Made to Break by D. Foy (Two Dollar Radio): I can’t think of the last time I was as mesmerized and taken aback by the prose of a book. D. Foy takes a jackhammer to language, weaving, smashing, and lyricizing the cultural junction point of multiple relationships gone awry. As our earlier Entropy review states: “[Made to Break] reads like a macabre mumblecore script penned by Jim Thompson. It’s one swell medley of mayhem and defeat dashed together by the vitality of D. Foy’s prose. Zainy, sly, and darkly comedic.”
Letters from a Seducer by Hilda Hilst (trans. John Keene) (Night Boat Books):
The second volume in what has been labeled as Hilda Hilst’s ‘pornograhic’ tetralogy, a fantastically dynamic, emotional, and controversial book that both works in and pushes the conventions of the epistolary novel.
A History of Hands by Rod Val Moore (University of Massachusetts Press): Imagine a collaboration between Henry Roth, Ursula K. Le Guin and Rudolph Wurlitzer… only less derivative than that description suggests, more antic, and uniquely poignant.
Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria (Civil Coping Mechanisms): From the sadness to the drugs, everything Juliet Escoria does in Black Cloud has been done before, but she somehow manages to make it all feel new and dangerous. This book is about dark things, but Escoria delivers everything with such force and honesty that the ugliness morphs into something else, something too real and strangely beautiful.
Deep Ellum by Brandon Hobson (Calamari Press): In the world where everything gets downplayed, Hobson paints an unlush, un-windwept landscape of family bonding that stirs you awake. Hobson does not blow us away with fancy language or mesmerize us with his linguistic therapeutic unguents. We don’t expect large or vast answers to life’s large conflicts: drugs, depression, incest, dental care. His writing should be a deep sleep, a large fist that comes at you at 200 days per second, slowly, hitting your elastic temple and make you swell like a birthday candle. At the end of the book, the large fist opens like a flower. A flower that talks to you directly and tell you that the little things in life, the gestures of care, despite their unexpected consequences do matter and they open the vast channel of change.
Untamed State by Roxane Gay (Grove Press, Black Cat ): An Untamed State is not easy, though there is nothing about the writing that is difficult. In fact, it was hard to stop reading. This book, both in its horror and its beauty, leaves the reader emotionally raw afterward. See for yourself to understand.
10:04 by Ben Lerner (Faber & Faber): \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
The Weirdness by Jeremy P. Bushnell (Melville House): It’s sarcastic and funny and has made me laugh out loud several times, which is rare for a book. If you need an August beach read, but don’t like beaches then this may be the book for you. It’s chockfull of zaniness, hilarity, and the Devil, which means it’s definitely good company to keep. The Weirdness is above all else a lively read that’ll make you wish it wasn’t Bushnell’s first book, because after reading it you’ll wanna devour the rest of his non-existent oeuvre
The Last Days of California by Mary Miller (Liveright): Though I was not raised by evangelical parents nor had a lascivious older sibling I could envy, I was no less absorbed by Mary Miller’s brilliant coming-of-ager about a teenage girl on a family road trip headed towards redemption, or California, not Disney but The Rapture. It’s all there, on the corner of every McDonald’s, beneath the yellowy haze of the golden arches: we get crisis of Faith; we get Waffle House; we get sexual discovery; we get family turmoil; we get self-examination; we get grisly death; we get stoners at pool parties wanting blow jobs; we get crazy bird-lady; we get the freedom of watching Honey, I Shrunk the Kids on HBO while Mom takes a shit or cries in the motel bathroom. The Last Days of California is like My So Called Life meets National Lampoon’s Vacation—beautiful and haunted and the most American novel you’re likely to read this year. – Brian Alan Ellis, author of King Shit and The Mustache He’s Always Wanted but Could Never Grow.
Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly by P. T. Jones (Paul Tremblay & Stephen Graham Jones) ChiTeen: Before reading this young adult novel my only experience with either Paul Tremblay or Stephen Graham Jones was with their short fiction, and, given the gory nature of their work, I couldn’t understand how they could craft an age-appropriate novel for teens that was still full of suspense and intrigue. I was pleasantly surprised in the tension that they’ve maintained throughout the novel, and the verisimilitude in Mary’s sarcastic, teen voice is spot-on and charming as Hell to boot.
While we’re not doing a separate nonfiction list at the halfway point, we wanted to highlight two nonfiction books we’ve loved here at Entropy.
Spent by Antonia Crane (Rare Bird Books): From our Entropy review by Richard Thomas: It takes a lot of courage to write a memoir like Spent—but that’s one characteristic that she doesn’t lack. To take her deepest, darkest secrets, her moments of abject failure and addiction, to share that with the world as she tries to understand why she acts this way, how she got there, what made her heart, and mind, and body seek out these dangerous situations—it’s a powerful journey, that may not end how you expect it to. There is more than titillation in this book—there is emotion, honesty, loneliness, hope, and insight.
Pirates You Don’t Know and Other Adventures in the Examined Life by John Griswold (UGA Press): This is an incredibly humanistic and moving collection of essays. It explores so many topics with both a mix of joy and melancholy. John Griswold’s compassion, his astute sense of observation, his keen ability to see the depths, shines through in every piece. I loved his pieces on teaching, his interaction with students, as well as his relationship with his son. “While every person might be a type, every type was unique, and it would take infinite lifetimes to record all the specific characteristics of uncountable types.”
Contributions from David S. Atkinson, Berit Ellingsen, Brian Allan Ellis, Gabino Iglesias, Alex Kalamaroff, Janice Lee, Joe Milazzo, Vi Khi Nao, Quincy Rhoads, Michael Seidlinger, Peter Tieryas