RaveShelf AwarenessBoth haunting and hilarious, and crystallizes Joseph as a literary artist of the highest caliber ... [An] extemely eloquent narrator ... At Certain Points We Touch ruminates on themes of love, loss and queerness with such a mature sense of craft that one can almost hear the scratch of a calligrapher\'s stylus as they painstakingly etch this elegy to a dead lover ... Gracefully merging past and present, comedy and pathos, high and low art, Lauren John Joseph has produced a masterpiece. At Certain Points We Touch displays brilliance at every single touchpoint
RaveShelf AwarenessEverett conducts a highwire act in Dr. No, balancing opaque mathematical theory with disarmingly deadpan humor over a daunting crevasse of nothing ... Riddled with irresistible wordplay, as again and again characters express their fascination with and desire for nothing. Likewise, Everett\'s referential treatment of his characters borders on the uncanny ... The result is an entertaining caper of philosophical proportions. It is an adventure that can be appreciated on any of the numerous levels that Everett is working on, from the unassuming bumbling of a humble mathematician to the provocative consequences of unmitigated power, nothing is quite as enjoyable as Dr. No.
Brenda Lozano, trans. by Heather Cleary
RaveShelf AwarenessThe women\'s stories dovetail, with echoing experiences of sisterhood, motherhood, purpose and gendered violence. These elegant streams of consciousness ripple with tantalizing figurative language, eddying together as they flow into one refreshing river of a novel ... Translator Heather Cleary begins the book with a compelling note on terms she chose to keep in their original language ... it is heartbreak that this novel seeks to guide readers beyond, becoming itself a healing, meditative space to confront the cruelties of the world.
PositiveShelf AwarenessWildly unsettling ... The Slenderman case can seem impenetrably bizarre, but Hale nimbly documents the numerous contributing factors to the online legends, the crime and its judicial outcome ... Hale is originally from Wisconsin, providing her well-developed true-crime narrative with an insider\'s take on social and cultural norms that fostered the communication breakdown among authority figures ... Never one to accept villainous characterizations at face value, Hale...painstakingly peels back the sensationalized layers of Morgan\'s case. What she uncovers is a deeply American and profoundly Christian rigidity in thinking about crime and punishment ... Slenderman is careful not to minimize the seriousness of the crime in question: two girls nearly killed another. Instead, Hale builds a poignant rebuttal to one lawyer\'s repeated assertion that \'there is only one victim in this case.\' Hale\'s capacity for empathy may be disagreeable to some, but her steady narrative vision brings clarity to a thoroughly upsetting situation.
RaveShelf AwarenessOutstanding ... Marra\'s belief that hope and the human spirit can triumph over hatred and cynicism never falters. He has crafted a dazzling historical novel that sparkles with buoyant humor and resilient characters, in spite of the atrocities that entangle them ... Mercury Pictures Presents is a marvelously smart and delightfully absorbing novel from a writer who continues to one-up himself, and appears to take great joy in doing so.
RaveShelf AwarenessThe wildly entertaining Been There, Done That: A Rousing History of Sex is as much an act of reclamation and redemption as it is an eye-opening stroll through a rather colorful evolutionary history of sexual activity ... It would seem that Feltman has left no stone unturned when it comes to facets of gender, intercourse, masturbation, sexually transmitted infections, birth control, performance anxiety, pornography, kinks, etc ... After such a kaleidoscopic ride, Been There, Done That resolves without being especially titillating, nor didactic. It shines, instead, as an irreverent invitation to be enchanted by one\'s body, rather than ashamed; to be present in desire, rather than dislocated from it; to cast off the veil of insecurity and embrace one\'s whole self.
Fernanda Melchor, trans. by Sophie Hughes
RaveShelf AwarenessExhilerating ... Brilliant and blinding ... Gushes forth in vigorous and brooding narration ... What makes Melchor\'s fiction so enthralling is the fortified complexity of her sentences, again under the superb stewardship of translator Sophie Hughes. They are intricate and cyclical, exhibiting a deep understanding of gender violence. Melchor ruminates on moment after disturbing moment ... Short and potent, Paradais forcefully casts aside flippant cliches like \'boys will be boys\' with chilling consequence.
Elisa Shua Dusapin, tr. Aneesa Abbas Higgins
RaveShelf Awareness...this short, exquisite novel is not easily defined by a simple artist-muse relationship ... the brevity and pacing of its vignettes are also reminiscent of comics, Kerrand\'s books having \'no dialogue, very few words.\' Conversely, Dusapin\'s beguiling work resembles a vibrant graphic novel, sans pictures ... This irresistible and spare novel sketches with exquisite depth a season of searching for both a French Korean woman and a French visitor.
RaveShelf AwarenessA tightly wound yet nakedly inquisitive novel about a man seeking to understand how he came to understand his past in a way that has tended to motivate him his entire life ... Cooper bends boundaries of fiction and nonfiction throughout, but ultimately gives this work firm footing in realms of fiction ... Bizarre as it sounds, I Wished is a poignant and haunting elegy to a figure that has loomed large in Cooper\'s imagination since dying by suicide at age 30. The phantasmagorical qualities make every page a thrilling revelation, even for readers unfamiliar with the George Miles cycle of books. It is a beautiful, maddening riddle about love and what is set adrift in its wake.
