wit and insight. Whether writing about barre class, Little Women, or ecstasy (drug and spiritual state), Tolentino has an uncanny ability to reveal the unsightly workings of our hypercapitalist, internet-driven culture, and to make sure you enjoy every moment of it.
Do you love words? Do you ever find yourself not only consulting but reading an actual, physical dictionary? Have you ever wondered if there’s a synonym for ‘armpit’? (There is!) Then look no further than this wondrous, hilarious novel about language-obsessed twins who’s lives are forever shaped by words. Naturally, the language is brilliant—sharp, playful, and so very funny (the zinger-to-page ratio is a solid 10-to-1). And the characters are equally brilliant, so witty and flawed and alive. All the comedy leads to a truly beautiful conclusion. For all its delight in strange and rare words, this book is about that most familiar one: love. And I absolutely loved it.
This beautiful, startling memoir from poet Carolyn Forché has all the intrigue and drama of a thriller. In shimmering prose, she recounts her time in El Salvador in the deadly years before its deadlier civil war. There are dangerous encounters and near escapes, but at heart this is the story of a poet awakening to the world outside her, learning to pay attention, to be a witness in the name of justice. I couldn’t put it down.
This is a novel about a chicken heist, and what a magnificent novel it is! Beautiful, zany, hilarious, profound...there simply aren't enough adjectives. Populated by a cast of revolutionaries, egg farmers, and chickens (those extraordinary chickens!), every page vibrates with energy and shimmers with insight. How does Unferth do it? She'll crack you up one moment, break your heart the next, then crack you up all over again. In the end, you won't know if the tears on your face are from laughing or crying, and you won't care one bit. I certainly didn't.
A blistering, no-nonsense, necessary screed on the continued destruction of our public lands. This book often had me in states of near apoplectic rage, but that’s the power of Ketcham’s reporting.
With this loose trio of novels, told almost entirely through conversation, Cusk has created something completely new and completely wonderful. Each one is supremely intelligent, incredibly funny, and totally absorbing.
There are so many ways to describe this novel: A gothic horror comedy set in a creative writing program. A modern day Frankenstein with a satirical bite. A dark yet lyric send-up of a twee culture…But how about I just go with this: The most compulsive, unique, and pleasurable reading experience I’ve had in a very long time. Fantastic.
This story of two aging Irish gangsters is just brimming with beauty and humor. It's like Beckett doing The Sopranos, with a surprising tenderness at its core. And since this is Kevin Barry, the language is pure magic! Lyric, idiomatic, inventive, utterly lovely. Much of the novel has our grizzled gangsters passing the night in a ferry terminal, and I could have passed many more with them.
A marvel of a book, as brilliant as it is brisk. Told in beautifully clear, unsentimental prose, the novel begins with the narrator shooting her husband "between the eyes." What happens from there is a thrilling exploration of desire, disappointment, and rage. Read it in a single sitting. Forget it never.
Unlike anything else. A surreal, sometimes brutal, always beautiful trek through a world based on African myth and history. Part adventure story, part love story -- it is also a story about story-telling. Give yourself over to this book and it will take you places you've never been and never knew you needed to go.