With your registration fee, you get your choice of one of these four awesome featured books.
How to Sit, by Tyrese Coleman
“How do you pick your mom up from jail? How do you mourn the death of your grandmother, who was both a powerfully seductive and vital force in your life, but at the same time, awful and tragic? How do you wait three months for your premature twin babies to get out of the NICU without going mad from fear and guilt? With a strong voice that is at times sparse and direct, at other times poetic and knowing, Tyrese Coleman confronts these and other questions in this beautiful debut collection, How to Sit. In these stories and essays, she uncovers a paradoxical truth: that sometimes it’s the more difficult things that you can face with surprising bravery and it’s the things that are supposed to come “easy” that are the hardest to learn. How to Sit is, at root, a reflection on how to live. How to both accept and transcend your past. Coleman excavates her personal history, sometimes in stories handed down from past generations, sometimes in DNA results, and she discovers that it’s the act of writing itself that can free her from her family, her guilt, maybe even herself. For Coleman, there is ‘no way to escape except to live her own fiction.’”
—David Olimpio, Author of This Is Not a Confession
MASON JAR PRESS
Strange Children, by Dan Brady
“In Brady’s debut collection, a narrative of medical trauma and its impact on a new family comes together through rigorous, spare poems. The opener, “Stroke Diary,” unfolds in clipped, precise movements, leaving much space for each new development to register: “I call the doctor./ Describe. Ask.// The doctor/ and my wife// speak in stereo: call 911.” By stripping poems down to the bare essentials, Brady enacts the eerie tunnel vision that can be brought on during a crisis. The diction is taut, even brittle at times, as the speaker and his recovering wife accommodate themselves to an unanticipated reality: “Our life together,/ like a great whale// breaching, or rather/ as fast as a fish// picks a single fly/ from the river water.” The second part of the book sees the family five years later, rebuilding and reckoning with “grief and gratefulness” as they move on with their lives. Here, brevity remains an essential quality of the poems but is deployed to different ends. Rather than imparting finality, the few words strive for a poetics of openness. As Brady writes, “The morning is a sea/ and the whole world/ sloshes about/ with possibility.” Full of heart, Brady’s succinct poems are effective and affecting.” PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY
The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Meat, by Marissa Landrigan
“We all kill a little,” a fly fisher tells creative nonfiction writer Marissa Landrigan near the end of her first book, The Vegetarian’s Guide to Eating Meat: A Young Woman’s Search for Ethical Food. He points out that driving cars, buying foreign-made clothing, and using chemically produced body products contribute to suffering just as surely as does eating meat. “The least you can do is look at it,” he says.
That moment encapsulates the conclusions that Landrigan arrives at in the course of this memoir. Though she starts out, as a college student, choosing vegetarianism due to sentimental motives, gradually her thinking becomes more complex, eschewing simple labels and clichés, ultimately embracing contradictions. Food choices, she argues, are not just an animal rights question, but one embodying environmental, labor, and fair trade concerns.
This could be a dry, earnest, or self-righteous exploration, but instead Landrigan examines her dietary dilemmas with charm and humor, always keeping at the forefront the cardinal rule of memoir: she is harder on herself than on anyone else, self-critical without becoming self-involved.” PLOUGHSHARES
All Roads Lead to Blood, by Bonnie Chau
“Brilliant and strange, Chau’s arresting short stories delve into the emotional and sexual lives of second-generation Chinese-American women. In the first of the 16 stories making up Chau’s debut collection, grand-prize winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project’s inaugural 2040 books contest, an unnamed woman hooks up with an old acquaintance—”the closest thing to a Chinese guy I had sex with, and that wasn’t saying much”—and finds, post-coitally, she has been split in two. “We will both be you,” she explains to herself. “You know you have problems with the Chinese you. I will just be the Chinese you for you.” Like many of the stories here, it’s a premise that shouldn’t work (isn’t it a little heavy-handed?), but in Chau’s hands, it’s electric: Her writing is almost alarming in its clarity, crisp and unselfconscious. Other stories are firmly rooted in reality. “I See My Eye in Your Eye” traces the paths of two sisters as they diverge in early adulthood. The older one is getting married, having a baby, building “a legitimate life.” Our narrator is not. It puzzles her, how this happened. “Somebody Else in the Room” is a hauntingly lonely story about the dissolution of a relationship in all its phases: the beginning and the middle and the end and all the phases after the end, when she is alone with his ghost. The women in Chau’s stories are sharp and self-contained and unmoored, caught in moments of transition, going or coming from someplace else. The same elements configure and reconfigure, and while the details of their lives don’t match up, they are versions of each other, all of them wishing they were someone else. Chau is a distinctive voice, and if the stories are good, the sentences are even better.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
One more to go...our featured novel is coming soon. Watch this space.