Each month, Maris Kreizman offers nonfiction and fiction paperback recommendations. You should read as many of them as possible.
It takes a particular kind of talent to write about stultifying boredom in a way that feels zippy, but Halle Butler pulls it off in The New Me, which takes place smack in the middle of the gig economy. Butler captures the lows and even-lowers of being a temp, the microaggressions and the larger ones, the existential agony and yearning for the kind of fulfillment that the rest of the world seems to know how to get. Her physical descriptions are so precise and cutting you might find yourself laughing, or shivering, with recognition.
These collected pieces are a good reminder that one of the greatest fiction writers of our time is also an enormously astute critic. Her Friday Night Lights essay alone is worth the price of admission. Containing four decades of culture writing, from book reviews to TV and film criticism to essays about politics and crime, See What Can Be Done is a lovely reminder that Lorrie Moore sees the world we live in with the same dark humor and acuity that have made her short stories and novels so treasured.
A Muslim family of five living in a California suburb takes center stage in this hushed yet poignant debut, an epic about community and individuality, estrangement, and forgiveness. The narrative flashes back and forth in the life and times of each family member in ways that could be disorienting had Mirza not bridged the gap between the past and the present in such revelatory ways.
If any classic comedy is worthy of a full-length book, it’s Caddyshack and the brilliant if mega-difficult men at the center of it. Featuring an array of National Lampoon, Second City, and SNL grads, including Doug Kenney, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Harold Ramis, the book version of Caddyshack not only tells behind-the-scenes stories from the movie released in 1980, but the comedy movement they built. We join them on their drug-fueled, improv-heavy journey, and Nashawaty captures the joy and pain of making weird, wonderful art.
Each volume in Melville House’s Last Interview series is stunning in its own way, but this one is extra special. With a moving introduction by poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib, whose joy of music comes across infectiously in his prose, this collection of interviews with Prince — from his high-school days to his final with the Guardian in 2015 — shows how both his persona and his personality evolved over time. RIP.
In this inventive twist on historical fiction, an academic discovers a manuscript that dates back to 18th-century London. We see his plentiful annotations as we read along with the manuscript, featuring a transgender protagonist who finds danger and adventure with every step. None of the Big Important Novels you read (or skimmed) in college could be this revolutionary and this much fun.
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