Cara M. Staff Picks
Crystalline structure is built and ruptured, with the many minutae of life and death woven both tightly and loosely throughout. Inger Christensen can grab you by the hair, shake you roughly, then leave you with a gentle hug and a peck on each cheek.
Coming in February 2020, Open Letter's translation of Rodoreda's Catalan novel is deceptively smooth and simple, just like its protagonist. An aging gardener watches as many summers pass in the lives of the rich socialites whose villa he tends. But does their flashy, flowery beauty have anthing on his beloved garden, at the end of it all?
MacFarlane's new book is GENIUS. He tackles deep time (the time of rocks moving) at its source, delving deep below the earth amongst a variety of places and people, from particle scientists in underground dark matter labs to roving cataphiles beneath the Parisian catacombs. His excavation doesn't stop at tunnelling through the earth; he also digs into wonderfully evocative language, inventing wildly beautiful new ways to describe the undescribable.
I was blindsided by the skill and dexterity with which Susan Choi layers this novel. It's an alluringly complex study of what reality and consent really mean. Pair that with the backdrop of a performing arts high school, and you've got something golden.
Who could not fall for the audaciously single, passionately alive, manipulatively nurturing Miss Brodie? After all, as she constantly tells her girls, she's in her prime. She's gracing both them and us with her unabashed presence.
Did you ever make a prank call? Remedios Varo did it better. Prank letters to random psychiatrists, prank research papers, prank party invitations… infused with a plethora of surrealist goodies. Plus Margaret Carson!
A great, quick subway read. The first in a trilogy of intergalactic proportions. Binti is the first of her people to enter space, but her journey to the University abruptly becomes a cosmic nightmare.
She gets life. And how to parse it into tiny, beautiful, digestable verses. I'm humbled.
This is the perfect book to travel with. It displaces you from space and time, piercing behind the veil of the everyday to suffuse you with the sense of something more. I find myself thinking about it still, months later.
Here are her earliest stories (plus a few new ones), finally readily available! She was clearly just born with the ability to strike the heart and truth of anything with a pure, simple structure. She’s amazing!
This novella is a shot of pure adrenaline. Seriously, I naively opened it on the morning of a busy and important day, then spent every spare second of the next ten hours blazing through it. It's weird, it's touching, it's surreal, it's rock n' roll.
This story already exists deep in everyone's veins, but Richard Powers' acute perception bleeds it straight into the consciousness. I'm head-over-heels in love.
This is the deep exploration of a girl's existence. Written in brilliant stream-of-consciousness prose that exfoliates every layer of nature and nurture gone into the making of her.
A haunting coming-of-age story that reinvents the genre with Mitchell's uncanny ability to parse crystalline truths from the larger-than-life world of an adolescent. It's simply so honest.
Short stories reminiscent of Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties! Veins of fen magic, dark and sensuous, twist through each woman's story, entwining in subtle but impactful moments.
This is a fierce debut! Beautiful, lucid prose, and characters who came to life fully on the page. Their stories converge into the early formation of Liberia with a twist of magical realism.
This is a beautiful study of love and life in a world of crisis. The political vista within which Saeed and Nadia struggle to maintain a day-to-day existence is a timely illustration of the political vista threatening to envelop our country today; a world where borders are created and destroyed, security and stability are upended in an instant, and the value of a human life is weighed in increasingly untenable terms.
Wolf herself is such a fascinating subject, so of course her writing is as well. This short but dense novel is a haunting portrayal of the body in crisis and its impact on the self. Philosophical, political, literary--simultaneously the stuff of life and dreams.
I have no words to describe the beauty and importance of this book. Roxane Gay bravely and honestly writes her story, a story that resonates on the deepest, densest, most human part of our souls.
It's like a 360 degree panoramic view of the classic Clytemnestra story, including x-ray vision into the tale's most morally conflicted souls. Martha Graham choreographed a powerful retelling from the titular woman's perspective, so I could not be happier to see that trend continued here, with Toibin's first section written from Clytemnestra's point of view.
I'm not usually a fan of "list five [insert subject] that changed your life," but this book is my exception. It has become a flower- and thorn-laden vine growing wild near my own heart.
This is early Margaret Atwood at her best. Each short story fiercely probes the nucleus of a woman's psychology. Not a single word is wasted; every mundane detail takes on a sacred significance, accumulating by the end of each story into the entire world encapsulated in a mere twenty pages.
This book is just the most beautiful literary meditation on art and nature that I could imagine. Even in translation, there's a potency to the wonderfully evocative language that really resonates somewhere deep within. I definitely experienced visceral heart-wrenches at multiple passages.
Gombrowicz is such a riveting writer. He creates this nebulous, atmospheric prose that alternates between hard-boiled fiction and a metaphysical stream-of-consciousness. Then, every once in a while, he pierces through the cloud with a perfect expression that just shatters your heart. And the translation from the Polish by Danuta Borchardt is so creatively thought through. I really really recommend this one!
The daily horrors of living inside Ceausescu's Romania are recorded here in a story that is both blunt and poetic, real and mysterious. The boundary between the outer and inner landscapes has melted away..