Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of April 12, 2022

A new week brings new books, and with them come recommendations. This week, in the realm of brand new releases, we've got three Kays, a Jason, and a Daniel. So let's get into it.

Kay Wosewick starts us off with the novel At the Edge of the Woods by Masatsugu Ono, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. Kay says: "Ono stealthily darkens the lives of a family who recently moved to a foreign country. They live in a house at the edge of a forest. The few locals they meet tell frightening stories about the woods. When the wife becomes pregnant, she returns home to have the baby in a safer setting. Left alone, father and son turn inward and become unable to have a conversation, much less draw comfort from each other. Fear and isolation give way to paranoia, then loss of touch with reality. This is a perfect book for readers of psychological horror."

Next is Kay for All Is Not Lost: 20 Ways to Revolutionize Disaster by Alex Zamalin. Kay says: "Zamalin's pocket-sized handbook is well-timed. Twenty strategies that have been successfully used to shift political and social tides - mostly in the United States during the past two centuries - are succinctly described. Zamalin also relates each to recent events, making it easy to understand their relevance today. I closed the book grieving that I did not adequately take advantage of strategy #3, 'Take Back the Streets,' when the Black Lives Matter protests were underway in 2020. No more excuses."

Kay's final rec of the week is for Nobody Gets Out Alive, a story collection by Leigh Newman. Kay's write up: "Newman's debut will convince you - if you didn't already know - that Alaskans are, ah, 'different' from people in the 'lower 48.' Does the landscape birth and magnify angst, twisted wit, and weirdness? Whatever the case, Newman's characters embody these traits, and the result is a spectacular collection of stories that alternately daze, dazzle, and dumbfound. I look forward to Newman's next work."

Now Jason Kennedy chimes in with his enthusiasm for Woman, Eating, a new novel by Clarie Kohda. Jason says: "Claire Kohda has written a coming-of-age story, but it's about a vampire. Lydia is a young vampire living on her own for the first time, having just put her mother in home for her signs of dementia. Lydia doesn't know any vampires except her mother, so that is where all instruction has come from. Her mother taught her the vampire side of them was evil and needed to be suppressed. Their food of choice: pigs blood, never human. Out into the world, by herself for the first time, Lydia navigates a new job at the Otter, a new studio that she has all to herself. She befriends new people awkwardly. As it becomes harder to source her food, and her job becomes less interesting than hoped for, Lydia struggles with her human half versus her vampire half; her constant hunger versus social conventions. A brilliant book about an outsider trying to fit into a community that doesn't exactly fit who they are or who they hope to become."

And finally, Daniel Goldin sings this to the tune of the old Louis Armstrong song, as is probably the author's wont: Hello, Molly!: A Memoir by Molly Shannon with Sean Wilsey. Daniel says: "Unlike many fans, I wasn’t aware of the defining moment of Molly Shannon’s childhood - when her father, drinking and driving, crashed the family car, killing Shannon’s mom, younger sister, and cousin. Raised by her prone-to-rage, still-struggling-with-addiction, yet loving and shockingly permissive father, along with extended family and Dad’s drinking buddies, Molly grew to become a good girl who nonetheless broke a lot of rules, even stowing away with her best friend on a plane when she was 13. I was surprised and excited to see that Shannon’s cowriter was Sean Wilsey, author of the Daniel-favorite Oh the Glory of It All.  It’s an inspired collaboration. Shannon focuses a lot on the years of struggle, and not so much on the post-SNL roles, even though her work on Will and Grace led to an Emmy. But this was the right decision, giving Hello, Molly! a satisfying narrative arc for this autobiography. And hey, there can always be a sequel."

And as is our wont, we end with the paperback releases - this week, we've got one paperback pick from, you guessed it, Kay Wosewick! She recommends The Reign of Wolf 21: The Saga of Yellowstone's Legendary Druid Pack, the second book about the wolves of Yellowstone national park by  Rick McIntyre. Kay says: "I was skeptical that McIntyre could write a second book as beguiling and insightful as his first about the wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone. Wow, was I wrong. This book is equally captivating as The Rise of Wolf 8 (which you must read before 21)." Guess what - both books are in paperback, so you can snag Wolf 8 and Wolf 21 for a perfect spring reading pairing. 

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