Bookstore / Roundup

Read This Next: Daley Recommends (April)

Read This Next: Daley Recommends (April) — 04/28/2017

Like all of us at Milkweed Books, I like to read across genres, but I have a soft spot for books that are themselves cross-genre, and particularly those that mess up the lines delineating what is and isn’t fiction. The following selections are a few such titles I’ve loved. One I received at a party, one I bought on a whim at another independent bookstore (shout-out to Subtext Books, my neighborhood store), and another I read after seeing it in the social media feeds of a few other trusted bookstores and booksellers. I wouldn’t normally include two books from the same press, but The Gift comes out in early May and I want everyone to read it right away, so Coffee House gets two this time.

The Gift
Barbara Browning
Coffee House Press & Emily Books, 2017

I picked up a galley of The Gift at Coffee House Press’s holiday party, so it’s dear to me as one of the first advanced copies I received as a greenhorn bookseller. More importantly for you, though, it’s a playful, brainy book about artmaking and intimacy. It follows autofictional narrator Barbara Anderson as she sends ukulele song covers and “hand dances” to friends and strangers alike, and grows close to a particularly mysterious musician she meets online. Barbara’s inviting voice leads us through spirited digressions on performance, family, shame, and the history of gift-giving, each examined with remarkable aplomb and generosity. Buy now»

Faces in the Crowd
Valeria Luiselli

Coffee House Press, 2015

I am one of many booksellers on planet Earth who is head over heels for everything Valeria Luiselli does. While lately I have given a lot of love to her new book-length essay, Tell Me How It Ends, her debut novel Faces in the Crowd was the first book of hers I ever read and I still treasure it as my favorite. A few different characters who resemble Luiselli flow in and out of each others’ pasts, presents, and reading materials; each is a little fabulist, and each is wickedly smart. A whimsical, clever little novel with a modernist straight face and perfectly unembellished language. Buy now»

Suite for Barbara Loden
Nathalie Léger

Dorothy, a publishing project, 2016

A quietly provocative meditation on art, voice, and gender, this slender book is both a compelling almost-novel and a remarkable work of criticism. In Suite for Barbara Loden, a writer gets carried away with her project of creating a brief encyclopedia entry about the titular Loden, an American actress who wrote, directed, and played the lead in her own film, Wanda. The narrator illuminates uneasy truths about art and subjectivity as she traces Loden through archives, abandoned theme parks, and withering coal towns. An absorbing endeavor to “excavate a miniature model of modernity, reduced to its simplest, most complex form: a woman telling her own story through that of another woman.” Buy now»

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