Outlandish Lit

A Readathon Mini-Challenge: #CoverFromMemory Halloween Edition

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Happy Readathon, everybody! I have a mini-challenge here for you...one that I absolutely adored doing last year, but this time there is a minor (Halloween-y) twist. It's the classic, very funny #CoverFromMemory. Here's more on the challenge:

I don't know about you all, but even before I was a bookseller, I prided myself on how I would remember the covers of books. I'm not completely helpless when a customer comes up to me and says that they don't know the name of the book, but it's blue. But how good would I actually be at reproducing these book covers? It's time to find out.

What I want you to do is think of a book. A creepy, scary, and/or vaguely spooky book... bc Halloween. Now, with no googling or shelf-searching, you need to draw it. You don't need to be an artist! Let's be real, the uglier it is, the better. Imaginary bonus points if you use MS Paint. Here's my example where I drew A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, one of my all-time favorite horror novels.



Drawing probably scarier than the book. God, I was close, though!

Accuracy won't get you the win; just participation! Either post your creation in the comments or share it on social media with the hashtags #Readathon **AND** #CoverFromMemory. The winner will be randomly chosen and will get a $5 Amazon gift card and my Outlandish Lit Weird Ebook Bundle. Good luck and I hope you enjoy this spooky break from reading! The challenge ends at the end of Hour 10.

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon :: October 2017

Hi, book babes! This is my sixth time participating in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and I'm as excited as ever. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out that link to sign up. It's exactly what it sounds like - you try to read for 24 hours. And there are prizes!

For the first readathon ever, I don't have to work!! I'm co-hosting the readathon, so be sure to say hi on the Readathon Twitter between 9 pm and 12 am central time. Also look out for my posts on the Readathon blog! Oh! And I'm hosting a mini-challenge here on the blog at 2 pm central time. Get in on it, it'll be fun, I promise!!


Most of my real-time, v exciting updates will be posted on twitter, instagram, and you can find me on Litsy as OutlandishLit! But I'll be using this post every few hours to update as well. Let me know if you're participating!


UPDATES

Hour 0

1 // What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Minneapolis, Minnesota.

2 // Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably The Doll's Alphabet

3 // Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I have some homemade zucchini bread that I remembered to thaw!

4 // Tell us a little something about yourself!

I'm a spooky gal who likes to read weird books. I'm a bookseller and I'm now training to be a used book buyer at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis. I like forests, intersectional feminism, horror movies, reality tv, propagating succulents, crafting pretty things, and traveling.

5 // If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm going to take some time to read some books in Japanese!

Hour 7

I've been trying to be a little more "chillaxed" about the readathon than I normally am. And so far so good! Since 7:30 I've been listening to the audiobook of the The Visionist, which I'm really enjoying bc it's sort of about a cult. I took a bath, I sat on the couch, it's been incredible. I also started a tiny little scary book called You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann. I LOVE IT so far. I'm like 30 pages from the end, so once I finish prepping my mini-challenge for Hour 8, I'm going to wrap that bad boy up.

Ten in Ten Challenge
I'll be adding to this as I think of them:

2007 - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (which I didn't love, but that's all I've got for 2007 haha)
2008 - Suicide by Edouard Leve
2009 - Light Boxes by Shane Jones
2010 - How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
2011 - Embassytown by China Mieville
2012 - The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
2013 - The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
2014 - Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
2015 - A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
2016 - Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
2017 - Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Hour 12

Mid-Event Survey: 
1 // What are you reading right now? 
The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart and Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan

2 // How many books have you read so far? 
One!

3 // What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? 
Oh god, I don't know. Maybe Penance by Kanae Minato, because I like to save thrillers for the end.

4 // Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? 
I just kind of audiobook during interruptions if that's possible. Otherwise I just do whatever I need to do and get back to the reading after WITHOUT beating myself up about it.

5 // What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? 
Nothing too surprising!

