by Julia Armfield Our women under the seaby CJ Hauser The Crane Womanand Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ The man who could move the clouds all are among the highest rated books of the week.
Presented by Bookmarks“Rotten Tomatoes for Books” by Lit Hub.
1. Our women under the sea by Julia Armfield
7 Rave • 2 Positive • 1 Mixed
Read Julia Armfield’s essay, “The Ocean is a Lesbian”, here
“I haven’t stopped dreaming Our women under the seasince I finished it… Julie Armfield’s first novel is sharp, atmospheric, dryly funny, sad, distinctive. If it does not appear on many charts, I will eat my hat… There are ecological undertones – we think of the rising tide, even if the climate crisis is not explicitly mentioned… Indeed, if the writing is an implacable requirement, Our women under the sea tends towards the unknowable, which can also be synonymous with death or strangeness. There is an almost spiritual infinity in his quest. Like all good novels, it goes deep, then deeper.
–Niamh Donnelly (Irish weather)
2. The poet’s house by John Thompson
4 Rave • 3 Positive
Read an excerpt from The poet’s house here
“…a funny, closely-watched coming-of-age story about an insecure young woman drawn into a shimmering clique of poets; it’s also a wise story about the corrosive power of shame and the overriding fear of appearing stupid, simplistic and sentimental… Thompson is such a nuanced writer that she avoids “either/or” categories. Like most people, the larger-than-life Viridian is many things at once: a prima donna, sure, and a bit manipulative, but also a sincere mentor. Writing through Carla’s perspective gives the alert Thompson the opportunity to pin down the microaggressions and misunderstandings of social class that crop up again and again in conversations with Viridian’s coterie, who literally speak a different language… As absorbing as this plot is, however, it’s Thompson’s charged portrayal of Carla’s hazy desire to be more that fuels this story and makes it so emotionally resonant. The poet’s houseas I said, is a keeper.
–Maureen Corrigan (NPR)
3. The Black Conch Mermaid by Monique Roffey
2 Rave • 6 Positive
Read an essay by Monique Roffey here
“The language of this tale… is what makes it sing… Within this allegory is the idea that oppression takes different forms, but whether it is based on racial, gender or ecological prejudice, it always stems from insecurities of the oppressor. Feminist motifs are amplified by role reversals and literary parallels…Aycayia makes them – and us – newly aware of historical injustice, capturing it in a flash from its tail.
–Anna Aslanian (Times Literary Supplement)
1. The Crane Woman by CJ Hauser
6 Rave • 4 Positives • 1 Casserole
“That’s what makes this book both universal and exciting. It’s about breaking habits, consciously developing agency over one’s own destiny, and the relief, wonder, and even joy that might follow that grief…Hauser builds his life inventory from deconstructed personal stories, resulting in a rich reading experience like a complicated dessert, not to be gulped down but to be savored in small bites. As she meanders through her personal history, she strings together the scenes without excessive connective tissue… She trusts us to follow and get the gist… A delightfully wide assortment of literary and cultural digressions enrich Hauser’s musings, making her book great fun . in an intelligent and melancholic way… The stories may be different for each of us, but the patterns reveal what we have in common as human beings. What a vital sense of connection both writer and reader get from the experience…there is more to this memoir in the essays than just breakups and so much more to the book than the essay that started it all. An intellectually vigorous and emotionally resonant account of how a self is created over time, The Crane Womanwill satisfy and inspire anyone who has ever wondered, “How did I get here and what happens now?”
–Mary Laura Philpott (The New York Times book review)
2. The man who could move the clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
4 Rave • 3 Positive
“Striking… What adds even more substance to this personal story is that the book shines on issues such as the collision between the Old World and the New, pitting indigenous spirituality against institutionalized religion, and their different approaches to medicine… Readers expect a conventional approach. memoirs will either be unconvinced by Rojas Contreras’ circular storytelling and frank presentation of the fantastic as fact, or they will find it appealing because such an unusual story demands a distinctive narrative approach… Beautifully written and layered, a thought-provoking act recovery and self-discovery. »
–Rigoberto Gonzalez (The San Francisco Chronicle)
3. Polls: Traveling with Whales by Doreen Cunningham
3 Rave • 3 Positive
Read an excerpt from Surveys here
“Cunningham brings insight and flair about him. Her tale of climate change denial is hard-hitting and her encounters with the Iñupiat bring her to the front lines of the effects of climate change…The many threads of the book are intertwined…The story of her enduring love for Billy brings the narrative to a moving conclusion. But for all the beauty of his more personal meditations, Surveys is also, inevitably, a story of survival in the face of environmental destruction; face an uncertain future.
–Yvonne Reddick (Times Literary Supplement)