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Autumn’s Picks for Young Readers

This is the book you are looking for. This is the book that all of us who work in children’s books, who care about the quality of what children read, are looking for. Newbery Medal-winner Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, a move towards tween readers after her huge successes in Middle Grade fiction, is as authentic as it gets.

The Physics of Bearing Witness

Imagine a novel, written as a series of vignettes, where thirty-three characters come to life over the course of sixteen chapters. Not so out of the ordinary? It’s only eighty-five pages long.

Your Body Becomes You

How does a book imprint a body? Emotionally? Neurologically? Physically? Can a book become you, like food? I ate an entire red snapper by myself on a hot afternoon in Thailand. It was too big for me.

Cruel Theater

Many of us know Antonin Artaud first from his face. Those high cheekbones, that deeply serious stance and gesture, holding up the Bible to the Joan played by the very great Falconetti in Dreyer’s Joan of Arc at the Stake as she is about to be burned. That encounter with the flames we might see as lasting beyond his performance.

The Radiant City

Geoffrey Scott, in his seminal work The Architecture of Humanism (1914), said that “the art of architecture studies not structure in itself, but the effect of structure on the human spirit.”

Daughter of the West

A colleague of mine once described Joan Didion’s work as “pretty straightforward.” But, as Tracy Daugherty shows in The Last Love Song, his encyclopedic biography of the prolific, much-studied novelist and journalist, Didion’s work is anything but “straightforward.”

The Secret Life of Everything

I recently saw Carl Safina, the scientist and marine conservationist, speak alongside Isabella Rossellini at 192 Books in Manhattan. Rossellini was interviewing Safina about his new book, Beyond Words, which considers in depth and with great seriousness the question of what animals think and feel.

In Conversation


Lauren Foss Goodman is the author of A Heart Beating Hard, which is a “story about the passed-along People, about how we are the same and how we are different, about how we become who we are and how we protect our most private places from the cold glare of all that we cannot control.”

In Conversation

Living Between the Imagined and the Real
MICHAEL KLEIN with Tony Leuzzi

Distinguished for both supple, vigorous movements of language and a restless, sometimes searing honesty, Klein’s style is unmistakably his own. Whether a compact verse poem or a longer-scale scene from one of his memoirs, his work vibrates with an almost devastating energy that is a natural extension of his physical presence.

In Conversation

COREY MESLER with Alex Dueben

Corey Mesler has been writing a series of novels, short story collections and poetry books over the past twenty years at various small presses. This year, Soft Skull Press published his ninth novel, Memphis Movie, which tells the story around a film shoot in the city. The Robert Altman-esque cast of characters include the film’s director, many of its actors, and various city residents including an elderly poet Camel Jeremy Eros who gets hired to add “Memphis mojo” to the film’s script.

In Conversation

Throw Yourself Accordingly
Roberto Montes with Andrew Weatherhead

Roberto Montes’s debut collection of poetry, I Don’t Know Do You, is a singular work of art. It’s clever and raw, cagey and open, asking as many questions as it offers answers. In its world, existence is met head-on and laid bare; the restless ideas pour forth in an unending stream of biography, desire, advice, admonition, instruction, invective, theory, fact, regret, opinion, apology, prayer, confession, aphorism, and ultimatum—often all in the same poem.

Tongues Like as of Fire

What does it feel like to have your most fundamental beliefs destroyed? Perhaps like an earthquake. An initial foreshock, a premonition of disaster as your principles are challenged. A rift, ever so slight as your convictions give way, and suddenly the world drops from beneath your feet and you realize that you no longer know what is true and what is not.

In Conversation

SUSAN SHAPIRO with Anne Scardino

In her acclaimed debut memoir Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Shapiro spilled all the secrets of her lost loves. In a wildly prolific decade, she’s since published two more funny memoirs and two comic novels, and co-authored two nonfiction books (Unhooked became a New York Times bestseller).

Spells, Riddles, Potions, and Curses

It’s no secret that Joanna C. Valente is a visionary surrealist poet who has written a book about the twenty-two trump cards in a tarot pack, a.k.a. the major arcana. The Gods are Dead is a stunningly illustrated work of art that opens the veins of human mystery with satirical flicks of the pen.

In Conversation

RENÉE WATSON with Linda Kleinbub

In her captivating debut novel This Side of Home (Bloomsbury Publishing), Renée Watson explores the complications that arise when a neighborhood is transformed from lower middle class to hipster. Portland twin sisters Maya and Nikki share everything from friends to dreams of attending a historical African-American college, yet in their high school senior year their black Oregon town sees rents rising and chic coffee shops and boutiques emerging.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2015

All Issues