In Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour, a series of short stories take the reader from the present day to 2025, exploring a near-future Vancouver in which things grow steadily more surreal. As Emily Oppenheimer writes, it’s clearly a work of speculative fiction, yet the setting resembles our own world in uncanny ways. Sample quote: “Compton achieves the more troubling, yet ultimately more satisfying, goal of portraying the fantastical as something that is very much rooted in what we think we already know about ourselves and our world.”
Daniel Orozco's Orientation collects many of his short stories in one attractive volume. Released last May, the collection features the classic story "Orientation" (Scribd) as well as newer ones such as "Shakers" (Scribd). It garnered enough hype to land him on the long list for this year's Frank O'Connor Award.
A lot of writers have alter-egos, but few are as interesting as Benjamin Black, the crime-writing persona of Irish novelist and Year in Reading alum John Banville. The author’s new novel adds an entry to the saga of a crime-fiction icon: Raymond Chandler’s Angeleno detective, Philip Marlowe.
New this week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Carnival by Rawi Hage, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell, Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani, the collected letters of Italo Calvino, and the seventh issue of McSweeney's food mag Lucky Peach.
Recommended Reading: Amy Poehler's New Yorker essay, "Take Your Licks," on her summer job at an ice cream parlor. "If the style of the restaurant was old-fashioned, the parenting that went on there was distinctly modern. Moms and dads would patiently recite every item on the menu to their squirming five-year-olds, as if the many flavors of ice cream represented all the unique ways they were loved." If this essay is any indication, her upcoming memoir is going to be great.
“The label ‘Immigrant Fiction’ derives from the same problematic Pantheon in which ‘Women’s Literature,’ ‘Black Literature,’ and more, exist. Unlike the genre of, say, science fiction, which describes the content and style of the writing, categories like ‘immigrant’ or ‘Black’ fiction seem to be concerned more with the author’s identity and/or perceived audience.” On literary categories and immigrant fiction, over at Guernica.