From Staff Picks

Sunday Staff Picks: October 25th

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino Kiki Petrosino’s White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia starts with a stunning prelude, in which the reader, absorbed into the second person speaker, is taken on a chase sequence through a moving train.  Engaging – in pursuit? combat? collaboration? – with the speaker’s ancestors, the poem ends with a ghostly image and then an utterance “O- / you begin.” So the book begins. Petrosino orbits topics of ancestry, and history, all while constructing one of the strongest arguments in favor of form in recent years. The text is interspersed with erasures (similar to the Petrosino…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 18th

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening, winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, begins with loss: the elder son of the Mulder family, Matthies, drowns in a tragic skating accident, leaving his family to contend with his death and attempt to distribute the loss between themselves. The novel is narrated by his ten-year old sister, Jas, who takes on the role of translator for her family’s grief. Through her stark observations, we witness the slow unraveling of a family unit set against the bleak landscape of their farm in the conservative…

Sunday Staff Picks: October 11th

Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza Earlier this week, Mexican author Cristina Rivera Garza was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Grant. A writer of enormous talent and erudition, Garza is also the author of the most fascinating book I read this year. Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country is a collection of short forms that circle issues of state violence in contemporary Mexico. Garza’s project investigates the fault lines between the political and the personal, the body of the collective and the body of the individual. In attempting to write on, or through, this subject, Garza takes…

Sunday Staff Picks: May 17th

Writers and Lovers by Lily King Writers and Lovers is Lily King’s latest book after the success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel, Euphoria. Her new novel follows 31-year-old Casey Peabody who copes with her mother’s sudden passing, heartbreak, and pursuing a writing career while drowning in debt. King’s first-person narration gives us a direct gaze into Casey’s thoughts which reveals her constant uncertainties and very real anxieties. Despite all that seems to be going badly for her, Casey never ceases to point out the humor and absurdity in everything. Writers and Lovers is full of little truisms delivered…

Sunday Staff Picks: May 10th

Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell Notes from an Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell is not the book you’re expecting—but unquestionably the book we all need during the seismic shift of COVID-19. Throughout, you follow the conversational meditations of this worried yet apprehensively optimistic author as he goes through the same mental loops I’ve felt…

Sunday Staff Picks: May 3rd

Temporary by Hilary Leichter “I have a shorthand kind of career,” confesses the protagonist of Temporary, Hilary Leichter’s zippy debut novel. This confession is true, as it turns out, in a delightfully unconventional way. A temp at “an uptown pleasure dome of powdered women in sensible shoes,” Leichter’s unnamed protagonist is sent out to fulfill…

Sunday Staff Picks: April 19th

Sh*t is F*cked Up and Bullsh*t by Malcolm Harris I picked up Sh*t is F*cked Up and Bullsh*t for fairly obvious reasons. Released less than two months ago — let’s call it the Before Times — Marxist journalist Malcom Harris walks readers through the past decade here in America. It’s not a pretty picture. Beginning…

Sunday Staff Picks: April 5th

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry Quan Barry’s latest novel, set in a Massachusetts coastal town, delivers witches, field hockey, and late 1980s cultural references, all in Barry’s distinctive, irreverent tone. After the team makes a deal with the Devil, in the form of an Emilio Estevez notebook, the Danvers field hockey team inexplicably begins winning game after game, landing them at the state finals. Despite the normal pressures of high school—sexual awakenings and creepy teachers as only the beginning—the girls truly dedicate themselves to bonding as a team. Perhaps dark powers propel them to field hockey stardom,or perhaps…

Sunday Staff Picks: March 29th

Staten Island Stories by Claire Jimenez In Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a group of strangers embark on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, telling stories to pass the time—but the text ends before they reach their destination. The pilgrims become connected by their narratives rather than their geography: and, because we never see the pilgrims reach Canterbury,…

Sunday Staff Picks: March 1st

A Sand Book by Ariana Reines Newly crowned winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the dizzying four hundred-page epic A Sand Book by Ariana Reines masterfully takes on issues of spirituality, consumerism, womanhood, and the occult. Moreover, Reines suggests these themes are conjured by the gross deterioration and obfuscation of language at the hand of the immediacy so latent in the digital economies of the contemporary West. In “A Partial History,” Reines writes of these challenging times: “We were lost in a language of images. / It was growing difficult to speak. Yet talk / Was everywhere.” In turns at…