Anne Garreta is a spectacular writer of the underground and the after-dark. In this memoir-slash-essay-series, Garreta turns back to memories of past trysts. While her last Oulipian novel, THE SPHYNX, was highly structured, NOT ONE DAY follows a slightly more lenient train-of-thought pattern, without ever losing the sense of high intellect that Garreta brings to everything she writes. Each vignette flickers smoothly between thoughtful ruminations on memory and moodily sensual encounters with strangers and friends alike.
What a remarkable storyline, bound between these beautiful compact covers. SUCH SMALL HANDS is Transit Books' first publication, and it portends a unique, gorgeous voice for the press. Marina, a young girl, has just lost both her parents to a car accident and ends up in the hands of an orphanage. The narrative transitions between her voice and that of the other girls at the orphanage, who merge into a single solemn chorus. Andrés Barba captures the nighttime world of young girls' thoughts with unsettling elegance.
HERE is an understated graphic novel that explores the history of a single room through past millennia. Context grows through characters' appearances in frames that appear overlaid and out of chronological order. McGuire uses the visual form to expertly dig deeper into the artifice of the graphic novel, family history, and time itself. HERE builds, elegantly, from a series of flat images into a gorgeous, echoing, spiraling narrative.
RECITATION charts the travels of a mysterious traveler and voice actress after she arrives at an empty train station in Europe. As the book's pages creep by, the lone woman's narrative becomes ever more tangled in her personal identity, family past, and the imagined collective past of city dwellers in general. Bae Suah weaves a lyrical exploration of self-discovery through the eyes of what could be any number of identities. This is a remarkable book that manages both experimentation and nonlinearity and thoughtful, deliberate plot.
This book emerged to me from the mists in the downtown public library. I grabbed it, ran out, and haven’t looked back since (no, seriously, the book is about three months overdue at this point, but it’s still on my nightstand). Apparently it was a cult favorite in 90’s lesbian Taiwan as well, where it circulated from hand to hand as a sheath of photocopies for years before being published.
LAST WORDS is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Organized as a series of letters, all vaguely autobiographical, it charts the genderqueer main character’s last few months of travel, love, and heartbreak before suicide. Each letter is a gut-wrenching gem. Don’t forget to get a pack of tissues on your way home.
THE ROAD meets FIGHT CLUB in this apocalyptic Minotaur myth-turned-road novel. After the electricity goes out in his town, a car mechanic begins a seemingly endless journey to reach his ailing father. However, as miles travelled and his exhaustion both mount, the story winds in and out of reality and time. The narrator’s parallel quests for his father, love, and a destination, along with the strange company he finds along the way, pull together to form a marvelous, thoughtful mindbender of a novel.
Yoshie’s father has just died in a suicide pact and left Yoshie and her mother to deal with their grief by moving into a new neighborhood. However, Yoshie’s father keeps haunting her nightmares with a message. Banana Yoshimoto, as always, manages to merge potentially isolating introspection with a beautiful cast of characters and regular intervals of unexplained surrealist occurrences.