Published in 1993 and set ominously in 2024, Octavia E. Butler's haunting novel Parable of the Sower witnesses a slow collapse of civilization through the eyes of Lauren, a young girl surviving in a gated compound in California who discovers that she has a unique ability to empathize with others to a supernatural extent; when she sees pain inflicted on others she feels it in equal measure, and all the while she uses this insight to develop a way of being and belief in a harsh and unforgiving world.
The main thing that struck me about this novel is its simplicity. It's all told through Lauren's written word and all of the pain and horror witnessed is so effortlessly conveyed to the reader; all of the relationships and characters feel so honest and real. The story is so believable and plausible it's truly impressive to think that it was released thirty years ago. The book has seen much discussion and attention the past half-decade and that is in no small part due to the prescience of the novel. She is able to take a dystopian setting and make it immediately recognizable, and that is no easy feat. One of the very best books I've read this year!
With the entire world currently being rocked by mercury retrograde, and the passing of the iconic Jimmy Buffett, I think many of us spent this weekend sipping on something to honor Margaritaville and celebrate getting through the week. Enter Margarita in Retrograde by Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh. Spiritually charged enough to honor the specific drink needs of your zodiac sign, and delicious enough that you'll be chanting, "It's five o'clock somewhere!", this book is a must-have for your bar cart or coffee table needs, and for my fellow Virgos, the "I Like You a Latte" on page 95 will answer all your espresso martini needs!
Jen Beagin’s Big Swiss is entrancing! Strange! Stirring! The book opens in the tight-knit community of Hudson, NY where we meet our protagonist, Greta: a GenX transcriptionist who recently moved in with her friend, Sabine, in a decaying house abloom with quirks and alive with insects. There, Greta beings a job transcribing sex and relationship sessions conducted by the local therapist, a man who calls himself “Om.” Transcribing these sessions, Greta becomes infatuated with one of the patients whom she knows only by her initials, nicknaming her familiarly “Big Swiss.” After a fateful encounter at a local dog park, Greta recognizes Big Swiss her by her voice and the two strike up a weird and winding affair— Big Swiss completely unaware of the intimate knowledge Greta is privy to from her therapy sessions. Often hilarious, occasionally graphic, and deeply grounded in the traumas and triumphs that make us human, Big Swiss is a beautiful, wild ride.