Hour 19

Well, it just turned Hour 19 here and it's 1 am. I had a great time co-hosting from hours 15-18, but it definitely ate into my reading time. I kept finding myself pausing my audiobook for long periods of time. So here I am now trying to finish up the audiobook I started and I've got probably 20 minutes left in it at double speed. I like this one (The Visionist) quite a bit. The other book I finished earlier was ALSO about a cult, which was kind of confusing when I switched back and forth. Agents of Dreamland had like everything I love in one small book. I definitely need to check out Caitlin Kiernan's other books. Oh, I also read the first 16 pages of Penance by Kanae Minato. I just can't fit everything in!! I'm pretty happy with what I did get to this readathon! Oh, p.s., You Should Have Left is GREAT.
  


TOTAL BOOKS READ: 2
TOTAL PAGES READ: 602
TOTAL HOURS READ: 13 hours

16 Books To Look For This October

Monday, October 2, 2017

16 Books To Look For In October 2017 :: Outlandish Lit
Holy moly, September completely got away from me. Does anybody else feel like it didn't even happen? I don't want to say I did nothing, but did I do anything? It's really hard to know. Anyway, I hope you aren't busy on October 3, because that will be the day to visit your local bookstore to watch the employees get rid of all of the old books and replace them with the 209,348,023,984 new books coming out that single day. Honestly, I don't know where we're going to put all this cool stuff when it comes out tomorrow.




Unruly Creatures: Stories by Jennifer Caloyeras (Oct 1)

ADD TO GOODREADS
In this collection rife with humor and pathos, alienated characters struggle to subvert, contain, control, and even escape their bodies. A teenage girl grapples with pubic hair grown wild, a biologist finds herself in love with a gorilla, a prisoner yearns to escape her biological destiny.

In some stories, the bodies have surrogates: a high-school girl babysits an elderly woman’s plastic doll while negotiating her own sexual awakening, and a young man finds that he can only receive affection from his father when he is in costume. Dark humor and magical realism put in sharp relief the everyday trials of Americans in a story collection that asks, in what way are we more than the sum of our parts?


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Oct 3)

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In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. - SO SO SO SO GOOD.


Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow (Oct 3)

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Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween. In addition to stories about scheming jack-o'-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls' Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil's Night. - There are some v solid stories in here so far. Editor Ellen Datlow can really do no wrong.


The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.


From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty (Oct 3)

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The best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes expands our sense of what it means to treat the dead with “dignity.” Fascinated by our pervasive terror of dead bodies, mortician Caitlin Doughty set out to discover how other cultures care for their dead. In rural Indonesia, she observes a man clean and dress his grandfather’s mummified body. Grandpa’s mummy has lived in the family home for two years, where the family has maintained a warm and respectful relationship. She meets Bolivian natitas (cigarette- smoking, wish- granting human skulls), and introduces us to a Japanese kotsuage, in which relatives use chopsticks to pluck their loved- ones’ bones from cremation ashes. With curiosity and morbid humor, Doughty encounters vividly decomposed bodies and participates in compelling, powerful death practices almost entirely unknown in America. Featuring Gorey-esque illustrations by artist Landis Blair, From Here to Eternity introduces death-care innovators researching green burial and body composting, explores new spaces for mourning— including a glowing- Buddha columbarium in Japan and America’s only open-air pyre— and reveals unexpected new possibilities for our own death rituals.


An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (Oct 3)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She's used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she'd be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.

Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship's leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.

When the autopsy of Matilda's sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother's suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother's footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she's willing to fight for it.


Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (Oct 3)

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Midwinter in an English village. A teenage girl has gone missing. Everyone is called upon to join the search. The villagers fan out across the moors as the police set up roadblocks and a crowd of news reporters descends on what is usually a place of peace. Meanwhile, there is work that must still be done: cows milked, fences repaired, stone cut, pints poured, beds made, sermons written, a pantomime rehearsed. As the seasons unfold and the search for the missing girl goes on, there are those who leave the village and those who are pulled back; those who come together and those who break apart. There are births and deaths; secrets kept and exposed; livelihoods made and lost; small kindnesses and unanticipated betrayals. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, RESERVOIR 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a tragedy refuse to subside. - I've only heard incredible things about this from my colleagues.


