Litstack Rec: The Vexations and The Lost Child of Lychford

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The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks One of my favorites books of this year, Caitlin Horrock’s debut novel, The Vexations, is an intricate portrayal of the life of modernist composer Erik Satie, and his artmaking, that mines his most nuanced sensibilities. Throughout this enchanting novel, it’s the details that matter: the way a street looks, the [….]

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 [….]

Litstack Rec: Car Trouble & The Sol Majestic

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As Car Trouble opens, it’s one a.m., and the novel’s young protagonist, Nicky Flynn, is driving backwards through the streets of Brooklyn in a Chevy Impala. The car, nicknamed the Blue Max, operates only in reverse, due to a jammed gearshift, and belongs to his impulsive father, Patrick. Patrick, who Nicky wryly refers as “Himself,” [….]

Litstack Recs: Arranged Marriage: Stories & Shadow Run

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Arranged Marriage: Stories, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni The eleven stories in Arranged Marriage reveal Chitra Banerjee Divrakaruni’s gift for chronicling female cultural dislocation and the compound identities that come with leaving one place, and its engrained customs and beliefs, for another. An acclaimed poet, novelist, Divakaruni portrays Indian-born women and girls, characters who encounter jarring, [….]

Litstack Recs – Fear: Trump in the White House & A City Dreaming

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Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward With this week’s news that impeachment of the president looks to be on the table, some nostalgic reading may be in order. Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward has been called a bookend to the Nixon story, a tale of hubris, an account [….]

Litstack Rec: The Vexations & Relics

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

Litstack Rec: Epilogue: A Memoir & Zombie Baseball Beatdown

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Epilogue: A Memoir, by Will Boast Both a remembrance and a elegiac account of the loss of a family, Boast’s 2014 memoir (a recipient of The Rome Prize) tracks the tragic early death of his mother Nancy, the untimely death of his younger brother Rory, and the family secret left behind after his father Andrew’s [….]