Elise is works as the bookshop manager at Browsers. She takes pleasure in offering reading recommendations on the daily, and can't wait to learn what you're reading! She participates in an array of book-centered activities in Olympia. Her current favorite authors include George Saunders, Clarice Lispector, Cesar Aira, Hilda Doolittle and, Ottessa Moshfegh. You can find her taking winding walks around her neighborhood, or at a coffee shop buried beneath a short stack of books and journals.
One of the most vital novels I've read this year! I rooted for this family of misfits as they navigated their own messy life circumstances with such dignity and presence. This novel feels like a story of American to me: our collective need for stability, our desire for freedom, and ultimately the call to feel that you belong somewhere and are a part of something bigger. Veselka's characters are powerful and unwavering in their path of becoming. A strong novel that you're sure to fall deep into; I can't wait to read whatever she writes next. Bonus: Veselka is a PNW author and she nails the ambience and mood of her home region.
Rosamund Young writes from a lifetime of experience living with and raising cattle at her farm Kite's Nest in Worcetershire, England. These cows, with their charming and goofy names, are *such* personalities -- and are endowed with all of the behavorial quirks one might expect from an intelligent creature. Delightful turns of phrase pepper nearly every page, combined with her deep love for the bovines, makes this such a joy to read!
A visionary collage of the archival dig. Howe is a sensitive and curious researcher, making highly particular and sometimes astounding connections in this visual essay. I was so moved by her discussion of early theologian Johnathan Edwards. This book will inspire you to write, create, or get lost in the archives.
The best way to read this book is in a slow and unfocused manner. Moshfegh's old woman moves through the world intuitively-- forget logic, the world is speaking to her in signs and symbols at every turn. Eerie, uncertain, and very atmospheric, this novel will transport you into a world of mystery and intrigue in a small town USA. Whether or not the mystery is real or imagined is kind of up to you ...
Krasznahorkai is one of the great Hungarian literary writers today. This book is his latest, and purportedly his last, novel. The Baron in question is supposedly very wealth. That piece of news, along with his unusual elegance and behavior, casts a shadow of mania and confusion upon his returns to the small Hunagarian town he grew up in. A rich, detailed, and epic account of the fall of an individual, a city, and a national identity. For a novel concerned with endings and undoings, there is so much absurdity and laughter to be had within these pages.
This is a novel that imparts a universe onto its reader; it is ambitious and rewarding, staring into the depths of life and asking the question: what does an ending have to say about the entirety of the thing itself? Don't be daunted by the length or long sentence structures throughout; this tale is eminently readable and worth the initial effort.
Hands down one of the most lyrical novels I've read this year! What grows out of Antonia's grief after a series of sudden familial losses is: resiliency, tenacity, and a deep, inhabitable wisdom. Antonia's hushed strength surfaces as she's positioned to question her actions, and the values that uphold them, now that her husband isn't there to act as a reminder for them both. Her persistent self reflection gives this novel a unique interiority and depth. I can't recommend this one enough!
This book is for anyone whose ever wondered if Sasquatch was lurking just outside their tent.Taking place in a remote location in the Mt. Rainier area, a Silicon Valley, tech forward group of individuals are living harmoniously in an intentional community. Things start to get weird shortly after the volcanic eruption, but the real story begins after the first sasquatch family sighting days later. This group of people is woefully ill prepared for the dangers they find themselves in: no supplies and no weapons. Their problem solving in a deadly emergency made me root for this group, and what becomes of the sasquatch clan will keep you up late! A tale of total calamity that places a special form of hope on human ingenuity in a crisis.
A fascinating romp of a read!
Michael Rips, longtime art lover and devotee of the legendary Chelsea Flea, tells his personal history of days spent roaming the flea and visiting the people who populate it. Every dealer is a story teller at the flea, and most know how to create an allure around the objects they sell. Michael finds himself incapable of resisting the urge to collect contemporary African ritual objects, old robes and garments too precious to wear, and antique frames whose glass inserts have taken on the imprint ("ghost image") of what they once held. He finds that the flea and its dealers influence his tastes and desires, and his relation to material objects becomes more and more important as time passes.
