February 11, 2023
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, reminding us that there are many versions of love. This week we run the gamut from romantic love, fleeting love, passionate love, dangerous love, secret love, to tragic love. As bell hooks tells us, “The practice of love offers no place of safety.” Discover what these new books unveil about the exciting and unexpected places love can take us.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Ben Okri
Published by Other Press
Truly beautiful writing is the hallmark of Okri’s work and this sweeping story of impossible love is no exception. Even the titles of his novels (The Famished Road, the 1991 Booker Prize winner; Every Leaf a Hallelujah) demonstrate his poetic style. His newest novel explores life in modern Nigeria, introducing the artist Omovo and his doomed passion for Ifeyiwa, a married woman. Danger hangs over each page of the novel, set against the events of the Nigerian Civil War. Okri also has a new poetry collection (A Fire in My Head) that address many cataclysmic recent world events.
By Jen Beagin
Published by Scribner
Beagin’s take on an inappropriate relationship is pure gold. Her previous novel, Pretend I’m Dead was shortlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and this delicious romp will bring her an even broader audience. The title is the name our protagonist, Greta, gives to the client she’s not met, but whose therapy sessions she transcribes: “She spoke slowly, enunciating every word, at the exact speed Greta typed, so it felt as though they were preforming a piece of music together.” Greta, of course, falls in love with her from afar. Beagin’s writing is raucous, with a comic flair and dialogue primed for the adaptation to come from HBO. Look out..
Dyscalculia: A Love Story of Epic Miscalculation
By Camonghne Felix
Published by One World
The title is a psychological term referring to an inability to master mathematical calculations. Felix, the poet, essayist, and political activist relates the syndrome to coming to terms with a devastating heartbreak, stating that she wanted to avoid ‘confessionalism.’ Taking ownership of her part in it, she delves into the nature of her personal loss and mental traumas while acknowledging the writing of Black women and poets who have come before her. Thanks to Felix’s raw, unfiltered retelling of her story, this book will resonate with many who have undergone a breakup. Watch her on YouTube—you will be impressed.
Wanting: Women Writing About Desire
By Edited by Margot Kahn & Kelly McMasters
Published by Catapult
Writing about desire can be fraught—how to communicate passion and longing without letting the huge emotions overwhelm the prose? Gathered here are almost three dozen excellent examples of how to write about the subject. The authors, including Kristen Arnett, Torrey Peters, Lisa Taddeo, Melissa Febos, Jane Wong, Joanna Rakoff, Larissa Pham, and Keyanah B. Nurse, mine their deepest thoughts making this collection a chorus of brave, funny, honest, and diverse voices. Their essays cover house lust, sex in the suburbs, former loves, shoe love—all affected by time, money, divorce, and other big life events. You are sure to discover someone’s ‘wants’ that make you nod..
Couplets: A Love Story
By Maggie Millner
Published by FSG
Millner’s new poetry collection is an ingeniously structured memoir of her experience finding love, destroying love, coming out, breaking up. All the aspects of love, in all the glory and pain. It is primarily written in rhyming couplets and interspersed with second person vignettes about the man she is leaving for a surprising new relationship with a woman. “OK, so nothing lasts, the proof of life is in the aching. It was long and tortuous our breaking.” And fittingly, she begins the book with an epigraph from another proponent of the form, Edna St. Vincent Millay. Millner’s juxtaposition of the formal poetic form with the subject of desire has a thrilling effect.