The Genius Plague by David Walton (Oct 3)

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What if the pandemic you thought would kill you made you more intelligent instead? In the Amazon jungle, a disease is spreading. To those who survive, it grants enhanced communication, memory, and pattern recognition. But the miracle may be the sinister survival mechanism of a fungal organism, manipulating the infected into serving it. Paul Johns, a mycologist, is convinced the fungal host is the next stage of human evolution, while his brother Neil, an analyst at the NSA, is committed to its destruction. Is the human race the master in this symbiotic relationship, or are we becoming the pawns of a subtly dominating and utterly alien intelligence?


The Doll's Alphabet by Camilla Grudova (Oct 10)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Dolls, sewing machines, tinned foods, mirrors, malfunctioning bodies—by constantly reinventing ways to engage with her obsessions and motifs, Camilla Grudova has built a universe that's highly imaginative, incredibly original, and absolutely discomfiting. The stories in The Doll's Alphabet are by turns child-like and naive, grotesque and very dark: the marriage of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter. - Sheila Heti and Helen Oyeyemi are into it, so I WILL BE TOO.


In the Distance by Hernan Diaz (Oct 10)

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A young Swedish boy finds himself in penniless and alone in California. He travels East in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great push to the West. Driven back over and over again on his journey through vast expanses, Håkan meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Díaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre (travel narratives, the bildungsroman, nature writing, the Western), offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and a portrait of radical foreignness.

At first, it was a contest, but in time the beasts understood that, with an embrace and the slightest push, they had to lie down on their side and stay until Håkan got up. He did this each time he thought he spied someone on the circular horizon. Had Håkan and his animals ever been spotted, the distant travelers would have taken the vanishing silhouettes for a mirage. But there were no such travelers—the moving shadows he saw almost every day in the distance were illusions. With the double intention of getting away from the trail and the cold, he had traveled south for days.


The Power by Naomi Alderman (Oct 10)

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In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who larks around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

This extraordinary novel by Naomi Alderman, a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and Granta Best of British writer, is not only a gripping story of how the world would change if power was in the hands of women but also exposes, with breath-taking daring, our contemporary world.


Infinite Ground by Martin MacInnes (Oct 17)

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During a sweltering South American summer, a family convenes for dinner at a restaurant. Midway through the meal, Carlos disappears. An experienced, semi-retired inspector takes the case, but what should be a routine investigation becomes something strange, intangible, even sinister. The corporation for which Carlos worked seems to serve no purpose; the staff talk of their missing colleague's alarming, shifting physical symptoms; a forensic scientist uncovers evidence of curious abnormalities in the thriving ecosystem of cells and bacteria that made up Carlos's body. As the inspector relives and retraces the missing man's footsteps, the trail leads him deep into the country's rainforest interior, where he encounters both horror and wonder.


I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Matt Taibbi (Oct 24)

ADD TO GOODREADS
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a police officer put him in what has been described as a “chokehold” during an arrest for selling “loosies,” or single cigarettes. The final moments of his life were captured on video and seen by millions, sparking a nationwide series of protests that built into the “Black Lives Matter” movement that has transformed American politics.

Weeks after Garner’s death, two New York City police officers were killed by a young black man from Maryland, in what he claimed was revenge for Garner’s death. Those killings in turn led to police protests, clashes with New York’s new liberal mayor, and an eventual work slow-down.

Taibbi tells a compelling story of the crime, the grand jury, the media circus, the murder of the police, and the protests from every side.


Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess (Oct 24)

ADD TO GOODREADS
From renowned artist Gregory Manchess comes a lavishly painted novel about the son of a famed polar explorer searching for his stranded father, and a lost city buried under snow in an alternate future.

When it started to snow, it didn’t stop for 1,500 years. The Pole Shift that ancient climatologists talked about finally came, the topography was ripped apart and the weather of the world was changed—forever. Now the Earth is covered in snow, and to unknown depths in some places.

In this world, Wes Singleton leaves the academy in search of his father, the famed explorer Galen Singleton, who was searching for a lost city until Galen’s expedition was cut short after being sabotaged. But Wes believes his father is still alive somewhere above the timberline.

