In a former life I worked on the Austrian crime writer Wolf Haas‘ first Simon Brenner book translated into English—the brilliantly funny Brenner and God. I flat-out loved that book enough that I went ahead and recently ordered from Ariadne Press the only other Haas book in English, The Weather Fifteen Years Ago. Haas is a comedic genius and a bold innovator of style who somehow finds a way to approach the avant-garde while crafting immensely readable—and above all funny—narratives for anyone and everyone to enjoy. If Brenner and God is a cross between a Carl Hiaasen novel and a Coen brothers film, then The Weather Fifteen Years ago is an Austrian Pale Fire with Will Ferrell as Charles Kinbote.
Paul Oliver, Marketing, Reincarnation-ist
I’m rereading William Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck. Someone somewhere at some point recently either said or wrote something about esoteric, language-focused lit being frustrating at its core, and that if it weren’t frustrating it wouldn’t be doing its job. That’s nice to hear. It makes me less anxious about ‘keeping up’ and gives me a chance to do other things like iron clothes or fold clothes or experiment with fabric dyes while I’m reading it.
Rudy Martinez, Marketing, Bear Slayer
Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell is mixing up my presents, pasts, and futures – but when you’re a time traveler, and everyone at the party is yourself at different ages, things feel a little unreal and a lot confusing. The best time travel books do that to you – sweep you along in a swirl of excitement, small-but-significant details, and complicated human psyches – and you’re left always trying to get a step ahead (should be easy if you know the future, right?), just like your poor protagonist, trying to save his world.
Katie Hoffman, Editorial Assistant,
I’m currently reading Colum McCann’s DANCER, but I want to dial back for a moment and blab about the book I had only just started last Friday when we posted, Heather O’Neill’s LULLABIES FOR LITTLE CRIMINALS. It’s really one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and one I want to recommend to everyone. It’s the story of a 12-year-old girl named Baby who grows up on the wrong side of the tracks (tracks being the tracks in her 27-year-old dad’s arms) in Montreal, and who gets by on her creativity and imagination. I also want to beg prospective readers not to be distracted by the book synopsis, which sounds like unmitigated horror and sadness—I can’t explain why, because the text is accurate, but the book is beautifully written, uplifting, and really, really affecting. Especially the affecting part—I feel like reading it opened up a piece of my heart that had been closed for a long time. The book makes you think twice about your understanding of what a “bad person” is, and, I think, if you’re anything like me, it will make you less quick to affix that label in the future.
Juliet Grames, Senior Editor, Bearer of Treats
I’m reading many, many issues of The New Yorker, on which I managed to get woefully behind last month with all the travel. Insert pretension here. It’s actually really interesting to be reading the articles after many of the things about which they’re writing (the health care reform bill, Moonrise Kingdom, etc.) have already come to pass. Some of their predictions and opinions have been spot on, and in other places the hindsight has revealed some of the biases that one “knows” are there but can be hidden without some perspective. Laura Lippman’s And When She Was Good is staring me down, and I can’t wait to start that.
Meredith Barnes, Marketing, Pretensionist
Dan Ehrenhaft, Teen Editor, National Book Award Judge (hence the can’t tell)
I’m currently reading my university’s “Freshman book” for this year, Lysley Tonorio‘s Monstress, in preparation for the discussion I’m leading this fall. Lysley Tonorio is (you guessed it!) an associate professor at Saint Mary’s, writing about the clash of cultures, specifically American and Filipino, in his collection of short stories.
Koko Petitt, Intern, Fashionista