The month of May has arrived. The temperature is rising, area plants are blossoming; all told, it’s moving from “read indoors by the fire” weather to “read outside in the park” weather. Which is serendipitous, as we have a couple of suggestions for your springtime reading to coincide with the start of the month. They range from insightful looks at music to boldly crafted fiction; there’s also a merman in there. Here’s a look at some of the books that caught our eye this month.
To Throw Away Unopened, Viv Albertine
(May 1, Faber & Faber)
Viv Albertine’s first memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, pulled off a feat few music-related memoirs do: it made for a gripping read even if you weren’t familiar with her storied musical past. Her second work of nonfiction ventures into different aspects of her past, as it explores questions of memory, feminism, and modern life.
The Lonely Witness, William Boyle
(May 1, Pegasus Crime)
We’ve long admired William Boyle’s taut, haunting tales of crime and the aftereffects of violence; with his new novel, The Lonely Witness, Boyle’s made the leap to a larger press but retains his focus on people living in the margins of modern cities. Here, he tells the story of a woman who witnesses a murder while she navigates complex figures from her past.
A Lucky Man, Jamel Brinkley
(May 1, Graywolf Press)
Jamel Brinkley’s eagerly-anticipated debut collection A Lucky Man abounds with characters grappling with complex questions of societal power, and navigating spaces both familiar and challenging. The fact that its admirers include Garth Greenwell and Kristen Radtke doesn’t hurt, either.
The Pisces, Melissa Broder
(May 1, Hogarth)
In the last few years, Melissa Broder has published several books of poetry, along with an acclaimed essay collection. The fact that her latest book is a novel suggests that Broder has ever possible permutation of the written word in her sights, which we’re wholeheartedly in favor of. Plus, this book’s got a merman.
The Other Night at Quinn’s: New Adventures in the Sonic Underground, Mike Faloon
(May 1, Gorsky Press)
We’ve been reading Mike Faloon’s writings about music for a while now, and were excited to publish one of his essays about jazz a couple of years ago. Not surprisingly, we’ve quite happy to see that his latest book is a collection of essays centered around a jazz club in Beacon, New York–and that the great Joe McPhee contributed the introduction.
The Garbage Times/White Ibis, Sam Pink
(May 1, Soft Skull Press)
Sam Pink’s fiction shifts effortlessly between the subtle and the surreal, chronicling everyday life and exploring its ability to be both frustratingly mundane and transcendental. This pair of novellas follow an unnamed narrator through life in Chicago and a move to Florida; Pink’s eye for odd details and singular moments is second to none.
Kicks: The Great American Story of Sneakers, Nicholas Smith
(May 1, Crown Publishing Group)
With the right amount of craft and skill, sneakers can be as evocative as any object hailed in design retrospectives and museum exhibitions–to say nothing of their cultural cachet. With Kicks, Nicholas Smith explores the history of how sneakers came to be, and how they gradually made their impact on American society.
Junk, Tommy Pico
(May 8, Tin House)
Tommy Pico’s latest collection of poetry, Junk, follows the acclaimed IRL and Nature Poem–works with blended irreverent observations with deeply felt notes on society and identity. In Junk, Pico explores the title concept in all senses of the word, finding the personal in the archetypal and turning the minutiae of a life into something grand.
The Aviator, Eugene Vodolazkin; translated by Lisa Hayden
(May 8, Oneworld Publications)
Eugene Vodolazkin’s novel The Aviator juxtaposes events from a century of Russian history into the story of a man who awakens, hospitalized, in 1999–but finds himself remembering events from the earliest days of the 20th century. There’s a mystery here as well, and a complex tale of memory and history to unfold.
The Kremlin Ball, Curzio Malaparte; translated by Jenny McPhee
(May 10, NYRB Classics)
Curzio Malaparte’s mid-century writings bring a unique (and sometimes frustrating) perspective to significant periods of European history. In The Kremlin Ball, he presents an outsider’s view of life among artists and writers at the time when Stalin ruled the Soviet Union; the result is a chilling book about art, nationalism, and the fissures that can erupt between the two.
So Lucky, Nicola Griffith
Whether she’s evoking life in the distant past of English history or taking readers to another planet in the future, Nicola Griffith writes fiction that abounds with a sense of place and a dramatically lived-in sensibility. Her novel So Lucky takes her into new territory, as she chronicles the life of a woman dealing with a series of upheavals in her life, chief among them a diagnosis of MS.
Sexographies, Gabriela Wiener; translated by Jennifer Adcock and Lucy Greaves
(May 15, Restless Books)
The works collected in Gabriela Wiener’s Sexographies span a vast array of tones and styles. Wiener covers a host of subjects here, from ayahuasca ceremonies to life in a remote prison; the result is a wide-ranging book that retains focus through its author’s distinct perspective.
Taty Went West, Nikhil Singh
(May 22, Rosarium Publishing)
Nikhil Singh’s creative work has a host of manifestations, including fiction, music, and film. Another side of that expansive view of art can be seen in the novel Taty Went West, which follows its title character as she makes her way through a surreal landscape after being kidnapped.