Sarah is a little ball of unresolved grudges dating back to preschool and is consistently covered in cat hair. She might actually just be a cat in jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, but everyone thinks it's impolite to ask at this point. When she's not hidden under several blankets in bed, she can be found reading nonfiction that makes her eyes bulge right out of her little cat head or fiction that makes her eyes leak in public.
Let me be honest: I am not a romance reader. I find it difficult to read when my eyes are rolling across the floor at some of the dialogue or character descriptions. I am, however, a MASSIVE fan of rom coms (embrace your contradictions!), and this book delivers. Two characters with chemistry and emotional barricades that need to be torn down during a fake relationship on an English university campus, genuine and beautiful female friendships, and enough song references to build a reading soundtrack? Honey and Spice deserves a handful of popcorn with every turn of the page.
Mieko Kawakami has the talent to quietly devastate through her poetic narratives, bringing a uniquely female voice to contemporary Japanese literature. While I read this in one sitting, I kept having to take little breaks to sigh and swell, taking in all the beautiful minute details of Fuyuko Irie's lonely freelance life, and the sparse moments of companionship she finds with the kind but mysterious physics teacher she met under strange circumstances.
Is this book about Nina Simone's gum? Of course it is, and the story behind that piece of music history is worth reading alone. But it's also about the multi-instrumentalist and beautiful weirdo Warren Ellis and the magic in his collected talismans over the years as a member of the Bad Seeds and Dirty Three.
Conversational and full of Scooby Gang-level quips, this love letter/study of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's impact on pop culture was fun to devour, quickly followed by a craving to rewatch the entire series (even Season Six.) The devoted Evan Ross Katz grapples with the greyness of adoring a life-altering show with such dark and complicated history and comes out at the end without a solid answer, since one doesn't exist. Except one thing remains true forever: Sarah Michelle Gellar reigns supreme.
Elderly women, independent women, and learned women - all of these archetypes were chased down and tormented by society during the European and American witch trials centuries ago, but their mark as a danger to patriarchal rule has carried into contemporary times. Mona Chollet's collection covers everything from historical accounts from academics to her own pop culture musings and how we've come to carry our enduring ideas of Witches for all these years.
If the pages of this gruesome horror dystopia could make sounds, they would include the following: SNIP SNIP, AHHHH!, FFFFFFFT, PEW PEW, SHLUNK, PLOP, PBBBT, SNIFF SNIFF, CREAAAAAAAAAK, AHHHHHHH!, SWOOOSH, MMMM, CHOMP, HA HA HA, DRIPDRIPDRIP, AHHHH!, and SPLAT SPLAT.
Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back at the RiotGrrl movement of the 90s reveals as many flaws as it does strengths - it was a safe space for women tackling issues of sexuality, violence, and anger during a political period when teenage girl autonomy was the monster lurking under the bed of puritanical America. But only a safe space predominately for girls of a certain type (white, cisgender, straight.) Despite the shortcomings, the DIY culture it sparked continued on, and the doors it opened for women to scream their hearts out into microphones still reverberates today in bands that break the mold that Riotgrrl created.
Final girls, red herrings, revenge plots, grisly deaths, casual sprinklings of references to Scream and Hellraiser - what more do you need from a book? Maybe just a perfectly sarcastic, horror-trope obsessed, chain-smoking heroine to take you along for the ride through her quickly gentrifying small town and the mysterious slasher terrorizing all its inhabitants.
Drawing influences from Silvia Federici and historical accounts from 17th century England, A.K. Blakemore's debut is as stunning in its language as it is terrifying in its subject matter. And while the persecution of strange women is by no means new territory, the internal battle between Rebecca and her youthful desires, as well as her relationship to the accused women around her, make this less a story about the Witchhunter General and more about the women who were sent to the gallows because they dared to live and survive beyond the edges of a patriarchal and puritanical society.
Is the dead-end life of suburbia making an exhausted and frustrated mother believe her canines are sharper and her body is starting to sprout a tail capable of wagging? Or is she actually transforming into a furry beast, desperate to sate her wanderlust by loping into the night of her neighborhood, snapping the necks of small creatures between her jaws filled with the rage of someone once so full of ambition? Either way, it is capable of making you say *WHAT THE HELL* at 1AM because the character is so ravenously unhinged.
A story eerily reminiscent of Rosemary Kennedy's unfortunate life, but with a literal twist of an ending, is the standout in this collection. Or maybe it's the very first story about a teenage trans girl wanting to become the folkloric sea witch of her island community. *Or* it could be the one about the hinkypunk and a grandmother with a dark secret and unwillingness to change... Pick this book up for gothic weirdness and your own new favorite short story.
Recently translated into English for the first time, Izumi Suzuki's strange and disconnected prose creates a meandering trail of science fiction vignettes with apathetic and drug-addled characters, bored to death with life, or as one teenager addicted to television puts it, "tangled up in fatalistic resignations." The perfect beach read for anyone who really hates the beach and loves Black Mirror.