Fully illustrated with over 120 pieces of full-page artwork throughout, Above the Timberline is a stunning and cinematic combination of art and novel. - I cannot wait to see this in person.


Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost (Oct 31)

ADD TO GOODREADS
While The Secret History of Twin Peaks served to expand the mysteries of the town and place the unexplained phenomena that unfolded there into a vastly layered, wide-ranging history, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier tells us what happened to key characters in the twenty-five years in between the events of the first series and the second, offering details and insights fans will be clamoring for. The novel also adds context and commentary to the strange and cosmic happenings of the new series. For fans around the world begging for more, Mark Frost's final take laid out in this novel will be required reading. - I had no idea this was happening!!


The King is Always Above the People: Stories by Daniel Alarcón (Oct 31)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Daniel Alarcon's hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes. In -The Thousands, - people are on the move and forging new paths; hope and heartbreak abound. A man deals with the fallout of his blind relatives' mysterious deaths and his father's mental breakdown and incarceration in -The Bridge.- A gang member discovers a way to forgiveness and redemption through the haze of violence and trauma in -The Ballad of Rocky Rontal.- And in the tour de force novella, -The Auroras-, a man severs himself from his old life and seeks to make a new one in a new city, only to find himself seduced and controlled by a powerful woman. Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters, The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world.




What books are you looking forward to this October?

Two Very Different Books You Can Read In One Day

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

2 Very Different Books You Can Read In One Day :: Outlandish Lit

At first I thought these two books didn't have anything in common with each other, apart from both being short. BUT they were both published on July 11, 2017! Imagine that. I might not recommend pairing these books together in a one day reading spree, even though you could definitely read both in that time, but they are both incredibly refreshing reads for different reasons.


Found Audio by N.J. Campbell
Publisher: Two Dollar Radio. July 2017.
Genre: ??????
Source: Publisher
Pages: 162



ADD TO GOODREADS

BUY FROM INDIEBOUND

BUY FROM BOOK DEPOSITORY





Oh my goodness, this was such a fun read. I really can't help but love stories within stories. So basically, a mysterious man approaches an audio analyst with some tapes. He gives her a huge amount of money to transcribe them and learn what she can from them. She is explicitly told not to share this transcript with anybody. But, of course, she does and then she vanishes. All of this happens within the introduction, I swear I'm not spoiling anything. The vast majority of the book is the transcription, which follows an unnamed journalist telling his story of a bizarre and wildly implausible global hunt for a place called the City of Dreams - and it's great.

The set up was exactly what I wanted. Mysterious with people and locations that may or may not exist. People vanishing. And the manuscript itself contains all these wonderful little details about what's going on audibly apart from the monologue. I'm going to be honest, at first I didn't know if I was going to be able to get on board with the reading a monologue thing (even though every once in a while some other unnamed voices interrupt, which is so intriguing and unsettling). The writing made me a little nervous to begin with, but this dreamy, speculative story was exactly what I wanted. Found Audio is written like the fever dream of an incredibly adventurous travel writer. Once the book got to the second tape (of three) is when it really started to pick up for me. It takes a little while for the narrative to get to the point, which is to be expected considering it's a man telling a story and humans aren't always succinct (especially in this slightly psychedelic adventure context). By tape two, the City of Dreams is introduced and that's when it starts to get really crazy. I truly felt enraptured by the nameless main character's narrative. It's difficult not to get engrossed and just go along for the ride when the story is so confidently itself. By the end of it, I was deep in my own head about this search and what it could all mean. Little things I encounter in real life still make me think about this gem of a story, like the story has placed little mirages of itself into my reality, which is the most fun post-reading experience a person can have.




Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Publisher: Henry Holt. July 2017.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Friend
Pages: 196



ADD TO GOODREADS

BUY FROM INDIEBOUND

BUY FROM BOOK DEPOSITORY





Goodbye, Vitamin is such a sweet book, I truly don't even know where to begin. It is a thing that I love: a quirky, contemporary, stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, which generally are a little less than hopeful. So this is truly refreshing. Hopeful isn't really the word I mean, because this book is only realistic and completely grounded. I feel like the word hopeful implies an intentionally "feel good" book, which this isn't. My friend, Annie, put it well: it's kind. This is a book written in diary entries from the perspective of an untethered thirty-year-old woman, Ruth, who just went through a break up and had to move home to take care of her father with Alzheimer's. She is forced into navigating her relationship with her rapidly changing father, as well as navigating her father and her mother's relationship, which she is forced to come to terms with. It is a fun read, often funny, and very honest. Parts might make you cry, but it is never manipulative despite having ample opportunity to be considering the subject manner.


The little snippets of days that we see beautifully illustrate the daily struggles of caring for somebody in declining mental faculties, as well as the small things that make a day bright. In tandem with Ruth's diary entries, every once in a while we get to see a journal that her father used to keep filled with things Ruth would say and do as a child. These definitely got me the most, because even when taking care of her father was getting tough, the snippets of his journal so viscerally overflowed with love for his daughter. On a very personal note, I can't remember what specifically, but something in these journals made me think of how my grandpa would sing "You Are My Sunshine" to me and how loved I feel even now just reminiscing on those moments. Grandpa, you have all of your mental faculties, but I don't know if you remember that because you haven't sang to me in a while (rude). But thank you for emailing me your personal responses to all of my blog posts (I save them all), and I look forward to hearing your thoughts about this one. I love you! If you want to borrow this book, I don't have a copy - sorry!



Update: My grandpa did email me after reading this blog post. Some context: he was a musician in an orchestra. He said "The reason I sang that is in all my music I never had to learn lyrics. So you (and your mom) got to hear the only song I knew.." Then he told me to come over and give him a haircut. RUDE.


16 Books To Look For This September

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

16 Books To Look For This September :: Outlandish Lit
I don't know about all of you, but I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer. At all. I know the cool book releases are ramping up now, but at what cost?? Anyway, at first I thought there were like five books that I cared about coming out in September, but I did a little more research and BOY, WAS I WRONG. This list is excluding the new and highly anticipated Jesmyn Ward, Celeste Ng, Salman Rushdie, etc. (even though I am quite hyped about those first two), because I'm sure you will hear all about those if you haven't already. Here I have for you some cli-fi, some literary horror, some trashy horror, sad things, saucy things, spooky things, murder, AND MORE. Pretty much the usual, but definitely the best.




The Age of Perpetual Light: Stories by Josh Weil (Sept 1)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Josh Weil brings together stories selected from a decade of work in one stellar new collection that explores themes of progress, the pursuit of knowledge, and humankind's eternal attempt to decrease the darkness in the world. Beginning at the dawn of the past century, in the early days of electrification, and moving into an imagined future in which the world is lit day and night, each tale in The Age of Perpetual Light follows deeply-felt characters through different eras in American history; from a Jewish dry goods peddler who falls in love with an Amish woman while showing her the wonders of an Edison Lamp, to a 1940 farmers' uprising against the unfair practices of a power company, a Serbian immigrant teenage boy in 1990's Vermont desperate to catch a glimpse of an experimental satellite, to a back-to-the-land couple forced to grapple with their daughter's autism during winter's longest night. Brilliantly hewn and piercingly observant, these are tales that speak to the all-too-human desire for advancement and the struggle of wounded hearts to find a salve, no matter what the cost.


Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith (Sept 5)

ADD TO GOODREADS
Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood and a diagnosis of HIV positive. Some of us are killed / in pieces, Smith writes, some of us all at once. Don t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America Dear White America where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.


Clade by James Bradley (Sept 5)

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Adam is in Antartica, marking the passage of the solstice. Across the globe, his wife Ellie is waiting for the results of her IVF treatment. So begins the story of one family in a changing world, where the apocalyptic mingles with the everyday; a father battles a biblical storm; an immigrant is mysteriously drawn to the art of beekeeping; a young girl's diary chronicles a pandemic; and a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead...


