Monday, January 14, 2019

Bringing Up the Backlist: Five Books I'd Like to Get to in 2019

There are enough books stacked around my room to build a fallout shelter.  Try as I might, I am never able to get through all of the books I add to my personal library every year: blame my sluggish reading pace, the pressures of work and LIFE, or my compulsive Amazon purchases (don't judge--respect my journey!).  Though I am spoiled for choice, there are five books that I definitely want to get to sooner, rather than later,  in 2019.

McGlue by Ottessa Moshfegh| Last week, Penguin Books reissued Ottessa Moshfegh's 2014 Believer Book Award-winning novella McGlue in a striking paperback edition.  Set in 1851, the work follows the titular character as he sobers-up to some disturbing memories of his drunken antics.  The book sounds (and looks, tbh) sinister as fuhhhhk and I can't wait to tuck into it.

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Translated by Misha Hoekstra) | In 2019 I want to make a concerted effort to read more work in translation and this work in translation about a translator just seemed too meta to not dig into.  The novel was a 2017 finalist for the Man Booker International Prize and is published by one of my favorite independent publishers, Graywolf Press.  Mirror, Shoulder, Signal is about Sonja, a Danish woman who translates Swedish crime novels and is dissatisfied with her lonely life in Copenhagen.  In an effort to make changes in her life, Sonja reconnects with family and begins to learn how to drive, the latter of which is made more complicated by Sonja's vertigo. Moody, broody, and Scandi this one has my name on it.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (Translated by Ann Goldstein) | I have been meaning to come back to the Neapolitan Novels since I read and loved My Brilliant Friend a few years ago.  2019 is the year I want to continue and maybe even complete the series . . . even if the covers are a bit cringe.

The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster by Sarah Kranostein | The Trauma Cleaner is a biography of Sandra Pankhurst, a trans-woman who lived an eclectic life before finding her calling as the titular trauma cleaner.  Despite its grim title, the book is meant to be a life-affirming look at our shared humanity.  I actually owned a copy of the book before it was available in the states, but the heaviness of the title and the general heaviness of 2018 made me reticent to pick it up until recently.

The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling | The Golden State was a novel I first learned about on several "Best of 2018" lists and is meant to be about a young single mother who leaves in Bay Area to live in the high desert.  Perhaps because of the geographic similarities, the book reminded me of Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room, one of my favorite reads of 2018, and I instinctively (read: impulsively) bought it.

What books are on your reading shortlist?  Let me know on Instagram @thelexicondevil.

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