Staff Picks 2017: Benjamin

Well, here we go again. My second go at a D+Q staff picks list did not prove any easier, as I was fortunate enough to read many incredible books this year. Please indulge an incorrigible bibliophile as I proclaim my love for these booksmy favourites to be published in 2017.


Boundless - Jillian Tamaki
Boundless is an instant classic. In this freewheeling collection of short stories, we catch up with an aging producer of a canned sitcom-porno, drift on a six-hour atonal drone, and do battle with bedbugs. Daring and full of pizzazz, Jillian Tamaki's comics possess that rare quality in which the intimately familiar coalesces with inscrutable otherness.

Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero - Michael Deforge
A short summary of Sticks Angelica's bailiwick: Olympian, poet, scholar, headmistress, cellist, entrepreneur, sculpter. This multi-talented prima donna is at the fore of Michael Deforge's wonderfully weird graphic novel, in which a rabbit wallows in its unrequited love for a human and a moose (named Lisa Hanawalt!) struggles with feelings of body imprisonment.


Yokai - Shigeru Mizuki
I have long been a fan of Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro series, so I jumped at this gorgeous collection of over 200 of the master mangaka's hypnagogic and elegant illustrations of various yōkai (supernatural beings borne of Japanese folklore).


While Standing in Line for Death - CAConrad
There have been some significant elegiac books published in recent memoryAnne Carson's Nox springs to mindbut While Standing in Line for Death by CAConrad, written in the wake of his boyfriend Earth's murder, stands apart from its ilk. "the tongue gives / the mind a chance to get / thunderstruck reading a / poem aloud you know how it is"

Delete - Daphné B.
In Daphné B.'s sophomore poetry collection, the Montreal poet maps the crevices and pitfalls in the language of love—as she states in Delete: "Quand j'ai dit que je t'aimais, c'est que je ne savais pas quoi dire." Daphné B., whom I had the pleasure of working with at the bookstore, had a busy 2017, also appearing in Tristesse Magazine, and collaborating with Kathy L. on an I Love Dick (Chris Kraus) fanfiction, both of which I enjoyed immensely.

Whereas - Layli Long Soldier
"Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics." In Whereas, the remarkable debut poetry collection from Layli Long Soldier, the Oglala Lakota poet confronts colonial language in its various manifestations—most poignantly in the responses, treaties and apologies made by the American government to Native American peoples and tribes.

Debths - Susan Howe
Never have I felt simultaneously so bewildered and so absorbed—as the poet herself would put it, "a not-being-in-the-no."than when reading Susan Howe's Debths. The title, borrowed from Joyce's Finnegans Wake, is emblematic of the richness within, itself a triple-entendre suggesting depth, debt, and death. Across the five-part collection of verse and collage-poems, Howe employs a lyrical rigor and intertextual consonance that is utterly stunning.


The Book of Disquiet - Fernando Pessoa (trans. Margaret Jull Costa)
This refurbished—and dare I say definitive—edition of The Book of Disquiet features a new arrangement and translation of Pessoa's fragmentary masterwork in a stylish, cloth-bound package.

Fever Dream - Samanta Schweblin (trans. Megan McDowell)
I am still yet to shake the first book I read this year. A novel that is best consumed in one sitting, Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream—her first to be translated into English—is precisely wrought and frenetically paced. A woman named Amanda lies dying in a hospital bed, ravaged by an unknown ailment. What follows is a portrait of psychological menace, a narrative which intensifies as the subject deteriorates.


Afterglow - Eileen Myles
Our event with the incomparable Eileen Myles was a personal highlight of the year, as was reading their remarkable "dog memoir". In an impressionistic, elusive cadence, Myles recounts their formative years spent with a pitbull named Rosie. Poets write the best prose!

Literature Class, Berkeley 1980 - Julio Cortázar
In 2017, my obsession with Julio Cortázar has built a head of steam—the Argentine is a bonafide dazzler! In 1980, Cortázar delivered a series of lectures to literature students at UC Berkeley. The novelist was a delightful teacher—patient, curious, and very funny. An unparalleled observer of both the literary and historical moment in which he lived, Cortázar's wisdom is invaluable to 1980s students and 2017s readers alike. I also highly recommend his hypnotic prose-poem From the Observatory (Archipelago, 2011), which is now, sadly, out of print.



Fail Better - Beyza Ozer
Baking with Kafka - Tom Gauld
Tropico - Marcela Huerta
These Possible Lives - Fleur Jaeggy
So Many Olympic Exertions - Anelise Chen
I Love Dick, a fanfic - Kathy L. & Daphné B.
Penelope - Sue Goyette
Extended Play - Jake Terrell
Moi aussi je voulais l’emporter - Julie Delporte
Rag Cosmology - Erin Robinsong
As We Have Always Done - Leanne Simpson
The Idiot - Elif Batuman

Take a peek at other staff picks:
Alyssa \\ Kennedy \\ Saelan \\ Kate \\ Lauriane \\ Luke \\ Chantal \\ Arizona \\ Chantale \\ Kalliopé \\ Anna \\ Sophie \\ Eli \\

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