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Nov. 19th, 2018

What If This Were Enough?What If This Were Enough? by Heather Havrilesky

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A smart collection of essays that looks at the failings of our culture. Whether she's talking about feminism, pop culture, literature, or the self-help movement, Havrilesky brings razor-sharp analysis and insight. Her analysis of Shirley Jackson and her work and its relevance to our contemporary situation is brilliant. Another particularly strong essay examines the connections between our fascination with apocalyptic scenarios (GoT, Walking Dead), our politics, CrossFit and the Pioneer Woman (yes, all in one essay). In my opinion, one of the best books of 2018.

[I received an advanced copy through Netgalley.]



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Magical NegroMagical Negro by Morgan Parker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Through the lenses of pop culture, hip hop, and black history, Morgan Parker delivers a devastating series of poems about the current state of affairs for Black Americans. While there is humor in it, the humor is black and always sets the reader on edge. A powerful, disturbing, and important collection.

[I received an advanced e-galley of this book through Netgalley. It is due to be released February 5, 2019.]



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Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The latest collection of articles from "the voice of the resistance" finds Solnit's powerful voice in full form as she lambasts Trump, reports on the successes at Standing Rock, and finds hope in unexpected consequences. Because it is a collection of articles rather than one long essay, there is some redundancy but her messages and themes of hope and the power of language (and pointing its Orwellian uses by the current administration) are must-reads in this age.



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Another Life: On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of TimeAnother Life: On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of Time by Theodor Kallifatides

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A beautifully written memoir on language, memory, love, and writing. Kallifatides was born in Greece and in his twenties moved and married in Sweden, where he established a literary career (writing in his adopted language Swedish). Suffering from writer's block in his seventies, he returns to Greece, visiting old haunts and his parents' home, contemplating the state of Europe (angry immigrant sentiment is not limited to the U.S.) and the economic despair in Greece. Highly recommended.



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Lady Stuff: Secrets to Being a WomanLady Stuff: Secrets to Being a Woman by Loryn Brantz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Loryn Brantz is the author of such works as Feminist Baby and the Good Advice Cupcake. Here, she conquers more adult concerns as she addresses what it means to be a lady in contemporary life. Often very funny.



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Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: PoemsConflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems by Joy Harjo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Joy Harjo's poetry incorporates Native American traditions and songs into everyday contemporary life. Here, she also incorporates New Orleans jazz and blues into the mix as she mourns the losses of her people, culture, and country. Beautiful and highly recommended.



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ElevationElevation by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Scott Carey is losing weight, but it doesn't show in his appearance. In fact, he weighs the same no matter what or how many clothes he wears. Meanwhile, he's having some trouble with his neighbors and realizing how shamefully narrow-minded the locals in Castle Rock can be. In King's hands, this strands twist into a short (especially by King's standards) novel of hope and community. If any of King's stories can be described as "feel good," it's this one and I enjoyed it for just that reason.



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EvolutionEvolution by Eileen Myles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The experimental New York poet returns with her first new collection since her career-spanning I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems and she ruminates on many things - her parents, dogs, and of course the current political landscape. Her poems are challenging, frenziedly moving through a host of topics, the product of a sharp rapid-fire mind.



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Oct. 29th, 2018

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's StoryQuiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert's Story by Debbie Tung

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A collection of comics about the struggles of being introvert in an extrovert's world. Introverts will find much to love and relate to. Delightful.



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Oct. 29th, 2018

Black MovieBlack Movie by Danez Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A chapbook of poems confronting the perils of race in contemporary America through reimagining popular films. Many of these poems appear in Don't Call Us Dead (which I read first) so I was already familiar with a lot of them, but they are still powerful and haunting.



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