And here we go, deeper into fall. Daylight Savings Time looms this weekend, making for shorter days and longer nights; colder temperatures beckon. Does that make it the right time of the year to curl up with a book? Well, sure–but is there ever not a good time of year for that? Among the books we’re most excited about this month are bold riffs on detective fiction, genre-defying narratives, and works of fiction and nonfiction that put politics and culture into sharp relief. Here are some November books (plus a pair from the final days of October) that have caught our eye.
The Governesses by Anne Serre teases its readers with elements of allegory and fairy story. Three young women stroll through the gates of an enormous manor house which is the kingdom of Monsieur and Madame Austier, and home to a cluster of little maids and boys. Eléonore, Laura and Inès are the titular governesses and extraordinarily lacking in those roles. It is immediately clear to even the densest of readers that no one would hire this trio to watch over guinea pigs, let alone children. As the narrator tells us – “You would even wager there was something fishy going on.”
White Dancing Elephants, the debut collection from Chaya Bhuvaneswar, is a powerful literary statement in its stylistic range, its willingness to engage with powerful themes, and its geographic and temporal shifts. Whether she’s writing about characters grappling with their own mortality and that of the people closest to them or veering into more fantastical realms, Bhuvaneswar roots her work in recognizable (and often wrenching) emotion, making for powerful and compelling fiction. I talked with her about the collection’s themes, her upcoming work, and more.
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
Plenty of horror stories have something monstrous at their center. For some, the monster comes from somewhere else: another world, an isolated space, somewhere mysterious. With others, the monstrous emerges from within: think about nearly every vampire or werewolf story, and how the familiar is slowly corrupted into the terrifying. There are certainly works that bridge the gap between the two: Sarah Langan’s The Keeper, in which a troubled young woman becomes the haunted vessel for a town’s unease and corruption, is a prime example. The four works collected in Mame Bougouma Diene’s Dark Moons Rising on a Starless Night venture into a similar space. Here, the creatures that bedevil communities are not far removed from the needs of the community themselves, leading to an unsettling duality.
Jeff Jackson‘s latest book, the novel Destroy All Monsters, follows through on the promise of his earlier books Mira Corpora and Novi Sad. It’s a haunting book about an epidemic of killings at rock concerts–one that feels at once horrifyingly contemporary and unsettlingly timeless. Through a birfurcated structure, Jackson offers up two distinct visions of this setting, each of which overlaps with the other in unexpected ways. Robert Lopez chatted with Jackson about his new book, its structure, and playwriting’s lessons for fiction.
We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Josh Boardman’s new chapbook Plantain, available now from West Vine Press. Boardman’s book takes 25 distinct views of that most delicious of fruits, the plantain. Here are three short excerpts from the book.
Gave In Rest, the new album from Sarah Davachi, is both a powerful continuation of her expl0ration of beatific ambient and drone work and a fascinating study in applying influences from centuries-old compositional techniques. The result is an eerily timeless work, haunting and unpredictable, that sounds like little else out there. I chatted with Davachi about the album’s origins, her recent move to Los Angeles, and more.