Baby I Don’t Care

Elise’s Staff Pick:

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Baby I Don’t Care by Chelsea Minnis

Minnis’s poems read like scenes taken from a screen writer’s notebook. Written with the psychological narrative structure reminiscent of a classic Hollywood cinema, these hypnotic poems tell the tale of a femme-fatale protagonist from beginning to end. At first, she seems to be the woman of your richest fantasies. Slowly, she reveals herself to be the mistress of your nightmares. What can’t Daddy, champagne, a fit of rage, or diamonds solve in the life? Twisting and tugging at the shimmer of the material world, our sweet histrionic squeezes from life every last bit of dignity and pleasure. This book is dark and catchy, sardonic and witty, laced with a sharp sense of humor. One of my favorite books of poetry in 2018.


The Peregrine

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The Peregrine by J.A. Baker

My kind of nature writing. Baker has made a study of not only a magnificient hawk, but of language. Written over the course of three seasons in a single year, these journal entries lend themselves to being read at random and savoured

Agua Via

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Agua Via by Clarice Listpector

Dazzling. Mesmerizing. Sentences that bend under the heft of sheer beauty and truth. You will often find this book shelved in Literature, however it is quite philosophical. Above all, I would declare it to be a meditation on the invisible force of life itself. I recommend this to anyone who is willing to lose themselves in language long enough to experience Lispector’s orientation to the world. If you’ve never read Lispector before, Agua Via is the perfect place to start


Elise’s Staff Pick:

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Varamo by Cesar Aira

This slim novella is yet another home run by the prolific Argentine novelist Cesar Aira. Enter the world of Varamo, a somewhat abject government employee who possesses little to no remarkable qualities. That is, until one strange day comes along that is filled with other-worldly phenomena. This novella takes place over the course of a single day, and in typical Aira fashion, it is so much more than simply a great story. Aira is  a wonderfully clever novelist. He is also deeply philosophical and adept at weaving in surreal musings on life throughout his writing.

Varamo is beyond a page turner; it is perfectly plausible to finish this book in one delectable sitting. I highly recommend as a travel read.

Liza Brenner & Kathleen Byrd: Nostalgia: Landscapes, Interiors, and Figures

Friday, May 31, 2019 – 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Liza Brenner’s and Kathleen Byrd’s collaboration considers the theme of nostalgia, a peculiar kind of memory that includes visceral longing. Their works explore the immediate potency and some of the triggers of nostalgia, such as places (landscapes and interiors), photographs and figures, that bring the past into the present moment. Their collaboration has included sharing works in progress, discussing artistic concepts, influences, and techniques; and ultimately working together on a mixed media painting with poetry. The evening will feature paintings, poetry reading, and conversation with the artists.

Liza Brenner teaches art and Kathleen Byrd teaches writing at South Puget Sound Community College.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

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My Year of Rest and Relaxation By Ottessa Moshfegh

This is the blues. This is also a rebirth — and above all, an intelligent story about the pain and recovery of a modern convalescent, whose ills are of the psyche.

Most people would agree that true transformation comes from facing your crisis, your tragedy, your whatever-it-is head on. Moshfegh suggests a different remedy in the face of psychic pain: act like an animal and go into deep hibernation. The narrator is knee deep in the muck of her life; flashes of her painful past are on the verge of immobilizing her. What does she do? Listen to her instincts and self-medicate into oblivion. Moshfegh is a talented writer, nose diving into the very personal grit of her character’s lives. This story unravels into something darkly humorous, relatable, and transformative.