Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Staff Recommendations, Week of January 23, 2024

This week, it's all Chris with all the recs. Here are three picks from Chris (you know, me, the guy who compiles these blogs - yay!).

My first pick is Martyr!, the debut novel from acclaimed poet Kaveh Akbar. As you've probably seen, there are raves all over for this novel - here is my rather breathless addition to the conversation: "I like it, I love it, I want some more of it! A meditation on life, death, and finding meaning somewhere between the two. What part of ourselves must we destroy to transcend the violence of the world? Definitely the early frontrunner, with a large lead, for my favorite book of the year."

Akbar will be at Boswell on Tuesday, February 13, 6:30 pm, in conversation with Nina Ghanbarzadeh. Click here for more info and registration at

My next selection is Last Acts, another debut novel, by Alexander Sammartino. My write up: "When Rizzo’s son Nick survives an overdose, Rizzo brings him home with dollar signs in his eyes. Together, they’ll save his overleveraged gun store. But does Nick want to help? Does he even want to live? Sammartino has penned a really funny and honest novel about America’s addictions: to drugs, guns, and money, to salvation and second acts, and to strip malls, get-rich schemes, and advertising. I especially love how Last Acts captures the Southwestern landscape - the whitewash sunlight, the dry, hot winds, and the Waffle House and tract housing sprawl of Phoenix nestled into the valleys between the Sonoran Desert’s mountains. A sharp, observant debut."

And finally, a paperback original entitled Bad Foundations by Brian Allen Carr, whose last novel was Opioid, Indiana, and it was another of which I was a big fan. Of the new one, I say: "Cracks in the foundations, ghosts in the crawlspaces. Cook is sorta stoned on gas station Delta-8 and looking for both across Indiana and Ohio. Carr’s latest is a book about money. It’s about trying to be a decent parent in spite of yourself. And it’s about trying to hang on to some your soul in a world that grinds you to the bone. Most of all, Bad Foundations is the story of all the Midwestern boys who grew up being told, ‘get an education,’ and so they did, only to find out later that nobody really cares about a philosophy degree, or an English degree, or any other degree except the one to which someone is willing to get themselves dirty for a few bucks. It’s funny, and it’s sad, an irreverent, heartbreaking ode to all the unstable foundations upon which so many American lives are built."

And those are the recs! We'll be back next week with more great new books. Until then, read on!

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