A Korean-American physicist goes as far as a research facility in Antarctica to escape the reach of her family and the mental illness that has been passed down through the generations. But when a literal ghost of her past appears in the snow, its beckoning from beyond pushes her to return home to a catatonic mother who left behind scribblings and carvings of their inherited folklore. Is it the ramblings of a troubled woman, or the secret revelations of a lost sister left behind in Korea?
Beginning with a hot summer trip in the middle of the city, Natsu hosts her sister and young niece, the latter who refuses to talk but spills her heart out about the fears of puberty onto the pages of her journal. Ten years later and in another sweltering summer, Natsu begins a rocky path towards motherhood as her fears of growing older and lonelier mirror that of her niece's past. Her journey reveals the complications that stand in the way of a single woman desiring a life that does not depend on the conventional company of men, especially in a world so ready to dispose of women at a certain age.
Abolitionist and activist Mariame Kaba has curated accessible essays about transformative justice and prison abolition. From R. Kelly to killer cops, Kaba explains the principles behind her work and how difficult it can be to break away from the punishment = justice mindset instilled within us. Every essay pushes for difficult conversations to have with yourself, but Kaba is there to remind you that "hope is a discipline", and that the beauty of abolition is held within the possibilities of a future that does not require the harmful relic of the prison industrial complex.
Sarahland is an acid road trip with writhing bodies stuck together by lip gloss and bodily fluids I can't mention here. The little connections and pop culture references - BUFFY! - made me beam in delight, and one story in particular made me dream of becoming a Sarah who turns into a tree. The fluidity of gender and sexuality, as well as all the different shapes and sizes a body can be, are all celebrated in this collection of messy queer Sarahs.
This crime-horror-fantasy is set in the dark swamps of Arkansas, where evil men and an ancient creature are restless with their own dangerous desires. Miranda Crabtree, a quiet and haunted ferrywoman for a ruthless cartel, keeps her head down and avoids colliding with anyone outside of her secret found family. But when an unexpected package is delivered to her boat, a series of events are set off over the course of 48 hours, including but not limited to Slavic bathhouse demons, squished eyeballs, and vengeful house spirits.
The Nordic Model vs legalization vs decriminalization. Brothel laws, immigration policy, anti-trafficking and exiting programs, FOSTA-SESTA. This primer - built from the authors and countless others' experiences - explores all the concepts, failures, and possibilities tied within the way society handle the taboo world of sex work, as well as the labor rights its workers deserve.
The phrase 'white nationalism' can dredge up a lot of images for people - angry beige men outlined in the glow of tiki torches or homemade militias kitted out in ill-fitting camo and American flags. In this study of three distinct women of white supremacy, the insidious nature of white women and their complicity in violent rhetoric is brought to the light, despite their best attempts to shield it in 'traditional feminine values' like baking and the pure art of... polka dancing? So much for the superior race.
A collection of traditional Japanese myths molded to fit contemporary times leads to the following: an incense company that brings lovers and pets back from the dead, fishing for skeletons and potential ghost girlfriends from the Edo period, very pushy but top performing door-to-door saleswomen, and a tree that requests you to stop bringing your hungry children over for blessings because her burrs are not what you think they are and you are making the tree uncomfortable.
In the wake of beloved outcast Vivek's death, their friends and family, as well as those only tenuously connected to their life, spill forth details both intimate and insignificant to build a complete character taken from the world before they could truly bloom. Emezi's talents shine brightest when they delicately dance around genres, from crime noir to multigenerational tale to supernatural, and some of the most heart-squeezing moments occur when Vivek speaks briefly from beyond the grave, letting their voice be heard above the din.
I always come back to one word when it comes to Daisy Johnson's writing: feral. It's coated in muck and nettles, and moves like wounded animal still hungry for a hunt - desperate and disjointed as it builds up momentum until the frenetic moment when the words bite down with bloody fangs and send everything reeling. I texted my friend immediately after closing Johnson's newest sibling psychological horror with a single excited phrase - Sisters just punched me in the gut.
With the recent trend of short story collections exploring the darker parts of womanhood, it can be difficult to dedicate your time to one book out of all the overwhelming options. However, Armfield's descent into body horror, queer desire, and personal monstrosity stands out due to the delicious decay surrounding her prose. Perfect for fans of Daisy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado.
Do I really have to sell you on a book with this kind of title? If you insist... Caitlin Doughty is back with another in-depth look at death, and this time the subject matter is derived from the morbid curiosity of 100%, non-GMO kids. She continues to write of death and all its natural oddities with a dose of humor, respect, and endless knowledge as a working mortician, even when it comes to something as simple as burying your pet hamster.
This speculative fiction starts off with a chilling home invasion (which had me double-checking every closet in my house), followed by a twisted path of paranoia, doppelgangers, and the varying limits of a mother's love when pushed to unspeakable brinks. The journey of the overwhelmed main character - explored in quick, disjointed segments - only raises more questions than answers, as well as the sneaking suspicion that she may just be losing her mind and dragging the reader along with her into the abyss.
