Recommendations from the staff at Seven Stories Press
This month, each of the links below will direct to our friends at the recently-launched Bookshop.org, a new book purchasing platform that aims to take on the bookselling monopoly that is Am*zon dot com. Not only does Bookshop offer customers a small discount off the list price, they also pool a percentage of all earnings into a fund that is dispersed to a number of independent bookstores, all of which can use the money much more than a billionaire with a 1.2% tax rate who just bought the most expensive house ever purchased in California. Gah, he really is the worst. Three cheers for taking down the monster!
Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman (Two Lines Press)
In Baboon, a collection of fifteen stories originally published in Danish in 2006 and then in English in 2014, Naja Marie Aidt untangles her characters' seemingly-unremarkable relationships to reveal dark, unsettling cores, vaguely reminding me of the stories of Guadalupe Nettel mixed with a bit of the mania found in some of Ferrante's better books. I'm only about halfway through the collection, but I highly recommend it for anyone who likes weird-ish short stories that do a fantastic job satirizing the difficulties of interpersonal relationships, particularly if men are involved.
Arctic Poems by Vicente Huidobro, translated by Tony Frazer (Shearsman Books)
Each of the forty-three poems in this collection conjures an otherworldly reality, a glimpse at life after death. At the limits of language, Huidobro renders what it means to be. In poetry as in life, certainty exists briefly and evanesces.
Porn Carnival by Rachel Rabbit White (Wonder)
I haven't been able to finish a novel in a little over a month, so I've been reading a lot of poetry instead. This collection about sex and capitalism, instantly made it to onto my "favorites" bookshelf.
"If there's anything more hedonistic / than a poem / I've yet to feel it"
Ares, created by Pieter Kuijpers, Iris Otten, Sander van Meurs (Netflix)
This month I recommend Ares, which is a newish Dutch show on Netflix about a sinister secret society and the college student who infiltrates it. Is it a good show? I don't know! But apparently I am a sucker for International Occult Thrillers (at least according to the Netflix algorithm), and I plowed through the first season in a couple of days, which is the first time I have finished a season of something since...Fleabag? Don't judge me.
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino (Random House)
I have been working my way through Jia Tolentino’s essay collection, Trick Mirror, for the past few days, and I can’t put it down. The book points a critical eye at the cultural spectacle known as the 21st century—particularly 2016 onwards—and examines the ways in which our culture is deluding us. The past few years have been difficult to navigate, to say the least, yet Tolentino manages to discuss them with razor sharp clarity. I can only imagine what people decades from now will be writing about the 2010s...
Stoner by John Williams (New York Review Books)
Stoner tersely recounts the life of William Stoner, a dedicated but otherwise unmemorable English professor. Through whatever turmoil Stoner faces, he finds a solace in reading that he cannot describe. It's a solace that I cannot describe either, but one that is instantly familiar to anyone who loses track of time—who loses track of everything—while reading a good book.