What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: Making chaos out of order. Wait... reverse that.
What sound do you love? Wind rustling through crisp autumn leaves.
What’s in the trunk of your car? Currently, there's a trunk in my trunk.
Using only one word, describe yourself. Curious.
Favorite accessory (past or present): My mom's vintage faux-pearl necktie.
Max Porter plays by his own rules. As with his first novel, GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS, LANNY contains its own shifting structure, its own malleable logic. It looks very little like the novels you might be used to. The book is, in a word, unruly. But isn't that exactly what a book about unleashed creativity, wild environs, and the chaos of human relationships should be? LANNY mesmerizes with its playful juxtapositions of tenderness and cruelty, beauty and grime.
In compact, lyrical essays, Margaret Renkl captures the fleeting brutal beauty of life. Renkl's keen observations of suburban nature -- birds, butterflies, and brambles -- give depth and texture to the narrative she shares about her parents, her daily life, and her child's clear-eyed curiosity. Like Helen Macdonald's H IS FOR HAWK, Renkl's LATE MIGRATIONS reads as a grief memoir bound up with deeply attentive nature writing. Renkl's poetic prose is accompanied by lovely illustrations from her brother, Billy Renkl.
A moving, inventive portrayal of sibling relationships, stories hidden and reclaimed, and catastrophes both intimate and epic. This book weaves various iterations of Hansel and Gretel through time and space, using the orbit of Halley's Comet to connect the various narrative strands. The result is a slim but powerful novel that skillfully keeps the reader in a delicate tension between the personal traumas of the characters and the awe-inspiring magnitude of the cosmos.
Part 18th-century swashbuckling adventure romp, part meta-textual campus novel. In Confessions of the Fox, Jordy Rosenberg offers a new version of an old story in this ambitious, bawdy tale. Jack Sheppard was known in the 1700s as an infamous thief and jailbreaker, or, to London common folk, as a beloved celebrity rogue. Confessions of the Fox revisits this legend with a gender-bending twist, which feels plausible, resonant, and true. This novel offers an alternative history that celebrates the self-discovery, love, and acts of resistance of a transgender man who flies in the face of early capitalism and corruption.
Conversations with Friends is a fresh and wholly modern take on established literary tropes of adultery, coming-of-age, and female friendship. This accomplished debut novel centers on a bisexual communist spoken-word poet with endometriosis named Frances as she learns to navigate relationships as an adult. Sally Rooney writes her characters with wit, intelligence, and subtlety. As the story of friendship, romance, and jealousy unfolds, Frances gradually becomes aware of her own powers: she's more capable of banter, of seduction, and of true feelings than she initially knows... or cares to admit.
In RAGE BECOMES HER, Soraya Chemaly serves a heaping portion of sociological research about how misogyny manifests in contemporary culture. Each chapter ignites fury on behalf of women in a different way. The anger I experienced while reading this book never dulled. In hindsight, Chemaly's copious examples of gender inequalities and violence toward women should fatigue a reader, but they don't. Chemaly has found a way to sustain her reader's righteous indignation throughout this well-researched book. Still, I was deeply grateful for the final chapter, which pivots from why women should be angry to offering specific, practical suggestions of how we can own that rage, how we can put it to use to improve our lives, our communities, and society at large.
Sarah Smarsh upends conventional depictions of working class life in the American heartland in this book. She tells incisive, moving stories of personal experiences and her family's history in Kansas, and in doing so, she lays bare the real reasons many people suffer financial insecurity. HEARTLAND documents how generations can remain trapped in poverty despite working hard. Smarsh details all the factors beyond an individual's control -- such as exposure to toxic, hazardous work environments; gender norms that force women to choose between domestic violence or itinerant lifestyles; and wages that can't keep pace with the commodity-driven American Dream. Smarsh contextualizes these issues in their historical, political, and geographical landscape to provide a compelling, personal perspective on labor and class in the heartland.
The sharpest social critique in masterful short stories, Friday Black dives deep into the dehumanizing forces of racism and consumerism in American culture. Adjei-Brenyah pulls the reader in, down into those too-real depths, challenging us to recognize our world -- complete with insidious violence and glimmers of hope. These are stories for fans of George Saunders, but told from the heart of African American experience today.
A dark secret hidden for decades. A ghostly observer haunting from the shadows. Sarah Perry's Melmoth stalks present-day Prague and centuries past, drawing readers into the deepest cruelties of humanity, always asking: Who witnesses to our worst moments? Can we bear that implacable gaze?
Unapologetically black, unapologetically queer, unapologetically feminist. Charlene Carruthers calls for an inclusive, intersectional approach to the ongoing project toward liberation for all people. Steeped in the Black radical tradition and experienced as an activist and organizer, Carruthers is a beacon we would do well to follow.
Angry women transform the world. In Good and Mad, Rebecca Traister explores the hidden history of how women's rage has fueled progressive movements in America. In doing so, she elevates marginalized feminist voices and affirms the political power of women's fury for the contemporary moment. A must-read, which reveals how women's anger can stoke joy and community in the midst of shared frustration and pain.
Swamps, storms, and snakes. These short stories by award-winning writer Lauren Groff explore the dangers of life in the untamed wilds of Florida. Here, family and relationships threaten characters just as much as hurricanes and venomous reptiles, but all are treated with deep respect as Groff captures their natural dignity. Groff has an eye for moments of calm and beauty amidst her clear-eyed descriptions of turmoil and cruelty. - Trista
This brutal tale of grief and trauma will challenge you. You may even want to throw the book across the room after the first few pages. BUT DON'T GIVE UP. You will acclimate to the fractured, half-formed narration, and you will be richly rewarded for the effort. McBride's lyrical and innovative style, which she has referred to as "stream of pre-consciousness," occupies the space in the mind where experiences and thoughts have not fully formed themselves into clear language. The resulting narrative voice shows how broken the unnamed narrator is -- but also does violence against the forces in the girl's life that work to keep her down. McBride deals with topics ranging from rape to brain cancer with delicate nuance and a burning fury.
For any reader who has ever loved a dog. This debut novel follows the close relationship between a social misfit and his one-eyed dog. Baume (who trained as a visual artist) has a keen eye for details. Her close observations of nature translate into a sensory reading experience, and her close observations of human nature translate into a compelling narrative of isolation and companionship.
Isolated on the weather-beaten cliffs of England, a house stands haunted. Siblings Roddy and Pamela Fitzgerald encounter--and then struggle to confront--the restless spirit that inhabits their new home. Will they be able to protect their young neighbor, Stella, from the enticing, suffocating forces that threaten to destroy her? Dorothy Macardle's chilling feminist ghost story from 1942 poses canny questions through uncanny events, troubling traditional conceptions of motherhood, romance, and family. This edition, issued by Tramp Press, includes reference to the 1944 film adaptation of the Fitzgeralds' paranormal investigation, which is available today through the Criterion Collection. PLUS, in Dorothy Macardle's follow-up, The Unforeseen, a skeptical, rational woman has prophetic visions of tragedies yet to come. Can she prevent the horrors she imagines before they come to pass?