Some Suggested Reading for the Summer of 2015

The bookseller in me felt compelled to use what forum I have here at AUFS not simply for self-indulgent evil (e.g., my serialized short stories), but for greater cultural good! To that end, I present a few books I heartily recommend for you, the educated and/or curious, who frequent these parts.

First … and this is the only time sequence matters in this list … is John Keene’s magnificent Counternarratives. I’ve cannot stop telling people about this book. Halfway through the year, it is my book of 2015, and very confident its demands for our attention will endure for considerably longer. Of it I’ve written:

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I trust a good many of you already about the next book, but it bears repeating. If you’re not talking to somebody this summer about Maggie Nelson’s latest essayistic poetry, The Argonauts, I’m not sure what it is you have to talk about.

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Next up … and, yes, I know, all of these so far have been hardcover, but I think this is the last one such … is Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Suffice it to say, it’s been a good year for Nell. There is bound to be a backlash — maybe there already is — what for all the hype and such. But, who cares, she’s funny & smart as hell. What’s more, she knows it. I will defy the inevitable defiance and encourage you to read along. My blurb review made its way to an industry newsletter.

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Poetry! Everybody reads it during the summer, right? Maybe not . . . but if, so, find yourself a copy of Nathaniel Mackey’s Blue Fasa. Don’t be surprised when you begin, and it seems as though you’ve entered a concert mid-program. Mackey’s poetic project has spanned several books now, each one introducing a new movement, all of them influenced by a variety of rhythms and instruments. This kind of description is often attended by poetry workshop eyeball . . . but, if you just go with it, and you keep close at hand Kevin Coval &c.’s The BreakBeat Poetsping-ponging your eyes back & forth from Mackey to it, you’ll find one of the few unrestrained joys you’re likely to have this summer.

Valeria Luiselli’s Story of My Teeth is not out in the States until September, but if you’re in & about Europe you already have access to it. Whenever you should get your hands on it, you’re in for a pleasure. Her debut (in English) Faces in the Crowd was feted with attention and praise, and I suspect Story of My Teeth will introduce her to a wider audience still. I wrote a blurb for her American publisher
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Finally — and I recommend you just keep this one around you all summer, in a bag, to punctuate whatever else you might be reading, from this list or others — it’s much better than Twitter, I promise — I implore you to get a copy of Sergio Pitol’s classic (in nearly every language but, until now, English!), The Art of Flight. In an age where everybody it seems is writing an autobiographical essay, Pitol is, I think, the master. Memory curves into anticipation, always rounding back into one another, and through it all PItol is the multi-cultural maestro, never so much guiding you along as two steps further, hopping over the names that he’s dropped into puddles.

2 Responses to “Some Suggested Reading for the Summer of 2015”

  1. Brad Says:

    A quick addendum. I really should have included one of the newly translated books by Enrique Vila-Matas. Both are tailor-made for reading with a summery drink nearby. In particular I recommend his BRIEF HISTORY OF PORTABLE LITERATURE. A delightful, loving spoof of high modernism, and movements in general. But more than that a kind of love song to creativity.

  2. carlgregg Says:

    Thank you for this list. I was on vacation this past week, and had chance to read both Zink’s Mislaid (which I enjoyed) and Nelson’s Argonauts (which is definitely on a whole other level of powerful).


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