what's on my bookshelf / October 2017

I Hear She's A Real Bitch, Jen Agg

This memoir by Canadian restauranteur Jen Agg chronicles the lengths she had to go to in order to be taken seriously in the patriarchal service industry. Brash, funny, and deeply feminist. 

Made Flesh, Craig Arnold

I've had a poem by Craig Arnold, "Bird-Understander," taped to my bedroom door for...five years? His poems are wonderfully tactile and earthy.

Await Your Reply, Dan Chaon

I read Dan Chaon's Ill Will this summer at the beach and it was outstanding. Scary, and surprising, and deeply weird. This novel also deals with complex family bonds and the anxiety of memory, and it opens with an epigraph from an Anna Akhmatova poem! 

Playing with Dynamite, Sharon Harrigan

Sharon Harrigan is reading at the bookstore I work at in October, and her memoir about her relationship with her father is wonderful. She's not afraid of digging into hard and frightening memories, or of questioning the art of memoir itself. 

Rome, Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky's poems are always a good romp. I'm saving this book for a gray day when I can lay in the bath and read it with a mug of coffee in my hand.

The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy

I know this book is going to make me cry, but everyone has been telling me to read it for months. Ariel Levy turns her tragedies to the page as she documents her life and resilience.  

Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado

This collection of short stories published Graywolf Press has been shortlisted for the National Book Award, which is pretty cool. It's a terrifying, sultry, queer book full of haunting characters. 

Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: John Merriman

This history book is subtitled "The Crime Spree that Gripped Belle Époque Paris," and despite the sensational title it's mostly about the life of revolutionary Victor Serge and his relationship to the different anarchist factions throughout Europe during the Belle Époque. While I can't say this book is written in a particularly engaging style, I love learning about this time period and the way political movements shift and fragment. 

The Afterlives, Thomas Pierce

We got this Advance Reader's Copy at the bookstore I work at, and Thomas Pierce is planning to read at the store in January. This novel is a love story/ghost story that questions the soul and the purpose of life.