A reenactment of a romanticized past becomes an inescapable descent into the ugliest and most primitive side of humanity. Succinct in its suspense, you won't realize you've been holding your breath until the very last page.
Despite the subject manner, Doughty approaches her work as a mortician with a "death-positive" attitude, which extends itself to here exploration of cultures working outside the western tradition of burials and mourning. As tender as they are technical, her essays range from the beauty of a funeral pyre in a Colorado community to the high-tech world of Japanese cremation facilities, and all are told in an open and optimistic manner you wouldn't expect from someone dedicated to the art of death.
What if the Wind in the Willows was less of a warm-hearted tale about forest friends and more about a sinister plot to gaslight Mr. Toad? What if the Velveteen Rabbit was a cold-blooded sociopath intent on becoming Real, no matter the cost? The reimagined fairy tales in the Merry Spinster answer these questions and ones I didn't even know I had.
It's approaching that time of year where we all like to get cozy under our electric blankets with a hot apple cider in hand. If you're lucky, you might be surrounded by the ones you love the most during the magical season. It's also the perfect time to dream up hypotheticals like 'how much sustenance would mom provide if I had to resort to eating her during a blizzard in 1846?' or 'how does one overcome paradoxical undressing while suffering from hypothermia', which means you should obsoletely get this book.
In this gender-bending retelling of the Oedipus myth, Johnson's words gnash, bite, and bruise, taking on a harsh beauty that mirrors the darkness of the river canal wilderness. With interweaving perspectives and characters on the edge of madness or beyond, this book is one of my most memorable reads of the last few years.
When you venture into the pages of a time-traveling, plague-ridden dystopian nightmare, you come to expect a visceral exploration of what it takes ot survive in an unforgivable world.
What you don't expect is to become deeply invested in the love story that unfolds in flashbacks and written so intimately that it almost feels like intruding.
Infused with intimate stories of her devotion to true crime, McNamara's book rises above the usual shock and awe exploitation of the genre and weaves a narrative both riveting and chilling.
Focused on the intertwined lives of a Mexican-American family and the final birthday of their dying but defiant patriarch, Urrea's story of the Mexican diaspora is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
Race, class, sexual identity and the loss of both innocence and youth are all artfully explored in this story about four friends sorting out their lives in contemporary northwest London. Smith doesn't only give every character their own complex and beautifully unique voice, but she allows them each a different narrative form, reminiscent of Joyce (minus the annotations.) Delicately balanced between tragedy and comedy, this final page will leave you speechless.
In this recent reissue of Ingalls' delightfully bizarre novella, we're introduced to the usual trope of bored housewife stuck in a loveless marriage during 50's suburban ennui. But before your eyes glaze over, in walks Larry - an amphibious frogman who has escaped from cruel captors at a research center, bringing in an element of B-horror creature feature love story that would have made Ed Wood go wild.
An advice-touting beach bum. A spoiled rich brat living in a castle in space. A Buddhist monk, a burgeoning serial killer, a bug. All these stories belong to Milo, the man who has lived 9,996 of of his allotted 10,000 lives while trying to reach Perfection. With the impending sentance of his sould being doomed to Nothingness, Milo tries to make his last four lives count. Death shouldn't be entertaining, but with this book, it becomes an absurd adventure touched by the best and worst of what it means to be human.
For readers who remember what it is like to use the click-wheel on a first generation iPod, or watched Gideon Yago on MTV2, this book is for you. Exploring the rise and fall of the post-9/11 indie music scene that grew from the grimy grates of NYC and beyond, the oral history includes vibrant voices like Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Interpol, and other bands that your cool older sister introduced to you back in middle school.
As part of the Why I Write lecture series, the legendary New York musician and author shares a short but engaging story she wrote while traveling by train. The story itself is book ended by the different authors of the past, as well as the current surroundings that inspire her writing (including a personal visit to the room where Camus wrote.) A minute but moving must for any fan of Smith's writing.
Miles (and decades) away from the unconventional style of A Visit to the Goon Squad, Egan takes a chance on historical fiction and manages to create a beautifully-lush and character-driven story centered around WWII-era New York City. The most compelling voice belongs to a young and ambitious woman new to the once male-dominated workforce, and her story of navigation through a life of newfound independence will cause any reader to root for her survival in a world consistently telling her "no."
"Teach the children...stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms. Attention is the beginning of devotion." Mary Oliver is the only writer that makes me second-guess killing any rogue spider that comes near me, because her reverence for nature is more than mere observation - her writing becomes a spiritual experience in these essays.
This debut novel from a master of short stories manages to bind together a story of ghosts gone wild in a graveyard, the Civil War, a president's grief, real historical accounts, and numerous mentions of poop. Emotionally fraught, hysterically funny, and a beautiful exploration of the unlived life, this book is the 2017 winner of the Man Booker Prize, as well as Most Likely To Make Me Cry While Reading on the Bus.