Litstack recs | The Marriage Plot, by Jeffery Eugenides

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The Marriage Plot, by Jeffery Eugenides “Heartbreak is funny to everyone but the heartbroken.” That ironic reflection comes early in Jeffrey Eugenides’ lively 2011 novel. The observation is made by Madeleine Hanna, one of three central characters, all of whom are students at Brown University. We meet them on the morning of graduation in 1982: [….]

Litstack Recs: The Vexations & Pet

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The Vexations: a novel, by Caitlin Horrocks The lives of artists must portray artmaking for what it is: work—anything else is a romanticized view—and Caitlin Horrock’s debut novel, The Vexations, occupies just that; it’s an intricate portrayal of the life of modernist composer Erik Satie—and his artmaking—that mines his most nuanced sensibilities: the way a [….]

Litstack Recs: There There & Emily Eternal

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There There: A novel, by Tommy Orange Brilliant, innovative, lyric. Tommy Orange’s stunning fiction debut is all those things, but trying to describe this eclectic, very personal, and contemporary novel in adjectives doesn’t do it justice. Called “groundbreaking, extraordinary” by The New York Times, and garnering praise from People Magazine to Entertainment Weekly, and awarded [….]

Litstack Recs: The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries & LaRose

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The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries, by Emma Thompson Emma Thompson’s diary tracks the making of the award-winning Sense and Sensibility with Thompson’s trademark dry wit and in fascinating detail. The 1995 film, directed by Ang Lee, garnered seven Oscar nominations, with Thompson winning the Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her companion (published in [….]

Litstack Rec: Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend & The Wanderers

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Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges Don’t be misled by the tabloid nature of the title. Hodges’ biography is a meticulously researched and carefully constructed account of one of early cinema’s most notable icons. You could be forgiven for not knowing the work of Anna May Wong, [….]

Litstack Recs: How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays & Wintering

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How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays, by Alexander Chee “Writing is a way of going to the depth of Being,” wrote Marguerite Yourcenar, and the sixteen essays that make up Alexander Chee’s 2018 memoir are at their heart about writing—but they are also about striving to succeed as a writer, reconciling the pain and [….]

Litstack Rec: The Dead Fish Museum & Suicide Woods

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The Dead Fish Museum: Stories, by Charles D’Ambrosio Charles D’Ambrosio’s 2006 story collection The Dead Fish Museum, is set in the Pacific Northwest landscape with its majestic Shasta Cascade mountain range, conifer forests, and crisp air, a setting that informs place, and character. Of the author, and this book, Michael Chabon has said, “Charles D’Ambrosio [….]

Litstack Rec: An Unnecessary Woman & A Song for a New Day

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An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alameddine “I like outsiders,” Aaliya Sohbi tells us, “phantoms wandering the cobwebbed halls of the doomed castle where life must be lived.” The narrator of Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman, is herself an outsider, a reclusive, seventy-two-year-old bibliophile who lives alone in the Beirut apartment she’s inhabited since the fifties. [….]

LitStack Rec: This Boy’s Life and Landscape With Invisible Hand

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This Boy’s Life: A Memoir, by Tobias Wolff  First published in 1989, Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life has become a classic of the contemporary memoir, the kind of book you can finish, like I did, in nearly one sitting. Wolff, the author of numerous works of fiction, including short stories, novels, and a second memoir, has [….]

Litstack Recs: Vanity Fair & Slade House

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Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray The early nineteenth century didn’t have reality television, but it did have William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair—and if you’re in need of a novel to escape into, this is the one. Vanity Fair is a classic of social-climbing, backbiting, profligate behavior, and true love. Subtitled A Novel Without a [….]