Valeria Luiselli : The Story of My Teeth

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 8.36.36 AMWritten in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, The Story of My Teeth is a witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.  Protagonist Gustavo “Highway” Sanchez Sanchez is a late-in-life world traveler, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the “notorious infamous” like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf.  Highway adds value to these teeth that he auctions off through the stories he tells of them, while The Story of My Teeth examines the value of storytelling itself.

Amelia Gray : Gutshot

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.07.23 AMNPR calls Gutshot “a book brimming with blood, sexual deviance, mucus and madness.” The New York Times says “reading Gutshot is a little like being blindfolded and pelted from all sides with fire, Jell-O and the occasional live animal.”  And Vice Magazine calls it a book full of bodily fluids and strange sights and smells.   That said, Gray’s work is not disturbing for its own sake, but as the Chicago Tribune says “has an unflinching intimacy that is completely and absorbingly her own” and that “if there is one story Gray is telling over and over again, it’s about the embodiedness of language, the blood and guts of books themselves.”

Ursula K. Le Guin : Steering The Craft

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.15.23 AMUrsula K. Le Guin believes we cannot restructure society without restructuring the English language, and thus her book on the craft of writing inevitably engages class, gender, race, capitalism and morality, all of which are not separate from grammar, punctuation, tense, and point of view for Le Guin.  Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of more than sixty books of fiction, fantasy, children’s literature, poetry, drama, criticism and translation.  She talks today about her writing guide, Steering The Craft, newly rewritten and revised for writers of fiction and memoir in the 21st century.

Liz Prato : Baby’s On Fire

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.59.34 PM“Liz Prato’s stories are filled with the lost, the lonely, and the damned, and she makes all of them sing with a haunting grandeur. Baby’s on Fire is a lamentation brimming with wit, candor, and the eternal possibility of mercy,”  says writer Steve Almond about Liz Prato’s debut collection of stories. “The stories are at once beautifully written and tremendously compelling—not to mention filled with characters so full of life that they feel as real as people we know. A knockout collection.”—Molly Antopol, The UnAmericans.  Liz is a fiction writer and essayist, teacher and editor, in Portland, Oregon.

David Biespiel : A Long High Whistle

Screen shot 2015-08-19 at 7.05.53 AMLibrary Journal calls David Biespiel’s A Long High Whistle one of the best books about reading poetry you will ever find. Biespiel is a poet, editor, essayist, critic and teacher, and also the writer of the longest running newspaper column on poetry in the U.S.  A Long High Whistle discusses the work of nearly a hundred poets from ancient times to the present, in English and in translation. This collection will provide anyone, from the beginning poet to the mature writer to the lover of literature, with insights into what inspires poets, how poems are written and read, and how poetry situates itself in American life.

Rebecca Makkai : Music For Wartime

Screen shot 2015-08-05 at 1.11.07 PMRebecca Makkai, whose stories have appeared in four consecutive editions of The Best American Short Stories, discusses her much-anticipated story collection Music for Wartime. A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, even as her own relationship falls apart. A young boy has a revelation about his father’s past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. A composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction. These stories—some inspired by her own family history—demonstrate Makkai’s extraordinary range as a storyteller, and confirm her as a master of the short story form.

Maggie Nelson : The Argonauts

Screen shot 2015-07-29 at 9.12.54 AMAn intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family. Maggie Nelson binds her personal experience, the story of her relationship with the fluidly-gendered artist Harry Dodge, to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language, offering a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.