"A new mother who fears she's going through a frightening and exhilarating transformation leans into the feral side of motherhood" in Rachel Yoder's bloody, unsettling novel, Nightbitch. [more inside]
Jessamine Chan's debut novel, The School for Good Mothers, is the deeply unsettling story of how Frida Liu's bad parenting day turns into a court-mandated year in an experimental rehabilitation program for bad mothers. But this program is...different. Total surveillance. Public self-criticism. And dolls, sentient AI beings, to detect a mother's "stress, fear, ingratitude, deception, boredom, ambivalence...how often she makes eye contact, the quality and authenticity of her emotions." Say it with me: I am a bad mother, but I am learning to be good. Again, please. AGAIN. [more inside]
A true-crime writer begins a new book project, centered on a grisly 1986 double murder in southern California, that leads him to question the ethics of his trade and to delve into the paradoxes of storytelling itself. [more inside]
Razorblade Tears is set in rural southwest Virginia, the same as Cosby's previous book, the universally acclaimed Blacktop Wasteland. The story mines some of the same territory too, as our protagonist is a black ex-con who has turned his life around and is now a responsible family man, although he is estranged from his gay son who is happily married with a small child in Richmond. [more inside]
"Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he's going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan. A new relationship couldn't have come at a better time - her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold."--Goodreads [more inside]
We Hereby Refuse captures not only the wave of uncertainty that swept through the Japanese American incarceration camps during the second World War under Executive Order 9066, but also the remarkable surge of defiance that proliferated in response. [more inside]
Patricia Lockwood's No One Is Talking About This is a compact, poetic, and partially autobiographical novel about the meeting point between Very Online Life and the brief and intense experience of her newborn niece living with, and dying of, Proteus Syndrome. There's the before, and then the life-altering texts--"Something has gone wrong" and "How soon can you get here?"--and the after, six months and a day of focus on one tiny life before its bell is stilled. [more inside]
In Torrey Peters's 2021 novel, the lives of three people—transgender and cisgender—collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires. Longlisted for The Women’s Prize, a Roxane Gay’s Audacious Book Club Pick, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. [more inside]
"Fforde (Early Riser) invokes John le Carré, George Orwell, and Beatrix Potter in this tongue-in-cheek political satire of systemic injustice, bureaucratic corruption, and human foibles. Peter Knox, one of the rare humans who can differentiate between individual humanoid rabbits created in the Spontaneous Anthropomorphising Event of 1965, works as a spotter in the English village of Much Hemlock. In this role, Peter secretly identifies rabbits for the United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party’s Rabbit Compliance Taskforce. But when Peter’s university crush, Connie, a rabbit herself, moves in next door right when the Taskforce is cooking up a plan to rehome the rabbits in a work camp, Peter falls into a tangled web of seduction, espionage, and betrayal as he’s torn between his career and a chance to do the right thing. Amid a rapid-fire barrage of literary allusions, Fforde displays his signature quick wit on a furious tour through modern British right-wing politics. Playful, biting, and timely, this is a must-read."--Publishers Weekly
"Addie LaRue was born in France at the very end of the 17th century — but no one remembers that. No one, that is, except for Addie herself and the devil she makes a deal with to escape an unwanted marriage and an ordinary life." (NPR Review) [more inside]
Anyone else in the mood for a tightly-written disaster novel that's more interested in people's responses to an emergency than in the emergency itself? Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind is a dread-packed piece about two families forced to hunker down together during an uncertain, unsettling period of world-altering events. It was a finalist in the National Book Awards 2020 for Fiction, and is Alam's third novel. [more inside]
Kirkus on Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: "Inquisitive 22-year-old socialite and anthropology enthusiast Noemí Taboada adores beautiful clothes and nights on the town in Mexico City with a bevy of handsome suitors, but her carefree existence is cut short when her father shows her a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, who recently married fair-haired and blue-eyed Virgil Doyle, who comes from a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers." [more inside]
n the quiet suburbs, while Dorothy is doing chores and waiting for her husband to come home from work, not in the least anticipating romance, she hears a strange radio announcement about a monster who has just escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research… [more inside]
A fictional future history of solving climate change over the next thirty years, from classic science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. Recently the subject of discussion on the blue: Imagining the End of Capitalism. [more inside]
Would anyone be interested in a reread of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea cycle? [more inside]
"There are a few things that are widely known about the work of HP Lovecraft – his viscous, tentacular monsters; his fondness for words such as “eldritch” and “gibbous”; and his racism. Matt Ruff’s new book is therefore a kind of exorcism. It pits a predominantly black cast of characters against “America’s demons”, though the Shoggoth in the woods is not nearly as dangerous as the systemic and ubiquitous racism they encounter. Is it scarier if the sheet-clad thing holding a burning torch is a genuine ghost, or just your average member of the Ku Klux Klan?" (From Stuart Kelly's review for The Guardian.)