I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Sept 7)

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here - each denies they deserve it. Until they see what's coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming. This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre.  - He wrote Let The Right One In! It seems like it is maybe just a digital release; unclear.


A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe (Sept 12)

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It is New Year's Eve 1990, in a small town in southeast Australia. Ru's father, Jack, one of thousands of Australians once conscripted to serve in the Vietnam War, has disappeared. This time Ru thinks he might be gone for good. As rumors spread of a huge black cat stalking the landscape beyond their door, the rest of the family is barely holding on. Ru's sister, Lani, is throwing herself into sex, drugs, and dangerous company. Their mother, Evelyn, is escaping into memories of a more vibrant youth. And meanwhile there is Les, Jack's inscrutable brother, who seems to move through their lives like a ghost, earning both trust and suspicion. A Loving, Faithful Animal is an incandescent portrait of one family searching for what may yet be redeemable from the ruins of war.


Worlds from the Word's End by Joanna Walsh (Sept 12)

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This collection cements Joanna Walsh's reputation as one of the sharpest writers of this century. Wearing her learning lightly, Walsh's stories make us see the world afresh, from a freewheeling story on cycling (and Freud), to a country in which words themselves fall out of fashion—something that will never happen wherever Walsh is read. - Joanna Walsh & her stories are a gift to this planet, truly.


Rebellious Mourning by Cindy Milstein (Sept 12)

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We can bear almost anything when it is worked through collectively. Grief is generally thought of as something personal and insular, but when we publicly share loss and pain, we lessen the power of the forces that debilitate us, while at the same time building the humane social practices that alleviate suffering and improve quality of life for everyone. Addressing tragedies from Fukushima to Palestine, incarceration to eviction, AIDS crises to border crossings, and racism to rape, the intimate yet tenacious writing in this volume shows that mourning can pry open spaces of contestation and reconstruction, empathy and solidarity. With contributions from Claudia Rankine, Sarah Schulman, David Wojnarowicz, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, David Gilbert, and nineteen others.


An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King (Sept 12)

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Under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son.

Now 40 million of them can't find wives. China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritarian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering. Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.


My House Gathers Desires by Adam McOmbers (Sept 12)

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Adam McOmber's lush, hallucinatory stories are both familiar and wholly original. Drawn from the historical record, Biblical lore, fairy tales, science fiction, and nightmares, these offbeat and fantastical works explore gender and sexuality in their darkest and most beautiful manifestations. In the tradition of Angela Carter or Kelly Link, My House Gathers Desires is covertly funny and haunting, seeking fresh ways to consider sexual identity and its relation to history.

In "Sodom and Gomorrah," readers encounter a subversive, ecstatic new version of the Old Testament story. In "The Re'em," a medieval monk's search for a mythic beast conjures forbidden desire. And in "Notes on Inversion," the German psychiatrist Kraft-Ebbing receives a surreal retort to his clinical descriptions of same-sex desire.


Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (Sept 19)

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Autonomous features a rakish female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who traverses the world in her own submarine. A notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor, Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America—a drug that compels people to become addicted to their work.

On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a young military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Joe and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City.


Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix (Sept 19)

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Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried. - Anxiously awaiting the arrival of this book to my home.


The Good People by Hannah Kent (Sept 19)

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Based on true events in nineteenth century Ireland, Hannah Kent's startling new novel tells the story of three women, drawn together to rescue child from a superstitious community. Nora, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumours begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Determined to banish evil, Nora and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways. - Hannah Kent wrote one of my favorites, Burial Rites!!


A Small Charred Face by Kazuki Sakuraba (Sept 19)

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Even monsters need families. What are the “bamboo”? They are from China. They look just like us. They live by night. They drink human lifeblood, but otherwise keep their distance. And every century, they grow white blooming flowers.

A boy name Kyo is saved from the precipice of death by Bamboo, a vampire born of the tall grasses. They start an enjoyable, yet strange shared life together, Kyo and the gentle Bamboo. But for Bamboo, communication with a human being is the greatest sin.


The Visitors by Catherine Burns (Sept 26)

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Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.

Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden. As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn't the only one with a dark side. - It seems as though this is more of a slow burn character study than a thriller, FYI.


After the Eclipse: A Mother's Murder, a Daughter's Search by Sarah Perry (Sept 26)

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When Sarah Perry was twelve, she saw a partial eclipse of the sun, an event she took as a sign of good fortune for her and her mother, Crystal. But that brief moment of darkness ultimately foreshadowed a much larger one: two days later, Crystal was murdered in their home in rural Maine, just a few feet from Sarah’s bedroom.

The killer escaped unseen; it would take the police twelve years to find him, time in which Sarah grew into adulthood, struggling with abandonment, police interrogations, and the effort of rebuilding her life when so much had been lost. Through it all she would dream of the eventual trial, a conviction—all her questions finally answered. But after the trial, Sarah’s questions only grew. She wanted to understand her mother’s life, not just her final hours, and so she began a personal investigation, one that drew her back to Maine, taking her deep into the abiding darkness of a small American town. - YO, apparently this is completely amazing. Can't wait to read it.


Sefira and Other Betrayals by John Langan (Sept ??)

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“These are stories of betrayal,” author John Langan confirms.

Apart from this thread, the stories are otherwise quite distinct from each other in terms of their characters, plots, settings, themes and even varieties of horror.

There’s “In Paris in the Mount of Kronos,” a snappy, neo-noirish, action packed Laird Barron-esque encounter with ancient malevolent forces; the dark, character-driven relationship dramas of “The Third Always Beside You” and “Renfrew’s Course”; the vaguely Lovecraftian horrors of “Bloom”; the atmospheric steampunk weirdness in the form of “The Unbearable Proximity of Mr. Dunn’s Balloons”; and apocalyptic surrealism in “Bos Uros”. Finally, the title novella, Sefira, is about a woman who is chasing a succubus across the United States, while the novelette At Home in the Devil’s House offers a new, nightmarish concept of Hell.




What books are you looking forward to this September?

American Fire by Monica Hesse :: Review

Monday, August 7, 2017

American Fire by Monica Hesse :: Outlandish Lit Review
American Fire by Monica Hesse
Publisher: Liveright. July 11, 2017.
Pages: 255
Genre: True Crime
Source: Publisher



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What a true crime time to be alive! Podcasts and shows focused on real murders are super popular right now. But let us not forget an equally fascinating crime, the object of Sia and Rihanna's affection (or, at least, attention) in several music videos: arson! What else is super popular? The examination of rural American life. This book gives you both, with a side of thorough research and beautiful writing. American Fire is the story of Accomack county in rural Virginia that in 2012 was victim to 67 fires within a five-month period. It's the story of the two people, crazy in love, who set 67 (mostly) abandoned buildings ablaze undetected, and why.

"I spent the next two years trying to understand why he did it. The answer, inasmuch as there is an answer for these things, involved hope, poverty, pride, Walmart, erectile dysfunction, Steak-umms (the chopped meat sold in the frozen food aisle) intrigue, and America. America: the way it's disappointing sometimes, the way it's never what it used to be."

The narrative that Washington Post feature writer Monica Hesse has wrangled is complicated, yet extremely coherent and compelling. We learn a lot about firefighting and the investigation of arson. Seriously, I had no idea I would be so interested in learning about volunteer firefighting and its impact on a community. Hesse includes historical and psychological examinations of arsonists, as well as an analysis of the area’s economic situation. Accomack County is an isolated place under pressure from the rest of society to change. The ways that the residents made money are no longer profitable or no longer exist. Many of the residents feel forgotten. To then be betrayed by somebody in the community, who remains unidentified for so long, is an impossible struggle.

Hesse also looks at what people will do when they are deep in love and under a considerable amount of stress. Charlie Smith, the man who pleaded guilty to the fires, is a fascinatingly earnest and troubled person. More fascinating is his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick, and the dark shift that took place in their epic love story. This is great true crime, featuring details about the arsons, interrogations, and trials, with a “This American Life” tone of storytelling. If you have an interest in true crime, but haven't read a true crime book, this is a great place to start.


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