RaveShelf Awareness...this arresting work of art has many more secrets to reveal ... With enormous generosity and knowing humor (\'don\'t f**king call it A Lebanese Lesbian in Lesbos, just don\'t\'), The Wrong End of the Telescope is an unequivocal masterpiece ... The brilliant Rabih Alameddine surveys the complexity of one doctor\'s identity in a wise and wisecracking novel about Syrian refugees arriving on Lesbos.
RaveShelf AwarenessHelen Oyeyemi\'s command of magical realism is practically mind altering in her unforgettable seventh novel ... sprawls into astonishing, and even frightful, territories of the interior, more so than new horizons abroad ... Oyeyemi may appear to direct this beguiling novel off the rails at times, but its manic twists never spin out. They instead serve to reorient the gravity of the situation ... A superbly fun Rorschach test of staggering creativity, Peaces asks how much attention one person can spare another in an increasingly chaotic world.
RaveShelf AwarenessLikewise, Farria writes with vibrant, breathtaking elegance, unabashed to imbue even bleak corners of the world with shades of humor and simmering sexuality. The trio deal with their divergent manhoods tenderly and thoughtfully. Meanwhile, Farria holds in graceful tension the violence of wars abroad and the invigorating energy of passionate endeavors, the brutality of battles at home and the solace of brotherly love ... Revolutions of All Colors radiates adoration and wonder for fighters and their resilience. Intimate second-person chapters address Simon directly, as he serves abroad, flees regrets and throws himself into mixed martial arts. With singular talent, Farria details the dreams and disappointments of a family he demonstrates deep fondness for, body and soul.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
RaveShelf Awareness... acts less as documentation and more as rumination ... Expanding on her dazzling stream-of-consciousness style, Sycamore has crafted a true marvel...Its segments cohere as fractals, crystalizing every observation into its sharpest, pithiest form. Every page teems with aphoristic gems ... The result is an invaluable meditation on holistic belonging.
RaveShelf AwarenessIf turning scraps of ancient papyrus into an enthralling true-crime escapade takes a miracle, consider Ariel Sabar a miracle worker ... [Sabar] transforms top-notch research skills into riveting suspense ... Sabar scales mountains of primary documents, wades through hours of interviews, uncovers intrigue in East Germany during the Cold War and falls through a startling looking-glass, to find a cuckold-fetish porn franchise with mystical notions about itself, all on his uncanny search for the truth about Jesus\'s alleged wife ... an extraordinary and mind-bending adventure into ancient traditions with modern consequences.
RaveShelf AwarenessSpanning most of the 19th century, Life of a Klansman is a nuanced case study of one cog within a machine of terrorism and oppression ... [an] engrossing biography ... In flexing his imagination, Ball creates a dynamic space for challenging reconciliation, breaking from the narrative periodically to reflect with empathy for family members acting in ways he abhors, yet never absolving them ... Never does the author lose sight of his complicit inheritance of privilege at the expense of black lives. Nor does he lose sight of the families fighting to be recognized as human ... Life of a Klansman removes the histrionic hoods and gazes purposefully into the frantic eyes of a homegrown terrorism.
Fernanda Melchor, Trans. by Sophie Hughes
RaveShelf Awareness... unforgettable ... Hughes translates from the Spanish, beautifully preserving Melchor\'s nearly uninterrupted prose, which conjures an intense gravity that can be difficult to escape ... menacing and longwinded sentences form the ferocious spiraling arms ... Melchor plays with storytelling as a malleable substance with such dexterity that even the coarsest language glimmers on the page. Prejudicial personal accounts blur into hearsay, into folklore and mythology, and back again, so that by its end this sensational novel resembles a profane gospel of human greed and betrayal. Its transgressions, however, are unmistakably rooted in frank depictions of poverty, need, abuse and addiction, begging empathy for nearly everyone involved. In La Matosa\'s economy of violence, Melchor makes awfully clear the ways women bear the most unforgiving burdens of exploitation. Yet Hurricane Season weathers it all into an exquisite work of art.
PositiveShelf Awareness... a riveting true crime saga ... With an even hand, [Callahan] details the power struggles between the Anchorage criminal justice system and the FBI as their cooperative efforts close in on the insidious Israel Keyes, who seems to have materialized out of thin air ... Callahan doesn\'t elide the truly gruesome nature of the violence in Keyes\'s wake; however, she still manages to maintain the dignity of those who lost their lives to this cruel individual\'s secret mission. American Predator reveals a horrifying truth about the human capacity for bloodlust.
RaveShelf Awareness... a holistic, compassionate understanding of the third stage of life ... [Aronson] exposes the default of ageism again and again in her meticulous consideration of medical and family networks, political policy, municipal oversights, capitalist ambition and nearly every other sector of life that comes in contact with (or at the expense of) the elderly ... dynamic, multifaceted and full of wonder. Aronson\'s writing flexes with vibrant energy as she discusses the ways she has seen the healthcare system neglect the overall well-being of her patients, her colleagues and herself ... Intimidating as it may seem, elderhood becomes welcoming and generous in Aronson\'s deft care.
