Litstack Rec: The Boys of My Youth & Aurora

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The Boys of My Youth, by Jo Ann Beard When it was released in 1998, I somehow missed Jo Ann Beard’s debut collection of essays, but as luck would have it, I recently fell down an Internet rabbit hole and ended up here, at the first publication of her now iconic essay, “The Fourth State [….]

Our 2018 Favorite Reads

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From my reading of the past year, some favorites—here a memoir-in-essays and three story collections. 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 in the sixteen essays that make up Alexander Chee’s 2018 memoir, the author dives deep, [….]

Litstack Rec: My Misspent Youth & Santa 17

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My Misspent Youth, essays by Meghan Daum My introduction to Daum and her essays was Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, her account of wanting, finding, losing and finding the ideal home. It’s a memoir of coming into one’s own in regard to matters of money—real estate, mortgages, income and outflow. [….]

Why Do People Read Bad Books?

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Recently I’ve been reading What Makes This Book So Great, by Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Jo Walton.  In it, she takes various essays regarding the science fiction/fantasy genre originally blogged on Tor.com, and incorporates them under a single cover.  It’s a fascinating read from a well versed and extremely well read woman who [….]

LitStack Rec: Two Award-Winning Titles from WTAW Press & Born A Crime

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And There And There was Evening And There Was Morning, Essays on Illness, Loss, and Love, by Mike Smith The Truth About Me: Stories, by Louise Marburg WTAW Press, a new independent nonprofit publisher, hit a home run last week when their two inaugural titles, released in 2017, each received top prizes from the Independent [….]

LitStack Rec: I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place & Siege Line

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I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place: A Memoir, by Howard Norman Howard Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place, is a collection of five long essays, each connected by a time and event of what the author calls an “arresting strangeness.” A Midwest summer of working in a bookmobile and an encounter with [….]

LitStaff Recs: The Empathy Exams & Three Parts Dead

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The Empathy Exams: Essays, by Leslie Jamison The Empathy Exams blends memoir, literary, cultural and moral investigation, and its essays are rich, astute, and candid. This is Jamison’s second book (following a 2011 novel The Gin Closet), winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize that went on to the New York Times bestseller list. Jamison [….]

LitStack Rec: Changing My Mind & Hunger Makes the Wolf

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Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, by Zadie Smith This collection of essays came about by accident, Zadie Smith tells us in the foreword, but the voice and curiosity behind it makes this read seamless and satisfying. My hope, as a reader of essays, is to learn something, whether the topic is snow camping or religious [….]

LitStack Recs: Crash Course & Ninefox Gambit

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Crash Course: essays from where writing and life collide, by Robin Black The third book from short story writer and novelist Robin Black collects her recent essays, many of which first appeared on the great, and sadly erstwhile literary blog, Beyond the Margins. Crash Course, subtitled essays from where writing and life collide, is aptly [….]

Litstack Recs: Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House & A Natural History of Dragons

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Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House, by Meghan Daum The moral of this story might run be careful what you wish for, especially if the house you get doesn’t live up to the fantasy you’ve been harboring. For Meghan Daum, novelist, essayist, L.A. Times columnist and extreme home aficiondo, the pursuit [….]