A subtle, quietly impressive gem. While her protagonist Helen obsesses over gravitational waves and the beginning of the universe, Freudenberger keeps her gaze squarely on how the smallest interactions between complicated people can change our trajectories in ways we don't expect. A fresh, unique narrative voice and hint of metaphysical mystery make this one to savor.
When Ready, Player One sleeps at night, this is the book it dreams of being. Smarter and brattier, with some of the most adrenalized prose you'll ever read, Snow Crash weaves together virtual reality, Sumerian myth and the quirks of American culture and religion into an addictive stew of action, ideas, and laugh-out-loud funny writing. A modern classic from the end of the last century that feels even more timely today.
Seeing this play in Chicago two years ago pushed all my buttons - moved me emotionally, challenged me intellectually, made me laugh, cry, and awed me with its insanely imaginative examination of the changing nature of the American family. A bold, ambitious, but still very human work for our times, this is my favorite new play of the decade.
It's not often that a thrilling page turner also gives you a new way of seeing the world. Written in the simple language of fairy tales, but with layers of complexity underneath, The Child Finder joins the ranks of Room, The Lovely Bones, and Tideland as a book that looks through a child's eyes into very dark places, and shines a light on the power of imagination to help us cope, to heal, to survive.
That rare marvel, a book that manages to be an astounding feat of imagination and a heartbreaking character study at the same time. This book will thrill you with its invention and make you ache with its sad, beautiful meditation on life, mortality and what makes us human.
If you want an honest, unvarnished look at the difficult process of bringing a new play to the stage, this book is for you. Made up of interviews with people in productions of Angels in America both large and small, (including local cast members from the 2012 production in Saint Louis!), this is a fascinating inside view of one of the most audacious and influential American plays of the 20th century, just in time for its return to Broadway this spring.
My favorite book this year by a long shot. A towering epic that charts the intersecting paths of nine very different individuals whose lives are touched by trees, and their halting, often misguided attempts to imagine a narrative where humans aren't always at the center. Full of crystalline prose, unforgettable characters, and impressive depth - If you found yourself captivated by The Hidden Life of Trees or Lab Girl, you will devour this!
Inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure, Indecent is a decades-spanning epic that never loses its sense of intimacy or its focus on how one small moment on stage can change someone's life. Drawing from both European tragedy and Yiddish vaudeville, Paula Vogel creates a raucous celebration of the wonderful, dangerous act of showing the humanity in people our culture doesn't want to acknowledge.
Not your standard artist biography, this book speaks in the hushed tones of an intimate conversation. Darrieussecq weaves historical scholarship with literary memoir to create a personal experience with this extraordinary painter who showed her age more of the world - and of herself- than it had dared to see before. A quiet, meditative gem.
The book that first explained me to myself. Serano's history as both a scientist and punk musician shine through, marrying a methodical approach and precise language to a fearless, defiant attitude that both challenges and enlightens. Ground zero for trans-inclusive feminist theory and a stirring defense of femininity in a culture that constantly belittles it.
A novel that's old-fashioned in the best way, eschewing "big" issues and "high" drama for good humor, quiet intelligence, and the hidden depths of everyday experiences. Rooney writes with sparkling wit and a keen eye for the little moments that define who we are. It's the sort of book you don't see much anymore, but maybe the exact sort we need right now.
More than just a collection of lyrics, this is both a candid creative memoir and a fantastic academy for theatre lyric writing between two covers. Sondheim digs deep into the inner workings of his craft, looking back on his own work with a sharp critical eye, and revealing the personal epiphanies and brilliant collaborators that informed his classic creations. A must-read for theatre fans of all stripes.
If you've ever thought to yourself, "Man, I wish I could have done magic mushrooms with Douglas Adams in an observatory while binging on Bowie and Queen records," this book will get you REALLY close. An astonishingly creative, insanely verbose saga of immigrant glitterpunks tasked with saving the world in a potentially lethal intergalactic POP SONG CONTEST, this is as pure a literary psychedelic as you are likely to find, as well as a surprisingly moving tale of what makes us human.
A gripping warts-and-all account of one of the most important yet overlooked battles of the women's rights movement. Weiss' vibrant prose paints vivid portraits of the colorful figures on all sides of the debate, and presents a moment in history formed by acts of conscience as well as calculated self-interest.