Welcome to the heart of autumn. This November, if you’re looking for a new book to read you’ll be able to choose from a stylistically vast array of literary works. Hoping for an engaging psychological thriller or a great writer’s unorthodox exploration of a great musician? This month, both have gotten our attention — along with incisive literary commentary, a novel told entirely in verse, and a high-profile zine anthology.
I don’t remember exactly when, but sometime in the mid-aughts, I fell in love with The Sea and Cake. And, as the summer of 2022 now officially drifts into fall and I ritualistically put The Biz on my turntable, I am reminded of a peculiar story that refuses to leave my subconscious. This description gets loosely thrown around all the time, but I truly believe that TSAC is a band that you either love obsessively, or listen to only very, very casually. I would argue that there is no in-between, as detractors are quick to dismiss their jazz pop, bossa nova (occasionally drifting into ambient) trappings as mere pleasant, background muzak. The one caveat to this rule is that their music is, admittedly, one that tends to lend itself to seasonal autumn and springtime listening. And even though I think Oui, The Biz and One Bedroom are all terrific records front to back, they are a rare exception in one regard. I would probably recommend a newcomer instead try a curated compilation of their best material.
GARRETT COOK is the Wonderland Award-winning author of Archelon Ranch (Legumeman Books, 2009), A God of Hungry Walls (Deadite Press, 2015) and the upcoming Charcoal (CLASH Books, 2022). His experiences with queerness, dysmorphia and CPTSD inform weird and grotesque fiction full of cognitive dissonance and mindfuckery of all sorts.
If you’ve ever wanted to listen to a deep dive into literary history, it’s currently a great time to do precisely that. The new podcast Missing Pages joins a few other notable audio productions — including Penknife and Once Upon a Time…At Bennington College — offering immersive trips into tangled narratives of literature and publishing. I spoke with host Bethanne Patrick about the making of Missing Pages and how the team behind it decided what narratives they’d focus on for the show’s inaugural season.
NICOLA MAYE GOLDBERG is the author of the novels Other Women (Sad Spell Press, 2016) and Nothing Can Hurt You (Bloomsbury, 2020). Her poetry has appeared in New York Tyrant, Spectra Poets, Forever Magazine, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has appeared in The Drunken Canal, Joyland, Vogue, Expat Press, and Winter Tangerine. She lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.
DAVID SIMMONS is the author of Ghosts of East Baltimore (Broken River, 2022). He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife and daughter.
The first thing that I noticed about P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn is the way it opens. There’s an immediate hook to the narrative, as Clark opens in an archetypal way for the mystery its pages are contained. We’re introduced to a secret society and the mysterious outsider who arrives in their midst — and then goes about murdering them all. Thus the mystery that protagonist Fatma el-Sha’arawi must solve.
We’re going to go with “esoteric” as our lead description of October’s literary offerings. From transformative poetry to literary history to innovative fiction, we have a number of bases covered here. The weather might be taking a turn for the autumnal, but these ten books are worthy reading in all seasons.