Pearls, Michael Cunningham; Illustrates love’s inevitable shelf life. Howl, Allen Ginsberg; Pages of sweaty, buzzy NYC. The Dutchman, Amiri Baraka; Loud and sinister and overwhelming.
A Worn Path, Eudora Welty; Route of hope, brambles, loss. Land of the Spotted Eagle, Luther Standing Bear; America’s under-the-rug history. Terrific Mother, Lorrie Moore; Heaviness written in lighter lilt.
Bad News, Margaret Atwood; Solid case to not reproduce. Southern Horrors, Ida B. Wells; Historical accounts of American monsters. There Was Once, Margaret Atwood; Quick and quippy and fun.
Hills Like White Elephants, Ernest Hemingway; Dialogue-driven. Relationship on the brink. Beware of “Feminism Lite,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Diet nobody should be on. The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot; First paragraph decent. Otherwise, long.
The House Behind the Cedars, Charles Waddell Chesnutt; Spotlights chosen and discarded identities. Letting Go, David Sedaris; Funniest way to experience cigarettes. Why I Write, Joan Didion; All hail the queen. Period.
Snake Stories, Lauren Groff; Mostly symbolic. Some bite anecdotes. Coming Attractions, Tobias Wolff; Perfectly odd details compacted together. Girls, At Play, Celeste Ng; Innocent and messy. Like adolescence.
Normal People, Sally Rooney; Infuriatingly bad writing. Quick read. Pudd’nhead Wilson, Mark Twain; Twin trope set on high. Chrysalis, Ray Bradbury; Beachy setting. Not beachy tone.
Little Weirds, Jenny Slate; Appropriately titled. Best in bits. The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allan Poe; An older version of 2020. The Embassy of Cambodia, Zadie Smith; Quirky start. Weighty everything else.
The Huntress, Sofia Samatar; Spooky and odd and beautiful. Everyday Use, Alice Walker; A layered mastery of symbolism. Sweetness, Toni Morrison; Regret and pride. Guilt. Love.
The Mothers, Brit Bennett; Good. Sometimes on the nose. Being Perfect, Anna Quindlen; A gentle way to unlearn. The Outing, Lydia Davis; A break-up journey. Super relatable.