First contact happens in the year 2007. Cora Sabino, a college dropout and daughter of a famous whistleblower, unwillingly ends up in the center of it all, acting as an interpreter for the aliens.
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet. Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
A firsthand account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it -- and like none you've ever read before.[more inside]
Ducks, Newburyport is a 2019 novel by British author Lucy Ellmann which won the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize. The bulk of the book is a very long, digressive, free-associative stream-of-consciousness in the mind of a forty-something mother-of-four in small-town post-Trump, pre-pandemic Ohio. [more inside]
Dan Brown meets Coronavirus. There's a submarine, Mecca and nuclear tick-tock, lots of hazmat and goofily stereotypical characters, but the pacing is fine, there's some real drama, plus some probably-solid science, and of course the whole thing is oh-so-topical: eerily prescient, even. [more inside]
From Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, a boldly conjured debut novel about a magical gift, a devastating loss, and an underground war for freedom.
Leaving a dilapidated Earth behind, Quakers across the globe pool funds and resources as they select colonists to send to a newly discovered planet to start life anew in this “miraculous fusion of…science fiction with unsparing realism and keen psychology” (Ursula K. Le Guin).
A place to compare any of the novels, novellas, graphic novels, short and long form presentations, or whatever else for the Hugos. [more inside]
Handsome, ambitious Julien Sorel is determined to rise above his humble provincial origins. Soon realizing that success can only be achieved by adopting the subtle code of hypocrisy by which society operates, he begins to achieve advancement through deceit and self-interest. His triumphant career takes him into the heart of glamorous Parisian society, along the way conquering the gentle, married Madame de Rênal, and the haughty Mathilde. But then Julien commits an unexpected, devastating crime - and brings about his own downfall. [more inside]
One of the most important works of gay literature, this haunting, brilliant novel is a seriocomic remembrance of things past -- and still poignantly present. It depicts the adventures of Malone, a beautiful young man searching for love amid New York's emerging gay scene. From Manhattan's Everard Baths and after-hours discos to Fire Island's deserted parks and lavish orgies, Malone looks high and low for meaningful companionship. The person he finds is Sutherland, a campy quintessential queen -- and one of the most memorable literary creations of contemporary fiction. Hilarious, witty, and ultimately heartbreaking, Dancer from the Dance is truthful, provocative, outrageous fiction told in a voice as close to laughter as to tears.
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
"A mesmerizing, indelible coming-of-age story about a girl in Boston's tightly-knit Ethiopian community who falls under the spell of a charismatic hustler out to change the world."
Keisha's wife is dead. Or she's supposed to be. One day, Alice shows up in the background of a TV news story, staring directly at the camera. And then again. And again. Already riddled with anxiety, Keisha abandons her old life to become a truck driver, looking for the wife she no longer believes is dead and investigating the clues she left behind that may point to a larger, more sinister mystery. Based on the podcast of the same name by Joseph Fink (Welcome to Night Vale).
Someone is dead set to air the spy agency’s dirty laundry in The Delirium Brief, the next installment to Mefi's Own Charles Stross’ Hugo Award-winning comedic dark fantasy Laundry Files series! [more inside]
After a profoundly abusive childhood, Jude St. Francis struggles to thrive in a cosmopolitan world. [more inside]
The Last Policeman is a 2012 American soft science fiction mystery novel by Ben H. Winters. It follows a police detective in New Hampshire as he investigates a suicide he believes was really a murder. His efforts are complicated by the social, political and economic effects of preparations for, and anticipation of, an asteroid impact six months in the future. [more inside]
The bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as "a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly."--New York Times Book Review. It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men... [more inside]
A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war. This thread can include spoilers from the Phillip K. Dick novel that inspired the series.
The BBC One 7-part adaptation of Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs Sunday in the UK. The novel has a depth and breadth that may be tough to dramatize, and is part of a continuity that includes short stories by Clarke. Is there interest in having two sets of posts for this series, one for readers and one for non-readers? It would be similar with what's going on for Game of Thrones and Outlander, but for only a short while.