Issue 128 |
Winter 2015-16

Editor's Shelf

by Staff

Book Recommendations from Our Advisory Editors

Ann Beattie recommends Salt and Pepper Cooking, The Education of an American Chef, by James Haller: “This slim book contains tons of information about coming of age, how one develops, and what part fate, friendship, and luck play in an individual’s life. As well as being humane and downright laugh-out-loud funny, food preparation takes center stage (make that center table) as the former chef of the iconic restaurant The Blue Strawbery (in Portsmouth, N.H.) tells us about the road that led him there, and onward.” (Great Life Press, October 2015)

Rosellen Brown recommends Uncovered, by Leah Lax: “a stunningly candid memoir of the journey of a young Jewish woman into extreme orthodoxy and, seven children and many years of lonely isolation later, her emergence as a gay writer with a complex story to tell, one far larger than her own.” (SheWrites, October 2015)

Lauren Groff recommends Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue (translated by Natasha Wimmer), out in February 2016: “This slim novel is a brilliant, funny, and deeply strange meditation on time, utopias, colonialism, sex, and art, as framed by a tennis match between the painter Caravaggio and the Spanish poet Quevedo, using a tennis ball made of the hair of Anne Boleyn.” (Riverhead Books, February 2016)

Peter Ho Davies recommends Desert Boys by Chris McCormick: “A debut novel-in-stories set in the Mojave Desert that is at once deeply felt and formally bold. The voice especially, wise and vulnerable by turns, contributes to a haunted coming-of-age narrative.” (Picador, 2016)

Tony Hoagland recommends Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson: “This is a marvelous book, both erudite and relaxed, which reintroduces us to the history and substance of Homeric translation, and the genius of the language. Nicholson is a beautiful, curiosity-driven writer, and personalizes everything he touches; unafraid of very specific detail about ancient Greek vocabulary, history, and geography. Like the best literary biographies and lit-crit, it’s written with ardor—so profitable, and so fun.” (Picador, November 2015)

Thomas Lux recommends New Life by Dan O’Brien: “This book is the poetry of courage. I like it because, as Tim O’Brien says of it: ‘Art wins, war loses.’” (CB Editions, October 2015)

Maura Stanton recommends USA-1000 by Sass Brown: “This is the number to call if you want to hear about the sizzling longing at the heart of contemporary American life. Brown’s voice in these rich poems is both comic and tender, and reveals the truth about our way of life—that a sweater can mimic an embrace, that a broken hairdryer can equal a broken heart.” (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015)

Rosanna Warren reccommends Roger Greenwald’s new collection of poems, Slow Mountain Train: “Greenwald is well known as a translator of poetry (and some fiction) from Norwegian and Swedish. His own poems translate an inner life intensely responsive to outer realities (the mystery of other people, landscapes...) and to minute actions of language. His style is cool, clear, ascetic, suggestive, and subtle in rhythm and syntax. ‘Why are the dead close and the living distant?’ (‘The Milky Way. Big and Beautiful’). ‘I’m living between the cemeteries’ (‘Swallows (Uppsala)’). ‘We separated in the silence, narrow ones / as in pen knife, between pen and knife...’ (‘Nocturne No. 2’) He sounds like no one else.” (Tiger Bark Press, 2015)