Summer Reads 2017: Kate

As usual, there are a hundred and one great books begging to be read, and summer is no exception! Here are the books that have made it into my hands over the past month and those that are coming close to the top of the stack:

August - Romina Paula
Romina Paula's first translation into English is a moody examination of grief. In a reverse coming of age, the book's narrator, Emilia, leaves Buenos Aires for rural Patagonia to scatter her best friend's ashes, five years after her death. Addressed to this friend, the book is conversational, intimate, and - over the few weeks in which it takes place - I found it impossible to put down.

Whereas - Layli Long Soldier
I look forward to reading this debut collection of poetry from Oglala Sioux writer, Layli Long Solider. Whereas comes highly praised, and it's no surprise given the heavy lifting it takes on. In a direct response to the Apology to Native Peoples, issued and quietly buried in 2010 on behalf of the US government, Long Soldier interrogates the language of bureaucracy and how that language is experienced by bodies.

Mucus in My Pineal Gland - Juliana Huxtable
Artist, performer, DJ, and writer Juliana Huxtable's collection of hybrid writing - billed as poems, performance scripts, and essays - takes its name from the  seat of the soul, the pineal gland, also known as the third eye. It's confessional and hyper experimental at the same time, layering personal stories with meme-play, and Huxtable's trenchant take on twenty-first century living.

Uncomfortably Happy- Yeon-Sik Hong trans. by Hellen Jo
Delve into the Korean countryside with two artists who decide to leave city life in Seoul behind (all that traffic...) for an idyllic, secluded life in the mountains. The first time English translation of Yeon-Sik Hong's memoir is a funny, disconcerting exploration of modern life and all of its anxieties. Perfect reading for muggy summer days in the city when you need a taste of the simple life.

La Main du Peintre - Maria Luque
Maria Luque's charming, colourful illustrations pair perfectly with this strange tale of a ghostly visitation. The ghost of one armed Candido Lopez, a soldier and artist from the Paraguyan War, appears before Luque with a request to help him complete his unfinished paintings. In exchange he promises to tell her the story of the war and how his life came to be intertwined with that of her great grandfather!

The Gift - Barbara Browning
This is the latest publication from Emily Books, the sometimes publisher, sometimes pusher, of weird books by women. Set during the height of the Occupy Movement, Browning's The Gift blurs the boundary between life and performance, truth and fiction, in a series of strange correspondences, inappropriate intimacies, and performance art projects. The book is accompanied by a series of dance videos online and I anticipate reading the book with web browser open - ready for a hypertext experience!

Writers Who Love Too Much - ed. by Dodie Bellamy + Kevin Killian
This new anthology collects seminal texts and out of print, otherwise impossible to find, rarities form the literary configuration know as New Narrative. This pioneering wave of transgressive literature emerged from San Fransisco circa the 1970s and includes revered writers such as Kathy Acker, Dodie Bellamy, and Denis Cooper within its ranks. Combining the confessional with the conceptual in a style both gossipy and uninhibited, it's a direct ancestor of much of the hybrid literature I love today. I can't wait to familiarize myself with this critical body of writing.

The Estrangement Principle - Ariel Goldberg
Writer and photographer Ariel Goldberg's book length essay on queer art explores the pitfalls of policing identity politics and the problem of using language to adequately define. Adopting Renee Gladman's notion of estrangement as a methodological procedure, it examines the term "queer" as a marketing strategy, a utopian ideal, and an alibi for oppression.

Everything is Flammable - Gabrielle Bell
When a fire destroys her mother's home, New York based cartoonist, Gabrielle Bell, flies across the country to Northern California to help put her life back together. The books consists of a series of memoir comics drawn from this period in the artist's life and deals with anxiety, financial hardships, and social dysfunction in her inimitable style.

Boundless - Jillian Tamaki
Jillian Tamaki's latest book Boundless is a collection of short stories that spans the mundane to the weird with a level of writing that rivals the ingenuity of the cartooning. As always, Tamaki's idiosyncratic sense of humour shines through alongside quiet revelations. Today is the last day to pick up your (mandatory) copy while it's still our Graphic Novel Book Club pick! Discussion tonight!

Sunshine State - Sarah Gerard

I'm enjoying meandering through this collection of personal essays from writer, Sarah Gerard. Melding memoir and a journalistic impulse, she unearths personal and geographical histories of her home state, Florida. Stories about her family and relationships delve into weird jobs, addictions, and loss with scorching urgency, yet she always brings levity with her cool and reflective prose.

Notes of a Crocodile - Qiu Miaojin trans. by Bonnie Hui
Qiu Miaojin became a cult literary figure in 90s post Martial law Taiwan, following her work addressing sexuality and depression openly. I read this for my colleague Helen's Reading Across Borders Book Club and it was a pleasure to discuss. This, her debut novel, is a queer coming of age story told through a fragmented series of notebooks that convey her fraught college experience. I'll be reading Last Words from Montmartre next!

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