Books Early 2017

…to read about these epic finds go here to Ampersand Books and LitHub Bookmarks

Here are the links to some reviews of the ones I’m really excited about reading:

  • Future Sex (essays): Emily Witt on Love and Sex and Orgasmic Meditationzxxxssssssssslithub review:  “…Does the title of Emily Witt’s new book Future Sex refer to her own, or everybody’s? The answer is wonderfully complicated. Despite the intriguing sex-toy-centric cover art, Future Sex is less an exploration of technology and futuristic pleasure toys than it is a fierce and fearless foray into how our culture’s views about connection and intimacy are changing—and whether or not Witt herself is getting any in this brave new world that has such orgasms in it.However, Witt doesn’t ignore tech in her essays, which include one about that greatest of digital commodities, porn, and how social media shapes what we see as erotic. So it’s fitting that we managed to connect via smartphone through the ether while she was in Brooklyn and I was in France….
  • A book of essays exploring modern sexuality focusing on Internet dating, Internet pornography, polyamory, and avant-garde sexual subcultures as sites of possibility for the author.”–lithub


  • For the Woman Alone by Ashley Inguanta —ampersand books
  • (my personal favorite): Enigma Variations by zxxxxxxxxxddddAndre Aciman link here

  • “A novel divided into five novella-length sections, each focused on a different erotic obsession and possibility….”
  • and
  • The project is one of recognition and revelation within the reader: the book wants nothing less than the dissolution of your consciousness into its pixellated moments of psychological precision … the third section, ‘Manfred,’ grows a little tedious. Unlike Aciman’s steamy first novel Call Me by Your Name, most of the skin-to-skin contact in Enigma Variations occurs in the narrator’s head, and in ‘Manfred,’ Paul wallows longwindedly in the agony of delayed avowal … Intriguingly, as we witness Paul repeatedly rearrange his life around a new magnetic north, it becomes clear that his bisexuality abets his serial monogamy … Aciman has captured Paul’s bridge life delightfully well.
  • A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women  –Siri Hustvedt

    Siri Hustvedt’s essay collection–A collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy from prize-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt.a-woman-looking-at-men-looking-at-women_siri-hustvedt_cover

“Siri Hustvedt, an authoritative and independent-minded writer on the arts and sciences, brings the felt experience into her smart, stimulating and hefty new collection of essays … What’s exciting about Hustvedt’s work is her desire for us to see the world anew … Hustvedt does not resolve her many questions, but her exhilarating conclusion testifies to the virtues of doubt … the strength and lucidity of Hustvedt’s good thinking calls us to have confidence in our own instincts, to be alert to delusions and inherited traditions, and to realize that many truths are fiction, and only exist to the extent that we believe them.”–lithub review

  • The Refugees by VIET THANH NGUYEN:

    The Refugees, is as impeccably written as it is timed … This is an important and incisive book written by a major writer with firsthand knowledge of the human rights drama exploding on the international stage — and the talent to give us zxxxxxcinroads toward understanding it … There is no effort to avoid the identity of ‘refugee’ — this book interrogates the term on political and spiritual levels, and the results are saturated with pain, memory and beauty … In this collection, towns are altered by war, relatives by time. In some stories, decades pass between letters home to Vietnam, as in ‘Fatherland.’ There is a thorny dissonance between past and present. The living protagonists are often forced to carry traumatic visions with them as they try to make their way in a new country … Nguyen is skilled at making us feel the disorientation and alienation of these characters navigating displacement … The Refugees is a surprisingly sensual book, despite operating in difficult political and emotional terrain. Nguyen crafts sentences with an eye toward physicality and a keen awareness of bodies and their urges … In an era where writers and readers debate who gets to write what, it is refreshing and essential to have this work from a writer who knows and feels the terrain on an intellectual, emotional and cellular level — it shows. Nguyen offers stories of aftermath, but also of complexity. He gives us human beings weary of pity and tired of sharing rehearsed stories that make them seem like ‘one more anonymous young refugee.’ In topic and in execution, The Refugees is an exquisite book.

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Caging the Ocean

Hey everyone. I am writing on a private blog-a new fiction surreal dark fairy tale thing. The memoir is taking too long, or I am just too close to it yet, so I am looking for another form–and this one is a blast. It’s full of imagery and symbolism and metaphor and if you’d like to check it out as it drafts along, let me  know and I’ll give you access.  Caging the Ocean

Here is a scene/chapter–one of the darker ones. She is in the ocean, and her wings have been cut out. The protagonist is actually the one who cut them–so far, I think. Images are, of course, mirrors, reflections, water. Here’s the snippet, tell me what you think!


Caging the Ocean


The silence. That is not what Vida remembers, except when she looks back, how quiet it was. But her mind reeled in tongues she thought at first were the sea nymphs down at the end of the trail near the cove.

Whispers at first, then a small crying, and then the heavy iron stitches that burdened her across her back seemed to tug and pull, as if reminding her off the dying wings she’d torn away in a spin. She paced and paced, pulling at the remainders of her hair. Leave the stitches be, don’t touch the stitches. Her white dress hung on her frame in what looked like transparent scarves now, darkened with soil. Dark, dark my light. The mirrors, why were their so many that she couldn’t see into? Moonlight glittered off the sea, and she knew she must go to it, to see her reflection there.  There’s no air, there’s no air–you won’t have to breathe… Listen, they tear and crack. 

It almost played like a song in her head, a song she was losing.

She covered her ears.

A rushing. Her blood. No, no, the currents. It must be high tide.

And then she thought she saw blood on her hands, so she must hurry and wash it off. Your wings, Vida, take care of them for me.Down the stone stairwell and out into night, her dress blew back inthe shreds she had cut it in as she sped down the path, her pale skin iridescent in the moon.

Vida stripped down. The icy water should have shocked her bare legs but she continued forward. The bubble lights in the forest were nearing, twinkling in the watchful night.

And then, up to her chest, just below the criss-cross stitching between her shoulder blades, she looked down into the black water.  A water lily floated near her reflection, which was just a white blur from the moon reflecting off of her face. The lily, luminous in its petals, drifted and bounced. The center looked like an iris. She reached for it and a dark red drop stained its purity. Vida followed the red trail, finding that it went between her fingers, across her hand, and a thin trickled river reached up her arm and back.  She believed she was asleep when her flesh began to stretch–a pouring of warm water, she murmured. It’s water. The lily floating up to her sinking face met her eye. Irises. Irises, like universes beneath lashes, she’d always thought. She thought she had told him that-that his eyes resembled the galaxies.

We are made of the dead stars.  …an absurd piano plays its broken keys, a violin shrieks

The earth fell away;, she was suspended in space. She saw her ribs, like a metal fist, opening through her chest and into a sharp claw, exposing the house that she had built inside, and watched it collapse.

You’re pulled apart, you’re pulled apart…

and her song faded out.




*image Noell Oszvald