The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen’s melancholic and metaphor-laden Himalayan travelogue, a true story, is an essential, definitional work of 1970s American literature. It is also one of my favorite books of all time.
Posts by Tyler F
It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Michelle Zauner, a musician who goes by Japanese Breakfast, has an interest in food. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It might however be a surprise that Zauner has written such a thoroughly lovely and reflective memoir, called Crying in H Mart, that celebrates Korean food among the sometimes strained bonds of family and cultural identity, in light of her mother’s unexpected cancer death.
If you have ever wondered what a gritty and meanly funny version of Marley and Me would look like, Pilar Quintana’s The Bitch has you covered. It is the story of Damaris, who gets a dog. Damaris lives with husband Rogelio on a Colombian hillside, surviving off fishing and keeping house for absentee homeowners. Wife and husband long for a baby that will never come.
Hurricane Season, a novel about the unexplained murder of a "witch” in a bottomed-out Mexican village, as told by several unreliable narrators, does not have paragraphs. If this is a deal breaker, move it along. Author Fernanda Melchor did not come to coddle, she came to slay.
Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy is a brisk and brutal roman à clef about a white gay teen growing up in rural 1990s France. Alcoholism, racism, violence, and impugnable choices abound. Gross and upsetting things happen in riveting ways. Yet its ending is oddly uplifting. A bestseller in France, its young author is now regularly called upon by popular media to explain the advent of French populism and the alleged moral stagnation of France’s white underclass.
Self Care, a new novel by Leigh Stein, is a breezy beach read with satirical bite.
One of my favorite things lately is Japanese cartoonist Yoshiharu Tsuge.
Active from the 1960s-1980s, Tsuge has had a lasting influence on Japanese culture. Among other accomplishments, he helped pioneer manga’s “I-comics” genre, creating fiction out of his personal life, domestic strife and declining mental health included. Big in Japan for decades, Tsuge is finally getting an American roll-out.
I absolutely love Maira Kalman’s artwork. Colorful and sweet with an endearing naivete, her work is like a cotton-candy version of a better life but with melancholic undertones. I love it and I want to live in it. So when I heard Kalman had illustrated one of my favorite books, Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, I was thrilled. This is the crossover event of 2020 as far as I’m concerned.
There is a long history -- from Marquis de Sade to Jean Genet to Iceberg Slim -- of the incarcerated writing great books inspired by what got them there. Nico Walker, a former war medic turned heroin-addicted bank robber now doing time in a Kentucky federal prison, has clearly mined his own biography for his debut novel, Cherry, a nasty blister of a book that shows a lot of promise but is ultimately hamstrung by its limited point-of-view.
In 2020, we have boomers vs. millennials, at least according to every other clickbait article and meme on the internet (not to mention my uncle Marv’s neverending Facebook posts). In mid 19th century Russia however, it was liberals vs. nihilists. And so it seems that while philosophies and descriptors vary, the schism between generations remains evergreen, immune to time and place.