An Unkindness of Ghosts

Kathryn’s Staff Pick:

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An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

I could not put this book down. Life on the ship Matilda is brutal. Picture an antebellum plantation set in space. But there is beauty here too. Solomon’s prose is lyrical and profound. Their greatest strength is their characterization – Aster, Theo, Giselle, and the Sovereign will stick with you. I loved the gender variance and queerness in this book, as well as the commentary on race and class. Recommended for fans of N.K. Jemisin.



Elise’s Staff Pick:


Milkman by Anna Burns

Given the chance, Milkman will become your world. Classify it as an unconventional historical novel about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. A tightly woven community is tenuously held together by oblique conflict and social codes. This novel is centered around “Middle Sister” who is not alone in lacking a proper name: only referents are used. I am still amazed at how much Anna Burns was able to eloquently pull off: there is the lack of names, and then the extreme intimacy, the heavy weight vocabulary, the frenetic pacing, and everything else. Engrossing, difficult and so so wonderful.

Baby, I Don’t Care

Elise’s Staff Pick:

Baby, I don't care


Minnis’s poems read like scenes taken from a screen writer’s notebook. Written with the psychological narrative structure reminiscent of 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 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 Answers

Elise’s Pick:

The Answers by Catherine Lacey

Researchers and a really rich guy think they have devised a way to eliminate emotional pain, specifically the pain of loving another. Mary is an abject protagonist. She is searching for an escape from illness and the mundanity of her days. The particular way in which she finds herself smack dab in the middle of these strange experiments makes this book a genuine page turner … good luck putting it down!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Elise’s Pick:

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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.

Two Serious Ladies

Elise’s Staff Pick:


Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles

A delightfully odd tale. Written in 1943 by modernist Jane Bowles. In “Two Serious Ladies” we enter the orbit of two women, both teetering on the edge of abjectivity. One of the women roams Staten Island on a spiritual quest, whose path involves random encounters with strange men. The other woman is on a seemingly endless vacation in Panama, languidly passing time. What is the link between these two? They each make preposterous choices that are equally motivated by boredom and curiosity. Somehow this book manages to be humourous in its telling, yet earnest in its pursuit. Bottom line: this story is well written and these women are fascinating. They consistently muster up an unusual species of bravery on their existential quest to knowing themselves.

I Remember Nightfall

Elise’s Staff Pick:

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I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio, translated by Jeannine Marie Pitas

This is the very first comprehensive collection of poetry by Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio. Her poems are whimsical, fantastical and writhing with imagination. She is a poet with the special gift for transforming every ordinary moment into pure magic. In these poems, everything sparkles, wiggles, and is imbued with the unusual. I feel as a child would, opening a book of fairy tales on a breezy summer day, completely absorbed and enchanted by each poem. Marosa’s poems are not all whimsy; she fearlessly delves into the shadow-side of life. Darkness and strange creatures roam her pages alongside the disarming rays of daylight and twinkling fairies.

      This is a beautiful publication collecting four books of poetry, with facing pages containing the Spanish. This book of poetry is for anyone with a bent towards the fantastical, searching for a truly other-worldly summer read.


Poem 35 from “The History of Violets”

      I remember the white, creased cabbages–white roses of the earth, of the gardens–cabbages of marble, of most delicate porcelain; cabbages holding their children inside.
And the tall blue chards.
And the tomato, kidney of rubies.
And the onions wrapped in silky paper, rolling paper, like bombs of sugar, salt, alcohol.
And the gnome asparagus, turrets of the kingdom of the gnomes.
I remember the potatoes, and the tulip we always planted among them.
And the snakes with their long, orange wings.
And the tobacco of the fireflies, who smoked without ceasing.
I remember eternity.