This is truly a memoir of obsession and a reckoning with the surprising objects that draw us in, forever leaving their marks upon us.
"One does not grow up desiring to be a vedor or picker or hoarder, one does not go to school for it; the flea market is a clearing, found accidentally, on a path to, or away from, some other place. So there is an empathy in that space for those who are unsettled -- those for whom life's chaos is more tangible than its certainties."
What a delicious read, and one that fed my soul.The quiet, inner space of this woman writers world is explored in this sparse and lovely novel. I was deeply moved by the determination and devotion of the central character, the writer.Somewhat accidentally, she marries into money after a lifetime of working hard, low paying jobs. For the first time, she finds herself with the ability to shape her days exactly as she'd like to. Given every other option, she chooses writing over and over again, until at last, she has built a life centered around the act of writing. A fascinating and deep look at the repetition and love that goes into a life of writing.
This charming little book was a total pleasure to read!Bess Kalb's grandmother is a woman I want to know, but also kind of already know (Hi, Grandma). She is the loving, persnickety, at times irrational, always present, and often doting figure in her granddaughter's life. This is a unique take on a memoir: Bess's grandmother tells the story of her life in the first person, written through Bess's eyes. This is a witty, heartfelt, and laugh out loud funny look at her grandmother's legacy.
Normal People tells the story of a fraught, modern day romance. A beautiful and delicate novel; this is a story about the complexities associated with knowing others, knowing yourself, and the healing power of intimacy. Connell and Marianne first began their unsteady relationship in high school. Their attempts to capture their deep, yet fragile connection is the focus of Rooney's book. Her writing is sparse and intelligent -- I could barely put this one down.
Writers & Lovers is a discreet novel in many ways. It snuck up on me, how much I ended up loving it.
Lily King's prose is beautiful and clear; her subject matter is a young woman with two post-graduate degrees and a novel six years in the making. Her world is stretched thin and tense when King first introduces her, Casey. On page one I was already holding my breath, by the end I let out several deep sighs as Casey learns to take on the uncertainties and near calamaties of being a creative 30 year old woman without a perfect plan. This is a lovely and delicate novel whose characters are heavy with the realities of loss, yearning, love, and discovery.
CURRENTLY READING, March 29th, 2020.
I am part way through Tess and I can barely manage to part with this little book! Tess is the eldest sibling born to a peasant family in Victorian England. Her story starts to take off when her father discovers they are descended from noble blood. She is sent to make nice with, and hopefully marry, a descendant from the noble blood line. Tess is convinced to pursue such a seemingly frutiless pursuit out of guilt. Tess's complicated coming of age begins to unfold at the d'Urberville estate, where she is faced with the duty of fulfilling her promise to her family in a grave situation. Hardy wrote this book in serialized format, so each chapter is a riveting world in itself! I am excited to read Hardy's elegant, pastoral prose, and learn how Tess navigates her new lot.
This book took my breath away. I've been working through Woolf's writing for a few years now, and have developed an appreciation for her singular style. Katharine Smyth does a beautiful job of engaging Woolf's difficult To the Lighthouse from the vantage point of the loss of her beloved (but also difficult) father. Expansive, graceful, and stunningly written, Smyth plunges the depth of human strength and mortality, with Woolf as her guide.
Brooks’s excellent and eerie descriptions of place, particularly the perilous English marshland, paired with the haunting mystery behind the curlew's bone, had me hooked. Virginia’s present day circumstance is shrouded in a series of mysterious events that took place the year she was adopted. Told through a succession of psychologically deft flashbacks, Salt Winds imparts itself through atmosphere and memory, becoming an uncannily familiar place that I couldn’t easily step away from.
This cookbook helped me regain a deep love for ingredients and cooking. Goyoaga's recipes are whole food centric and succeed at combining earthy, Basque region inspired sweets meets Pacific Northwest spreads. She is attuned to the importance of simple yet elegantly presented dishes; the images in this book will inspire any cook who enjoys a beautiful plate. Cooking from Cannelle et Vanille has taught me the importance of a singular element that can transform a dish. My favorite instances of this are capers sauteed in olive oil right before being placed atop a nicoise salad, or a quick zest of orange to spike an otherwise mellow apple cake. Aditonally, I have become a sourdough and almond flour convert, integrating these two baking necessities into nearly every treat I make these days. This cookbook is for anyone looking to fall in love with food again, and to those who have difficult to cook for food sensitivities, I cannot recommend this book enough.
