Our Staff Picks for July!
Kentucky poet Rebecca Gayle Howell's second book won the 2016 Sexton Prize for Poetry and has remained on the Small Press Distribution's bestseller list since it debuted. The poems in this collection will leave you thirsty as you consider the ramifications of our choices, particularly in relation to social class and the American dream. In the end, you'll wonder what it takes to survive, and to thrive, and you'll question the difference between the two. Poet Ross Gay says American Purgatory makes him consider "the ways our almost (but not quite) incalculably extractive lives, born of our extractive imaginations, will wither every last thing to dust if we don't confront them. And it makes me wonder how we will confront them. This book feels like one of the ways."
For an action-packed summer adventure, pick up a copy of The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales. Superhero characters and cinematic thriller plot twists may just put Akron, Ohio, on your map of favorite travel destinations. Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, says, “This book is a winged creation, and absolutely marvelous. Gonzales keeps turning the kaleidoscope to reveal the strangest, darkest, and most beautiful dimensions of human love, and the conversion of mechanical fury into living strength.” Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble, calls it, “[d]elightfully weird, weirdly delightful!” The Regional Office Is Under Attack! is perfect fun for the beach or the backyard or wherever you may retreat to plan your own strategy for world domination.
Ramona Blue is told from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old girl who loves fiercely and wants more for her life than the cards she's been dealt. Most of the novel follows her through her senior year of high school, a time when she starts to understand and believe in herself. Kirkus Reviews describes the novel as "An exquisite, thoughtful exploration of the ties that bind and the fluidity of relationships, sexuality, and life."
If you have any connection to Appalachia, you will recognize the place and the people in Jonathan Corcoran’s The Rope Swing. You may even recognize yourself or some incarnation of you in the outsiders who populate this wondrous collection of short stories set in a West Virginia hamlet that has lost some of its historical glory. Carter Sickels, author of The Evening Hour, calls Corcoran “an observant writer who understands people s pain, regrets, heartache, and hope.” Marie Manilla, author of The Patron Saint of Ugly, calls The Rope Swing “an astute, stereotype-busting triumph that shines a light on gay Appalachia.” This debut book was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist.
A student of Wendell Berry and Guy Davenport, Erik Reece is a strong and eloquent voice for a new generation of dedicated activists fighting on behalf of the embattled wilderness and the future of our planet. A master of the personal essay, his work has also deeply explored the role of religion in the American family. In Reece's new collection of essays, Practice Resurrection, ideas are the main characters. Written over ten years, and revealing Reece's continued obsession with religion, family and the natural world. Approaching variably through the lenses of travel, economics, and environmental stewardship, and with the ideas of great American thinkers (Thoreau, Berry, Davenport, Emerson) echoing in the background, Practice Resurrection provide readers refreshing new ways to value human spirituality and the natural environment.