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.
Posts by Tyler F
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.
The last few years have been a real heyday for Asian American literature. There have been blockbuster film adaptations of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians and Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Celeste Ng’s unstoppable suburban drama Little Fires Everywhere, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer win for The Sympathizer, and critically lauded novels from Susan Choi (Trust Exercise) and Ling Ma (Severance), just to name a few.
I know they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but dang, the artwork for Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer is a stunner. Especially when paired with its gag-worthy title.
The good news is that Braithwaite’s satirical thriller exceeds expectations.
What a time to be alive. What a time for poetry that gives life. Rupi Kaur, Nayyirah Waheed, Danez Smith, Ada Limón, Morgan Parker, Tommy Pico, Chen Chen, Kaveh Akbar, Ocean Vuong, Solman Sharif, Mai Der Vang, Yesika Salgado. There is no shortage of new school poets with distinctive viewpoints and a moving way with words. Add Hieu Minh Nguyen, the Minnesotan son of Vietnamese immigrants, to that list.
“The baby is dead.”
That’s the first sentence.
Here’s a suspense thriller that puts it all out there from the get-go. Generally unconcerned with twists or secret motives, The Perfect Nanny really isn’t for you if you’re craving an old-fashioned who-done-it. But if you want a psychological horror show that is as literary as it is tawdry, Slimani serves it up on a platinum platter.
Sayaka Murata’s slim novel Convenience Store Woman is the Tokyo-set tale of self-described “foreign object” Keiko Furukura, a loner in her mid-30s who does not quite fit in with or understand the society around her, yet excels in her role as a konbini employee.
I’m a total Carrie.
How about you?
If you’re fan enough to get my meaning, especially if you dig behind-the-scenes showbiz nonfiction, you will probably love entertainment journalist Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s fresh look at the enduring zeitgeistiness of HBO’s landmark sitcom Sex and the City.
Morgan Parker, poet author of the explosive collection There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, leaves the title open to interpretation, but with one exception: She isn’t suggesting that Beyoncé isn’t beautiful, because Beyoncé is beautiful. Like the rest of us, Parker is clearly a fan. She is however suggesting that her muse -- the “flawless” Queen Bey -- might not actually be the be-all, end-all for American popular culture or Black womanhood.