I've never been to the Dakotas and I am not Catholic, yet I couldn't put this book down. Norris's observations of the landscape she is steeped in, and its inhabitants, is mesmerizing. Living in a smaller town myself, I can relate to and appreciate her musings on the people-dynamics, as well as the importance geography plays in one's life living in a quieter place. I recommend this to readers of Berry, Merton, Basho, and the like.
Reading this essay was my present to myself upon turning 30. How to prioritize writing and the intellectual life is perhaps a perennial question, framed by Woolf for the 20th century. In a delightfully wistful yet concentrated manner she ponders the lack of women's fiction in publication, and hypothesizes an experiment: every woman bent towards the creative act needs 500 euros a year and a room. The graduate, the creative, or the lover of Woolf will find solace in her words.
What a gripping read! Ramos expertly sets the emotional tone of this familar, yet dissonant tale with remarkable ease. The characters desire everything from emotional intimacy to complete financial stability; it is the quest for such things that ends up being the focus of this story. The characters range from a self-made, wealthy Asian American woman with a questionable job title, to a Filipino woman whose hustle is as lucrative as it is destructive. A genuinely good read that delicately broaches complex social and ethical questions.
A very correct person said to me once, “This book is whacked." I will add: in the best possible way. And truly, this is a remarkable coming of age tale. This novel is about growing up for those of us living out a ghostly suspension between life and death. Gathering together all the weirdness and confusion of life in the bardo, Saunders shows us the very human act of not being ready to let go. With formal inventiveness, Saunders uses biography and dialogue in a most unusual way. The effect is the reader feeling empowered to actively participate in the development of the novel's scene, setting, and tone. It's good stuff.At its core, this is really a story about Lincoln's grief as he loses his young son Willie. When Willie enters the bardo he brings with him the curious strength of his father's love. Lincoln's present devotion to his son's earthly form acts to transform everyone's suspended existence into something previously unknowable and beautiful. A kind, empathetic, and deeply moving novel with really weird (read darkly hilarious) parts throughout.
This is my current favorite novel of 2019! I want to emphasize that I absolutley hung onto every word, sentence, and savored the turn of each page as if it were the last. Rivera Garza's world grew like moss around me: lush and increasingly complex.
The narrator is a detective working on her first job in years. The case: a couple that has vanished into the rainforest, leaving behind a photo trail. The importance of the case and her ability to solve it slowly and eerily lose focus as the novel progresses.
Given the chance, Milkman will become your world. Classify it as an unconventional historical novel about The Troubles in Northern Ireland. A tightly woven community is tenuously held together by oblique conflict and social codes. This novel is centered around "Middle Sister" who is not alone in lacking a proper name: only referents are used. I am still amazed at how much Anna Burns was able to eloquently pull off: there is the lack of names,and then the extreme intimacy, the heavy weight vocabulary, the frenetic pacing, and everything else. Engrossing, difficult and so so wonderful.
This is the blues. This is also a rebirth -- and above all, an intelligent story about the pain and recovery of a modern convalescent, whose ills are of the psyche.
Most people would agree that true transformation comes from facing your crisis, your tragedy, your whatever-it-is head on. Moshfegh suggests a different remedy in the face of psychic pain: act like an animal and go into deep hibernation. The narrator is knee deep in the muck of her life; flashes of her painful past are on the verge of immobilizing her. What does she do? Listen to her instincts and self-medicate into oblivion. Moshfegh is a talented writer, nose diving into the very personal grit of her character’s lives. This story unravels into something darkly humorous, relatable, and transformative.
Researchers and a really rich guy think they have devised a way to eliminate emotional pain, specifically the pain of loving another. Mary is an abject protagonist. She is searching for an escape from illness and the mundanity of her days. The particular way in which she finds herself smack dab in the middle of these strange experiments makes this book a genuine page turner ... good luck putting it down!
