We’ve entered the final weeks of summer. In practical terms, that means that it could turn brisk at a moment’s notice — or that a heatwave might be upon us before long. All of which means that this month’s array of books take a similarly wide-ranging approach, encompassing everything from taut poetry to maximalist fiction. Here are some recommendations to get your fall reading started.
Layers of color streak by as the train rushes north. The gray of the Hudson River lies beneath the greens and browns of the pine trees, all under an orange and lemon sky, all moving in different directions. The water flows south, the trees hold steady, and the sun slips into the evening. Syracuse is still a few hours away, plenty of time to relax, listen to music, and enjoy the ride. I’m going to visit my dad. This will be the first time I see his new room in the memory care unit.
MARZI MARGO is a person who writes and resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Ver recent books include EMOJI REVIVAL (Be About It Press) and PINK MAGGIT AMERICA (Ghost City Press). Ver music can be heard at letsfightoh.bandcamp.com. Ve tweets @wigglytuff_pink.
I came to Ari M. Brostoff’s essay collection Missing Time in a circuitous manner — but given the subtly all-encompassing manner in which Brostoff writes about various subjects, that seems fitting. I’m a regular listener of the podcast Know Your Enemy, and Brostoff was the guest a few months ago for an episode that included discussion of some conservative thinkers who’d come of age on the Left — and in which Brostoff showcased their knowledge of Vivian Gornick’s work. I was impressed with Brostoff’s breadth of knowledge and ordered Missing Time later that night.
Damian Gutierrez Barnes’ Melton and the Hereafter is a novel that explores the afterlife through the eyes of a man who never fully reckoned with his trauma as a victim of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. As we move deeper into contemporary discourse acknowledging the ubiquity of masculine fragility, and the blind rage that stifles spirituality with abuse of power, a novel like this one serves as a frank examination of the conditions that keep patriarchal norms in place. Melton and the Hereafter is a hopeful tale about reconciliation where it matters most; at the heart of universal consciousness.
THOMAS KENDALL is the author of The Autodidacts (Whiskey Tit Press, 2022), which Dennis Cooper called “a brilliant novel—inviting like a secret passage, infallible in its somehow orderly but whirligig construction, spine-tingling to unpack, and as haunted as any fiction in recent memory.” His work has appeared in the anthologies Abyss (Orchards Lantern) and Userlands (Akashic Books), and online at Entropy.
Here’s a story about reading Paul Tremblay. Some years ago, I was set to fly home from Edinburgh when my flight was canceled and rescheduled for the next day. By the time lodging had been sorted out, I probably could have ventured back into Edinburgh for one last dinner, one last pin of beer. But at that point, I was fully immersed in Tremblay’s novel The Cabin at the End of the World, and there was no separating me from my hotel room. Tremblay’s very good at that — that slow build of quotidian details that seems innocuous until it turns out to have you wholly entangled.
I first met Coco Picard over Zoom in the summer of 2020 as we outlined her novel, The Healing Circle, via LucidChart: typing plot summaries of each vignette into a shared screen, color-coding the squares full of text, wrestling the book’s nonlinear structure onto a timeline. We were in the same small group at BookEnds, a year-long novel revision program at Stony Brook University, and yes, outlining someone’s novel as your introduction to each other is just as vulnerable and nerve-wracking and intimate as it sounds. I’ve loved Coco’s work ever since.