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The Chronicler of Obsession: Jaime Clarke’s Minor Characters

The collection you hold in your hands, Minor Characters, will expand upon this overall picture. Now many of the characters in Charlie’s orbit will get their turn to stand in the center of the stage, will get their 15 minutes.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed

Such wounds fester everywhere in The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s more-than-worthy successor to his Pulitzer winner, The Sympathizer, the second text in a promised trilogy. In this middle passage, the author picks so assiduously at the scabs of racism and usury, you could also call it a novel of ideas.

Josiah Thompson’s Last Second in Dallas

Josiah Thompson’s Last Second in Dallas is not only a revelatory forensic analysis of the Kennedy assassination, but it is also a troubling and timely book about state science, confirmation bias, and a man by the name of Dr. Luis Alvarez.

A Real Slut in the Making: Melissa Febos’s Girlhood Through the Lens of Silvia Federici's Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women

As female friendship was one of the targets of the witch-hunt (daughters turned in their own mothers), Girlhood rests as a document of how that division has been sufficiently accepted and normalized. However, Girlhood in its form reasserts what has been taken from women and all people: what Federici refers to as the multicultural role of women as “weavers of memory.”

In Conversation

Alexandra Délano Alonso with Sandra Rozental

Brotes is certainly personal: fragments of text and snapshots in the midst of a moment of great individual and social uncertainty. The book offers a possibility for connection in a context marked by distance and isolation, and opens an opportunity to experience this moment collectively, sharing the intimacy and the vulnerability that Alexandra describes through her words and her looking upwards towards the sky and the trees in spring.

Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory

This sense of bewilderment, of a past that is both accessible and impossible to decipher, is the real subject of Maria Stepanova’s In Memory of Memory, translated from the Russian by Sasha Dugdale. Its ostensible subject is her own genealogy, going back through four generations of Russian Jews, which is presented to the reader like a cadaver on a table—all parts intricately connected and covered in film, both sticky and slippery to the touch. Stepanova is less interested in holding these parts up to the light than she is in recording her horror at the death of her history, its inability to speak for itself, and the plethora of morbidities which could inform its cause of death.

Haruki Murakami’s First Person Singular

For all our reminiscing, Murakami seems to say, it’s the things we don’t remember that might haunt us the most. After all, memory is itself another liminal space, one where we experience both now and then at the same time. Likewise, finishing First Person Singluar requires thinking back to everything we’ve just read about these characters’ lives, and to everything we didn’t.

J. Nicole Jones’s Low Country: A Southern Memoir

In her debut, a memoir, Jones catalogues family violence as a part of her remembering; violence becomes a framework and connecting thread for the 13 vignettes that explore her own, her family’s, and her hometown, Myrtle Beach’s troubled and collective past.

In Conversation

Gina Frangello with Kathleen Rooney

Frangello's books deal broadly with loyalty, sex, betrayal, interpersonal relationships, and the expectations placed on women in particular. Her latest work, the memoir-in-essays Blow Your House Down: A Story of Feminism, Family, and Treason (Counterpoint, 2021) offers an astonishingly forthright account of the darkest fallouts of attraction and dissolution.

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The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2021

All Issues