This short story collection blew me away. Each story in Afterparties is witty and realistic, and explores themes of generational trauma, family ties, and what it means to be both queer and Cambodian in the US. Anthony Veasna So tragically died this past December, so this debut work is something to savor, treasure, and keep on one’s shelf to read again and again.
This funny story follows Amy, a painfully awkward and isolated young woman who is propelled by her grandiose imagination throughout one summer. While somewhat outrageous, McClorey manages to portray the difficulties of making honest connections with people in today’s world. This book is perfect for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation and lovingly unlovable narrators.
Set in India, Ramesh is intelligent yet struggles to advance due to his poor background. He decides to take standardized tests for children of the wealthy elite, making money off getting below-average students into top universities. When Ramesh accidentally earns the highest test score in the country while posing as someone else, a wild cover-up mission ensues. This story provides a satirical take on privilege and authenticity.
A group of art students dubbed “The Turtlenecks” team up against an exploitative art gallery to steal their artwork back. The heist they plan is both conceptual and literal, resulting in a laugh out loud story that endearingly pokes fun at the fine art world. The drawings, dialogue, and wonderful cast of characters will put a smile on your face.
Agatha joins a convent to gain a community. For 7 years everything is the same, which is comforting, until the church transfers Agatha and her sisters to a halfway house called Little Neon. There, Agatha begins to question how to belong somewhere while still being her own person. With a wry and quirky voice and chapters that are mainly 2 or 3 pages long, this is a fun and fast-paced read.
David Yaffe does a great job documenting Joni’s life, from her childhood to the recordings and initial reviews of each one of her albums. What truly makes this biography worth reading, however, are the interviews Yaffe conducts with Mitchell, in which she talks about love, songwriting, and life in her typical blunt manner. Reading about Joni’s brief time in Boulder is just an added delight to this in-depth work.
Set in Poland, the tiny Jewish village of Kreskol has been isolated from the rest of the world for centuries, remaining unaffected by such phenomena as the Holocaust, the Cold War, and electricity. When the modern world finally takes notice of Kreskol, the villagers are confronted with 21st century technology — and the history they missed out on — for the first time, creating a story that is both funny and painful.
This book of essays is great because it is both important and easy to understand. Srinivasan tackles issues such as incel culture, the porn industry, the way politics shape our desire (and vice versa), and why the #MeToo movement is only meant for white women. Reading this is bound to spark critical thoughts and conversations about intersectionality and today’s culture of sex.
Jack Gilbert’s poetry is breathtaking, covering familiar themes of love and loneliness without being cliche. This volume contains his best work, and it’s the one collection of poetry I go back to most often. If you’re still on the fence about needing this book, give a quick read to the poems on pages 125, 213, and 218.
Amy Leach’s joy for the natural world is infectious, and I came away from this book with a better appreciation for animals and the outdoors. Leach’s essays chronicle her being haunted by hedgehogs, her negative outlook on the world being ruined by trees, and lessons on how to avoid “turnip thinking”. While this whimsical book reads like fantasy, Leach convincingly argues why we shouldn’t subject nature to human standards.
Thomas, a self-described “moral and clean-cut guy”, is distraught over the direction of his life and the way the world works. Seeking answers, he begins to kidnap people who have been influential in his life. Told only in dialogue, this is a suspenseful novel that also manages to be hilarious. Plus, it has all the darkness and wit that fans of Eggers will recognize.