November 7, 2020
Sometimes we just need something concise and brief and diminutive, of modest size (but not necessarily scope). Perhaps a little something for the shortened attention span and the shortened hours of daylight? The following selection of stories and essays should suffice nicely. These writers are all superior talents and are able to provide just what’s required—intellectual stimulation, emotional power, and sheer entertainment—all in small doses.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
The Best of Me
By David Sedaris
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Hooray! The new collection of Sedaris’s greatest hits draws from 25 years of publishing for this carefully curated selection. Lots of familiar fun for long-time fans and the newly initiated (living abroad, his droll relationship with partner Hugh, his beloved family) and all the trouble he gets himself into with his insatiable curiosity, from riotous to irreverent (his trip to Anne Frank’s house and drowning a mouse in a bucket). You should also hear him read his own work if you haven’t, because you’ll never recover. . . . His dry wit abounds.
To Be a Man
By Nicole Krauss
Published by Harper
Krauss’s masterful collection delves into the question of what it really means to be a man. We follow her characters through relationships, breakups, children, good and bad marriages. She covers an incredibly varied geographical territory, from New York to Israel to Switzerland and more. It’s hard to pick a favorite here among the pieces published over two decades in magazines and journals, but in any case they somehow all fit together as a piece, a glimpse into the growth of such a fiercely talented mind, pondering the big questions of how to be. I loved reading it all in one go to feel the full strength of her art..
The Office of Historical Corrections
By Danielle Evans
Published by Riverhead
You may be familiar with Evans’s remarkable, prize-winning first collection of stories, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Now we have a handful of terrific stories that confront race and culture head-on. My personal favorite is the novella that gives the collection its title, about a Black woman who works for the Institute for Public History at the Office of Historical Corrections in D.C., trying to right wrongs small and large, to be a “correction for the contemporary crisis of truth.” The relationship between the narrator and her childhood friend tells a larger story than the penetrating, at times satirical, novella appears to be on the surface. It’s terrifically powerful.
By David Bromwich
Published by New York Review of Books
Just when you think you cannot bear more politics, here is an inspiring collection that you’ll be glad you picked up. Selected and introduced by David Bromwich, the anthology has been called “a caravan of profound reflections” by Cornel West. Twenty-seven essays by some of the greatest thinkers of the ages provide a blueprint for moral behavior. The works of such giants as Jonathan Swift, W.E.B. Du Bois, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Martin Luther King, and Hannah Arendt remind us of the brilliant minds that have shaped our thinking from the 17th century to now..
By Lindy West
Published by Hachette
In a past life Lindy West was a film critic for an alternative Seattle newspaper. Gathered here are hilarious reviews of movies—those we’ve watched and re-watched, those we’ve hate-watched, ones we need to revisit, and ones we’ve known not to watch at all. With her characteristic dry-witted glee, West regales the reader with her trenchant takes on classic romcoms and iconic mega hits. She is often acidic and always spot-on. Cinephiles will relish her take on Love, Actually (natch), Reality Bites, The Notebook, Speed, and Twilight, to name a few. A perfect addition to her previous writing including Shrill, immortalized by Aidy Bryant’s performance in the Hulu TV series.
Stories from Suffragette City
By M. J. Rose & Fiona Davis
Published by Henry Holt
This is a great idea—to commission a handful of best-selling authors to write about an important day in history: the women’s protest in October 1915, a march up Fifth Avenue that recalls the women’s march many of you may have participated in around the country four years ago. A dozen stories featuring both well-known figures (Ida B. Wells) and unknown voices (an apple seller) from a chorus of writers that includes Christina Baker Kline, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Paula McLain, and Chris Bohjalian, all seasoned artists of historical fiction, in honor of the 100th year that women have been able to vote for the U.S. president..