A chatty and engaging read on the topic of "neuroaesthetics" and the science behind beauty and pleasure. I recommend this book to anyone who ever wondered whether or not we evolved to appreciate and make art. Or for someone asking themselves why it is that beauty and aesthetic experiences are so central to being being human.
This is the very first comprehensive collection of poetry by Uruguayan poet Marosa di Giorgio. Her poems are whimsical, fantastical and writhing with imagination. She is a poet with the special gift for transforming every ordinary moment into pure magic. In these poems, everything sparkles, wiggles, and is imbued with the unusual. I feel as a child would, opening a book of fairy tales on a breezy summer day, completely absorbed and enchanted by each poem. Marosa’s poems are not all whimsy; she fearlessly delves into the shadow-side of life. Darkness and strange creatures roam her pages alongside the disarming rays of daylight and twinkling fairies.
This is a beautiful publication collecting four books of poetry, with facing pages containing the Spanish. This book of poetry is for anyone with a bent towards the fantastical, searching for a truly other-worldly summer read.
This slim novella is yet another home run by the prolific Argentine novelist Cesar Aira. Enter the world of Varamo, a somewhat abject government employee who possesses little to no remarkable qualities. That is, until one strange day comes along that is filled with other-worldly phenomena. This novella takes place over the course of a single day, and in typical Aira fashion, it is so much more than simply a great story. Aira is a wonderfully clever novelist. He is also deeply philosophical and adept at weaving in surreal musings on life throughout his writing.
Varamo is beyond a page turner; it is perfectly plausable to finish this book in one delectable sitting. I highly recommend as a travel read.
Dazzling. Mesmerizing. Sentences that bend under the heft of sheer beauty and truth. You will often find this book shelved in Literature, however it is quite philosphical. Above all, I would declare it to be a meditation on the invisible force of life itself. I recommend this to anyone who is willing to lose themselves in language long enough to experiece Lispector's orientation to the world. If you've never read Lisepector before, Agua Via is the perfect place to start
A delightfully odd tale. Written in 1943 by modernist Jane Bowles. In "Two Serious Ladies" we enter the orbit of two women, both teetering on the edge of abjectivity. One of the women roams Staten Island on a spiritual quest, whose path involves random encounters with strange men. The other woman is on a seemingly endless vacation in Panama, languidly passing time. What is the link between these two? They each make preposterous choices that are equally motivated by boredom and curiosity. Somehow this book manages to be humourous in its telling, yet earnest in its pursuit. Bottom line: this story is well written and these women are fascinating. They consistently muster up an unusual species of bravery on their existential quest to knowing themselves.
My kind of nature writing. Baker has made a study of not only a magnificient hawk, but of language. Written over the course of three seasons in a single year, these journal entries lend themselves to being read at random and savoured
Minnis's poems read like scenes taken from a screen writer's notebook. Written with the psychological narrative structure reminiscent of a classic Hollywood cinema, these hypnotic poems tell the tale of a femme-fatale protagonist from beginning to end. At first, she seems to be the woman of your richest fantasies. Slowly, she reveals herself to be the mistress of your nightmares. What can't Daddy, champagne, a fit of rage, or diamonds solve in the life? Twisting and tugging at the shimmer of the material world, our sweet histrionic squeezes from life every last bit of dignity and pleasure. This book is dark and catchy, sardonic and witty, laced with a sharp sense of humor. One of my favorite books of poetry in 2018.
In early Winter of 2017 I picked up my first novel by Szabo, by late Winter of 2018 I had read everything by her that was translated into English. Szabo creates characters unlike any I have read before: complex, elusive, and somehow so recognizable. "The Door" holds some of my favorite literary characters.
This is an intriguing book about an uncanny friendship between two women. In post-war Hungary Magda (a young novelist) hires Emerence (an old-world housekeeper) to tend to Magda's newly purchased home. The friendship they form is both unlikely and signficant for both. It is also a friendship that goes deep, often one that cuts to the quick. Emerence is a force to be recokoned with, yet she loves her friend Magda in a way that is new and surprising to her. I often felt like I was learning about love and connection alongside Magda as I read.
This book examines the difficulty of intimacy and truly knowing one and other. Szabo writes with humor, treading lightly as she delves into the depth of human experience through the lens of friendship, death, religion and love.