We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Soviet Stamps, the new book from artist, writer, and Vol.1 Brooklyn contributor Dmitry Samarov. Samarov describes it as follows: “Through written vignettes, artwork, and family photos the book charts Samarov’s emigration from the USSR in 1978, on to his attempts to fit into American society and peripatetic attempts to earn a living, while continuing to create artwork.” It’s available and can be purchased in New York at Quimby’s Bookstore NYC.
First things first: Rion Amilcar Scott’s collection The World Doesn’t Require You is one of 2019’s very best books. It contains an array of stories that run the gamut from academic satire to subtle reckonings with history and folklore. Want boldly conceptual speculative narratives? You’ll find those in there, too. And the thing is, it all comes together brilliantly. Needless to say, I had a couple of questions for him on how this book came together; and lo, he answered them.
What happens when architecture, folklore, and horror converge? You get something like Lucas Harari’s graphic novel Sleeping in Darkness, about a young man whose visit to a remote complex built around thermal baths sends him on an uncanny journey abounding with obsession, secrets, and the presence of the uncanny. Harari’s characters are memorable, his pacing is fantastic, and his use of color is subtle and precise, making this book particularly haunting. I interviewed Harari about the graphic novel’s creation and the techniques used to create it.
M.S. Coe’s novel New Veronia begins with a trio of teenage boys living in suburban Delaware and pondering a very specific goal: how to build their own private space in the woods, and how best to use that for parties and having as much sex as possible. In the hands of a very different writer, this could be a means for wacky misadventures or a heartwarming coming-of-age tale. New Veronia is neither of these things. Strange power dynamics within the trio begin to manifest themselves (these are teenagers, after all), and thing take an even darker turn when one of them begins to embrace a racist ideology. I talked with Coe about creating this novel and why Delaware should show up in more works of fiction.
You learn something new every day. In the case of today, it’s that multiple H.P. Lovecraft-themed parodies of Chick tracts exist. That probably shouldn’t have surprised me, though: when you’re dealing with cosmic horror, one of the expected elements is a sense that human religion is beside the point, that prayers and supplications will do no good in the face of some sort of limitless eldritch evil. Alternately: that theology and cosmic horror don’t mix.
Today, we’re pleased to publish an excerpt from Mary Ann Cain’s new book South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs. Its publisher, Northwestern University Press, gives readers a sense of what to expect: “The extraordinarily productive life of curator, artist, and activist Margaret Burroughs was largely rooted in her work to establish and sustain two significant institutions in Chicago: the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC), founded in 1940, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, founded in her living room in 1961.” Cain’s book is the first full-length biography of Burroughs, and draws on extensive research as well as the author’s conversations with Burroughs herself.
Earlier this fall, the self-titled LP from Seattle’s somesurprises hit record stores and digital services around the country. somesurprises began as the solo project of Natasha El-Sergany and has gradually begun involving other musicians; the result is a group that creates textured, haunting music that clicks on multiple levels. Following a fall tour, I talked with El-Sergany about the creation of the band’s new album, their time on the road, and more.
Snow’s on the ground, the winds are chilly, and the holiday season looms. December can be an unexpected month for new books. But there are a host of gems due out in the coming weeks, including a number of great works in translation, some boldly inscribed poetry, and new and unpredictable novels from some of our favorite writers. Here are some December books that caught our eye.