In the last couple of weeks I’ve read and loved two May releases from Hogarth— White Fur , by Jardine Libaire, which is the magnetic and (very) sexy literary romance I didn’t even know I wanted, and Woman No. 17 , Edan Lepucki’s super smart new novel about women who are not what they seem. Both books held me completely hostage. Brainy, brilliantly written, and totally satisfying—I can’t recommend them enough!
—Julie Buntin, Director of Writing Programs; Associate Editor, Books
I first encountered James Kelman’s writing in our very own Dirt Road , which I adored, so I just picked up his short story collection If It Is Your Life . He perfectly captures the halting disorganization of consciousness and the poignancy that lurks beneath the absurdity of everything.
—Olenka Burgess, Publishing Coordinator
I just read Catherine Lacey’s The Answers . I love this book, and I love Lacey’s labyrinthine sentences that stretch on for entire paragraphs, creating the emotional equivalent of a game of Chutes and Ladders being played out on the page. For a book called “The Answers,” Lacey has managed to capture the anxiety of uncertainty in form alone.
While the book’s premise might sound like the stuff of science fiction, anyone familiar with our data-obsessed culture, with its self-care trends gone awry and ever-multiplying Bachelor franchises, will find more familiarity here than absurdity. Not to mention the book’s preoccupation with the burden of having a body—hello, health care 2017. On top of all of that, it’s also a gutting meditation on love and relationships.
I also recommend eating your weight in dried mango and then Googling, “Is dried mango good for you?” several times.
—Allie Wuest, Editorial Assistant, Web
I’m reading Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun. This slim novel about an aging, yet still vibrant, Nigerian woman living in contemporary San Francisco was published in 2016 by Cassava Republic Press, a lovely and relatively new Nigerian publishing house that consistently produces wonderful books.
—Leila Green, Social Media/General Intern
I’m reading Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog , a memoir about the founding of Nike. Just fifteen years after WWII, Knight went to Japan to forge a partnership with sneaker company Onitsuka Tiger; a few prototypes later Nike was born. It’s inspiring to follow Knight’s tenacious pursuit of his vision. This is a fortifying read for anyone with big, improbable dreams. I know I have a few!
—Casey Gonzalez, Creative Project Manager; Associate Editor, Black Balloon
I just started reading Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy and I. Am. Hooked. I’m fifty pages in and had a very hard time dragging myself away from it for work this morning (shh, don’t tell my boss . . .). I’ve been reading a lot of heavy nonfiction lately, so it’s been fun to escape into this literary page-turner set in Central America, where children go missing when taking a day excursion inland during a cruise. The idea of my children going missing and the idea of taking a cruise are two of my nightmares, so I’m really leaning in hard to my fears with this one. Happy summer!
—Erin Kottke, Director of Publicity
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang.
—Morgan Jerkins, In-house Contributing Editor, Web
I’ve been catching up on issue four of Big Big Wednesday , which hit when I was out of the country. It’s young, but one of my favorite annual lit mags. Meeting the folks behind it is one of my social goals since moving back to Portland. Most of my other social goals are, of course, things like “make it through this interaction somehow.”
I’m also finally getting to Kenneth Burke’s Counter-Statement . I picked up my copy from the Upper West Side Housing Works about ten years ago for probably a dollar—somebody had just unloaded what looked like a carton of their undergrad criticism course assignments—and somehow it’s survived a few cross-country moves and the library culls that come with that. It’s largely the unread books in my library that make it. I found it again this past month being used to brace the sides of a carton full of—what was it, jam jars?—so now feels as good a time to get to it as any. None of which tells you anything about the book, I realize, and I’m comfortable with that.
—Dustin Kurtz, Social Media Editor
I’m reading Catherine Lacey’s The Answers .
—Jonathan Lee, Senior Editor
I’m reading Arundhati Roy’s Ministry of Utmost Happiness. There is so much of the India that I know in the book—Godrej almirahs, goats hanging from butcher's hooks, torn sandals repaired, and scams: coal scams, housing scams, petrol pump scams. Roy’s essays on politics are great, and this novel voices its political views in a full-throated way. Anybody who follows Delhi will understand the reference here, for example: “His dream of a society free of corruption was like a happy meadow in which everybody, including the most corrupt, could graze for a while.”
—Megha Majumdar, Assistant Editor
I just read Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki and loved it.
—Elizabeth Ireland, Publicity and Marketing Associate
I was recently given a few chapbooks from one of my biggest literary magazine crushes, Cut Bank (founded in 1973; they publish poetry, short fiction, and chapbooks in Missoula, MT) . In 2013, Cut Bank published What They Took Away by Dennis James Sweeney––one of my favorite chapbooks of all time. Now I’m reading Little Violences by filmmaker and writer Raven Jackson . Lines I can’t shake:
From “My First Lover Speaks to Me As I Sleep With Her”:
“This is what it feels like to split the shell of a woman / Shards of her everywhere. Animal light spread across / the walls” From “Self-Portrait After Undressing”: “All day I’ve thought of bodies / that sink into creeks deep as a woman”
Other poetry books I've been reading:
this shouldn’t be beautiful but it was & it was all i had so i drew it by Keegan Lester (Slope Editions):
“our mouths vanished / i had to relearn to touch you in the room where we created art” “you said: we all need / to work on growing / our own crown of teeth . / you’d survived the war, / i read on television / from learning to dance.”
After We All Died by Allison Cobb (Ahsahta Press):
Especially the beginning of this poem:
“To get face to face / with death, we drive / over to the Build-a-Bear store––”
—Dory Athey, Marketing and Sales Assistant