Music is church and a vehicle for Hanif Abdurraqib to explore and understand the contemporary moment, particularly how black identity and white identity fit together within the current political landscape. The essays are lent strength in his authoritative and poetic voice. Thoughtful and nuanced cultural criticism with a good built-in mix tape, because you gotta listen to what he's writing about while you read it.
Written unconventionally and with a fragmented narrative, this genre-bending story follows a man, his two young sons, and a giant crow who aids the family after the unexpected death of the family's matriarch. Funny, heartbreaking, beautiful, and insane, like all the best things.
One of the best books of 2017.
Claire-Louise Bennett's sprawling prose captures the tone of the story she's trying to tell in this debut novel. It's like reading the universe. Her skill shines in how easily the reader is transported into the mind of the narrator, who lives in solitude and chronicles her experiences into something meaningful. I didn't think I wanted read about what vegetables somebody had on their cold stone window sill until I read this book. She writes about (seemingly) boring stuff and makes it interesting.
This book is Maggie Nelson's memoir-ish about her experience with her gender fluid partner. Nelson's poetic essays (read her poetry, too) tells the story of the making of a queer family. Great.
Everybody should read Bonnie Jo Campbell. She's graced with a beautiful sort of wretched prose—much like Cormac McCarthy but from Michigan. This story is a great place to start. About once a month I think about the detail she wrote where a man had been shot in the head (or struck by an object?) and he fell onto a snow packed ground and wasn't found for a couple of days, but the snow was so cold that it preserved the man's brains. I think he lived too. It was remarkable and believable. There's another story I think about sometimes too, where this extended family had split up and lived on opposite sides of a lake because of some incident that happened surrounding a child in the family.
We need more books like this.
Full of remarkable anecdotes, illustrious characters, and personal musings ("I still maintain that rock 'n' roll should be self-taught")—and interspersed with Dickinson's poetry—this posthumous autobiography reads as a Who's Who in the Memphis and greater southern music scenes. His take on southern music will prove to be an important document for those who study the genre's history. Jim, by the way, was the founder and leader of the Yalobushwackers (Thacker Mountain Radio's house band) for a number of years. Please join us April 6th for an event with Dickinson's widow, Mary Lindsay Dickinson.