Editor's Picks New Book Arrivals (320)
Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rae Armantrout is at once a most intimate and coolly calculating poet. Her language is unexpected yet exact, playing off the collective sense that the shifting ground of daily reality may be a warning of imminent systemic collapse. While there are glimmers here of what remains of “the natural world,” the poet confesses the human failings, personal and societal, that have led to its devastation. She leaves us wondering if the American Dream may be a nightmare from which we can’t awaken. Sometimes funny, sometimes alarming, the poems in Wobble play peek-a-boo with doom.
The interrelated short prose pieces in Ben Berman’s Then Again explore a life outside of chronological order, bounce back and forth between foreign adventures and domestic routines. One moment we’re in a Mommy and Me yoga class, the next we’re gutting a goat in rural Zimbabwe. As much a meditation on language as a coming to terms with middle age, these stories navigate the distance between words and worlds. And yet whether getting chased by wild dogs through the alleyways of Kathmandu or desperately trying to stop his three-year-old from drawing all over the walls, Berman contemplates life’s ambiguities with both wisdom and wonder.
The residents of The Sound of Holding Your Breath could be neighbors, sharing the same familiar landscapes of twenty-first-century Appalachia. They could be your neighbors. Yet tragedy and violence challenge these unassuming lives: A teenage boy is drawn to his sister’s husband, an EMT searching the lake for a body. A pregnant widow spends Thanksgiving with her deceased husband’s family. Siblings grapple with the death of their sister-in-law at the hands of their brother. Accidents and deaths, cons and cover-ups, abuse and returning veterans—Natalie Sypolt’s characters wrestle with who they are during the most trying situations of their lives.
Rewilding, a relatively new ecological term, means to return an area of land to its original state. Reveling in letting go of the damaged and broken parts of ourselves while celebrating renewal and new beginnings, O’Neil’s poetry examines the external worlds of race and culture and the internal, personal worlds of family and desire. Ultimately, these poems tap into what is wild and good in all of us.
Anchored in the community of first-, second-, and third-generation Welsh Americans in Utica, New York, during the 1960s, the stories in David Lloyd’s The Moving of the Water delve into universal concerns: identity, home, religion, language, culture, belonging, personal and national histories, mortality. Unflinching in their portrayal of the traumas and conflicts of fictional Welsh Americans, these stories also embrace multiple communities and diverse experiences in linked, innovative narratives. The complexly damaged characters of these surprising and affecting stories seek transformation and revelation, healing and regeneration: a sometimes traumatic “moving of the water.”
“’A woman’s smile / can be a muzzle.’ With shocking dexterity, Anne Champion invokes the voices of her foremothers. Like Florence Nightingale, we must become ‘everything.’ Like Sylvia Plath, we should aspire to be 'the most terrible thing' until the good girl/bad girl binary collapses, until we are whole. Champion’s poems urge us to wake up, to check our pulses, that the ‘good girl’ has already died—and this is the book that buries her.” —Brandi George, author of Gog
Stories for People Who Watch TV wallows in the familiar settings and quotidian delights left out of all your favorite television shows. Each story broadcasts the lives of liars, cheaters, problem drinkers, and other characters you kind of/sort of recognize. Whether with family, at work, or chatting with neighbors these characters continually fail to identify social norms or strike any kind of near appropriate tone. Can a bad situation be resolved by making bad decisions? These characters are determined to find out. On the surface these stories are funny, but if thought about for more than a lingering moment, they are clearly sad and upsetting. Turn its pages and bask in its warming glow.
They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as hybridized forms that push the boundaries of concepts like “genre” and “author.” Contributors include: Kelli Russell Agodon, Maureen Alsop, Kimberly Quiogue Andrews, Nin Andrews, Jennifer Atkinson, Mary Biddinger, CL Bledsoe, Mel Bosworth, John F. Buckley, Kai Carlson-Wee, Ben Clark, Michael Collins, Juliet Cook, Kristina Marie Darling, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, Natalie Diaz, Tyler Flynn Dorholt, Jacqueline Doyle, Denise Duhamel, Ross Gay, Jennifer Givhan, Peter Grandbois, Carol Guess, Rebecca Hazelton, Dana Levin, Ada Limon, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Martin Ott, Maureen Seaton, Faizan Syed, Jill Talbot, William Wadsworth, G C Waldrep, and more.
Organized around the Catholic canonical prayer hours, beginning in the evening and moving into morning (vespers, compline, vigils, lauds), and set in an ethereal South Texas landscape, the poems in John Fry’s debut collection, With the Dogstar as My Witness, wrestle with theological and deeply personal concerns in language that is wrenched almost to breaking, but which holds after all and forms a tapestry of (sometimes tortured) prayer.
These poems balance between the harrowing and the beautiful, hovering at the precipice where women are both horseback riding heroines and battered mothers striving to protect their homes, their children, their identities. These poems are knives thrown with precision, fairytales rendered real through the grit and dirt of the natural world surrounding their imperfect speakers. Transformations abound in this collection, though not by any conventional fairytale means, as Shaindel Beers with her knife-sharp wit and even sharper intuition unveils the nuance within the nuance of any situation. These poems don’t just seek escape—they create their own worlds within the escape hatches and (re)build from there.
Peter Grandbois’s essay collection, Kissing the Lobster, uses the ancient samurai code of Bushido (Justice, Courage, Mercy, Courtesy, Honesty, Honor, Loyalty, and Character), then throws in a few of his own, as a lens through which to interrogate authenticity in a culture obsessed with surface and youth. The book is an ode to failure, a rallying cry for the inevitability of pain and the acceptance of loss. It is a reminder that in hiding from pain, in shying away from failure, we forget what is most essential in ourselves.
What forges the unique human personality? In Island in the City, Micah McCrary, taking his genetic inheritance as immutable, considers the role geography has played in shaping who he is. Place often leaves indelible marks which we carry with us. Each place has the power to form or revise our personhood. McCrary considers three places he has called home (Normal, Illinois; Chicago; and Prague) and reflects on how these surroundings have shaped him. His sharp-eyed, charming memoir-in-essays contemplates how aspects of his identity, such as being black, male, middle-class, queer, and American, have developed and been influenced by where he hangs his hat.
Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction features twenty-three of Michigan’s most well-known essayists. A celebration of the elements, this collection approaches Michigan at the atomic level. This is a place where weather patterns and ecology matter. Farmers, miners, shippers, and loggers have built (or lost) their livelihood on Michigan’s nature—what could and could not be made of our elements. From freshwater lakes that have shaped the ground beneath us to the industrial ebb and flow of iron ore and wind power—ours is a state of survival and transformation. Elemental’s strength lies in its ability to learn from the past in the hope of defining a wiser future.
Adam Greenfield’s Circa is a dark comedy featuring Henry Colmes, a high school sophomore trying to find his place in school and life. In alternating chapters, it is also the story of Henry as a thirty-something cub reporter trying to track down an elusive cult leader to interview him for the man’s own obituary. Circa offers an examination of our collective desperation for meaningful context in which to place and rationalize the actions we take. At once heartfelt, tragic, and surreal, Circa looks at the pivotal moments in a person’s life that lead them to make the decisions they can never take back and, ultimately, never forget.