Welcome to the future of poetry. It is Natalie Diaz, Mojave activist and former pro-basketball player, bringing a passionate, athletic clarity to poems that sprawl across language and identity. In the thrillingly inventive "exhibits from the American Museum of Water," Diaz presents stark placards of an imagined museum ("A dilapidated diorama. The mythical city of Flint, Michigan."), showing deftly what it might be like if we honored our... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
What we know about the weather is that it will change, and we can only try to predict it. Lizzie knows this, as she tracks in Weather the patterns of her life and other failing systems during and after the 2016 election. Offill’s fragmentary reflections like clouds pass over pills, politics, the swiftly dying planet, but! Could you trust me if I tell you it’s often, mercifully, hilarious? Weather’s scope and sharp clarity feel... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
Danez Smith's new book of poems is a banger. It's like if Rihanna was your best friend and she did a song about one of your inside jokes that was actually about the most painful moment of your life but you had to find a way to laugh about it, and so she made it dance. It's that ridiculously good.Recommended by Thomas L.
"Fun and pleasure are productive places to start building resilience," Fleischmann writes, "which is good because the work of resisting should feel good when it can." They're talking here about kink culture, but the same could be said of this book: its transgressions of form and content are a radical refusal, and yes, it feels good. Ostensibly an essay about the work of conceptual artist Felix Gonzales-Torres, woven through are thoughtful... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
This is a book that should not — cannot — be read. Please don't bother. This is a book that is to be experienced. If there were a plot to this novel, it would be this: a painter reflects on her identity. "It's with such a profound happiness," she mysteriously begins, and deeper down we go from there, passing animals, mirrors, floral anatomy, and being itself on the way to a hidden room of the mind. Lispector's compact replications of a... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
To say this is a book about crying would be like saying simply the ocean is about water. It contains within its impressionistic passages equally deep, blue meditations on friendship, motherhood, poetry, war; the prose holds the compact power of a single tear. This book is like crying, as much as it is about crying. It wells up and chokes back and comes on suddenly, unexpected. You will feel better for having gone through it.Recommended by Thomas L.
Marianne and Connell meet because his mother cleans her mother's house. Despite their differences in class, they recognize in one another a sense of being ill-fit in their world. This unlikely connection follows them to university, to Dublin, and through their young, twinned becomings. But this is far from a simple love story. It's an utterly poignant and often gutting dissection of a relationship, of all relationships: their tendency to shift... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
After a celebrated actor suffers a heart attack on stage, he reflects back on his queer becoming in the theater and on the streets of 1940s Harlem. Leo recalls his early days in the Greenwich Village art scene, coming into the orbit of aspiring actress Barbara, a white woman. Their complicated love affair opens for Leo the doors to a world of artistic freedom — and racist restrictions — he had hardly imagined. This lesser-read Baldwin has all his... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.
This revelatory debut novel from poet Ocean Vuong gives lyrical voice to a queer, immigrant experience as it has never before been published. Little Dog is writing a letter to his single mother in a language she cannot read, reflecting on their shared becoming upon moving from Vietnam to Connecticut. Vuong's scope spans the Vietnam War, the significance of Tiger Woods, American poverty, queer sexual awakening, the very nature of language. Deeply... (read more)Recommended by Thomas L.