Best of 2015: Keaton

Article by keaton

Reading affords few pleasures more satisfying than discovering an author for the first time. Whether I was coming across a stellar debut from some future great, or finally delving into the oeuvre of an established master, 2015 has been the year of “first timers” for me. From fiction to history, memoir to sportswriting, here are the top ten books by authors I’d never read before.

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I Am Radar Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594206160
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Press - February 24th, 2015

This amazing novel was the very first book I read this year, and it’s still one of my favorites. Larsen’s sophomore effort is an experimental, decades-long globetrotting adventure that brings together puppetry, quantum physics, war crimes, and art as a form of political protest. Funny, profound, and strange, I AM RADAR just vibrates with energy.

The Sellout: A Novel Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780374260507
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 3rd, 2015

The bravest, most outlandish, I-don't-give-a-fuck work of satire I've come across in years. Beatty’s tale of a black man working to reinstate segregation in his California city cuts straight to the core of America's disastrous relationship with race and eviscerates the disingenuous notion that we are living in a “post-racial” society with the most potent of weapons—humor.

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The Argonauts Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977078
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Graywolf Press - May 5th, 2015

I hate to admit this was my first Maggie Nelson reading experience, but I couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction to this powerhouse cultural critic. At once a potent blend of bare-it-all memoir, incisive cultural criticism, and a radical call to revolutionize the way we interpret identity and interpersonal relationships, THE ARGONAUTS is above all else a joyous ode to love and family.

The Body Where I was Born Cover Image
By Guadalupe Nettel, J.T. Lichtenstein (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609805265
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Seven Stories Press - June 16th, 2015

Guadalupe Nettel is a badass, plain and simple. While this is her first novel to be translated into English, she’s long been a literary superstar in her native Mexico. I can only hope this work of autobiographical fiction—a rousing ode to flaws and outsiders—precludes much more to come our way.

The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781250043702
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Picador - June 9th, 2015

I’ve never read a book that made me want to go somewhere as much as this stellar debut sports memoir made me want to go to Cuba. Butler’s collection of essays, recounting the ten years he spent in Castro’s Cuba training with elite boxers and indulging his obsession with Hemingway (I can relate), revels in the strange relationship between America and this proud island nation. THE DOMINO DIARIES fascinates with its entwining of culture, politics, literature, and sports.

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Tram 83 Cover Image
By Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Roland Glasser (Translator), Alain Mabanckou (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781941920046
Availability: Backordered
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - September 8th, 2015

An indescribably maniacal tale from a blistering new talent out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mujila portrays a wasteland society drowning in its own greed and perversity. Filled with poetry, debauchery, corruption, and lamentations for love sacrificed on the altar of lust, this is an intense, acrobatic feat of prose unlike anything to come before it. TRAM 83 is simply tremendous.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594203473
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Press - July 21st, 2015

Finnegan, a longtime writer for The New Yorker, muses over his 50+ year obsession with surfing. Equal parts globetrotting anthropological study, coming-of-age tale, and ode to the motley cast of fellow searchers who’ve shared in Finnegan’s quest for the perfect break, BARBARIAN DAYS is filled with some of the most gorgeous descriptions of natural beauty I’ve ever read and includes insightful ruminations on what it means to truly live the life you love.

The Things We Don't Do Cover Image
By Andres Neuman, Nick Caistor (Translator), Lorenza Garcia (Translator)
ISBN: 9781940953182
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - August 25th, 2015

This tremendous collection of short stories is the perfect introduction to the author whom Roberto Bolaño famously said would own twenty-first century literature. Wide-ranging, odd, and daring, there is something in THE THINGS WE DON’T DO for everyone. I don’t know what the future holds, but I can tell you now I’ll be reading more fiction by Andrés Neuman.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594631740
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - October 20th, 2015

Sarah Vowell is America’s Historian of America. Her witty, sardonic take on one of our nation’s earliest and greatest allies, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette—the aristocratic yet idealistic teenage adventurer who was instrumental in attaining French assistance during the Revolutionary War—is as hilarious as it is revealing. She reveres and lampoons our American (and European) forefathers in equal measure and with enough zingers to keep you laughing on every other page.

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The Wake: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 1st, 2015

The most rewarding and immersive work of fiction I’ve read all year, Kingsnorth’s THE WAKE—written in an updated form of Old English—is a linguistic feat that makes the 1066 Norman Invasion startlingly immediate and visceral. The tale of Anglo-Saxon resistance fighters in the harrowed Fens of Northern England is mythic, stark, and profoundly moving. Imagine THE ROAD set a thousand years ago, and you’ll have some idea of what to expect. Remarkable.


Secessia Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780802123619
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Grove Press - July 7th, 2015

The Seven Good Years: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633263
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - June 16th, 2015

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Scrapper Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616955212
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Press - September 15th, 2015

Fates and Furies: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634475
Availability: Backordered
Published: Riverhead Books - September 15th, 2015

War, So Much War Cover Image
By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (Translator), Maruxa Relano (Translator)
ISBN: 9781940953229
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Open Letter - November 10th, 2015

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