RaveShelf AwarenessWith clever comedic timing and a self-possessed charm, McQuiston constructs rich sexual tension between two young men who ostensibly hate each other ... The bond McQuiston fashions between them is heartwarming and organic ... Passion characterizes every moment of this smart, mischievous, gratifying and sensitive novel. The punch lines are deft, the sex is steamy and the romance is stirring.
RaveShelf Awareness\"... a marvelous feat of the imagination ... Goldberg conjures unseen photographs with astounding skill, describing a body of work that captures Lillian\'s era as readily as it speaks to the author\'s own. Art can be a dangerous endeavor for creator and viewer alike; the greater the response, the more effective the piece. Feast Your Eyes inhabits this tension with immense grace and empathy, challenging the perennial urge to stifle what doesn\'t conform to a given community\'s standards. The consistently ambitious Goldberg has once again delivered a remarkable piece of literature. Feast your eyes, indeed; there is much to digest.\
G. Willow Wilson
RaveShelf-AwarenessWilson again rises to impressive new heights ... To say Wilson is a talented storyteller does not adequately capture the magnificent dimensions of her work. The adventure at hand is a riveting escape through worlds seen and unseen, with high stakes and near-misses, toward a freedom neither Fatima nor Hassan are sure they entirely believe in. Faith is all they have--besides one another. To that end, Wilson\'s characters are both rich and fallible, disrupting the spectrum of heroes and villains. The Bird King considers how power can corrupt virtue, and how easily corruption can be mistaken for piety ... But there is a hefty dose of humor, too, amid these ornate corridors of history and philosophy ... Whether it\'s the grand arena of clashing empires or a humble prayer mat in a quiet room, Wilson pays close attention to the gentle nuances of her subjects.
RaveShelf Awareness\"For Those Who Knew, poet, translator and novelist Idra Novey (Ways to Disappear) exercises her considerable talents in crafting lush, riveting threads, which she braids into a spectacular crime novel ... There may be an impulse to pin this story to a modern moment, a prominent movement of reckoning for men of intimidating and violent machinations. Those Who Knew, however, serves to remind readers that those who have known know now, as they did then and before then.\
Thomas Page McBee
RaveShelf AwarenessAmateur follows McBee...into his dogged investigation into what in fact makes a man. He steps into the ring as an amateur boxer after a brush with male aggression. His sights set on a charity fight several months away, he\'s driven by a desire to hone his skills in protecting himself, but more so by a burning question about why violence is so entwined with masculinity. Sociology professor Michael Kimmel suggests to him, \'Men tend to fight when they feel humiliated.... You don\'t fight when you feel really powerful.\' ... McBee ponders...sociological implications with refreshing care and empathy, untangling a positive depiction of masculinity from the toxic strains paraded through contemporary discourse ... Amateur is more than a boxing story, just as it\'s more than a trans narrative. It\'s a highly recommended case study in manhood.
Robert W. Fieseler
RaveShelf AwarenessJournalist Robert W. Fieseler salvages [an] unsettling moment in American history from the edge of forgetfulness in a remarkable, potent remembrance.... It\'s indescribably moving to learn in a final author\'s note that survivors hesitant to speak on the record for Tinderbox came forward with urgency after the Pulse massacre. Their testimonies, Fieseler\'s rigorous research and his amiable prose make this a vital, inspiring volume in the annals of gay history.
RaveShelf Awareness\"...a riveting and peculiar variation on coming of age ... The poetics of Emezi\'s prose enhance the mythology she evokes. As enchanting as it is unsettling, Freshwater tickles all six senses. The chorus of voices narrating Ada\'s life achieves a remarkable balance between cruel machinations of cavalier deities and deep empathy for the distressed vessel they inhabit ... dazzling.\
Anca L. Szilágyi
RaveShelf AwarenessSzilágyi writes sinewy, visceral prose. She evokes the noise, smells and grime of late 20th-century Brooklyn streets, the lush serenity in an Argentinian home prior to tragedy and a family shattered by a faceless political force. All the while, the specter of magical realism lurks just behind Pluta, enhancing the anxious nature of solitary adolescent fumbling, and complicating the hubris of her first independent steps. A striking debut from a writer to watch, Daughters of the Air is gritty yet gorgeous, severe yet convivial, as it navigates uncertain times in a treacherous world.
RaveShelf Awareness... astonishing ... The foursome\'s dynamic relationships comprise a lush backdrop for the greater drama gradually unfolding in the decades of Jude\'s adulthood ... In a story with many moving pieces, Yanagihara fleshes out each character with an empathy that fully embraces their desires and revulsions, so that every break of trust, every tender moment, every secret revealed reverberates across the novel\'s dazzling panorama. Still, she never loses sight of its enigmatic hub: Jude St. Francis ... The power of Yanagihara\'s prose levitates even the heaviest of sorrows. She is a master observer of the human psyche, in all of its fits and starts, and A Little Life vibrates with the hope of personal redemption, delivering something far greater than its humble title presumes.