One of the best novels I’ve read in a long time is Eric Lundgren’s debut, The Facades. It’s hugely imaginative, brilliantly written, funny, and sad. What else would you want from a novel? I can’t improve upon this New Yorker review of it, so I’ll link to that.
For nonfiction, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, about the mass incarceration of men of color, was eye-opening in its synoptic analysis of how predatory and ruthless the entire criminal justice system is, from the War on Drugs to the near-impossibility of repairing one’s life as an ex-convict. It’s also extremely accessible; Alexander avoids sociological and academic jargon in her swift, upsetting, and important book.
I don’t read much poetry, but I’m glad I read Caki Wilkinson’s Circles Where the Head Should Be: it’s completely unpretentious yet lyrically gorgeous, wry, and plaintive, and about subjects as varied as basketball and TV weathermen.
Her second collection, tentatively titled Wynona Stone, comes out in 2014, and follows the titular fictional character. An example:
The plot unfolds, backwater roman-fleuve:
hand-shaking husbands, wives who say make love
as in “When Doug and I were making love,”
or “Doug made love to me,” or “Doug, that love
we made was really something.”
It promises, like her first book, to be really something, as well.
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