Tiphanie Yanique's Monster in the Middle is an ambitious novel. It's a story about love that sets out to capture both minds and hearts. Like an earnest suitor, it declares its intentions from the start: in the epigraph that laments the challenge of being taken seriously when writing about love and in a prologue that explores the complex nature of romantic love. To varying degrees, it succeeds on both counts.
Guatelombian poet, screenwriter, and multi-medium artist Melissa Lozada-Oliva’s debut novel, Dreaming of You, is a beautiful confluence of verse and prose. In it, a Latina poet, also named Melissa, brings Tejano pop star Selena Quintanilla back to life through a séance. This uncanny version of Selena confronts the protagonist with the figment of her personal and cultural obsessions: from the beauty of Selena she’s tried to emulate with her friends, to the idea of how she should act around a boyfriend, and the fear of violence against women’s bodies that later withdraws her from intimacy. Organized into a four-act play, Dreaming of You pushes the limits of its verse-prose hybrid narrative form to explore the complexity of modern, generational immigrant identity of Latina women.
This is a creepy, meticulously-crafted tragedy and frankly, one of the most beautifully written haunted stories I've ever read. As in the best ghost stories, the house is full of ghosts, but it's the people who are the houses.
In its barbed appraisal of New York’s hypercompetitive social scene, Marlowe Granados’s debut novel, Happy Hour, plumbs this tension between the occasional thrill of the party and the tiresome morass of navigating its cartographies.
On the April day that gives Donald Antrim’s book its title, the novelist had to be coaxed off a fire escape. “I was there to die,” he writes in a vivid memoir whose existence — and subtitle, “A Story of Suicide and Survival” — prove that his goal was thankfully thwarted. Antrim, a MacArthur “genius” grant winner whose books include “Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World” and “The Hundred Brothers,” checked himself into a hospital in 2006 and found enough composure to write this bracing memoir about his experience.
Lauren Elkin’s latest book, No. 91/92: Notes on a Parisian Commute, is a bus diary, but it is also a sort of manifesto to the bus, and to urban existence. She writes about Paris, not London, where there are fewer buses overall but no parallel loss in ridership (pandemic notwithstanding). Elkin set herself the project of recording her experiences riding to and from her work teaching university students English on the eponymous 91 and 92 bus lines, and she kept to this assignment, more or less, for the full academic year of 2014-15. There are a few entries written from the metro or the back of a taxi, but mostly, the reader falls in with Elkin’s routine of catching the 8:12 in the morning (or just missing it) and beating rush hour in the afternoon. She took these notes on the Notes app on her phone, though she also criticizes her fellow passengers for getting so into their phones that “they forget where they are.” According to her introduction, the text has only been lightly edited for spelling and punctuation, making them true records of the day they were written.