Monday, May 17, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of May 18, 2021

This week we've got a couple new book recommendations from Kay Wosewick, plus three reads from Boswellians on a memoir we're excited about. Let's dive into Kay's first pick, Day Zero, a novel by C Robert Cargill. Kay says, "Cargill’s Sea of Rust was the first book I read where I genuinely cared about an AI character. Cargill has done it again! Day Zero takes place over about the first 24 hours of war between humans and AIs. All AIs are loaded with Azimov's Three Rules of Robotics, but in the early hours of the war, many received a download disabling the kill switch if they disobeyed any of the laws. Of course, the question that arises is, without the kill switch, will AIs - especially those working and living in homes with humans, such as nannies and domestics - turn against humans or not? Day Zero is a dynamite, read-in-one-sitting book!

Kay's next recommendation is another novel: Phase Six, by Jim Shepard. Kay says, "Most pandemic novels track the pandemic’s spread and focus on the accompanying horror. Shepard’s novel is different. Phase Six focuses on two young and inexperienced women the CDC sends to Greenland to assess the seriousness of a small outbreak. The outbreak rapidly becomes a worldwide pandemic, and the women are tasked to study the pathogen. In virtually constant contact, the women come to care for each other deeply, share personal secrets and battle stories, and build on each other’s theories about the pandemic’s unusual patterns. These conversations lead them to release the first plausible model of the pathogen’s mechanics, including how it spreads - a prerequisite to halting it. In Jim Shepard’s nuanced story, the two women are the heroes, not the pathogen."

Finally, we've got three reads on Punch Me Up to the Gods, the debut memoir by Brian Broome. Chris Lee says, "Generous, fearless, funny, and gentle, Broome chronicles his own story to understand how and where he (along with so many other Black outsiders) doesn’t fit in America. His sentences are pure style, a joy to read, and he slips between as many voices as he has existences: Black, gay, poor, masculine, abused, uncool, scared, addicted, ashamed, angry, proud, and full of joy. And on and on. Yes, that’s a lot of signifiers, but only because this is an awful lot of book. Everything a great memoir should be."

Madi Hill adds, "A completely unique book full of moving parts that each inspire deep feelings from the entirety of the emotional spectrum, Punch Me Up to the Gods deserves recognition, as it is one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read."

And from Daniel Goldin, "Told in a series of harrowing, heartbreaking, and sometimes outrageous vignettes and framed by a bus ride (which is sort of a journey to self-realization), Punch Me Up to the Gods confronts the racism and homophobia that led to Broome’s crippling addiction and eventual recovery. A triumph!"

And hopefully you're reading this post in time to click right here and register for Broome's virtual event with us on Tuesday, May 35, 7 pm CDT, in conversation with Chris.

Last but not least, we've got one paperback pick for you this week. Chris also recommends Boys of Alabama, the novel by Genevieve Hudson that's out in trade paperback today. Chris says, "Dark, humid, sweet, dirt, football, religion, death, sex, magic - all words that describe Alabama and this book. It’s something like a fable, making the familiar of the deep American South foreign through eyes of a German family in order to question the place’s most deep-rooted beliefs - faith and what’s forbidden. These characters, the foreign boy, his teammates, the Judge, and the witch, are mesmerizing, as is Hudson’s writing; you will be hypnotized."

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