March 12, 2022
What can we celebrate this mid-March? Settling debts? St. Patrick’s Day? Daylight Savings Time? This group of books includes some eye-opening writing advice from one of our best chroniclers of the female experience; a powerful father-son story; a prize-winning Australian mother-daughter tale; a lovely Irish domestic saga; and a stellar literary anthology.
Buyer, The Center for Fiction Bookstore
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative
By MELISSA FEBOS
Published by CATAPULT
Febos (Girlhood) has a gift for sharing intimate encounters, revealing personal trauma, obsession and heartbreak. In this new book, she combines memoir and tales of her own mistakes and triumphs (physical, psychological, sexual) with advice on how best to (and how not to) write yourself into a story. She talks about achieving the intersection of technique, instinct and psychology in ways that will be particularly freeing for writers struggling with how to frame their own experiences. As candid, honest, inspiring and ultimately useful as Mary Karr’s books, Body Work contributes valuable lessons on the craft of writing and is an ideal read in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Don't Cry for Me
By DANIEL BLACK
Published by HANOVER SQUARE PRESS
A breakout novel for Black, this emotional reckoning between a dying father and his gay son is a triumph. A series of letters provides the father the opportunity to give his son some answers to long-buried questions and reveal family secrets that will help him make peace with their relationship. Do not skip over the Author’s Note—a beautiful piece of writing that will bring tears, illuminating the often-dicey connection between fathers and sons and their generational differences. This is Black’s attempt, through his imagination, to unite their hearts and minds, an experience he was not able to have with his own father..
Cold Enough for Snow
By JESSICA AU
Published by NEW DIRECTIONS
Family reckoning features in this novel as well—here between a mother and daughter who meet for a trip to Japan. Their conversations focus on banal, everyday things as they stroll around Tokyo taking in restaurants, art and gardens. The narrator, searching for commonalities between them, is hoping to have a bonding experience with her distant mother. The dreamy atmosphere is exacerbated by the question of our narrator’s reliability. But this prismatic novel does not ask the reader to unravel these questions. Au lives in Australia and her poetic, carefully wrought book won the inaugural Novel Prize, which New Directions created in collaboration with several other foreign publishers.
By BILLY O'CALLAGHAN
Published by GODINE
A graceful novel that comes out of the author’s own family stories, especially from his grandmother, Nelly. She is given voice in the third and most contemporary section in the novel. It’s set mostly in the same working-class Irish village in County Cork where O’Callaghan grew up, over three generations in a post-famine Ireland. Their stories, starting with a young girl’s escape from the island of Cape Clear to find work, and a life-altering relationship with a gardener reveal an Ireland rife with struggles of war and hunger, the Church and difficulties for women. This is an elegant, concise novel, so aptly titled..
By HANNAH TINTI
Published by ALGONQUIN
This anthology features thirty-five completely new stories from Symphony Space’s great Selected Shorts series that has been entertaining and enlightening us in person and on the radio for thirty-five years. The short fiction was edited by Hannah Tinti, co-founder of One Story magazine, and Neil Gaiman provides the foreword. The star-studded table of contents includes works by Edwidge Danticat, Michael Cunningham, Weike Wang, A. M. Homes, Victor LaValle, Carmen Maria Machado and Jai Chakrabhati. Their voices represent writing from many cultures, showcasing the ways in which the short form can distill lives by offering the reader a glimpse into different worlds.