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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
At once illuminating and completely unsettling, The Doll's Alphabet is an incredible collection featuring stories that almost feel as if they exist in a shared world in the not-too-distant future. These are stories about obsessions and perceptions, imbalances of privilege, the absorbing and painful nature of motherhood, and spooky mundanities like tinned meats, costumes, and sewing machines. Full of memorable moments, fascinating vivid details, and grotesque facts of the body, The Doll's Alphabet is an intelligent exploration of identity, femininity, and attraction.
The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova ($15.95*, Coffee House Press), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
Just in time for the spookiest season, this book is hilarious, snarky, and very cute! I might be a little biased since I have this tremendous love of bats, but I dare you to read it without cracking up. Seriously, you won't be able to resist. I showed it to my boss at the end of a very difficult day and I watched the weight lift off her shoulders in front of me. You will be a hit at story time. The kids will call for this one again and again (or at least I will!).
I Am Bat by Morag Hood ($17.99*, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.
Hooray! I can whole-heartedly recommend this mystery/thriller about a black Texas Ranger working a suspicious case in East Texas. The book takes on many big American problems, so it is both timely and wildly entertaining.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke ($26.00, Mulholland Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.
From Lemuria Books’ blog: "The strength of Ng’s work is her ability to compose a kind of literary music out of the most ordinary things in ordinary life, from Mrs. Richardson’s first encounter with Mia and Pearl to the opening paragraph with Richardson home set ablaze. These aren’t just mere occurrences but intricately woven commentaries on the romanticization of motherhood and the false permanence of the American Dream. Ng presents all this with balanced weight of lyricism, wit, and a dash of melancholy, making for a recipe that is just right. While the differing perspectives were sometimes overcrowded, this gem is a compelling examination of mothers’ relationships with their children, their relationships with other mothers, and their vast cultural and class experiences.” Read more...
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng ($27.00*, Penguin Press), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.
In Wiley Cash's new novel, The Last Ballad, it is 1929 and the labor movement is trying to organize in North Carolina. Somehow Ella May finds the courage and resolve to fight to make things better for her children and the people who share her life of poverty and powerlessness. Cash captures the sounds and draws the pictures so beautifully that these people and their stories become real. It is heartbreaking to read what will push men and women to risk their lives for a common good but it is inspiring and gives us hope.
The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash ($26.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
A Fall 2017 Okra Pick
It's difficult to put into just a few sentences everything that Her Body and Other Parties is. Rhythmic and hypnotic, yet unexpected and treacherous. These fearless, smart, reality-warping, and creepy as hell stories will suck you in and not let go until you have to force yourself to come up for air. Highly recommend!
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado ($16.00*, Graywolf), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
Sometimes I pigeonhole myself by only reading about things that I can relate to, stories that are familiar, people that I "know." I put this book off for a long time because of this. Finally starting it, I quickly devoured it, my narrow focus totally blown open. Xiaolu Guo's memoir proves that she has mastered the intricacies of the language that was once foreign to her, saying a lot about who she is. A story about identity, Guo has always sought out the new, and now I feel inspired to do the same.
Nine Continents: A Memoir in and Out of China by Xiaolu Guo ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.